david umpherson with an ontario largemouth bass

Fishing with Ontario’s David Umpherson

David Umpherson and his fishing partner Daniel Pittioni are two up and coming anglers from Ontario. I recently had a chance to interview Daniel, and I was excited to get a chance to throw similar questions at David. While they certainly share some things in common, they also have some unique perspectives on their fishing. Here is what David had to say about his Ontario tournament and fun fishing.

How long have you been fishing?

I have been fishing since I was 5, which means to date, I have been fishing for at least 24 years. My earliest and my first influence in fishing was my dad. He bought me my first spinner rod and was the one who taught me how to fish, tie lines, rig soft plastics, and how to handle fish.

Once my dad put the rod in my hands, I knew I was “hooked”. As a kid, I was very fidgety and always needed to move due to mild anxiety. When I sat in the boat, all the fidgeting and anxiety went away. I was able to relax and just fish. It felt like fishing was a whole different world of being zen, peaceful and just happy.

David Umpherson at a Bass Fishing TournamentWhat do you like about competitive tournament fishing?

I started tournament fishing in 2015 with my fishing partner Daniel Pittioni. Was definitely hesitant as it was our very first steps into the tournament world, but I really enjoy the challenge as recreational fishing didn’t provide as much as competitive fishing did.

The additional pressure really makes you focus and read the situation at hand in a different perspective, having to think on your toes. What if you wake up on tournament day and a cold front has rolled through, or the water levels have dropped, or even a drastic change in temperature? As the unpredictable comes, I need to be able to adapt to the situation and still find quality fish to put in the boat. And to top it all off, when it comes to weighing in, you get to see how well you did against your fellow anglers. It can be really rewarding to crack the top 10 when there are 60 to 80 plus boats.

What are your favorite tournament bass fishing waters?

I would have to say one of my favourite lake for tournaments would be Lake Erie because there is a lot of spots to fish, and it’s true what they say “big water, big fish.” My partner and myself have spent some time on Lake Erie trying to locate bass, but we also have had the opportunity to fish with other anglers out on this lake. Our fellow teammates on team Skoll has helped us, and given us the confidence in fishing this big body of water.

I really enjoy fishing at Gloucester pool as well, this lake has some giant bass, largemouth and smallmouth. I have been fishing on this lake for a while now, even before tournaments were something that I did. My partner and myself have been able to go out on Gloucester pool and lay a beating on some big bass on a regular basis. Proving to myself that we have a good understanding of the lake and confidence in the way we fish it, which in turn gives me confidence in this lake.

One of the big things that gives me confidence against my other anglers is time on the water with my partner. Time on the water is important, but time on the water with your tournament partner will help you work as a team to dissect the water by reading the sonar, looking for drop offs and specific underwater coverage. The more time you have on a specific lake the better. This way, you can work as a team to figure out what is working and what the patterns are. But, it’s not all about being on the water. Time spent looking at paper maps of the lake is just as critical for success and building confidence on that lake.

How was your overall tournament fishing year this past season?

Overall, the tournaments this past season were good…better than last year. The reason it was just good is because we missed the cut for the Classic by 4 spots, but was a huge improvement from the year before.

I like to look back on the year and ask myself a couple of different questions.

  1. How did you do?
  2. Was it better than the year before?
  3. Did you learn something and how did it make you become a better angler?
  4. And lastly the most important question did you have fun?

Yes, tournaments are a competition but you still need to make sure you are enjoying what you are doing, win or lose. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t look at fishing the same.

I think one of the first highlights was on Lake Scugog, we were struggling to get our 5 bass in the boat. We found the fish were short striking our baits, even after we downsized our baits. Time was ticking and there was 2 hours left in the tournament. We only had 2 in the livewell, which was a big concern for my partner and I. We managed to get 2 more in the boat, with only a little bit of time to spare until we had to drive to the weigh in.

My partner asked me “what’s the plan for pictures on stage? You hold 3 and I hold 1?” I said to him “No, I will hold 3 and you will hold 2.” And sure enough, FISH ON!! That was a huge highlight for me because I was able to stay positive and keep my confidence high, along with giving my partner the motivation to keep pushing for the last critical bite.

Another huge highlight for me was fishing in the National Contender on Lake Erie. Daniel and I were excited to be out there and ready for a good day of fishing. We had our game plan all planned out and were ready to execute. However, the day wasn’t going as planned by 1 pm with 3 hours remaining, we only had 2 barely keepers in the livewell. It wasn’t looking too good for us at this point. Around 2:30 PM, I was able to hook into a good one and this is where the tides turned around for us. We were able to fill the livewell and cull out one of the little guys to get us a total of 19.17 lbs for 7th place finish, which was our best finish all year.

What waters get added when you aren’t fishing in a tournament and just want to fish for fun? 

When it come to just a fun day out on the water, I like to sometime switch it up and go for pike or even walleye. I like to add in Lake Dalrymple for pike and Lake Sparrow for walleye. I also like to get myself out for a good fish at lakes such as Mitchell and Canal. These two lakes have great opportunities for bass and pike right from shore.

Moreover, you can head up to the Trent-Severn Waterway and find a ton of different shore fishing spots for some good-sized bass. At one point in time in my fishing career, I was only shore fishing and it was amazing. Especially, when you find a backwater creek or river with nobody around and you hook into some giants. I used to do some night fishing for walleye from shore. If you haven’t tried night fishing, well it’s a whole new ball game! The bigger fish move into feed and it can be non-stop action on some big fish.

