Huntin’ Hawgs on the St Lawrence River with Canuck Bassin

DockTalk365 Ontario

canuck-bassin-002The Canuck Bassin’ Twitter Profile leads with “Huntin Hawgs in the St Lawrence River Region”. I love the St Lawrence River and have fished it a number of times. I thought I knew a fair bit about fishing it. That is until I interviewed Chris Harper of Canuck Bassin.

This guys so knows this water and has the fish photos to prove it. Hawg Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass fill his stellar photo gallery. Learn all about Chris and his fishing right here.

And then after you view his photo gallery and read this fantastic interview, we have one more surprise for you. So read on…

canuck-bassin-001First of all you have a very adorable furry black fishing partner. Tell us about your dog and what makes him a great fishing partner.

Jack is turning 5 this year and he has been on the water since he was about 5 months old. He instantly took an interest in fishing and was intrigued with me casting lures. As soon as that first fish hit, he was hooked. He is always on “stand by mode” and at the slightest hook set, drag peel, or change in behaviour, he kicks into high gear. He is obsessed with licking every fish, and if we don’t let him, he has been known to jump in after them. Jack is almost always ready to go and will endure some horrible conditions to be on the water with us. He doesn’t want to miss a chance to lick a fish. As much as Jack can add additional challenges, it’s just not the same when he stays at home. Not to mention, I think his fan base on Twitter may be larger than mine. Lol. #Fishlicker

Following you on Twitter, I am going to call you the Smallmouth King! You consistently catch some amazing fish. Why do you love smallmouth bass fishing?

There are multiple answers to why I love smallmouth and I am sure I won’t be able to answer you completely with all the reasons. I would like to start by mentioning that I love fishing my largemouth too. The heavy gear, solid hooksets, and close combat in thick slop, can get me pretty fired up. But there is definitely something that has smallies holding a special place in my heart.

Anyone that has ever caught a smallmouth knows that they are brawlers, through and through. They can come up from 30 feet and break the surface in a split second and then rocket back to the bottom in the next. They never give up and at that moment you think you have them beat, they can make a mad run and snap your line. From the moment you hook up, it’s anyone’s fight. You can never guarantee that you will land that fish.

I have found smallmouth fishing on the St. Lawrence River to be extremely challenging at times and extremely rewarding. Being fortunate enough to live minutes from world class smallmouth water, it would seem almost a sin to NOT fish for them. Besides, I know that my personal best is swimming out there. Any cast you make can be the one that an 8lb smallmouth decides to smash.

With the water clarity, in a highly pressured area, I have found that a lot of the larger smallmouth require you to push your limits in order to become proficient at catching them. In the past few years, I found myself dropping my line diameter and hook sizes down further and further to perfect my finesse techniques and fool the bigger fish. This can be a heartbreaker, but the adrenaline rush and the sense of accomplishment when you land a +5lb smallmouth on 5lb Fluorocarbon line in heavy current, is unparalleled.

canuck-bassin-004You fish the St. Lawrence River. What section of the river do you fish the most and what makes the St. Lawrence such a great smallmouth fishery?

I have spent several years focused on a small stretch of the river between Maitland and Browns Bay, but mainly in the Brockville Islands area. I believe the reason why the river is such an amazing fishery is a combination of the depth range, structure, current, water clarity and largely to the abundance of food, mainly the invasive species; the Goby. I contribute some of the success, to the (what some folks see as crazy) fishing seasons that both the province of Ontario and Northern New York State, have in place. This gives fish a chance to spawn uninterrupted for the most part. Also, I believe that more people are becoming aware of the benefits of practicing catch and release. Let the big ones go and if you “need a feed” then please, keep 2lb and under for the table.

A lot of folks, myself included, have come to the St. Lawrence for fishing vacations, what advice do you have for people coming to fish the River on vacation, especially for the first time?

I believe that fluorocarbon is a big advantage to anyone using it fishing the St.Lawrence River. I have first-hand, seen the kind of impact that fishing with and without it, can have on your success. It helps offset the issues of water clarity and because these fish see a lot of pressure. Also, it helps with abrasion caused by rocks and more importantly, zebra mussels. So buy a spool and learn to tie knots like the Modified Albright aka Crazy Alberto, for joining a leader to mainline braid. The Eugene knot is by far my favourite for tying my lures to the line.

Also, if you don’t know how to dropshot, get on YouTube or social media and be sure to get a good understanding of this fairly simple, yet highly productive technique. I am always willing to take the time to share what I know with anyone interested. This is my go to for smallmouth and has caught me countless +5 pounders.

Look for submerged boulders, sand, current breaks (like islands, lighthouses/marker buoys, etc.) If you have the equipment, like Navionics, contour maps, or just sonar in general, look for flats with decent drop offs and ledges to deeper water.

What is your favorite season to fish the St. Lawrence and why?

I love the first couple weeks of bass fishing and the fall. These are the key times when bigger fish are more easily located and in the fall, schooled up with the feed bag strapped on.

canuck-bassin-005What are your top 5 St. Lawrence River smallmouth bass lures to throw?

