Home Fishing Tips In Search of “Topwater Heaven” Bass Fishing in Northern Ontario

In Search of “Topwater Heaven” Bass Fishing in Northern Ontario

In Search of “Topwater Heaven” Bass Fishing in Northern Ontario

(gentle piano music) – Who doesn’t love catching big bass on a popper? I love it and it’s one of my favorite things to do. And I get asked all the time. Where can I go and have that and a true Canadian wilderness experience? We’re at one of those places where you can do that and also catch musky on a fly.

We’re at Century Lodge in southern part of Eagle Lake in Northwest Ontario and this has it all. It has wilderness, you’ve got eagles, moose, you’re out on a lake. There’s no roads to here yet. It’s a drive-to pick-up place.

It’s very special and the fishing is phenomenal especially if you love surface fishing. We’re gonna talk about this, techniques, tackle, flies, everything you need to know. It’s gonna be a great show.

Stay with us. (dramatic orchestral music) – I love coming to Northern Ontario. The fresh air, pristine wilderness, and divine solitude are all strong attractions for uplifting anyone’s spirits. Today I’ve driven up to Northwest Ontario to visit one of the top producing lakes in the region.

This is a drive-to location as opposed to a fly-in, something many anglers prefer. My destination? Century Lodge located on the southern end of Eagle Lake. After driving to the docks at the boat launch, I was quickly picked up by a staff member who ferried me the short distance to the lodge that is located on an island.

Eagle Lake is a massive body of water, over 68,000 acres and 70 miles in length. Century Lodge, tucked into Osbourne Bay, is actually the only fishing lodge in the southern part of this huge lake. That translates to few boats and little fishing pressure, truly an angler’s blessing.

At this end of the lake, thanks to the numerous islands and bays, the impact of winds is minimal, another big plus for a fly fisher who comes to this lodge. Best of all, this part of Eagle Lake is renowned for the number and size of both smallmouth bass and especially musky.

(pleasant music) Certainly you can catch lots of pike and walleye, but as a fly fisher I really come here for topwater bass action and outstanding musky fishing. In fact, this part of Eagle Lake is known as the Musky Factory.

After putting my gear in the cottage and grabbing some dinner, I headed out for some evening topwater fishing with lodge owner Randy Tyran. Randy grew up on this lake since his family has owned the lodge for over 30 years.

Randy told me a bit about the structure where we can expect to find a smallmouth at this time of the year. So Randy, where do you want me to cast in this structure? Looks pretty good. You got weeds, you’ve got rock, you’ve got a little bit of everything here.

Where do you want me to put the fly and why? – Just to the right of the outcropping there. There’s a little bit of boulder structure right in front of the weeds there. So that rock weed combination mix can be deadly.

There you go. Nice. – [Colin] Nice start. Nice aggressive take. Good eye there, Randy. – Yeah, nice cast. – I love smallmouth bass and poppers are so much fun. Especially here in these last hours of late.

Okay, I’ll bring the set up. Hang on. They got fairly aggressive. It’s 10 pound on the end here Got ’em like this. Support a beautiful fish. A little run in here. Beautiful, okay. Slide that over there.

Just let this guy go. Sweet. – Nicely done. – Nice way to start. (pleasant music) Big, big. Smack. He really nailed that. So I’m using the seven weight rod and I’ve got a fighting butt on this which is great ’cause you can stick it right into your chest when you’ve got a big fish like this.

And this guy’s really giving it a go. And you weren’t kidding, Randy. The fish here, they’ve got so much strength. That’s a nice bass. – [Randy] We got heavy fish for sure. – [Colin] Very strong. Okay, bring him up.

Look at that. Beautiful, beautiful, fish. Okay, bring the set up. – Beautiful. – Nice. Well done, Randy. – [Randy] Thank you, you too. – [Colin] How many pounds would you say this is, Randy? – [Randy] You know what, your guess is better than mine.

It’s a big fish. – [Colin] Look at that. Look at the mark on him. A nice big chunk in the tail. It’s a female. – Beautiful fish. – Okay so. Take her carefully down here and I’ll put her right here. All ready to go.

Exactly where you told me it would be. Rocks, weeds, shallow structure. – So the weeds and the rock combination really enhances the environment for ’em and you just lay it right in there. (pleasant guitar music) – Another beautiful day has come to Eagle Lake.

