Best smallmouth fishing on the planet

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Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

I just got back from filming shows for Bass Pro Shops on Lake St. Clair near Detroit.

The shows I filmed are for The Bass Pros that will air next winter on NBC Sports Network.

Let me tell you right now that Lake St. Clair is the best smallmouth fishery on the planet. I’m amazed at how the lake gets better each year.

Just look at last week’s Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open held there. It took more than 17 pounds a day just to get in the top 50!

And even though the lake got hammered pretty hard last week, the fish were still biting extremely well.

I filmed there for more than two days; and while I didn’t catch any mega-giants, I caught numbers of quality fish, including dozens in the 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-pound class and several over four.

Because we were doing shows on specific baits and techniques, I was limited in where and how I fished. Otherwise, I know I would have boated some 5-pluses. The lake has a healthy portion of 5- and 6-pound smallies.

There just isn’t any place like it. It offers a lot of variety with rivers coming into the natural lake, expansive flats, weeds, rocks and nice dropoffs. Some fish live shallow and others deep. It’s that kind of lake.

I caught fish on everything from 3 feet of water with spinnerbaits to 30 feet in the river on drop shots. I caught ’em on crankbaits, swim jigs and tubes. That’s what’s cool – you can catch them with whatever method or lure you choose. Just name your poison and hang onto your rod.

Others who fish there will tell you the same. Every morning I ran into guys from Indiana, Illinois and Ohio who just came there to catch smallies.

In fact, I met some Kentucky guys at the ramp one day who had followed the results of the recent Bassmaster Open on Bassmaster.com, saw how good the smallmouth fishing was, hooked up their boat and headed to Detroit!

They weren’t disappointed either. Everyone I talked with was catching bass in numbers and quality. And that was just at one boat ramp, of which there are several around the lake.

Even though we’re in the depths of summer – one of the hottest I can ever remember for Michigan – the fish continue to bite. They spawned earlier than I can ever recall and have been in summer patterns ever since.

And the best is yet to come! The smallmouth bass will start to really feed up any day now through fall. The best time to catch a trophy is from early August through mid-September as the fish get ready for winter.

Drawbacks? Well, it a large, shallow lake and the weather can turn in a heartbeat. Because it’s shallow, any wind can make it tough to get across. It really reminds me of Florida’s Okeechobee, where big largemouths are prevalent yet it’s susceptible to heavy wind.

On the other hand, you can always find a place to fish because of the numerous access sites around the lake. The rivers and bays offer protection most of the time, and the smallmouth will gang up there as well.

I’m telling you, there’s no place like St. Clair, where today is what we call the good ol’ days!

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

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