Big Bass of Baptiste Lake

A Waterway with a rich history of big bass fishing in Ontario

Northern Ontario is home to thousands of lakes and rivers, many of which harbour incredible numbers of both smallmouth and largemouth bass for the vacationing angler. But some are especially popular for the number of “big bass” they produce each season—Baptiste Lake located in beautiful Bancroft, Ontario, only 16 km from world-famous Algonquin Park, is one of these popular lakes known for its big bass.

This waterway has a rich history of bass fishing dating back to the early 1960s and produced some of the heaviest largemouth bass in excess of 8+ pounds entered in the Canadian Molson Big Fish Contest. Yes, 8+ pounds of largemouth bass!

angler holding ontario bass

Still not impressed? Consider the fact many 5- to 6-pound smallmouth are caught each season from these same waterways that include Baptiste, Elephant, and Benoir Lakes—all accessible by boat with no locking systems entering each lake on the system.

birch cliff lodge cottage

We spent a few days in early July visiting with the gracious hosts of Birch Cliff Lodge on Baptiste Lake, only 10 km from the town of Bancroft, which is home to one of the world's largest mineral and gem tourist attractions called Rockhound Jamboree. Birch Cliff Lodge is one of Ontario's most picturesque cottage resorts, and since 1931 it has been an ideal destination for family vacations and angling adventures. They offer cottages of various sizes, each freshly decorated and updated with screened porches and some with fireplaces. Retaining its 1930s character, Birch Cliff Lodge is a unique venue for weddings, conferences, and retreats. Check with them for spring and fall discounts. Discover why so many families return to this beautiful lodge year after year.

Let’s go fishing.

The late spring conditions and cooler water temperatures made it so that the deeper weed growth was not yet up to par in terms of holding numbers of bigger bass. We decided to pound the shorelines in search of shallow water largemouth bass hiding amongst the endless shoreline cover including logs, lily pads, stumps, rock piles, manmade structure, and overhanging trees, which held some of the biggest bass of this trip.

Pitching and flipping soft plastic baits with heavy fluorocarbon lines on medium-heavy and heavy action casting rod setups increased our odds of landing a few Baptiste Lake giant bass, hooked in the tangled mess of tree roots and branches that overhang, or lay just below the surface of the water.

baptiste lake sunset

The lake has miles and miles of unspoiled, natural shoreline with an abundance of fallen trees—large trees close to the water’s edge are excellent hiding places for bigger bass to hang out and eat unsuspecting critters.

These same overhanging trees and large branches offer a longer shade line from the sun and, depending on which side of the lake you are fishing, they can be an extended shaded hiding spot for bass well into the afternoon.

Some of my favourite trees are located close to deeper water but never neglect those trees standing all alone in the shallow water in the backs of a bay. Big bass have a habit of finding the best spots on a lake, regardless of the water depth or any lead-in cover or structure elements.

baptiste lake bass

I fished a lot of water on this trip. I found a bunch of overhanging trees by cruising the shorelines and looking for obvious cover that could hold bass. Even if it looked like it had potential to attract bass, it was worth a look—I managed to boat some good numbers of smaller bass on fallen trees and small lily pad weeds along the shorelines. I caught and released some real good largemouth bass on the more isolated shoreline sections that had trees, fallen logs, and weed growth mixed along the shorelines.

We didn't have much time to fish for those big brown smallmouth that are so popular on this lake, but that's for another Ontario trip this Fall when the trees are in full colour and the bass are putting on the feed bag big time. 

Contact Information

Visit www.birchclifflodge.ca

Phone: (613) 332-3316

Email: info@birchclifflodge.ca

(All photo credits: Karl Kalonka)
About Karl Kalonka

It's possible Karl's love for fishing began as early as the age of five. His parents took the kids on weekend trips across Ontario fishing for panfish, catfish, and bass. "I started with a bobber and worm from the time I was five years old," says Karl. These days, he has the enviable task of doing what he loves for a living, travelling across Ontario fishing, filming and producing two outdoor series, Extreme Angler and Crappie Angler TV.

Recommended Articles

Top 5 Flies for Smallmouth Bass

The inside scoop on bass flies from the hosts of The New Fly Fisher.

Whitefish Lake Walleye

An epic walleye fishing adventure in Superior Country.

Ontario Brook Trout

Fish these 10 sweet spots.

Lake of the Woods

10 Facts You Didn't Know

5 Deadliest Fishing Lures

Use these lures when ice fishing for lake trout in Northern Ontario.

5 Places to Shore Fish

Fish’n Canada shows you where to go shore fishing in Ontario.

Top 5 Musky Destinations in Ontario

The Musky Hunter shows you where to land the best musky in Ontario waters.

Top 10 Ice Fishing Lakes

Every kind of fish and experience—Ontario ice fishing is some of the best in the world.

Spring Perch Fishing

Use These Tips on Your Next Ontario Fishing Trip

Summer Fishing Patterns for Multi-Species

Bob Izumi discusses tips for different species and how to catch them when summer temperatures soar.

Year Round Fishing in Ontario

Who Says You Can’t Fish All Year in Ontario?

Eating Northern Pike

The Best Recipe to Cook This Fish

Five Brook Trout Flies

What flies to bring when fishing for brook trout.

Stalking Prehistoric Long Nose Gar

Hosts Angelo Viola and Pete Bowman took to the waters with the objective of 100% sight fishing.

Lake Nipigon Adventure

Fishing for Lake Trout, Walleye & Pike

Smallmouth Bass Destinations

From rivers to lakes, smallmouth bass are found throughout Ontario.

Become a World-class Fishing Guide

Misconceptions, behind-the-scenes intel, and key tips from a professional guide.

Wag Your Tail For More Walleye, Bass and Trout

Fishing with friends brings camaraderie and a lesson, or two.

Mammoth Magnets

How Water Temperature Affects Pike & Muskie

Shoreline Strategies

Try These 2 Techniques For Targeting Winter Brook Trout