Hooked on St. Clair smallies

With all due respect to the great fishing in the South, there is nothing I like better than fishing for smallmouth in Michigan this time of year.

And, in my opinion, there’s no better place in the world to do it than at Lake St. Clair near Detroit. It was good all summer and I expect the Bassmaster Elite Series scheduled for there next August to be nothing short of phenomenal.

But during the fall, it’s unbelievable how good it is.

I was there filming for the Strike King Pro Journal TV series this week and I’ve never seen a lake with so many big smallmouth. During one stretch, I caught 10 on 10 casts, and they were all between 3 and 4 1/2 pounds! They are fat, healthy and pull like bulldogs.

We could have caught more, but the show was built around how to fish the new KVD jerkbait that Strike King introduced at the ICAST show last summer.

The Slash caught a ton of fish that day, but I could have caught more had I been able to use other types of lures and presentations. The lake got dead slick calm – which is unusual for St. Clair - yet I still caught 40 or more for the show.

Under those conditions, a drop shot and some other baits might have caught more, and I can’t imagine how many I would have caught on the jerkbait had there been a little wind.

For example, I’d hook a bass on the Slash, and there would be four or five big ones following it in. Normally bass scatter when they see the boat like that, but those fish just sat there and looked at me! If I could have dropped a rig on them, they would have bit it.

But then, how can I complain about catching 40 nice smallmouth?

On the second day, we began filming another show about spinnerbaiting for smallmouth when we had an accident. My cameraman, Mark Copley of Strike King, stepped toward me when I was turning the boat and in the process of making a cast. My spinnerbait caught him on the cheek and ripped him pretty good.

Mark Copley shows the battle scar he received while filming with KVD.I was concerned because he bled pretty badly and I thought he needed stitches, so we stopped fishing and rushed to a nearby emergency room. Fortunately, he didn’t require stitches, but it was too late at that point to resume filming so we called it a day.

I felt bad about hooking him. I’m usually very careful with my back-cast and try to stay aware of where other people are in the boat. But the combination of me turning the boat and him moving forward caught me off guard.

It just goes to show you that you can’t be too careful when slinging lures around other people.

Incident aside, that trip has me dying to go back to St. Clair. Bow season has opened in Michigan and I love to deer hunt, but the fishing on that lake is so good and going to get even better over the next couple of weeks.

I have a hunch bow season is going to have to wait.

Remember: It’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter

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