Ontario Bass Anglers

Angler Profile: Ontario’s Matt Torlée

Matt Torlée with a Chunk of a Largemouth Bass
Matt Torlée with a Chunk of a Largemouth Bass

There are so many talented and skilled anglers. I love doing this blog to meet and learn from these anglers. Matt Torlée is no exception. Matt is an amazing tournament and recreational bass angler from Ontario. His pics of both largemouth and smallmouth bass are impressive. Join me in learning about Mr. Matt Torlée. 

How long have you been fishing? 

I’ve been fishing since I was about 8 years old. I used to spend summers at my Aunt and Uncle’s cottage on Lake Windigo in Northern Ontario. My Aunt spent a lot of time with me and instilled in me a deep passion for fishing. She was extremely patient and loved spending time on the water. She isn’t alive today but I know that she would be proud of what I’ve achieved in competitive bass fishing so far

Your list of achievements in competitive fishing is impressive. Why do you choose to fish competitively and not just “for fun”?

When I was younger, I would use sports as a competitive outlet. It was an opportunity to test my limits and see how I stacked up against the competition. I would always analyze my performance and try to find ways to improve. As you get older, those opportunities start to diminish. Competitive fishing gives me the chance to satisfy these same needs. There is also a cerebral element involved in tournament fishing. I really enjoy developing a game plan based on factors such as map study, weather, water temperature, etc. When the planets align and your work pays off, this can be extremely rewarding. Admittedly, after fishing competitively, its difficult to turn off the tournament mindset and just fish for “fun”.

A Great Day of Largemouth Bass Fishing
A Great Day of Largemouth Bass Fishing

What are your 3 favorite moments as a competitive angler?

My three favorite moments include, a CSFL victory on Lake Couchiching, a come from behind CBAF win on Lake Eugenia, and recent redemption on Gloucester Pool.Lake Couchiching CSFL Win

My first CSFL win on Lake Couchiching is one of my fondest memories. The night before the tournament I had a difficult time sleeping because I was so excited. After blast off, on my third cast, a huge bucket absolutely annihilated my bait. While I was reeling it in, my heart was pounding so hard that I could see it beating through my shirt. This was a combination of adrenaline, three cans of Red Bull, and the fact that I was operating on zero sleep.

To make a long story short, the day was absolutely incredible but not without its challenges. Sometimes, I read about other anglers describing their win, and they say things like “nothing could go wrong”, “everything went as planned”. This definitely wasn’t the case for the win on Couchiching. The weather got pretty nasty, I lost my favorite hat, and one of my reels blew up.

At the end of the day, we knew that we had a nice bag of fish, but were also aware of the fact that several great sticks were fishing the tournament. We ended up weighing a mixed bag of just under 19 pounds. One local team with a history of “sandbagging” was still holding out to weigh in last. Truth be told, I couldn’t watch the rest of the teams weigh in because I was too nervous. I went for a walk and listened to the MC announce the weights on the sound system.

In the end that team fell a quarter ounce short, and we won! It’s funny, I always hear the saying “act like you’ve been there before”. And I’ve been raised to be this way to a certain extent. But I couldn’t contain my excitement. Looking back at the win, I think that you really need to appreciate special moments when they happen – because it may never happen again. After we put the boat on the trailer, we sat in the boat smoking victory cigars and recounting the day’s events. We were still sitting in the boat after the CSFL crew packed up the stage and the parking lot had cleared out. Good times!

Another great experience I had was at a CBAF tournament on Lake Eugenia. This was a tough lake and we had very little knowledge of this body of water going in. The day was extremely slow, and we had five small fish for a single digit weight in the box. At this point, the possibility of cashing a cheque seemed laughable.

