While it’s no secret that B.C. has some fabulous Bass fishing, far too many anglers cast them aside as a garbage fish, when in fact they are an amazing sportfish.
Years ago, my good friend and Steelhead fishing buddy Wes, from Ontario, introduced me to Bass fishing. Not only was I impressed with the Bass sporting qualities, but I was equally amazed at the amount of skill and techniques required to consistently catch them.
Many days I would only catch a few fish, while Wes would hook and land 25-30 fish… including all the big ones!
From that point forward, I was determined to learn the skills of Bass fishing and where to find them.
There is much controversy on how and who has stocked Bass in B.C. waters, but the fact is that they are now part of our lakes and rivers, and I for one plan to make the most of it!
Vancouver Island is a key hot spot for Bass fishing in British Columbia. The island offers a whole list of lakes to explore for Bass. These lakes hold a mix of Smallmouth and Largemouth. Some hold both, while others only Smallmouth. Trophy Bass are caught from early Spring to late Fall on Vancouver Island.
The Lower Mainland has mostly Largemouth Bass, and they can be found in ponds, lakes, and sloughs- mainly within the Fraser Valley. Some truly epic Largemouth can be found in these waters. With a long growing season on the coast, Bass will achieve trophy status on both Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley.
One stock of concern is the Smallmouth Bass in Cultus Lake. These fish now have access to the Fraser River via Sweltzer Creek, and I fear they will soon be found in more rivers in our area. While I am not a fan of people stocking Bass in waters where they can spread, I think the Smallmouth are here to stay and will most likely become quite large in this fertile system.
The Okanagan region provides some tremendous Bass fishing opportunities. The entire Okanagan Valley from Okanagan Lake South to Osoyoos is full of Smallmouth Bass, and select areas hold trophy Largemouth that can reach 10 lbs.
I recently took a short vacation to the Okanagan where I fished Vaseux Lake. This beautiful lake doesn’t allow motors (including electric), which makes for an enjoyable angling experience. I spent part of two days fishing Vaseux and hooked over 40 fish. All were Smallmouth and the largest was a 5 pounder that jumped to freedom beside the boat!
The Kootenays is yet another region of British Columbia offering some great Bass fishing options. I have not personally investigated where to fish in the region, but I have heard tales of lakes with trophy sized fish!
When observing the differences between Smallmouth and Largemouth bass, it’s safe to say that one defining difference is the much stronger fight that Smallmouth offer. That being said- any Largemouth over four pounds will certainly give you a solid battle!
Smallmouth and Largemouth are approached differently. Typically, Largemouth Bass are much more likely to be found around weeds, fallen trees, and all types of vegetation. The Smallmouth too are found near structure but can be found in a wider variety of locations, being open-water hunters. Look for drop-offs, rock piles, weed beds adjacent to a drop-off, and near wood and debris. When hunting these fish, keep an open mind and try all water less than 30 feet deep.
The options are almost endless when selecting what you will use to catch Bass. I will mention a few techniques I have had success with, but it is best to go online and study the different methods of catching them. There is a plethora of videos available to the inquisitive angler. Have fun with this, as taking in the new info and options from others is a fun part of the catching journey!
To get you started, some of the techniques I have personally used with success include the following,
For Largemouth- senkos, creature baits, spinner baits, crank baits, worms of all kinds, tubes, jigs, and top water lures like frogs are a good place to get started.
For Smallmouth- senkos (wacky style), drop shotting, ned rigs, crank baits, tubes, top water like poppers, and marabou jigs are plenty to start with.
I hope this short article will inspire you to get out and give Bass a try. It’s very fun, often not crowded, and has a never-ending depth of learning and exploration involved.
With so much to learn about how, where, why, and when to fish Bass- it is really stimulating to that true calling of a fisherman who is ALWAYS IN PURSUIT.
One last piece of input I would offer, is that hook ups can be subtle and maybe different than what you would expect. Learning to recognize them and set the hook with those tiny visual signs will help you catch many more fish. Don’t wait to feel a bite- always pay close attention to your line, and if it moves at all, set the hook.
As my buddy Wes says, “Hook sets are free!”.
Tight Lines & Bent Rods!