I had a chance to get away with a buddy Louis to the Haliburton area recently for an afternoon of smallmouth bass fishing. The first couple of weeks in October in the Haliburton area is incredible with good smallmouth fishing in solitude. I never tire of the beautiful scenery with vibrant reds, oranges and yellows that dot the trees along the shorelines on the Haliburton lakes. Top that off with the typical Canadian Shield rock walls, rocky islands covered in wind-swept pines, shoals and fallen trees, and it is easy to see why this area is a magnet for smallmouth bass. The smallies put on the feedbag at this time of year to fatten up for the long Canadian winter, and you have a chance to catch trophy smallies upwards of 5-pounds.
We arrived around noon on a peaceful and unimaginable quiet lake. It was picture perfect and we were the only boat on the lake. Our anticipation was high as we headed to our first spot – a rocky point leading to deep water. After Louis made a cast and had a follow right away, things slowed down quickly. Unfortunately, major storm fronts moved through consistently all day, making for a real tough bite. The weatherman was wrong again! Just after a storm moved through and settled in, another came through. This lasted all day, but we persevered with our rain gear on.
We tried several presentations on several spots, but the slower tube jig seemed to get the most bites, which were few and far between. We did get a few fish to hit a jerk bait as well. Overall, the fish were negative due to the fronts moving through, especially big ones.
We managed a few smaller bass and had a good time regardless of the lack of action. Even in unfavorable conditions, the beauty of the area and tranquility make for a great day. If yo have the chance to try a small northern Ontario lake for smallmouth in early October, you will be glad you did!
Rapala XRaps are deadly on fall smallies as a search pattern, as is Terminator Titanium spinnerbaits in 1/2 oz. Drop shotting TriggerX Probe worms and casting Tube jigs are excellent when the smallies show themselves on spots. A slower presentation with soft plastics can be dynamite when you find a good spot with multiple fish. A quality trolling motor like the Minn Kota is key to move along shoreline or hold on spots with precision. The Rapala Concept and Shift rods and Shift reels spooled up with Sufix 832 braid worked great to feel subtle bites in the frontal conditions.