It didn’t take long for the 1000 Islands region to find it’s way to my heart. Smallmouth fishing in super clear water is one of my summertime favourites and on this amazing fishery it’s only the beginning of what species are present. Joined by Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, this fishery is world-class and brings in anglers from both Canada and the United States. With thousands of islands, humps and rock shoals, this place is an angler’s paradise!
A recent trip to Gananoque with my fishing partner, Eric, was a first for both of us fishing in the 1000 Islands region. In an afternoon trip, we were able to find success with smallmouth bass, northern pike and walleye too.
With endless structure to explore, the 1000 Islands have the perfect habitat for bass. Our success was found on points and on steep brake lines going from 15 to 30 feet of water or more. The favourite on the menu were X-Zone Slammers on a drop-shot rig and Rapala X-Raps. Working the drop-shot rig slowly and even dragging it on the bottom while drifting worked well either parallel to structure or casting in and working it outward. Most times fish would hit as soon as the weight connected with bottom. I love this style of fishing!
For the X-Raps we fished much faster using a ‘twitch, twitch, twitch, pause’ method. Most times fish would hit on the pause, so keeping an eye on any line movement and picking up quickly was how we successfully hooked up. With such clear water, we could see rock piles even going down to twenty feet in depth. In the clear water conditions, these fish will react quickly on a jerkbait and can even be enticed in deeper water surrounding the shoals and humps they relate to. We fished at a fast pace around the structure and moved from spot to spot landing several smallmouth. They sure put up a great battle with full jumps clearing the water at times. Smallies are easily one of my favourite species to target!
As we were catching smallies, we also had great success with northern pike. It was nearly back-to-back with pike and smallmouth and both are aggressive fighters. Several good-sized pike were caught in the same types of areas as the bass: relating to the structure and surrounding steep breaks. Pike love jerkbaits, spoons, spinnerbaits and other types of crankbaits. Casting towards the structure and working the lures away was how we boated several nice pike. All fish were released and will hopefully be caught again!
Our first experience in Gananoque was definitely a success, but the day wasn’t over yet and we were in for a bit of a surprise. Eric cast his drop-shot out and let it sink to the edge of an isolated hump where it quickly went down to 40 feet from 10 feet. After a twitch or two of the Slammer, he had a hit and we both knew it was a monster right away by the bend in the rod and the screaming reel. He played this fish out allowing it to run and slowly worked it up. We caught a glimpse and thought at first it was a pike with the elongated body. After a few minutes, Eric was finally able to bring it to the surface where I had the net ready. A few last thrashes and it was in the net. It was a monster walleye and we were celebrating! The fish weighed in at 9 pounds, 1 ounce. Needless to say, we will be back in the 1000 Islands very soon and I cannot wait!