Award-winning outdoor writer, Wil Wegman, is back with tips for summertime bass fishing on the waters of Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe in this five part anglers series for Orillia & Lake Country.
In our first introduction to this five part Fishing Orillia and Lake Country (OLC) Series, we opened with a true tale that highlighted an incredible day of bass action I had about a decade ago fishing a tournament on Lake Couchiching. That day was not anomaly, nor would it have been during the long standing Orillia Fall Challenge that introduced me to tournament fishing way back in 1986. No, that was just an example to whet your appetite for your next visit regardless of whether you’re a tournament competitor, visitor from abroad or a local looking to find a great bass lake.
For most of my sixty plus years, the fourth Saturday in June has long been a very special date as it marks the opening of bass season throughout Simcoe County and Orillia & Lake Country. In my previous newspaper outdoor columns I used to write that the opener was better than your Birthday, Christmas and New Year’s combined … as the joy of bass fishing once again started and would last for another five glorious months until the closure on November 30.
Most of Orillia & Lake Country’s waterbodies have both largemouth and smallmouth bass and although the full catch limit is a max of six (combination) with a Sport License – two with a Conservation License, the vast majority of keen bass anglers voluntarily live release their bass – especially the bigger ones, in order to do their part for better bass fisheries. Keeping a couple smaller bass or focus on more tasty panfish or walleye is also a viable option.
Catching Summer Time Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass:
Once the bass season is open you will likely find both species shallow and relatively close to shore. Other than the colder waters of northern Lake Simcoe, most bass in Orillia & Lake Country will have finished their spring spawning regime and can likely be found post-spawn just out and a touch deeper from their spawning sites. Seeing old nests (circular depressions in the substrate) is a sure sign of where bass were spawning – with largemouth often preferring woody debris as a backdrop and smallmouth liking rocks. Male smallmouth may still be guarding nests up in Simcoe County on the big lake after the opener and into early July, and because of the cooler gin-clear waters their nests could be anywhere from 2-22 feet of water. As the summer season progresses, smallmouth and largemouth will move deeper and further offshore once their food supply diminishes and water temps heat up.
For fishing bass during windy, overcast or rainy conditions a general rule of thumb is to use faster moving hard baits like Rapala X Raps or 13 Fishing’s Loco Special jerk baits, Arashi square bill crankbaits, Rapala DT series crankbaits and Terminator spinnerbaits. Also have top water lures like a Rapala X Pop, Skitter Walk, Skitter V or Storm Chug Bug ready for early mornings and after dusk. Calm, sunny, stable conditions usually mean bass are wearier and largemouth in particular will be relating closer to structure like stumps, weeds or docks. So soft plastics like flutter worms rigged wacky style, Ned rigs, Texas rigs and Drop shots worked slowly on bottom are prime choices. If the water is real clear like most of Simcoe, Couchiching or Georgian Bay, super long casts are key, but if it’s off colored a bit like Sparrow or Lake St John, you can move in a little closer. If you’re in less than 15’ in clear, calm waters when little seems to be working, try long casts with either an Arashi Spinbait or the new 13 Fishing Shadow Spin as rule breakers to the hard bait vs soft theory I just promoted. Otherwise a plastic swimbait like a Storm Largo Shad can be the ticket to hookin’ up with one of OLC’s true trophy sized bass.
Finally, regardless of where your fishing adventure in Orillia & Lake Country or Simcoe County brings you this summer, remember for summer smallmouth think hard bottoms in water less than 15’ near islands, shoals, rocky shores, points and isolated rock piles. For largemouth you almost always gotta be near fresh aquatic plant growth (aka weeds) like coontail and cabbage, so that means softer mud-type bottoms. Of course the occasional piece of structure like stumps, fallen trees, docks or even rocks makes the area even better.
Tight Lines and a safe & joyful, memory filled summer bass season to everyone!
2022 Fishing License Special:
If you are new to fishing and between the ages of 18 and 65, you have an opportunity to fish license free from July 2-10, 2022. Canadians 65 and over or under 18 are deemed as licensed anglers already. This is a great time to give you, your family and friends an opportunity to try out some of the great fishing locations in Orillia & Lake Country and Simcoe County. More details here:
Wil Wegman is an award winning outdoor writer from Simcoe County who has been published in most Canadian and several US outdoor and fishing magazines and appeared as a guest on several popular fishing TV shows. Wil was inducted into the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame in 2017 and has won the National Recreational Fisheries Award, The OFAH Rick Morgan Professional Conservation Award and the Bill Bond Memorial Award. He can be reached through his Focus on Fishing site at www.wilwegman.com
Learn more about Fishing in Orillia & Lake Country