Ontario is filled with great places to fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Baptiste Lake near Bancroft is one of those places. I talk to Keith Rae about fishing Baptiste Lake for bass. We also get his review of Sweet Dreams Cottages, which is where he stays when he visits
How long have you been fishing Baptiste Lake?
I’ve been fishing Baptiste Lake for 3 years. I’ve been taking the first few weeks of July off every year to explore a different lake in Ontario. After my first visit to Baptiste, I keep going back. It’s an awesome lake. Very few cottages, lots of wild shorelines and unpressured fish compared to my home water of Lake Simcoe.
What is your review of Sweet Dreams Cottages?
Sweet Dreams Cottages on Baptiste is the best run cottage resort I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a lot. The owners Donna and Wayne are really welcoming. The cottages are very clean and comfortable. This place is family friendly and not really meant to be a fishing lodge but it works out well for my wife and I. She can relax on the beach or swim in the crystal clear water while I’m out chasing fish around the lake.
What boat do you use on the lake?
I’ve been running a Triton TR186 with 150 HP Merc Optimax for a couple years now. It’s an amazing fishing platform for its size. It’s basically a giant tackle box stuffed with more gear than I’ll ever use.
Baptiste is fairly well marked in the main channels but there’s a ton of stumps and trees that lie just under the surface in some of the bays. The local rule says to stay 50′ from any shoreline. I think I’d be more comfortable tripling that distance. I was working a gradual rocky shoreline this year with giant boulders, my boat was positioned in 40′ and I noticed trees just below the surface in front of me well off the shoreline. It came up fast. If you take that corner too close on plane you’re going to have a bad time.
When do you typically go in July to Baptiste Lake?
I go every July for a week or more if I can. Last year I ended up going later in July and the fishing was incredible. This year we had a really cold spring. The ice didn’t go out until late May so that put everything behind. The bass were still really shallow but the water temp was 85° so it was a challenge getting them to bite. Combine that with the full moon and it made for some very tough fishing this year.
These annual trips are never really just about fishing. Generally it’s the hottest month for weather up here in Ontario. Best of both worlds for fishing and relaxing.
If I can swing it, I’m going head up this fall to target muskie for a few days.
Baptiste Lake has largemouth and smallmouth bass. How is the largemouth bass fishing on the lake?
We’re just about at the northern limit for the largemouth range here so this is not a good choice if you’re looking for a trophy. If you want sore arms and a good case of bass thumb you’ve come to the right place. There’s a healthy population of 1 to 2 lb bass to keep you swinging fish all day long. There’s the odd fish in there that will get the heart racing though. It definitely keeps things interesting.
What are your favorite baits/presentations for Baptiste largemouth bass?
My absolute favourite way to catch largemouth on any lake is pitchin and flippin jigs. This lake provides the perfect opportunities for jigs from deep weed flats, standing timber, brush piles and of course docks. Covering water with a spinnerbait or chatterbait helps locate them on large flats.
The previous years the largemouth were in 10 to 14 feet on weeds with timber mixed in. This year, with everything being behind a few weeks combined with the hot weather was a little more of a challenge to get them to bite. Definitely, more of reaction bite. I knew where they were but they ignored most of my offerings. Fast moving baits in around 6 feet of water close to spawning areas convinced a few.
How is the smallmouth bass fishing on Baptiste Lake?
This lake is classic northern Smallmouth bass water. Rocky points, shoals and islands with lots of big boulders for them to hide around. Smallies are plentiful on Baptiste but having Lake Simcoe in my backyard it’s really hard to compare. Great for numbers and there are some giants in Baptiste.
What are your favorite baits/presentations for Baptiste Lake smallmouth bass?
It’s hard to go by a rocky shoal or point and not throw a jerkbait, tube or drop shot. It’s not hard to figure out where the smallies will be hiding. I’ve had the most success fishing the rocky islands and outside channels to back bays drop-shotting a 3″ power minnow or dragging a Mizmo tube.
How is the fishing for the other species on the lake?
Pike are probably the most prolific fish in the lake. They are everywhere and can be caught easily on anything you throw. Most of the people that fish the lake are targeting walleye. I found a few big schools of them this year but didn’t target them. I think I’ll dedicate a day to them next year. There is also lake trout and muskie.
I decided to target Muskie for the first time ever this year. I had one follow to the boat but didn’t commit. I hooked up on big fish the first 2 attempts at trolling for them but it threw the hook.
Overall, what are 5 pieces of advice do you have for anyone fishing Baptiste for the first time?
#1 – Patterns change quickly on this lake. Be ready to switch tactics if the bite dies. This really holds true for any lake, but I noticed significant changes on Baptiste even from one hour to the next.
#2 – Some shallow weedy bays are better than others. If it looks text book perfect it probably won’t hold fish…haha. Over the years we’ve noticed that the fish don’t ever seem to be where they should. There’s lots of water to explore, Don’t waste a lot of time if you’re not getting bites.
#3 – Upsize and go for the reaction bites. Especially when the fish are lethargic. I fished behind live bait fisherman that were struggling. Throwing chatter baits and large jointed swimbaits got us fish the live bait guys couldn’t catch.
#4 – This is more of a money saving tip than a fish catching one. Leave your Megabass and other expensive jerkbaits at home. This lake is stuffed with pike. It’s almost impossible to not catch them.
#5 – This lake can be either really easy or really challenging depending on the conditions. There’s lots of water to cover when you consider you can access Elephant and Benoir lakes without having to go through any locks. Spend a day running and gunning. It’s a beautiful lake system with miles of wild shoreline to explore.
Thank you so much for that breakdown of bass fishing on Baptiste Lake. Will be following your future trips there on Instagram @kraefishing.