A solid Simcoe smallmouth that took a Bass Magnet tube in a little, sandy opening inside a rock bed.
Those glassy, calm smallmouth trips on Lake Simcoe are pretty few and far between. She’s a windy body of water, without a lot to get behind and hide. Luckily, we had some perfect weather days right around the second week of July, so we took a few shots at some good, post-spawn water. Right off the bat, two of the biggest factors affecting how I fish for Simcoe smallmouth are: 1) tons of slimy, clingy algae that coats pretty much everything along bottom and, 2) huge pods of multi-coloured, multi-sized gobies littering the areas I fish.
All that moss and all of those gobies are pretty unique to this lake. You don’t find that kind of stuff on many other inland lakes. Working rock piles, shoreline sand/rock flats and any kind of rocky projections that tickle their way out into 14 to 17 feet of water has been the strategy. The biggest difference maker on this lake is not wasting time with all that algae gunking up your baits. On lots of spots, you’re fouled pretty much the second your presentation touches bottom. And on top of that, gobies of all shapes and sizes are quick to swarm all over anything that’s within about six inches of the lake’s floor.
A crazy looking Simcoe goby, half black, half brown. That's a Pulse-R in a very good colour: Stewart's Pro Blue.
The distance between my sinker and bait varies constantly. I use dropshot weights with the little snugger clip and always tie my rigs with plenty of tag line, so I can move the weight over a range of positions. Lots of the best Lake Simcoe bass spots have a real mix of rock sizes—some of which bulge up several feet above the bottom. I don’t want my bait too low. I want smallmouth to see it, hovering over head. Over cleaner bottom, I’ll often compress my rig way down, to as little as a foot between weight and bait. Whether I’m simply dragging dropshots using my electric motor or fan casting them, I play with my tag/weight distance until something sticks.
Over that mossy bottom, pencil-style weights pick up way less junk than round or bell-style. Every few minutes I’ll clean it off my weight, too. Don’t just leave all that moss there. It can easily shoot up your dropper line to your lure when you drop the rig down. That’s a key little detail. I think a sinker coated in weeds and moss also loses some of its sound, tapping the rocks.
The size and colour of the gobies really varies and I tend to fish a range of colours that resemble them. Some are jet black, others are almost a transparent green and others are a sandy, milky brown. Smallmouth eat them all. It’s awfully tough not starting my day with a smoke, a green pumpkin and a brown camo. I like fishing a lot of blues and blacks, too. There’s a million baits soft plastics for dropshotting and they all work.
I like covering water and hunting for smallmouth on big bodies of water, like Lake Simcoe. Quick drifts or casts with a dropshot can be every bit as deadly as working them slower or vertically. Action-tail plastics, like paddletails, are one of my aces. You don’t need a huge, hammering tail for smallmouth to find your rig in that clear water. A little flicker is plenty. I fish full-size, Pulse-Rs from BFishN Tackle a lot. They’ve got heavy ribs for extra water displacement, a super-soft, pot belly profile and exceptional tail action. They just look like any number of things a smallmouth will eat, this time of year. Any time it’s windy or the boat is moving fairly fast, try dropshotting with a paddletail. If that bait’s moving, it’s calling bass.
Counting down and slow-rolling grubs or paddletails is another great method. One part spinnerbait/crankbait and one part subtle jig, this is just another way to work multiple depths with baits that smallmouth eat and stay hooked on. Skimming anywhere from just over the rocks to right under the surface all works. Bass club these things just like any crankbait or spinnerbait. Just slowly reel them along, with the odd pause. It’s a really fun way to fish. Pulse-Rs and Bass Magnet Shift’R Shads are two of the best plastics I’ve used. I like that I can get both brands in a huge range of good, clear water hues. Fish that aren’t reacting to surface baits, twitch baits or spinnerbaits have been all over slow-rolled plastics lately.
Things are changing, as we head towards the mid-summer peak on Lake Simcoe. A million spots, a million smallmouth and plenty of fun ways to catch ‘em. See you out there!