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Easy Fishing in Algoma

It’s Here If We Look for It

Updated: By James Smedley

Fishing is rarely easy. Casting some type of lure into a lake or river and expecting it to fall in front of a fish, and then expecting the fish to eat it, is a bit of a stretch. Encountering easy fishing can simply be a matter of luck but those of us who are not as lucky as we wish we were must depend on honing our skills and studying the wily ways of our finned quarry. Like any complex pursuit, there are many aspects to consider. Fishing is rarely easy but when the stars align and the waters are generous, it’s an angling experience we won’t soon forget.

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Fortunately, if we plan our fishing adventure carefully, the chance of experiencing easy fishing grows exponentially. We shouldn’t expect it where there are few fish so planning a trip to the woods and waters of Algoma Country is a solid first step. Here are some tips on how to put ourselves on the busy end of a fishing rod for some of the region’s most popular species:

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth are one of the most accommodating species and narrowing our focus on these aggressive fish is a wise choice for anglers looking for action.

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When and Where: Smallmouth bass are abundant in many of the large, clear and rocky Canadian Shield lakes found in Algoma Country. Excellent bass water is found at the doorstep of a wide variety of drive-to lodges in the region. Many fly-in destinations also feature strong bass populations but some of the best waters are accessible from the TransCanada Highway.
Bass can be extremely active on hot summer afternoons making July and August the best times to look for active fish. Bass will lurk in shallow areas of rock or weeds close to deep water where they munch on crayfish or wait in ambush for baitfish.

How: In the clear or slightly stained waters that bass call home, it’s quite easy to find rock shoals and shallow rock piles looming just below the surface simply by looking with the naked eye. Wearing a pair of polarized sunglasses helps to cut off the glare and find potential bass hotspots. One of the most exciting and effective ways to catch summer bass is to cast a top water popper over a rock shoal. These buoyant hard plastic lures float on the surface and imitate a wounded minnow or some such vulnerable creature that bass will not hesitate to eat. Instill action by giving the lure a few sharp pulls then simply let it rest for 10 seconds before repeating. If there’s a hungry smallmouth nearby it will explode on the surface providing one of the most exciting and easy hookups we will ever experience.

Walleye

As Ontario’s most popular game fish, it’s not always easy to find the unpressured schools of walleye that can offer easy fishing, but in Algoma Country there are options.

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When and Where: It’s possible to find awesome walleye fishing at many drive-to destinations but a fly-in lodge or outpost camp offers more of a guarantee. Wait until mid-July for the walleye to move out to their summer haunts where they will stay well into September. Mid-lake humps – where the bottom erupts from deep to shallow – are reliable walleye hangouts throughout summer. The best offshore humps will include fish-holding structures like rock piles and weeds and rise from depths of 30 feet or more to top out just below the surface.

How: While some offshore humps are popular hotspots, the best ones are unknown. Find these rarely visited pieces of the structure by cruising across the main basin of a lake and watching for bottom fluctuations. The simplest approach after finding a promising hump is to situate ourselves upwind and slowly drift over it, bouncing quarter-ounce lead head jigs, tipped with live bait or soft plastic grub bodies, off the bottom. Chances are walleye will make their presence known and locating humps with similar structure can ensure easy fishing our entire trip.

Do you have the latest copy of the Ontario Fishing Regulations? Find it by clicking here

Northern Pike

Nothing puts a sustained bend in our rods like the power of a big fish and few compare in size and strength to the northern pike. These voracious predators are widespread in Algoma Country waters but finding numbers of big pike can be challenging.

fishing northern pike

When and Where: The limited pressure of fly-in destinations can improve our chances but big pike can be pin-pointed in road-accessible lakes throughout the region. Start looking for pike in spring, soon after ice-out, when they seek the warming shallow waters of weedy bays where they spawn. Often these back bays are fed by a creek or river and the water may only be three or four feet deep but big pike gravitate to the sun-warmed shallows in early spring.

How: Look for clusters of old weeds or emerging vegetation pike will be used for cover and cast shallow diving jerk baits like a Rapala Husky Jerk. These hard plastic lures worked with a pull-and-pause retrieve are irresistible to feeding pike. However, unhooking the dual or triple treble hooks from the toothy maw of strong fish that grow to 40 inches or more can be a little spooky. Another great lure is a simple 3/8-ounce jig head rigged with three to five-inch soft plastic swim bait. Cast and reel just fast enough to keep it up off the bottom. If there is no action tight to shore, move out to the first drop-off in the main bay as pike will slide into deeper water as the shallows warm.

There are many other ways to catch pike, bass and walleye but the above tips can be a fast-track to easy angling. There’s never an iron-clad guarantee when fishing but heading to Algoma Country is a pretty solid first step.

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About James Smedley

Professional photographer and writer James Smedley’s contributions - more than 400 written pieces and close to 1,000 images - to U.S. and Canadian books, magazines and newspapers have earned him over 40 National and International awards. In addition to teaching photography workshops, James is Travel Editor at Ontario OUT OF DOORS Magazine. James has fly fished for brook trout and arctic grayling in far northern rivers and continues to cast for trout, bass and steelhead near his home in the northern Ontario town of Wawa where he lives with his wife Francine and daughters Islay and Lillian.

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