At the end of the day, in a matter of 15 minutes, we managed to cull every fish that we had. We made it to the weigh in by mere seconds and ended up winning the tournament. This wasn’t a huge tournament, but it was an invaluable experience for me. It instilled in me the belief that it only takes minutes to completely turn around a tournament day. This experience helped boost my confidence and bolstered my belief that perseverance and tenacity are extremely important in tournament fishing. Since then, on tough days, I recall this experience and use it to motivate myself and this mentality has paid off on numerous occasions.

Another of my favorite moments took place recently at a CSFL Gloucester Pool tournament. If you’ve fished bass tournaments, you know that this experience can be very humbling. A couple of years ago, my partner, Rich Hough and I fished Gloucester Pool and felt quite confident that we would do well on this body of water.

During the tournament, we scratched and clawed and couldn’t pick up a fish over 2 pounds. We must have run over 25 spots, and just couldn’t put together a respectable bag. Honestly, when we weighed in we were really embarrassed. But, it wasn’t from a lack of trying. As it turned out, it was a tough day for a lot of competitors. But this wasn’t an excuse. Between the two of us, we had a lot of experience on this lake, and this was extremely disappointing.

That experience sat in the back of my mind for two years! This year, Rich and I headed back to Gloucester Pool for two CSFL tournaments in hopes of redeeming ourselves.  While pre-fishing, I decided to look at the lake from a completely different perspective, with fresh eyes so-to-speak. I used techniques that I had picked up over that couple of years and managed to put together a solid pattern going into the tournaments.

Rich and I even took a page from the New York Yankees playbook, growing “brostaches” for good luck. We looked like idiots – but we were a team of idiots. In both of the tournaments, we had our best finishes ever on Gloucester Pool and cashed a cheque. We are quite proud of our efforts, and now see the lake in a completely different light. We are looking quite forward to tackling it again next year!

How has 2018 been so far overall from a tournament perspective?

This year, Rich Hough and I are fishing the CSFL BM Western Series. The first stop was Sturgeon Lake. I had a feeling that this would be a tough lake – but kept it to myself.  I didn’t want to ruin the “mojo”.

Long story short – we had a really difficult time on this body of water. It really took the wind out of our sails. Looking back, I think that the poor showing that we had in this tournament lit a fire under us. We chalked this up as a learning experience, and used it to motivate us for the rest of the tournament trail.

Our next two stops on the tour were on Lake Couchiching. I absolutely love this body of water. We managed to weigh 17 pounds on the first day, and 15 on the second day. We put together big points towards qualifying for the coveted classic on Balsam Lake.

Our next two stops on Gloucester Pool would present a challenge. The last time we fished this water we had a horrible showing. Like I mentioned after some outside of the box practice fishing and solid decision making on the water, we managed to redeem ourselves and cash a cheque.

I’ve also fished two B.A.S.S. events, finishing second on 6 Mile Lake, and third on Georgian Bay. I’m particularity happy with my performance on 6 Mile because I had very little experience on this lake and had to put a pattern together on-the-fly.

Looking at my season so far, one of the things that I’m the most pleased with is my improved ability to make decisions and adapt to changing conditions on the water. I’ve always found this element of tournament fishing to be the most challenging. Hopefully it serves me well for the OBN qualifier and the CSFL Classic.

What is your favorite place to fish in a tournament?

Lake Couchiching. It can be a tough lake, but I have a decent tournament history there. I’ve spent a great deal of time on this body of water and have started to truly understand the impact of weather on fish positioning and movement. I’ve applied many of these lessons to other lakes that I fish as well. I also appreciate the fact that both smallmouth and largemouth bass could legitimately win a tournament there.

What is the toughest place to fish a tournament for you?

I would have to say that Gloucester Pool is the toughest lake I compete on. Over the years, several tournaments have taken place here and the fish are highly pressured, and the fishing can be frustrating. Winning on this lake requires considerable work, creative thinking, and a willingness to try new techniques. Fishing this lake is a grind – but this can pay off big time!

Summertime Smallmouth Bass Fishing
Summertime Smallmouth Bass Fishing

What are some of your favorite just for fun places to fish?

