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Bass are the most popular gamefish in North America. Largemouth bass are available in Southern Ontario throughout the lower Great Lakes and in Northwest Ontario. They love warm weedy water, clear rock lakes, shallow muddy ponds and slow moving rivers.
In lakes with diverse habitat, largemouth territory overlaps that of smallmouth bass, making for exciting angling action. Best times to fish are early morning and late evening as they tend to seek shade during the day. They are a strong fighting fish, which adds to the excitement of the catch but have a profound sense of smell, so they might not be fooled by artificial bait if you haven’t added scent.
Smallmouth’s habitat love clear, rocky lakes, shoreline rocks, offshore shoals and deep water. Like their largemouth counterpart they are best caught in the early morning or late evening and are most active from late spring right through to late fall. . Smallmouths are located in the Great Lakes Watershed, the St. Lawrence River and across Northern Ontario.
When targeting smallmouth try curly-tailed jigs, crankbaits, shallow-diving spinnerbaits, in-line spinners, streamer flies, or crayfish imitations. Popular lures for largemouth are plastic worms, top-water lures, shallow-running crankbaits, weedless spoons, as well as buzz- and spinnerbaits. Live bait is also effective for both species. Leeches, minnows, and juicy night crawlers rigged beneath a float or with split shot on the bottom will draw strikes. Smallmouths are particularly fond of crayfish, especially soft-shells that have just molted.
Ontario's record catch
Average sizes: 1 to 3.5 lbs (.45 to 1.58 kg)
Habitat and temperature: Live in deeper water, often around rocks, sand, or gravel areas. They prefer water temperatures under 70°F (21°C).
Biology: Spawn in late May and June in fanned-out bottom depressions. They deposit their eggs in shallow, gravelly areas. Males guard eggs and fry.
Ranges: Species range from Manitoba eastward along the north shore of Lake Superior, continuing as far north as Temiskaming, and then south.
Ontario's record catch
Average sizes: 1.5 to 4 lbs (.68 to 1.8 kg)
Habitat and temperature: Inhabit shallow, warm waterbodies with aquatic vegetation, submerged wood, man-made cover, and rocks. They prefer 79 to 81°F (26 to 27°C) water.
Biology: Spawn in late May and June in fanned-out bottom depressions. Largemouth prefer vegetated, quiet bays.
Ranges: Species range from Manitoba eastward along the north shore of Lake Superior, continuing as far north as Temiskaming.
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