Deepwater Summer Largemouths: The Last Frontier for Canadian Bass

Fishing deep for largemouths is a confusing concept. The term “deep” is as odd as asking someone what is beautiful. Both are relative to their surroundings. One acceptable answer could be fishing offshore or away from the bank. But even that answer isn’t always practical. On shield lakes, it is common to have the boat resting in 50 feet of water and still be able to reach the bank with a long cast. Fishing offshore or deep water translates to focusing on bottom structure that is below the surface.

The true magic of discovering amazing places to fish is by seeking out the obscure. Guides, tournament anglers and local aces all know the importance of finding locations that produce daily while avoiding the crowds. Guides in particular need a network of locations to keep paying clients content. Doing research on and off the water will really pay off.

One angler who mystically uncovers schools of giant bass is Barrie resident Joe Muszynski. Best known for weighing the heaviest five-bass tournament limit in Canada, Joe or “Joey” as his friends call him, consistently produces. For him, fishing deep is a must, and a necessity for finding consistent catches of bass.

“Deep-water weed-bed largemouths is really the last frontier,” Muszynski explains. “Going down the bank won’t cut it anymore.”

After some thought, Muszynski determines fishing “deep grass” can mean water depth as shallow as 8 feet all the way out to 20. But it all depends on what lake you’re fishing.

Another angler who prefers avoiding the crowds out on the deep weed edges is Peter Seto of Bomanville.

“The best deep-grass areas are spots on a spot,” Bomanville said. “Little places—sometimes without that much grass on them—can be best.”

Mapping it out
Finding offshore or deep water is becoming easier with today’s technology. Mapping systems and navigation chips provide ample detail, but don’t forget about the hydrographic map. The detail provided from a paper chart is often unmatched, particularly on smaller bodies of water. Once initial research is done, the task needs to be taken to the water. Remember, the more obscure or insignificant the structure the greater its potential is for amazing results. Even a single boulder is enough to hold a school.

While racing down the lake in the harsh humidity levels of July, it’s often wise to rewind to the spawn to determine initial areas to search. Asking yourself where bass would move to after they spawn can help map out potential locations in July and August. As the summer plods on, determine where great autumn fishing may occur as relocated bass move from early-season haunts to other locations later in the year. Smallmouths are known for making longer seasonal migrations than largemouths, but don’t underestimate either.

Spot on the weeds
According to Joey, the defining element to making a deep-weed largemouth spot amazing is finding a hard bottom. Locating a hard bottom can be done several ways, but Joey finds two techniques the easiest. During the early season when the weeds have not established yet, he searches with his Humminbird Side-Scan feature for hard substrate. Once located, he’ll mark it with his GPS. This year, he plans on taking advantage of their Down-Imaging feature to further comprehend each location. This task becomes almost impossible once the grass is thick and lush.

When weeds clog out the electronics, he simply fishes with a heavy tungsten jig. Tungsten, a denser material than lead, easily transmits the difference between a soft, mucky substrate and a hard one. Paired with a quality graphite rod and braided line, an extra-heavy jig of 1/2 ounce or more can be your underwater eyes.

Other clues will reveal potential key locations. And any irregularities in grass are often a result of changing lake composition.

“If the grass makes a sudden turn or swing, it usually means the composition of the substrate has changed, causing the grass line to move,” Muszynski says. “I’ll check it with the jig to determine what is down there.”

Seto agrees with Joey, but adds that land formations can reveal what lies below the water. Points often taper way out into the water, and grass can flourish on rocky humps that are often skipped as anglers focus on expansive weed beds. Peter assures anglers that tiny spots on a spot, sometimes with just a few stalks of weeds, can be magical.

Giving up the ghost
Sometimes, we don’t have the luxury of long scouting trips. Joey then hurls fast-moving crankbaits, jerkbaits or spinnerbaits to speed up the process. He strongly advises going back to the spot that you have just caught a bass and refish that area with a jig. Pitching a jig out might result in boating a few more bass, but it is also beneficial in learning the lay of the grass. Unfortunately, few shortcuts exist in deep-water summertime bass fishing, but your determination might be rewarded with a trophy largemouth.

Once he catches a bass, Muszynski investigates an area thoroughly with a heavy jig or a 10-inch ribbon-tail plastic worm. The worm works well in the heavy grass.

“You really need to catch that first fish. It will often give up the ghost of the whole school,” he jokes.

Often, anglers get into a rush trying to uncover more areas as they zoom right past pods of bass without considering the situation.

With a treasure chest full of accolades and trophies, Muszynski’s key to success is being methodical. He is not shy of spending the time researching great locations or thoroughly fishing areas to ensure he hasn’t missed a potential honey hole.

Seto is a firm believer in presenting a horizontal and vertical presentation to each spot he fishes.

“I fish slowly,” Seto says. “I will work an area and make a few passes and change baits.”

On the Bay of Qunite, where a Z-shaped body of water starts at the mouth of the Trent River in Trenton Ont. and weaves through Prince Edward County, bass are famous for demanding either a vertical or horizontal retrieve. This has taught Peter to be thorough. His deep-weed bait arsenal consists of pitching or casting craws, creature baits or a Senko-style worm with and without a bullet weight. If the bass ignore his pitching baits, then a swimbait or spinnerbait gets a workout.

Weeds are cyclical, and they’ll produce then fizzle out. Don’t bank on just one spot. These areas might continue to produce, but the weed growth will change throughout summer and from year to year. That is why finding the hard, rocky bottom is so vital. The task is not easy, but again, the rewards are great when you find them so start your search for deep-water largemouths.