Topwater Smallmouth Bass: Dog Lake Resort

Anglers can agree on one thing: catching big smallmouth bass on topwater flies or lures is the best!

One of the best places to find outstanding topwater action is Dog Lake Resort in Northwestern Ontario. Dog Lake Resort is a drive-to facility that is actually not that far from Thunder Bay. You can fly into Thunder Bay and rent a vehicle or, for those driving, it’s only a few hours from the Canada/USA border.

Host Bill Spicer had four wonderful days at Dog Lake Resort last June fishing for big smallmouth bass. Dog Lake features lots of excellent structure such as rocky points, flats, shoals, and beaver lodges—all magnets for cruising smallmouth bass. At 40 miles in length and with over 500 miles of shoreline, Dog Lake is perfect for smallmouth bass fishing.

Bill found that in the early morning, the bass were not willing to come to the surface due to the cool air and water temperatures. He found that an intermediate fly line or sink-tip coupled to a woolly bugger was the ticket for connecting with big smallies. Once it warmed up, Bill then switched back to a floating fly line and began casting topwater poppers. The action was incredible and explosive! Sometimes the smallmouth would quietly inhale the poppers from below the surface, while other times they jumped on them intensely. What a fun thing to witness!

neon popper fly

The fish Bill was targeting were post-spawn smallmouth bass that were on the deeper edges of flats, boulder fields, and other similar structure. He kept away from the male bass, which were in shallower waters protecting the nests. Weed beds were just starting to emerge and according to his guide, later in the month and throughout the summer, excellent pike action could be had around these weed beds.

Dog Lake Resort is mostly known for its exceptional walleye fishery but, as Bill discovered, it also possesses an astonishing smallmouth bass population.

angler holding bass

The resort has numerous cabins that are comfortable and roomy, perfect for groups of anglers or families. They also have a wonderful main dining room for those times when you don’t want to cook your own meals. Of course, the resort has boats and motors available for rental.

dog lake resort cabin

Bill recommends you bring either a 6- or 7-weight rod matched to large-arbor fly reels. You will need WF floating lines and also either Intermediate or Sink-tip flylines to explore all parts of the water column with your flies. The best topwater flies are yellow, orange, and black poppers. Woolly buggers with coneheads work exceptionally well in virtually all colours.

closeup of bass with fly in its mouth

If you are looking for a quality fishing experience, easy access, and affordable prices, then we strongly recommend you check out Dog Lake Resort. 

Contact Information

Phone Toll free: 1-800-466-0918

(All photo credits: The New Fly Fisher)
About Colin McKeown

Colin McKeown is the producer of The New Fly Fisher Television Series, and several documentary series for the Outdoor Life Network, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel. With a passion of fly fishing, Colin's goal is to help both novice and veteran fly fishers everywhere by giving them a top-quality fly fishing series that will make them better anglers. Known for his keen sense of humour, Colin has two wonderful children and is married to the most understanding and patient woman in the world. 

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