A few weeks ago I was sitting around a fire with a bunch of friends, “calmly discussing” what lake in the Northeast actually has the biggest smallmouth bass. I set out on a journey across those lakes to see for myself. After catching some giants at Erie and Oneida I headed north for the season opener at Lake Ontario, and spent two days on the water with Captain Bill Lortz, owner of NY Northcountry Bassin’ to fish the world famous waters of Chaumont Bay, where we had one of the most exciting 15 minutes of smallmouth fishing I have ever experienced in my life. Most people think of Ontario as this giant monster with huge rolling waves. It can be. But it can also be unlike no other place you’ve ever seen, with crystal clear water that looks like the blues and greens that you see in the Florida Keys. The bottom has giant rocks the size of houses, and gravel points that scream smallmouth. Each bay is like a different fishery in different stages. Some have water temps as high as the middle to upper 70s with fish firmly post spawn and in summer feeding modes, others are in the low 60s with some fish still on beds, prespawn, or in the post-spawn funk. We were moving quickly, on the hunt for wolf packs of feeding smallmouth, throwing small swimbaits and jerkbaits. And if you’ve never caught a smallmouth while slowrolling a Kietech, you have no idea what you’re missing!
Day One was tough. As you can see by the picture above there was almost no wind (an issue that is normally extremely rare on the Great Lakes, but one that somehow managed to follow me throughout my trip thus far). Having little to no wind makes smallmouth fishing a lot more difficult in water as clear as Ontario. The best fishing comes with about a foot of chop on the water. We still managed about 25 fish, most of them in the 3 pound range. Our biggest was just over 4. I caught one largemouth, which Bill jokingly claimed “was lost”. We also caught two walleyes, but while the sunset was incredible, the fishing really wasn’t and we were hoping for much better on day 2.
We went back to where we were staying and grabbed some pizza and wings from the Pizza Shack. Their wings, by the way, are excellent. And I’m kind of a wing snob, especially being that I was just fresh off my trip to Buffalo with Larry Mazur and had eaten the best wings you’ll find anywhere. We called it an early night, got up at 5, and headed back out.
The wind was intense on day two, and Bill admitted that he had saved what he thought would be the best fishing for today because it would be protected (much of the lake was unfishable due to winds in excess of 20 mph out of the West/Northwest). We made our way around some areas early on and had moderate success, working our way to where Bill had planned to spend the rest of the day. Once we arrived there, and began drifting a 60 yard section of shoreline Bill selected, we saw some of the most spectacular smallmouth fishing I have ever seen.
With multiple doubles, two fish over 5, one nearly 6, and 25 fish in 15 minutes, it was without a doubt some of the most thrilling experiences I have ever seen. Fish were fighting over our baits, trying to take it from each other, often we would have multiple strikes on each retrieve, none of them subtle. These fish weren’t simply tapping our baits, they were hitting them like they were owed money. Within just that 15 minutes our 5 best fish would’ve weighed just under 24 lbs, making this stop on my trip a serious contender for the winner. If you wanna see for yourself what Lake Ontario has to offer, I highly recommend Bill Lortz and NY Northcountry Bassin’ (www.NYNorthcountryBassin.com)! And remember, anyone who like my Facebook page (click here) and sends me a Private Message can get any waypoint from any body of water I’ve ever fished!
Score for Lake Ontario/Chaumont Bay
Total Fish: 74
Smallmouth: 69, 2 over 5, largest 5.95, average fish 3.4
Other: 2 walleye, 1 largemouth, 2 northern pike
13 Fishing Omen Black Rod, Concept A reel, Seaguar InvizX Fluorocarbon 12lb, Elite Tungsten swimbait hook, Reaction Innovation Little Dipper (Sungill) (Bill was using a Kietech swimbait).
13 Fishing Omen Black Rod, Concept A reel, Cortland Line RZ-8 PE Braid 80lb, Seaguar Fluorocarbon 20lb InvizX leader, Mendota Rig (www.mendotarig.com), Skirted craw, Alabama Craw.
Stormr drifit (blue and white).