I spent a couple of days in Canada fishing Lake St. Clair last weekend getting ready for the next Northern Open. The venue’s officially listed as the Detroit River but I suspect most of the guys will fish the lake because of its huge smallmouth population.
It never ceases to amaze me how the smallmouth bass fishing has improved in the northern lakes of our country over the past few years. For lack of a better term I call the whole area the Great Lakes Region. No one really knows why the smallmouth fishing is so good. It might be the water quality; it might be the fish management; it might be the gobies; or it could be something else. Regardless, it’s good. That’s all I care about.
Lake St. Clair is a little different than most of these lakes. She’s shallow and weed filled. A deep spot on her is around 17 feet. I’m guessing the navigation channel doesn’t average much more than 15 feet. That makes it a wonderful fishery but it also means it can be tough to navigate. Big boats — there are some really rich people up there who own some really big pleasure craft — and wind can turn it into a washing machine in a matter of minutes.
The weeds are always positive, however. They have created a different kind of smallmouth fishery, one where big, heavyweights can be caught on drop shot rigs, worms, crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and topwater offerings. Fishing Lake St. Clair is like being a kid in a candy store. A fellow doesn’t know what to grab first. Everything looks good, too good to pass over.
There’s something else that’s good about this place, too. It’s fairly close to a lot of you guys and gals who are reading this. The ramp where we’re launching for the Open (Lake St. Clair Metropark) is about 3 1/2 hours from my house in Columbus. That’s close. (Actually, the same thing can be said about the whole Great Lakes region.)
Sometimes we think of this part of our country as being far off and distant. It isn’t. I suppose it is if you live in the South or the West Coast. But if you live anywhere near the Midwest it’s an easy drive away. Take advantage of it! Heck, take advantage of it even if you have to drive.
I don’t care where you stay or which lake you fish. I have no financial interest in anything up there. But I do have an interest in helping everyone experience the thrill of catching a 6 or 7 pound smallmouth, and that’s well-within reach on any of the big northern lakes.
I’ve seen 30 pound bags of smallmouth weighed in on St. Clair and bags almost that heavy on some of the surrounding lakes. None of us knows how long this spectacular Great Lakes Region fishing will last. Lakes and regions of our country go through cycles. Sometimes they’re up and sometimes they’re down. Right now they’re up. We’d all be well-advised to take advantage of that.