After a hearty breakfast, we loaded up the boat and headed out to explore some new waters. My hope was that the topwater bite would continue like last night. So Randy, why have you got me fishing here and what is it that makes it as a good place for the bass? – So Colin, we’re gonna start on this rock here and work to the right.

There’s a bit of a saddle, a bunch of boulders, kind of placed in there, and then the sweet spot’s that rock-weed combo with those reeds sticking out. We’ll get to that as we work down it. I’d say when you’re fishing close to really where you feel like it’s a great spot, slower up and give her a good pop, let her sit for a second.

But they’ll come for that. I mean, they’ll come for a faster more aggressive feel. But I think when you leave it in the strike zone the more it entices them to come on and play. – [Colin] Alright. So I’ll try and put it in there and let it sit.

So I’ll put this next cast right into the weeds. – Yeah, well right in the front edge of those weeds. I usually work the front edge of it and then after I fished it, I’ll go in deeper. You going deep right off the hop, you might get hung up and then you’ll goof up the spot maybe.

(pleasant music) – [Colin] There he is. Or not. Yeah. Hit it the first time and then I accidentally gave him some slack and went tight and he hit it again as it was probably emerging. There you go. You can go ahead and release him if you want there, Randy.

– [Randy] Sure. – The yellow popper. – Great fish. – I’m using a bass taper fly line and they’re really great because not only are they specifically designed for this type of fishing, and turning over whether large wind resistant flies or heavy flies like clousers but they’re also great because they’ve got coloration differences in different parts of the lines.

So you can see where the head is, where the running line is, when the transition happens. It helps you to decide when to pick up the fly, when to cast, when you’ve loaded the rod, et cetera. It really makes it easy for all levels of caster.

(Colin roaring) That was like a shark attack. Wow. I put this one on the reel. That was a nice, nice take. And that was right where you said it would be, Randy. – [Randy] Mhmm. – [Colin] Tucked in with the weed and the rock.

Look at this baby. Oh, wonderful fish. Wonderful fish. Look at that. Oh yeah. Oh. Oh. Randy. – Nicely done. – Look at that. Beautiful fish. Here in the light. Dark in the back. Nice stain. Okay, come over here.

Just rest here for a second. Ready to go. There he goes. What a take on topwater. – So yeah, we’ve really come onto over the last five, 10 years about how unique our smallmouth resource is. There’s very few places you can go to and catch the quality of size fish that we have.

The average size smallmouth is 18 inches. They’re very heavy and these are old fish so we’ve decided a long time ago to make it 100% catch and release on our smallmouth. So we wanna protect these fish that are upwards to 20 years old.

So it’s amazing to catch ’em on the surface and have the time to enjoy the excitement of this shallow water fishing that we have. So we just protect that for our guests to come up and enjoy each year.

– [Colin] There we go. (laughing) What a dance. Again, nice drop. Drop off as Randy’s been looking for. Next to weeds here. Beautiful. – What a strong fish. – Beautiful fish. Look at this rod. It’s just rocking.

Now I’m using 10 pound. So I’m not worried about breaking them off and put a lot of pressure on using that. Okay. And we’re in. Alright. Beautiful fish. – Mhmm. (pleasant piano music) – After a fun day of fishing, it was time to come home and enjoy a great meal.

That evening one of the largest and most amazing mayfly hatches I have ever witnessed happened. As a fly fisher, what a spectacular way to end the day. (gentle piano music) (plane engine whirring) This morning Randy wanted to show me something special and new they now have available to their guests.

We boarded a float plane and after a short ride we arrived at a private lake that they’ve got a wonderful cottage on. This lake has restricted access and is available to those who want something unique and private.

Whether for a day or a week you can book this comfortable cottage for yourself and your friends or even your family. They now even have access via trail. After checking out the cottage we quickly got set up in the boat and headed out in search of bass.

Randy told me the lake has both bass and pike but it is most known for the quality of the smallmouth. He ran us over to some defined structure such as points and shoals. It didn’t take long for the action to happen.

So Randy, can you explain to me what’s the structure we’re gonna be fishing here and why for the smallmouth. – Alright, Colin. We’re gonna start fishing the shoreline here. There’s a lot of broken rock structure.