David Umpherson with a Big Lake Erie Smallmouth BassWhat are your favorite methods when using Xzone baits? 

I would have to say my favourite method to using a Xzone bait would be drop shotting. I love the original Slammers, Mini Slammers, Fat Slammer and Shiver Shad. These are a bass magnet! If you are drop shotting, there’s nothing better than one of these 4 baits nose hooked. The way the bait sits in the water and responds to little twitches is why Xzone baits are the best on the market, and might I add, these baits listed above are all hand poured. I find that we as anglers are always trying to force the fish to eat the baits we want to throw, but what we should do is give the fish what they want, not what you want them to want.

The drop shot is a key technique for me because it’s a great way to slow down and it can be fish in a number of different ways and spots. You can fish it vertically and just let it sit or give it small twitches. Just be careful with the small twitches. What happens to many anglers is that they overwork the drop shot, which is why they aren’t as successful with this technique. My favourite way to fish the dropshot is cast it out and drag it back to the boat making sure that the weight is always in contact with the bottom because as you may or may not know, with the Tungsten weights we use from Woo!Tungsten, “fishing is a contact sport.”

What other techniques and baits do you love to catch bass with? 

I love to flip. It could be under docks, heavy cover or around brush piles. I love the feeling of a big ol’ bass thumping your bait once it’s right in the strike zone. Especially using a 2/0 hook with a Woo flipping weight and Woo! Flipping bead hooked up to a Xzone lures Muscle Back Craw in black with blue flake. This is a killer combination! The flipping weight with the bead will help with making some noise in the water to get the attention of the big bass, along with protecting the knot.

The reason I use a Muscle Back Craw as my plastic of choice is because of the way the pinchers of the claw sit up in the water. The claws are made to sit up in the position of defense, which gives it a life-like look of a real crayfish.

Some of the key ways to use this set up is to flip it in, let it sit, then slow drag or hop it back to the boat. I find most of my strikes are on the 1st pitch in or after the 1st twitch once the bait is on the bottom.

Another great technique is the Marabou jig. This bait has helped me put some big smallmouth in the boat. It a very simple bait that you can work many of ways. You can let it sit on the bottom and bounce it back to the boat or you can give it a twitch, twitch, pause technique. Either way, whichever you choose you will be successful, I believe it is a very underutilized bait for smallmouth bass.

If you are not fishing for bass, what other species do you love fishing for? 

I like the aggressive fight and strikes of the Northern Pike. They are a very strong predator and make for a great day on the water. I enjoy fishing for them at Dalrymple, St. John, and Gloucester pool.

I also like to fish for walleye, which is normally on Sparrow lake. Fishing for walleye has really help me in the dropshot game because the way I fish for walleye is similar. Therefore it is good practice and helps me with the patience because that is key to the dropshotting.

Surprisingly, I have also caught my fair share of muskie when aiming for bass almost with every bait on most lakes I’ve been to. Not with a muskie lure, but either with a drop-shot, or better yet… most memorable was on a flip ‘n pitch in Lake Scugog.

What are your future goals in fishing? 

My goals in fishing is to become a better angler as the years progress, but I wouldn’t be opposed to trying to make it to the big stage such as fishing in the States at an FLW Event. That would be a very ambitious goal for me, but I am willing to work towards it. I would love to become a pro, but I do understand that it’s more difficult to become pro only fishing in Canada.

The goals for the YouTube channel is to keep posting our adventures in the world of fishing. We enjoy creating the videos and hope the viewers enjoy it as well. We would like to make this a channel that is enjoyable to watch along with getting some insight into new ways and techniques on how to fish different bodies of water in Canada. Furthermore, we try to give a first hand look at how tournaments are run and all the work that is needed to be successful in them. I would love to see our channel move from the internet to cable, just like some of the big shows you see on WFN.

Who are your sponsors?

My current sponsors are Skoll Gear, Woo Tungsten, Xzone Lures and The Rod Glove.

Skoll gear offers me high performance UV protection gear that I can wear on and off the water. On the water the sun is beating down you from all angles such as the reflection off the water. Which is why I always wear my Skoll Gear to stay protected from the sun’s harmful rays and to stay cool out on the water with the light breathable gear that Skoll  has. Furthermore, They have a whole line of gear, t-shirts, hoodies, hats, face shields, gloves and more. They are great for on and off the water because they don’t only protect you, but they keep you stylish as well.

Woo Tungsten is my one stop shop when it comes to weights. Their weights are made from 97% pure tungsten, insert free and nearly impossible to chip. So, if I need dropshot weights or flipping weights, I am set with Woo Tungsten in my corner.

Xzone Lures has a wide variety of soft plastics that offer me different types of plastics such as craws, worms, tubes and more. Also, a ton of different colours in each product. Xzone is the one and only place I go for all of my needs when it comes to plastics, their product is bar none.

The Rod Glove plays a key role in the protection of my rods and reels. My rods and reels are expensive, so why not protect them with the best product on the market. They have the rod glove that keeps the guides safe and have a tapered tip to keep the tip safe as well, Might I mention, keeping the rods from tangling in the rod locker. I use the reel glove as well to keep my reels protected from bouncing around and bumping into my other reels which could cause damage to the reels which wouldn’t be good. Rod Glove is often imitated but could never be duplicated.

It is no wonder why David and Daniel had such a great 2017. I am expecting even more success from these guys in 2018. You can follow on David on Instagram @daveumphy. Also, their YouTube channel @FishingFinatics is fantastic and shows their love of the sport.