Dropshot – Angler’s Choice Killshot and the NEW Crosshair 4.0
Swimbait – Angler’s Choice Sniper Shad on SEM Mega Jig’s Swim Jigs, Football Jigs, and Underspins
Tube Jigs – Angler’s Choice Tubes on 1/2 – 3/4 oz SEM Mega Jig’s Tube Jigs
Wacky Worm – Angler’s Choice Wart Hawg on SEM Mega Jigs Wacky Bass Candy
Cranks/Spinnerbaits – Lipless cranks like Kamooki SMARTfish and SMARTcraw and Spinnerbaits like SEM Mega Jigs Trokar Spinnerbaits.

canuck-bassin-007Tell us about the fish story behind your personal best St. Lawrence smallmouth.

My personal best so far is a 6.15lb smallmouth. I caught it on a terrible fall day with a +40 kph East wind blowing and battling +4ft swells. In fact, I cracked the hull on my boat that day and was taking on a ton of water. Although common sense was telling me I should not be on the water, the fact that the season end was fast approaching, I chose to ignore my rational thoughts and ventured on. I was out testing a bag of Angler’s Choice Killshots on a dropshot rig and managed to catch that 6.15lber. I was also just new to using Liquid Mayhem and since that day the Killshot and Liquid Mayhem have been a main staple in my smallmouth success. My son (camera man) Tyler was at school that day, and getting pictures was definitely a challenge, but managed a few “selfies” and pics of the digital scales. Since then I decided a GoPro was a necessity.

What other smallmouth bass waters in your area do you like to fish?

Although there are other lakes around me that have smallies, I tend to focus most of my attention on the St. Lawrence. Charleston and surrounding lakes hold some great smallmouth as well, but the river is literally less than a 10 minute drive from my garage, and with the number of monster fish that it has, it’s a no brainer if I plan to fish smallies, where I launch the boat.

You represent a number of fishing companies. What can you tell us about the folks you represent?

I am truly blessed to be representing and working with such great companies and the amazing folks that are behind them. Every company I work with, make me feel like part of a family and provide me with some amazing products that flat out catch fish.

Angler’s Choice is a Canadian based Soft Plastics company, that makes a wide variety of amazing baits. Their finesse baits bag me some of the largest smallies around, their craws and creatures are notoriously good for big buckets and their ability to make practically any custom colour, if you are interested in doing so, makes them a company everyone should be dealing with.

Liquid Mayhem is another Canadian company that provides the most amazing line up of scent products that can be used on practically every presentation you can conceive. They use real bait fish like crawfish, shad, minnows, leech, etc, in their product and the real magic is in the gel formula that lasts for 20-40 minutes with one application, on everything from hard bodied crankbaits, to soft plastics, to hollow bodied frogs, you name it… It flat out sticks to it and catches fish.

Kamooki Lures are another great Canadian company that has created a variety of lipless cranks that literally balance in an upright position on structure or on the bottom when at rest. They can be slow rolled, vertically jigged, ripped, burned, worked over structure on bottom like a jig, you name it…. You can’t fish them wrong. They come in a variety of sizes and are currently available in their super popular SMARTcraw and SMARTfish designs.

SEM Outdoors MEGA JIGScanuck-bassin-008 is another amazing Canadian company that provides top notch jigs and other terminal tackle and provides some of the most amazing products that pack a TROKAR punch. Their quality and attention to detail is noticed in every piece of tackle they provide and you can clearly see that these products are created by tournament anglers, who only use the best components when making their tackle.

Rod Glove / VRX provided me with an amazing opportunity to work with some of the most recognizable names in the industry. They are a top notch company to work with and have provided the opportunity to represent their stellar products like Rod Glove, Reel Glove, Bait Glove, Rod Wrapz, etc. These products will always have a place in and out of my boat whenever fishing is involved. They offer superior protection to my investments and I will always use them on and off the water and during the off season.

In addition to their own amazing products, VRX brought opportunity with the infamous reel and rod company Lew’s. These reels and rods are amazing for the price and I can see exactly why so many people are Lew’s fans for life. I am blown away with the cast ability, the smoothness and the overall look of their reels. I use the mid range reels and they feel like a million dollars. Anyone looking for superior quality, for an affordable price, need to give Lew’s a chance.

Boomerang Tools is also under the VRX umbrella and I must say, this little tool is one of the handiest tools a fisherman could every own. It is always right on my side, a ready for action. They are super sharp and cut through some of the heaviest lines with ease. I will always own a Boomerang Tool SNIP.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to share a little about my passion and to mention a little about the amazing companies that I have the honour to represent.

Wishing everyone Tight Lines and Big Limits.

Thank you Chris! The information you have provided is so helpful to anyone who fishes the St Lawrence River.

Now, I promised a surprise. Drum roll please… You can get even more Canuck Bassin Hawg Huntin on the St. Lawrence on YouTube. These videos are action packed filled with big bass. Check it out. I promise you will enjoy.