I have an admission to make: I don’t know Rice Lake. As in, prior to this past Friday, I’d only ever fished it once, and that was years ago—so far back I can’t even remember what, if anything, was caught. For whatever reason, my local Ontario fishing excursions just haven’t included the Kawartha region lake.

So when Dan Miguel, National Pro Staff’s director of marketing and sales, suggested we hit Rice on Friday, I was more than game. Dan has been fishing the lake since he was kid, so he has it nicely dialed for bass, walleye and crappies—spring, summer and fall. That’s just the kind of intell I like in the boat!

Joining us was Tom McMurray, Rapala Canada/Normark’s advertising and creative manager. I know for a fact Tom has been spending far too much time behind the desk lately, so it was great to pry him loose for a day to get out on the water. Plus, I wanted a looksie at some of Rap’s latest and greatest baits.

As we set out in Outdoor Canada’s KingFisher from the launch at Hiawatha, the blue bird sky, warm weather and calm water didn’t bode well for a hot bite. It didn’t really matter to me, though: I was just glad to be wetting a line.

Fortunately, the smallmouth bass didn’t seem to be too fussy about the conditions. Dan struck gold first on a tube jig, hauling in two decent fish in short order. From there, the action just exploded, with the fish biting tubes, drop-shot baits, topwaters and even a flipping jig. Had we been in a tournament, our final five-fish bag would have easily topped 21 pounds—pretty impressive for Rice, Dan tells me. Throw into the mix a 43-inch muskie, caught by Tom on a tube, and we had one hell of a great day on the water.

And thanks to Dan, I now have some great fall fishing spots on Rice Lake—all excellent reasons to keep going back and getting to know the lake better (click here to read Dan’s take on the day, as well as to see a few more big-fish photos). Let's do that again soon, guys!

Tom&DanMuskieLR Surprise catch: Dan Miguel gets a good grip on Tom McMurray's 43-inch muskie

Dan&TanksLR Double up: Dan Miguel and two of his many chunky smallies

Pat_1583LR Hefty haul: My big fish of the day, not weighed (so, let's make it a five-pounder!)

Tom&TopwaterLR Topwater tank: Tom McMurray landed two bass like this on a topwater