Fishing the Grand River for Smallmouth Bass | Above the Dam in Galt, Ontario

Fishing the Grand has not been easy.

Not for me, anyway, maybe you have better luck.

Every year since aboot the 80’s, except for Covid ’20, has had the Grand River Bass Derby. It’s a fun family contest for some great prizes provided by local businesses.

Pete and I have competed three or four years now but we’ve never had a fish to enter. Our trips usually entail 10+ hour canoe trips from one launch to another. We’ve decided recently that these sorts of trips should be catch-and-release, as it is very difficult to transport a fish in a cooler and keep it alive for long periods.

We wouldn’t want to kill any fish needlessly, especially not a prize winner!

This video is a discovery venture at the top of the Galt dam in Cambridge. We had only once used the rowing club at Riverbluffs as an excursion point in a previous trip years ago. We went there to learn more about the depths of the water and figure out if I was mis-remembering a section, probably brought on by a sun-burnt fever-dream after one of those long outtings…

As far as the discovery went, we found the water was very stagnant, very cloudy with silt. The Grand is a runoff fed river, as opposed to a spring fed river, and so it fills with all sorts of debris. This makes finesse and other “quiet” fishing tactics difficult.

I still think it is the answer, but the ideas I’ve been getting lately revolve around the baitfish we saw huddling towards the surface and the large fish that appeared to be vaulting out of the water after them. This makes me think of very light twisters coupled with float rigs and other fly or live-bait presentations…

We noticed first that the depth was impressive, for what we typically encounter on the Grand. 10ft depths were not uncommon. I always assumed that the fish we were after, the smallies, wouldn’t handle that type of environment. In an effort to prove myself wrong, we spent a few hours in the deeper, more stagnant sections using standard bass tackle.

Peter pretty well stuck to his popper and an inline spinner, though I am surprised that he didn’t try a wacky worm for once…

Early in the trip I was breaking from my normal. I have been going ever smaller, ever more finesse for the Grand, thinking the hot water will make the fish sluggish. Also, the pressure from other fisher-people might make the animals skittish of the typical bass lure.

I threw a 3/8 oz inline spinner with an orange Mr. Twister tail, a large shallow depth crankbait, inline spinner and a whopper plopper and came up with nothing. I fished fast, slow, top, bottom… Every cadence I could think of…

Later in the day I went with a very light jig head and fan-tail swimbait and came up with some dinks, but that’s in another video…

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