Kinda see that. There’s a little bit of lily pads and some other grasses but we’re gonna be focusing at the rocks, you see. Make sure you throw a couple of good extra casts when you see any boulders right off the shoreline.

– [Colin] That was the take. So I went to a green deer hair popper and just cast it off near the shoal as Randy had told me to. And I wanna give it a couple pops. And this guy came up and whaled it. Nice fish.

Oh look at that. Now I’m using a five weight. Usually I’m using my six or my seven but I thought with this deer hair popper, it’d be better to get it. To get it. Nice casting towards shore. And it’s such a delight to cast a light rod like this.

But as you could see when you get these bass and they’re so strong here, eh Randy? – Mhmm. – [Colin] Yeah, there we go. When you get a big one like that. I’ll let you stick, handle it if you want Randy.

’cause I’m up here in the bow. I think one of the keys though, oh nice. Is that I had to slow my presentation down and it’s instinct because I had Randy throw in a lure and he just got one and it was the complete opposite.

Fast. Beautiful bass. Outstanding. – [Randy] Nice catch. – [Colin] Thank you. Randy and I continued our wonderful day of bass fishing on this remote lake that Century Lodge has a cottage on. As I stood there casting out I thought how great this would be for my family or to come here with some friends.

– Well Colin, I brought you over here. There’s a nice little point and saddle. And it drops off quite steeply but some nice boulders I want you to throw at just across away here. So you can kinda see those, pick ’em apart.

– Oh yeah! Like a shark! Love the colorations on these bass too. We return to the lodge after a fantastic day of topwater fishing for smallmouth. We watched another brilliant sunset and went off to bed to enjoy a satisfying sleep.

In the morning, we headed out eager to find some musky. Initially I started casting for bass, then a big musky followed my fly to the boat. And of course my hands were shaking as I tried in vain to trigger a strike without success.

We came up to this shoal to start bass fishing and we saw a musky. It’s not a super big one. But it’s a good thick one. I had him following my surface fly but he wouldn’t eat and now I’ve got a subsurface fly.

And it submerged. I’m gonna see if I can find him again visually and then cast to him and get him to take. There’s no species I find more thrilling or frustrating than musky on a fly. They’re the freshwater equivalent of permit on the flats.

You spend a lot of time searching for them and when you do get them to come to the fly, they either won’t bite or you miss the hook-up. It’s all part of the addiction anglers have for musky. After having that musky follow my fly, both Randy and I were keen to get one.

So we switched tactics and started casting streamers, looking for musky on points and near structure. What happened over the next few hours was incredible and one of the reasons why this area of Eagle Lake has become renowned for musky.

The musky we found were inquisitive and would follow my fly but it was hard to get them to bite. Randy started casting some cowgirls but he too had the same problem, follows but no hits. Then suddenly things changed and our efforts at the side of the boat started to pay off.

Doing a figure eight at the side of the boat with a fly rod is really difficult. But if you make wide circles and then cut in, then you can often get a musky to strike as the fly crosses in front of them.

(dramatic music) Though we only saw and caught smaller musky in the 25 to low 30-inch range, there are some giants here. But today they did not wanna play. But even then, we were both very satisfied with the moments of thrill we had experienced that afternoon.

(dramatic music) Century Lodge, a clean and comfortable oasis on Eagle Lake. It’s always sad when your final day comes. Randy and I went out for a few hours of fishing before calling it a night. – Alright, so we’re gonna try this shoreline right here.

We’re kinda close to some deep water to the backside of us and they slip up and on this and then move back off when they feel like it and they feel the need to. But we’ll give it a whirl just to try the shoreline here.

I think it kinda gives a little bit of protection to have that adjacent deeper water and we’ll see if we can get some off this point. – [Colin] Of course the bass were kind and very cooperative that night on topwater.

Randy cast stick baits with a spinning rod and I cast poppers with my fly rod. (pleasant music) Either way, the bass smashed our offerings on structures such as points and rocky shoals. (dramatic orchestral music) I want to thank Randy and his family for having us come to Century Lodge and showing us this very special place in Northwest Ontario.

It was a truly remarkable few days of fishing and memories! (dramatic orchestral music) For more information about this show or Century Lodge, then check out our website. Thanks for watching and we hope to see you on the water soon! Hi! I’m Tom Rosenbauer.

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