Pigeon Lake is part of Ontario’s Kawartha Region. This lake has beautiful scenery and great bass fishing. Brad Sullivan regularly fishes this lake for both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. Brad discusses with us his approach to fishing Pigeon in the summer and fall months.
Judging by your Twitter, you have had some really good success on Pigeon Lake. What are the aspects of fishing Pigeon that make it a great place to fish?
Pigeon Lake’s diversity makes it a great place to fish. The lake has a lot to offer in terms of structure and habitat. You can catch fish here with pretty much any technique you like to use. From shallow and vegetation filled flats south of Grenadier Island to the deeper and rockier/sandier areas north of there. For an added bonus there’s always a chance at a trophy musky every flip or cast anywhere on the lake.
Pigeon holds both smallmouth and largemouth. How do you describe the quantity and quality of fish for both species?
The lake has a great population of both smallmouth and largemouth. I would say it’s a good numbers lake as well as size with no shortage of 1-3 pound fish all while 18 to 20 pound bags of either smallmouth or largemouth are commonly required to win a tournament here throughout the summer and fall.
When targeting largemouth, what are the keys types of structure and habitat that you are looking for throughout the summer and fall?
During the summer, I like to start fishing a top water usually shallow, 5ft or less, over grass or in pads that have a little bit of depth underneath them. Then, as things heat up, I’ll usually move out a little deeper where I can find healthy grass, be it milfoil or cabbage, in the 8 to 10 feet of water range.
The fall time doesn’t change all that much for me with the exception that I’ll usually spend a little more time fishing shallower. I think these are pretty key pieces of cover on just about all Kawartha Lakes, as they offer shelter and habitat for all types of baitfish and crayfish.
What are your favorite baits for largemouth on Pigeon?
I like to fish with a lot of different baits and experiment with new ones. A couple of staples that are always tied on are a 1/2oz Black Arkie style jig with a black and blue rage craw trailer. I fish this deep or shallow, flipping it around weed edges or into pockets in deeper grass or up shallower flipping pads or bull rush.
The second staple is a 1/2oz spinnerbait in any baitfish pattern and almost always a small gold Colorado and large silver willow leaf blade pattern. I like this because I can cover a lot of water and I can fish it in pretty well any depth of water and through and around most types of cover.
When targeting smallmouth, what are the key types of structure and habitat that you are looking for throughout the summer and fall?
When searching for smallmouth in the summer, I typically look off shore in the 8 to 12 feet of water range or anywhere I can find sand/weed or chunk rock/weed transitions near visible or underwater points.
In the fall, I’ll move a little shallower on sandy flats on the main lake and in bays. I think the smallmouth relate well to those types of cover, as it gives them the opportunity to stay on the move in and out of cover or move around in packs.
What are your favorite baits for smallmouth on Pigeon?
For me it’s tough to beat a 1/2 ounce green pumpkin jig with a matching chunk trailer. A local company, New Age Lures, makes a good chunk for that. I like to flip it and drag it around the transition lines where the two types of cover meet.
Another lure I would recommend is a bigger square bill crankbait. I personally like the Strike King 2.5 in bluegill or perch pattern. I like to make long casts and let it deflect off the chunk rock. It’s a blast when you feel it deflect off a rock then just stop dead on a giant smallie!
Is Pigeon Lake a high-pressured body of water?
During high season it can get pretty crazy with pleasure boaters, especially on the weekends. I would say day-to-day fishing pressure throughout the week isn’t too bad unless there are bigger tournaments coming up. If this is the case, you will likely start to run into a bit of fishing pressure, but it’s usually not too difficult to slip away and find some water to yourself.
I’d say the most popular area of the lake is the south end towards Emily Provincial Park. This area probably sees the heaviest fishing pressure. There are some days where you can literally walk across the boats, but it’s for good reason. There are big stringers to be had there if you dial them in.
What advice do you have for someone fishing Pigeon for the first time?
One: Where you start out. I would start by launching at a mid-lake location. Gannons Narrows Marina would be a good starting point. This area of the lake has a good mix of everything. The lake can be quite the run from top to bottom, so a central location is a good start.
Two: Do a little research on the Navionics web app and Google earth to search out some spots. As I said before, hit these areas with your confidence baits and what you like to use. Odds are if it looks “fishy” and there are baitfish around you’ll catch them.
Three: Stay for more than a day! It’s a big lake and you have access to Buckhorn Lake and Chemong Lake without locking. Both of these lakes offer great fishing and diversity in their own ways. Make sure you check out the town of Bobcaygeon on the North West side of the lake. It’s a great place to tie off your boat and take a break mid-day and grab a bite to eat or some Kawartha dairy ice cream during those sweltering August days.
Four: Bring a good size net and a pair of jaw spreaders. There’s a healthy population of 10lb plus muskies and a real chance at a 50+ incher waiting to take your favorite bait. Proper care and quick release of these fish are important for keeping the musky fishery here as good as it is!
You have started making your own baits. I have to tell you that they look great. What got you started doing this?
Thank you! I appreciate that. I started this for a few reasons. One reason is the long winters. I have lots of time to kill, as I’m not much of an ice fisherman which most anglers here do to kill time until the next bass opener.
Also, the price of baits is just getting crazy! My favorite Strike King spinnerbaits are now almost 15 bucks after taxes at the local Bass pro. Making baits is a lot of fun and it is a fraction of the cost.
Having the luxury to spend as much time as I do on the water, I go through a tonne of spinnerbaits by having them break off or by having big musky or big acrobatic smallies twist them out of commission. My favorite jigs here are about 7 bucks and I lose my fair share of those as well.
I’m pretty excited about trying them all, but I think I am most excited about trying some of my spinnerbaits. I’ve used the best components I could get my hands on such as, Sampo swivels, extra-long shank Trokar hooks, and higher end blades like the 24k plated gold Colorado’s for extra flash. Hand tying the skirts with thread has enabled me to create thicker/fuller skirts with detailed layering of colors on some of them.
Thank you Brad for that great bass fishing information. By the looks of those baits, I am quite certain it won’t be long until you are setting hooks on some big Pigeon Lake bass with them.
Check out Brad on Twitter @BradSully87.