Species image (Illustration Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

What it looks like

  • medium-sized, deep-bodied fish
  • green to olive back and sides
  • yellow to white belly
  • body often has dark vertical broken bars
  • 9 to 11 dorsal fin spines
  • shallow notch between dorsal fins
  • upper jaw does not extend beyond eye


  • length: 25-50 centimetres (10-20 inches)
  • weight: 0.5-1.6 kilograms (1-3.5 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 4.5 kilograms (9.8 pounds)

Similar fish

Where it is found

Range of the Smallmouth Bass in Ontario

Species distribution map (modified from Mandrak and Crossman, 1992)


  • Great Lakes watershed, St. Lawrence River and northward beyond Lake Nipissing
  • introduced into many areas of Northwestern Ontario
  • use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers


  • clear, rocky lakes and rivers
  • shoreline rocks and points, offshore shoals, deep water
  • similar to trout habitat but with a wider range of temperatures

Find a fishing spot with Fish ON-Line

Angling tips

  • best fishing in the early morning and late evening
  • look near deep underwater points, rocky shoals, submerged islands, weed edges
  • when fish aren’t biting, change your lure and your tactic
  • use a light to medium action spinning rod and 6 to 10 pound test line
  • bass season opens the 4th Saturday in June in most of Ontario

Common baits

  • soft plastic lures such as crayfish imitations, twister tails and small worms or tubes
  • jigs, crankbaits, spinnerbaits
  • top-water plugs
  • small, deep-diving plugs and lures
  • surface lures (in early morning and evening)
  • leeches, minnows, crayfish