by Zebedidiah O'Bannion
Throughout the years my partner, Herb and I seem to fish smaller lakes. These small lakes draw us to them like a magnet to a piece of iron. One thing we found and like about small lakes are you can fish the whole lake in one day and find the honey holes on a weeks vacation.
One lake we fish is about 15 miles from Sturgeon Falls called, Tomiko lake. The lake has an ideal population of smallmouth bass and northern pike.
Let's take a trip around the lake fishing for bass on the south side of the lake. The south side of the lake has three inside coves and five points. Let's look at the inside coves first. Each of the coves have a water depth of five to twenty feet deep. Herb will move into about ten feet of water. He uses two setups. One is a spinning outfit with a single hook attached to a swivel. About a foot above the swivel he add one or two split shots. To the hook he attaches a whole nightcrawler. Herb pushes the hook through the head of the crawler and slides it to the top of the hook leaving a long part of the worm dangling free of the hook.
He tosses the crawler setup into about ten to twelve feet of water. Then Herb works the worm along the bottom slowly. He will make one or two turns on the reel handle and then let it set on the bottom. Smallmouth bass prefer to take the whole worm. If you get a nibble most likely it is a perch looking for a free meal. Perch ain't bad this time of the year. You can catch large perch while fishing for smallmouths.
Herb fan casts working the worm rig slowly until he finds the right depth. Smallmouth bass are a schooling fish so when you catch one go right back to the same spot for another. If fishing is slow with the worm set up Herb will go to a crank bait.
The crank bait he uses is a sunfish or perch colored, 2 3/4 inch lure. Two of the prey fish in the lake are pumpkinseed sunfish and yellow perch so he emulates the bait fish. He attaches a snap swivel to the main line. To the snap swivel Herb attaches a crank bait. By the time you fished all three of the inside coves you should have your limit.
Maybe the inside coves aren't producing smallies this day. Now work the five outside points of the south side of the lake. Herb uses the same set ups on the points. Work the outside points until you reach the Tomiko River. Often smallmouth bass will stage at the mouth of the river waiting for unsuspecting bait to pass by.
Now let's take the same trip targeting northern pike. Instead of a worm setup her will use two to five inch long sucker chubs. Those being a species of fish in the lake they become a prey fish for the northerns. He uses a similar rig for northerns except Herb will use a bobber about three feet above the hook. When still fishing for northern pike with a chub, always use a steel leader as the pike can bite through your line.
While the still fishing rig with the sucker floats around Herb will use a white, yellow or chartreuse colored spinner bait fan casting the area. Another favorite lure is a silver and blue rattle trap or again the perch colored crank bait. Perch are in the lake for both man and predator fish to eat. Give the northerns something that emulates their daily diet and you will need your net often. Also don't forget that northerns are day feeders.
When you catch an unwanted northern and decide to release it, DO NOT grab them by the eyes. A blind northern soon becomes a dead northern from starvation and that is a tough way to die. If you decide to take a youngster fishing the depth you pick will be perch and sunfish water also. One item you should bring with very small kids is a pair of cotton gloves so when he grabs the fish to take it off the hook it won't horn him with its fins. Kids want quantity not quality and perch filleted, rolled in Italian bread crumbs and deep fired will make your mouth water.
You've completely fished the south side of the lake to the Tomiko River then prepare to fish the north side of the lake. Use the same setups and gear as you did on the south side of the lake. Don't forget the 20 foot holes around the lake. Often they hold either smallmouth bass or northern pike.
Either acquire a map from your local sports store of from the OMNR and mark your map where you've been successful and the next time you visit this little pristine lake you know exactly where to fish to be successful.
With a limit of smallmouth bass, northern pike and many perch and sunfish you'll have a day to remember and a positive entry in your journals..
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