This week's Bassmaster Elite Series event is my fourth career visit to Lake St. Clair. We are here much earlier in the year this year, so, as always, each time we go to a fishery, it is just a little different than in the past.
This place is totally different than anywhere else we fish that is dominated by smallmouth. Lake St. Clair is super flat and featureless. The fish do relate to some grass edges, but there is not much in the way of rocks on the bottom like Lake Ontario, Erie or even Lake Champlain. It is an entirely different type of smallmouth fishing, and it is a hard one to figure out.
To be honest, up until this year, just about every fish I have weighed in here has come out of the St. Clair River. I always go and fish in the river because I enjoy it, it is fun and I understand that river. Those fish are current-oriented, and I have a lot of places I can run around and catch them. With that being said, every time I have been here, the tournament has been dominated by the lake fish. The fish just average bigger weights out in the lake.
So this time I spent a lot of time in the lake — the vast majority of my time — trying to figure out something in the lake. I've missed them before and never collided with them. After practice, I do feel like I've started to crack the code and think I've found enough fish that I can at least have a couple of good days. I did check my river spots and caught some too.
I plan on mixing it up, but if things go well on the lake, I will stay out there. I plan to spend much more time out there than I ever have. I think it will "fish small." Canadian water is off limits, and that makes up about 60% of Lake St. Clair. There are a lot of fish and a lot of good areas over there we can't go to. There will be a lot of boats in some small areas. You will see 10 to 12 boats targeting the same school.
If you get out there and drift, you will catch some random fish, but you'll see a lot of guys fishing the few big schools that are out there to fill their bags.
We can go up into Lake Huron this time, so that is an X factor. I have never been up there and don't know anything about it. I did go to the mouth of Lake Huron during practice. That's not my plan. Someone may make that 100-mile run and get into a different caliber of fish up there. It is some of the best smallmouth fishing in the world, I hear. It will be interesting to see if someone does that for four days. A 100-mile run is not in my DNA.
As for techniques, a Ned rig and a drop shot will be key players, so be ready to hear about X Zone Lures. I did catch some on a crankbait, and plugs are traditionally pretty effective here for covering water and finding fish.
That's my plan, and hopefully, I can have a good time in the lake. I like St. Clair; I like smallmouth. So I can't wait to get out there and get this one going.