For many fly fishers, the search to find large smallmouth bass on a fly is a never-ending quest. Good news, there is a place in Northern Ontario that has bountiful numbers of large smallmouth bass… it is Algoma Country!
In the region east of Sault Ste. Marie along the Trans-Canada Highway, there exists some incredible public access lakes and rivers that hold good populations of smallmouth bass.
One of the best places to stay is at Birchland Cottages, located just off the highway near the small town of Thessalon. This drive-to facility is just over an hour from the Canada/American border or Sault Ste. Marie Airport.
Birchland Cottages is located on Clear Lake that has a very healthy population of smallmouth bass that range in size from two to six pounds.
Of equal importance, they have numerous other lakes in the area with public access that have solid populations of smallmouth bass and other species. This means anglers can try different lakes every day.
The best periods for catching smallmouth bass are May/June and September/October. Many of the lakes have large populations of smelt or other baitfish, which explains why the bass reach such massive average sizes.
Because the bass are so large here, we recommend you use a minimum of size 6 weight rods, with most fly fishers using 7 weights for casting and fighting these big fish. It is important to bring a variety of flylines to explore all parts of the water column.
You will need a floating line (bass tapers are best for turning over large wind-resistant flies), an intermediate line (for use with streamer patterns) and either a sink-tip or full-sinking flyline. Topwater action can be good in June and September, but the best results are obtained with streamers throughout the period.
- Colin McKeown