Saginaw Bay ready to show out for Bassmaster College Series regular-season finale

Saginaw Bay will host the 2024 Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops June 6-7.

BAY CITY, Mich. — The Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops will wrap up the regular season at Saginaw Bay — one of the most underrated fisheries in the country — and Michigan pro Bo Thomas believes conditions will be just right for big bags.

“It is the type of fishing that only a few people get to experience in their whole lives,” said Thomas, who fishes the St. Croix Bassmaster Opens presented by SEVIIN. “That place is absolutely unreal. There are just so many bass. You can fish in the river, fish out in the lake or you can gamble and go fish for smallmouth. You can do anything you want there.”

Competitors will launch from Veterans Memorial Park in Bay City June 6-7 beginning at 5:30 a.m. ET and return for weigh-in at 2:30 p.m. This will be the last chance for anglers competing in the Legends Trail to earn a berth to the 2024 Strike King Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops, which is scheduled for Aug. 22-24 on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell.

Saginaw Bay has awed anglers since the College Series first visited there in 2021. Located on the southwest side of Lake Huron, Saginaw Bay and the Saginaw River hold impressive numbers and quality of both largemouth and smallmouth.

The beginning of June usually means smallmouth will be heading toward shallow water for the spawn, if they aren’t spawning already. A full moon will occur two days before the tournament starts, making that scenario more likely if the water temperatures are warm enough. The Charity Island region gets a lot of attention from anglers this time of year.

“Wind plays a big factor,” Thomas said. “If they do have a warming trend coming into the tournament, playing the wind is going to be key whether it is going to be a prespawn bite or spawn bite. If the wind blows in from Huron, it will blow in cold water and cool down the whole bay. The spawn won’t take place if that is the case.

“The smallmouth will be around boulders and rock on sand flats. Typically, this time of year, you won’t see them very deep.”

Thomas believes smallmouth will likely be the ticket to winning, if winds allow anglers to access the big waters. Traditional smallmouth techniques like fishing a drop shot, tube or a Ned rig will be productive in any scenario. But if a team finds prespawn smallmouth, a jighead minnow could come into play, too.

The largemouth, meanwhile, will be in a prespawn mode. The flats on the outer edges of the bay feature grassbeds and reed lines, allowing anglers to flip, frog and use a bladed jig to catch these bass. The Saginaw River also holds an impressive population of largemouth, and those bass will likely be in the creeks and cuts off the main river.

“Largemouth will play for most of the field,” Thomas said. “They will be back in the canals that you can get to on the west or east side of the lake. The south end can be really good too. They will be along grasslines and weed clumps. If you want to go shallow, you can punch mats and throw a frog up shallow.”

Following the College Series event, Saginaw Bay will play host to the Strike King Bassmaster High School Series and a concurrent Bassmaster Junior Series event on June 9.

Go Great Lakes Bay is hosting the event.