Introduction to Lake Ontario Bass Fishing by Captain Ted Dobs:
I’ve always considered myself to be a lucky fisherman. It has paid off as every year I seem to get just a little better at this sport. My luck is not some magical will that I impose on our finned friends, but rather the opportunity with Lake Ontario Outdoors magazine to befriend, listen and learn from some of the best anglers in the Northeast today.
One such Angler is bass pro, guide, and owner of Angling Addiction Charters, Dean Mekas. The name may be familiar since Dean has National TV appearances on “Hook And Look”, along with the internationally broadcasted show “Lunkerville” on the World Fishing Network.
As a tournament fisherman Dean has won two BFL’s along with a Bass Federation win at Ogdensburg. He set a new standard this past year by catching 25.8 pounds of smallmouth bass in an Anglers Choice win in Clayton. That’s over a 5 lb. average, and for those of you not familiar with tournaments, believe me, it something rarely seen in our northern waters, especially when you are not allowed to use live bait.
So what’s his big secret? Just like you I wanted to know, and after many phone calls Lake Ontario Outdoors magazine finally got Dean to share his secrets. The answers may surprise you as they did me. As you will read, Dean bases his Lake Ontario bass fishing success more on what I refer to as “ simplistic confidence” in three techniques that most anglers already know. Perhaps the best lesson we can learn from Dean is to keep it simple and spend more time fishing rather than shopping for the latest lures.
Three Winning Lake Ontario Bass Fishing Techniques
With all the different baits and techniques on the market it’s easy to get confused, feel overwhelmed and lose sight of the simple pleasure of bass fishing. Whether it’s tournament fishing or guiding on Eastern Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, I employ three user-friendly techniques that my clients can easily master with a minimal amount of instruction.
How to Drop Shot for Bass
The first technique I use to approach Lake Ontario bass fishing is drop-shotting. Drop-shotting is a simple variation of an old live bait rig where the weight is anywhere from three inches to three feet below the hook. When I drop shot for bass, I usually rig my weight about one foot below my Gamakatsu / wide gap#1 or #2 hook. The drop-shot rig is generally fished vertically under the boat in water from 15 to 50 feet, but can be cast and slowly dragged or jigged back to the boat.
The key here is a slow presentation; the bait does not need a lot of action applied to it. Whether fished deep or fished shallow, maintain bottom contact. When Lake Ontairo bass fishing, let the weight bounce along the bottom as the bait seductively hovers over it. To rig the drop shot for bass, tie a polymer knot, clinch knot, or whatever your personal favorite is, and leave a long tag end to attach to your weight.
Weights designed for drop-shotting have a clip on them that attaches to the line without having to be tied. Other weights will work, like split-shot, a pegged bullet sinker, or a regular bank sinker, but the clip-on style will slide off the line when hung on bottom so you won’t have to retie an entire rig.
My choice of baits when I drop shot for bass is usually minnow imitations in the three- to four- inch size. Kietechs’ Shad Impact was my personal favorite last season. Rod and line choice for all three techniques are a Rhapsody Maestro rod, spinning rod medium power with an extra fast action and 8- to 10- pound test fluorocarbon or monofilament line.
Wacky Rigs for Bass
Another very effective method for Lake Ontario bass fishing is the wacky rig. My personal preference when choosing between wacky rigs for bass is the five inch Gary Yamamoto Senko with the hook impaled in the center of the body of the worm. I prefer a Gamakatsu 2/0 straight shank worm hook. It seems to hold better in the fish’s mouth and I don’t seem to have as many come unbuttoned. I have tried the shorter shank finesse hooks and find I don’t seem to get the hook penetration that I get with a longer shank hook.
Picking Your Colors
I stay with darker natural colors. When fishing wacky rigs for bass, I don’t feel color is as important as it is with other techniques. Many times when I am tournament fishing I will put three different colors: green pumpkin, watermelon red flake, and black with blue flake in my pocket and blindly rebait my hook as needed.
When Lake Ontario Bass fishing with a wacky rigged worm, simply cast the bait near visible cover like docks, rock piles, stumps or a weed edge and let it fall naturally on a semi-slack line without imparting any action to the bait.
The slow undulating action as the worm free- falls to the bottom is what triggers the strike. After the bait has reached bottom, which will take several seconds with this weightless presentation, snap your bait off the bottom about a foot and let it settle again.
If no strike occurs, reel in and make another cast. Fishing with wacky rigs for bass is a real do-nothing technique requiring little angler skill, making it perfect for kids, novice anglers or anyone making the transition from live bait to artificial.
Dragging a Tube Bait
Wacky rigging and fishing a drop-shot rig will catch both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Dragging a tube bait is primarily a smallmouth bass technique that can easily be mastered and may put some of the biggest bass in the lake in your boat and is effective in shallow and deep water.
Style and Size
The action of the tube slowly crawling along the bottom and occasionally deflecting off of a rock, boulder, or wood structure will trigger a reaction strike from smallmouth bass hungry for crayfish. Tubes that resemble Gobies (a small baitfish) and crayfish in the three- to four-inch range in hues like green pumpkin, smoke, watermelon, and root beer with various flake combos are my preference. Tube jigheads come in a variety of styles and sizes but I prefer a cylindrical shaped head with a 90-degree hook eye. It will kick out and deflect when it strikes an object, giving the bait a more erratic action.
It is important to have a quality hook that won’t straighten if a giant bass is hooked when you are on Lake Ontario bass fishing. The weight of the jighead will depend on factors such as depth, wind, and current. Usually 1/8- to1/4- ounce jigheads are best for water less than 10 feet. I will go as heavy as 3/4- ounce if fishing very deep or in heavy current. Remember, when deciding how heavy a jighead to use that the tube should gently tick across the bottom, not dredge it.
Try these three techniques that anyone can master and enjoy the simple pleasure of Lake Ontario bass fishing. Remember to release the fighter so others can experience the thrill of this beautiful game fish.