Ask an angler to name the bait, lure or fly he finds works best on smallmouths and one of three things may happen. A grin and no reply. Smokescreen such as, “Well, most everything is good most of the time. It all depends on how you like to fish.” Then there’s the straightforward reply from the angler, revealing what works best for him and his fishing pals.

New Minas angler Tom Keddy fits into the third category. He says he isn’t into serious bassing like the tournament anglers – even though he organizes the occasional fun tournament – but he has a bass boat, “a big box of equipment like other bassers” and enough rods to outfit a platoon of fishermen.

Despite being modest about his bassing expertise, I figured Tom had been out on the lakes enough to know what would take smallmouths and what was so-so. And he didn’t beat around the bush when I asked him to tell me what he used. “My favourite lure is the Panther Martin,” Tom replied without hesitation. “I get lots of fish with it, as much as I want to catch,” he said. “It has lots of action, the kind bass love.”

I talked with Tom while I was conducting a smallmouth survey for this column. The survey was done for anglers who haven’t had any smallmouth angling experience and would like to know what’s best and where to go. The results of this survey won’t be of interest to the old hands at bassing since some of the information gleaned from it is basic and “old hat.” First timers should find it helpful, however.

Tom Keddy mentioned a second lure he finds effective, one he uses a lot when fishing top of the water for smallmouths – the Heddon Torpedo.

Out at Ed Ward’s tackle shop in Coldbrook, this is the number one, best-selling smallmouth lure. “More bass fishermen buy this lure than any other I have in the store,” Ed said

Other top sellers at his shop, in order of preference, are Rapala lures, the Fat Rap and Original, which based on sales are number two and three in popularity next to the Torpedo. Other popular lures are the Strike King Midnight Special, Rebel Crickhopper and the Big O by Cotton Cordel. Ed also sells a lot of the Berkley “power baits” (grubs and worms) to smallmouth anglers.

This list will help inexperienced bassers in selecting the more effective lures. Keep in mind, however, that there are hundreds of smallmouth lures and baits on the market and all are effective at one time or another. If you can find a tournament basser who doesn’t mind sharing his secrets, you will find he uses other good lures that aren’t on the bestseller list at Ed Ward’s shop.

Nova Scotia has many good smallmouth lakes but there’s no need to go outside of Kings County to fish. Based on my survey, the most popular local lake is the Gaspereau. Anglers like the Gaspereau because, in Tom Keddy’s words, “it’s a big lake with a lot of holes and rocks and bass and you can fish without being crowded by other anglers.” Little River Lake, Aylesford Lake, Lake George and Black River Lake are obvious choices for first-time smallmouth anglers but there are other waters that hold bass. For some bassy surprises, check out the larger farm ponds in your area.

If you enjoy angling and reluctantly put your tackle away when brook and brown trout fishing is over, you’ll like the length of the smallmouth season. Locally the lakes are open until October 31. Some of the better anglers tell me the best time to fish for smallmouths is October. You should check out the bass tournaments as well which locally run as late as September 20th (the tournament schedule is posted at Ed Ward’s shop). While these tournaments are primarily fun events, a lot of serious anglers participate. As a first time basser, you just might pick up some helpful fishing tips.

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