For a fun day of bass fishing, I’d have to pick Georgian Bay. It’s an absolutely beautiful body of water and there are lots of fish to be had. Depending on the conditions, you can fish deep, shallow, weed, rock, pads, you name it. This is also a good place to introduce someone to bass fishing for the first time.

I also love to fish Lake Erie in the Fall. If you can brave the winds and don’t mind the drive, the small jaw can be absolute pigs this time of year! I have lots of good memories on Erie.

You had an interesting post about being educated about the Sea Lamprey. What can you tell us about what you learned about this invasive species that other anglers should know?

I’ve always had an interest in Environmental Resource Management. As an angler, I’ve always been concerned about the potential impact that invasive species might have on an aquatic ecosystem. Invasive species such as the Asian Carp and Sea Lamprey are extremely difficult to control and have a devastating effect on our lakes.

At the Spring Fishing and Boat Show in Toronto, I had an opportunity to chat with Peter Grey and Ted Lawrence from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission about the impact of the Lamprey on the Great Lakes. I also had a chance to hold a Sea Lamprey in my hands. I think that the situation becomes much more meaningful when you can actually see and touch the Lamprey.

This invasive species can destroy up to 40 pounds of fish in a year. As you might imagine, this is a major concern on our Great Lakes. This not only has implications for the ecosystem and fish populations, but also the economy in terms of tourism. I think that tournament anglers can help out by educating people, reporting incidental catches, and taking precautions to prevent the transportation of invasive species from one body of water to another.

Matt Torlee with a SPRO Frog Largemouth Bass
Matt Torlée with a SPRO Frog Largemouth Bass

Who are your current pro staff companies?

I’m currently Pro Staff for Culprit, Lew’s, Eleven North Marine, SPRO, NorthStar Custom Baits, Denali Rods, and The Rod Glove.

I really enjoy working with the Culprit folks in Florida. They are innovative and offer a wide selection of plastics that catch fish! I’m a huge fan of the Incredi-craw and pretty excited about a new bait that they just released called the “Water Dragon”. These baits were created in Florida, home of some of the best largemouth fishing in the world. If you like to flip and pitch, you need to get your hands on these baits!

I’m also sponsored by Lew’s reels. These reels are extremely reliable and arguably the best on the market. The Team Lew’s Pro Magnesium is my go-to reel, and I just can’t say enough about it. Lew’s is constantly adding new reels to their lineup. You should see the new Team Lew’s Pro Ti. It’s a masterpiece!

I’m also fortunate to be working with NorthStar Custom Baits. Bret Henning, the owner, is a tournament angler himself, and makes high quality baits. NorthStar jigs been a huge contributor for me and a part of countless memories on the tournament trail.  

I’m also sponsored by Eleven North Marine in Orillia. This is a family run business and I just can’t say enough about the owners Adam and Nicole. They offer unprecedented “old school” customer service and do fantastic work!  Knowing that I have their support while running my rig in tournaments is an incredible confidence booster.

Another sponsor, Denali, makes incredibly strong and sensitive rods. I fish all of their lineups – but the Lithium Series is my favorite. If you see me on the water – I’ll introduce you to some of their rods.  

I’m also a member of SPRO’s pro staff. SPRO offers an impressive selection of high quality baits. I like to use the McStick 110 jerkbait and Fat John crankbait as search baits. They give me an opportunity to provide input about their baits at the end of each season. SPRO really values pro staff input and wants to ensure that the baits that they sell are superior.  

The Rod Glove is another one of my sponsors. These products are innovative and practical. It only makes sense to protect your rod and reel investment. These products help me organize my rods and keep me sane while I’m on the water.

I’m proud to work with all of my sponsors and really appreciate the strong support that they’ve given me over the years. I wouldn’t work with them if I didn’t believe that they had an excellent product or service and big time value to offer anglers.

Matt can be found on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and SnapChat @torleefishing.