October is probably the best month for catching big smallmouth bass in the St Lawrence River. Like many other species, smallmouth bass tend to school up by size, so once you find a consistent fall pattern in a given area, finding big smallmouth bass will usually lead to catching more big smallmouth bass in the same area.
After a slew of Jewish holidays early this fall, I finally made it out for some fall time smallmouth bass fishing with my friend and expert bass guide Jimmy. Target area was the Lake St Francis portion of the St Lawrence River, renowned for it's amazing smallmouth bass fishery. Every fall, most of the local pros fish the area in hope of catching gargantuan bags of big smallmouth bass. 5 fish bags in the 20 to 25 lbs range are to be expected on any given day, provided you know some good spots and have the guidance of a pro like Jimmy.
Jimmy and I only had a few hours to fish, we hit the water around 10:30 AM. Jimmy drew first blood casting a spinnerbait, landing a 3.5 smallmouth bass, followed by a 4 lb bass within the first 1/2 hour of our outing. I didn't have any luck on my bigger spinnerbait, so I switched to casting a topwater lure on my brand new Fenwick rod I picked up for my birthday a few days earlier. Again, no luck on the topwater lure, so I rigged the rod with a "Big O" crankbait.
Success was almost immediate, I got a nice hit on the crankbait. It was tough for me to get an idea of how big the bass was on my new rod, as it was the first fish I've ever hooked with a fast action rod that was that light and sensitive. When the bass start peeling drag, I had a good idea that it was going to be at least in the 5 lbs range, as I usually fish bass with a good 3.5 to 4 lbs of resistance on my reel.
When I finally got my first glimpse of the big smallmouth bass next to the boat, I knew it was over 5 lbs. Jimmy netted the bass, and once on board, I had a good feeling it was the biggest bass I've ever landed. It measured a fat 21 inches, and sure enough, it weighed in at exactly 6 lbs, beating my previous bass record of 5.5 lbs!
Took a couple shots with the trophy smallmouth bass:
When your first catch of the day beats a personal record, it puts a new perspective on the rest of the outing. Gone are the lingering thoughts about how big of a fish you may catch, though you always tell yourself that you may even get a bigger one. Definitely very relaxing to fish after that sort of experience, and the fact that it was the first fish on my new rod, and also the first fish I've caught since I turned 42 years old a few days earlier, made it even better.
We fished for another couple hours, landing a few more big smallmouth bass, with Jimmy's biggest of the day going over 5 lbs:
Our 5 biggest fish combined for a total weight of just under 23 lbs. All caught withing less than 4 hours of fishing. Had we been able to stay out until the evening, I'm quite sure we would have easily topped the 25 lb mark for our 5 biggest fish.
To put our amazing bass outing into perspective, the biggest bass fishing tournament in Canada
(Berkley B1) was held on the same water body a couple weeks ago. Out of a good 100 teams or so, only 10 teams topped the 20 lbs mark in 2 days / 16 hours of tournament fishing, and the highest bag was 23.5 lbs.
Just goes to show what being at the right place at the right time with the right guide can produce. Jimmy is still available for guided bass fishing trips, contact him by clicking: http://freshwaterphil.com/contactjim.cfm