If you are looking to target smallmouth bass in Manitoba, head east. Manitoba’s Eastern Region offers many small lakes that are simple to navigate and favorable for a consistent smallmouth bass bite. This is especially beneficial to beginner anglers that are also new to boating. You can be confident that you’ll be able to navigate the waters safely or overcome unforeseen obstacles if you do not have expensive electronics. The other benefit of these smaller lakes is, if the weather does shift and you hit high winds, you will often avoid big waves. Combined with the fact that it is much easier to hop from spot to spot to locate the smallmouth bass whether they are deep or staging into the shallows.
Our Annual Smallmouth Bass Trip
My alarm went off at 4:30AM, I loaded up the truck, packed the cooler and went through my list one more time. I hopped in the truck and was off to pick up my friend Alanna. The forecast called for rain all week, but no matter what we weren’t missing our annual bass trip. When I arrived at Alanna’s the sky in the field by her house was a dazzling layered, blue, purple, pink and orange. We knew it was going to be the perfect day.
We followed that painted horizon east. Our first stop was Drifters in Lac Du Bonnet (where highway 11 and 313 meet). We fueled up and did a walk through inside. They have a good assortment of basic tackle, including some plastics. I finished up last minute purchasing some more plastic worms, in particular a PB&J finesse worm that caught my attention. We paid, checked the straps on the boat and we were back on our way.
Shortly after we reached our destination, we loaded my 14 ft aluminum boat with our gear and by 8:00AM we were on the water searching for our first bite. Typically, we target bass in August when they are in the shallows. We decided to test our skills and knowledge with some spring smallmouth action.
Finding and Targeting Smallmouth Bass
Our plan of attack was to stick to the shoreline and continue to follow it all around the lake, moving constantly to find our target species. We arrived at the first bay. Because the water temps had risen in the past week, just to be sure, we started with a top water torpedo and a diver just to cover our bases. With no hits, we decided to move to the next bay.
This time we were going to start deep and move into the shallows. I cracked open my bass arsenal and pulled out some Nedlockz jig heads. These jigs have a mushroom shaped head with a collared bait keeper that secures your plastics in place, so you are not continually checking your presentation after each cast. I pulled out 3 jigs, 3 plastics, a crayfish, a PB&J worm and a Z-Man TRD HogZ. I started with the crayfish and gave the worm to Alanna. Within seconds Alanna had a hit, “That was a good hit,” she exclaimed, and just like that we knew we found them and what they were hungry for.
Another minute went by and Alanna had a bass on, the first of the day. I grabbed the net and scooped it into the boat. The bass had inhaled the PB&J worm! After a quick measure of 16.75 inches and a picture, the bass was safely released. Followed by high fives and a sweet relief, feeling of not getting skunked!
Back to our mission, I switched to the PB&J worm. We were fairly far from shore and continually casting. While we had a few more hits, the bass were not super aggressive. After a half an hour had passed, I was reeling in slowly and caught off guard when my lure was absolutely smashed. I immediately stood up and set my hook in one swift motion, “Bass on!” this feisty guy was on a mission, darting all around. Alanna on the net, we got him in the boat, again this bass had completely gulped up the PB&J worm. Quick picture and he was released. Smiles all around, both satisfied with our success, the pressure was off!
We moved to conquer the next bay and decided not to change our setup. By this time the sun was high and fierce. We staged slightly deeper off a large rock shelf. Alanna had another bass on almost immediately.
More Than Just Bass Fishing
It was getting close to lunch and we decided to tour around to find a good spot to eat and stretch our legs. We spotted a back-country camping spot we hadn’t yet explored. We parked the boat, grabbed the cooler and found a spot on a beautiful rock shelf to sit and have lunch.
In the afternoon we explored the other side of the lake. Each bay held a different vibe from the previous. From rock shelves, to rock islands, fallen uprooted trees with beautiful roots, creating magnificent scenery, and more. Regardless of the fishing, the Eastern Region holds some entirely different views and landscapes than my home Central Region. And all of this can be enjoyed within a two-hour drive of Winnipeg.
Alanna held the hot hand for bass all morning and decided to test her luck on some northern pike and switched to a 5 of diamonds. We trolled the shallows continuing to stick to the shoreline. Within moments she had a pike on. It was a fantastic day full of action. We were blessed with beautiful weather, scenery, and the lake almost completely to ourselves. If you are looking to target smallmouth bass and enjoy a new angling adventure, I highly recommend escaping the concrete and following the gravel roads to the eastern horizon.
For more information about drive-to fishing opportunities in Manitoba, visit our Drive-To Fishing page.
*Protect Manitoba’s water and resources. Stop aquatic invasive species. For more information on how to do your part visit the Sustainable Development AIS page.
HuntFishMB Contributor: Courtlyn Suszko