Well, we’ve made it. It’s finally here. I’m talking about the last event of the year, the season finale, better referred to as the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship on Lake St Clair. It’s been a great season, my best one ever, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ready for it to end. I’m really looking forward to spending time with my family and getting up in a tree stand soon.
And of course I’ll do plenty of fun fishing around the home lakes as well this fall and winter. Some guys can lay down their rods when the season ends and not touch them again until the start of next season, but I’m not that guy. Fishing is a part of me, and it always will be, so I love getting to fish with friends and family while I’m home for the offseason.
Let’s talk a little about the position I’m in this week. I’m currently sitting sixth in AOY standings going into this event. I’m around 30 points out of the lead, so winning AOY is possible but not likely. Keep in mind, there are only 50 guys in this event so there is only a 50-point swing this week. That means all of the guys ahead of me would have to stumble huge, and I would have to do really well to even have a shot. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I’m a realistic guy and I’ve seen what great seasons the guys ahead of me have had. I don’t expect any of them to stumble here.
Nevertheless, I’ll treat this event just like I do any other. I always want to catch every bass possible each day, and this week is no different. There is also the matter of some pretty sweet Toyota AOY money involved so I definitely don’t want to fall down the standings if I can help it. Long story short, I’m not feeling any pressure this week, but I’m not going to lay down either.
Lake St. Clair is obviously known for giant smallmouth, and there will be plenty of them caught this week. It’s a different place than a lot of good smallmouth fisheries we visit though. It’s basically a bowl shaped lake with hardly any contours, and the bottom is mostly sand. There are a few different types of grass but for the most part it’s pretty barren. That makes the fish hard to find and it’s possible to fish for hours without a bite, but any minute you could run into the mother lode.
Honestly my Tennessee roots make it hard for me to wrap my head around how these smallmouth act. I like to know where they are going to be and know why they’re there, but on St. Clair that is very hard to do. That’s one reason why I typically spend my time here fishing in the St. Clair river that flows into the lake. Those fish are more current oriented, and I understand them better.
I would rate my practice here this week as decent. I caught some nice ones and found a few new places that I’m excited to explore during the tournament, but it seems like the fish are in a bit of a transition right now for sure. I had bites from 25 feet up to 3 feet and everything in between, so that tells me to keep an open mind this week. One bait that I know I’ll throw a lot here is a Ned rig. The Ned rig will get you a lot of bites, and it catches big ones as well.
I’ll use a Mustad Grip-Pin Ned jighead with an X-Zone lures Ned Zone worm. When throwing a Ned rig, it’s super important to use a worm that is buoyant so that it sits on the bottom right. The Ned Zone worm fits the bill perfectly. I throw it on an MHX-NEPS81MXF spinning rod with 10-pound Vicious hi-vis braid on my main line and Vicious 8-pound pro elite fluorocarbon for my leader.
Like I said earlier, it’s been a great year! I’d like to thank all of you for following along with us this season. Hopefully you’ve learned a few things along the way, and I hope to see you on the water someday soon.