My favorite fish to target is by far smallmouth bass. So when I find anglers that know how to catch smallies and especially big smallies, I always want to talk to them. I was very happy when Mitch Klatt of Ontario agreed to discuss his thoughts about catching big Ontario smallmouth bass. Here is what Mitch had to say…
You clearly know how to catch big smallmouth bass. What do you love about fishing for Ontario Smallies?
First off, I will have to say Smallies were the first fish I fell in love with. So much to love about them from their scrappy and aggressive nature to the acrobatic aerials and sometimes elusive ways. There are so many different ways to coax a smallie into striking but my favourite still has to be throwing a jerkbait.
What are your three favorite smallmouth lakes or rivers in Ontario?
Lake Simcoe: Any avid angler that lives in North America has probably heard about this lake and the giant Smallmouth it produces year after year. I get out there once in a while and it’s hard to beat catching mammoth brown bass in gin clear water!
Rice Lake: This lake is special to me because I won my first tournament there with my Dad in 2009, all Smallmouth. Unlike Lake Simcoe, it usually has chocolate coloured water and I love the variety of structure I can catch smallies on here.
The Kawartha Lakes: These are also special to me because I grew up fishing them. Lots of childhood memories with friends and my Dad. They also seem to never disappoint!
As an avid tournament angler, how do you decide which species to chase when fishing a tournament on an Ontario lake that has both largemouth and smallmouth?
Lots of different factors here but for me it’s an easy decision. I consider myself a “smallie guy” and have a lot more confidence in finding bigger sized smallies. If prefish goes well, I have no problem bringing in a mixed bag!
I am going to put you on any of your three favorite waters in early fall. What are three baits that are always tied on?
Rapala Shadow Rap Shad: Rapala changed the game once again when they made this slow rising jerkbait. Don’t have to work too hard to get the right action out of these and the weight transfer system makes for longer casts. When I find Smallies chasing shiners or other minnows this is what I’m throwing. It’s a no-brainer!
Storm Chug Bug/Storm Cover Pop: Believe it or not, topwater is still working early fall and sometimes all day too. The Smallies are starting to feed heavily, and it’s hard to resist an easy meal on the surface for them. A lot of pauses contribute to a lot of bites! This bite fades quickly as the water temp plummets.
Tube Jig: Classic eh? Another one of my favourite tools to catch Smallmouth. The tube jig can represent so many different types of forage it’s hard not to use. Long casts and finding the right colour and cadence is the key to success.
How far into the fall are you fishing for smallmouth?
I usually stop chasing Smallmouth in late October sometime, weather dependent. Our season in Southern and Central Ontario ends November 30th or December 15th depending what zone you’re fishing.
I let the smallmouth dictate what I use but usually will always tie on in the fall, usually a jerkbait, swimbait and drop-shot.
Recently, I was talking to a friend about how a Perch colored Rapala Original #7 used to be my go to bait for Pennsylvania river smallies. Are there any classic baits that are often now overlooked by anglers that you still use to catch smallmouth?
I still have a tackle box full of the Storm Orginal Series Rattlin’ Chug Bugs. It provides the perfect ‘bloop’ sound when you chug it, country mile casts and a nice bite size.
With the extreme variety of lures nowadays, it’s easy to forget about the past and get with the latest. This is one classic I won’t stop using!
I saw a pic of a Rapala R-Type reel. These reels and rods are not the most common. What can you tell us about this line of equipment?
The Rapala R-type rod series accomodates every angler. From Sturgeon to Bass and everything in between! They have a super wide range of lengths and actions to suit your needs in either spinning or casting. They are very comfortable and can be fished all day with no fatigue.
As for the reels, they are a higher end model. Very sleek, durable and smooth like butter. I still have some of the originals that came out years ago. Love ’em!
All specs and info for them can be found at rapala.ca
Who are your sponsors? How do their products help you catch more smallmouth bass?
My sponsors include Rapala, Storm, VMC, Terminator, Sufix, Gamakatsu, MarCum Technologies, Luhr-Jensen, Blue Fox, Trigger X and StrikeMaster.
The smallmouth spectrum is pretty well covered! They are the best at what they do plain and simple. Up to date and latest in technology. Most are globally known and speak for themselves. I am very blessed to be working with such legendary companies!
Great stuff Mitch! Thank you. Keep posting those big Ontario smallmouth bass on Instagram. I will be following.