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Is Lake Erie generally considered to be the best smallmouth fishery in the world?


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If not what would you say deserves that designation? I have heard consistently that Erie holds the crown, but I also know there are a plethora of incredible smallmouth fisheries all throughout the Great Lakes region like Saint Clair & Mille Lacs.

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I think so, at least it’s the one that gets talked about the most. 
 

I’m partial to Sturgeon Bay since I get to fish there more frequently. A sneaky good spot that isn’t talked about too much is Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior it’s up there with the best of them IMO. 

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3 minutes ago, TnRiver46 said:

Lake Michigan is pretty good too! Then there’s pickwick and dale hollow …..

Then out west you got Dworshak which many think holds the next WR

 

You got the NY lakes popping right now too.     You can't say any one lake or body of water is the best.   Cayuga had more 5+ SMs than I could imagine, but I doubt it has the biggest SM in the world like Erie, Dworshak, or the Southern impoundments.

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If you believe the BASS rankings recently released, the St Lawrence River is the current top smallmouth fishery, followed by Lake St Claire. Erie is number 3.

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Well I am biased but no other body of water in recent times has produced a smallmouth over 10 lbs. Lake Simcoe is under rated in my opinion. But the growth of trophy smallie lakes has been on a strong upswing the last 10 years with Washington, Idaho, @A-Jay beloved Michigan & the entire Great Lakes system flourishing. 

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Nothing last forever, but some of the bigger and better brown bass producing waters

have been more or less consistent over the years.  Many have been mentioned here already.

What has been truly amazing in my mind is how the size and overall structure of what a big smallmouth is, has changed so much.  In the last 20-30 years brown bass frame & girth has literally exploded.  Comparing Smallies from say 1990's to the mutants seen today, they almost appear as two different species.  While that may seem like a long time to some, in the big picture of evolution, it's a blink of an eye.  Looking back at pictures of Big Largemouth from the same time frame, the fish pretty much look the same.  Why this has happened to the brown bass populations has been well documented.  The habitats of many fisheries has changed in a couple of ways, all good in my mind. 

 

As for which is the best now, I really can't say.

And if I knew I wouldn't anyway. 

However a short while back, and for a solid 10 years At Least

Lake Erie was about as good as I've seen.

Social medial was not quite in full swing so much of what was going on was sort of under the radar.

However those who knew, knew.

Insert @Dwight Hottle (and that little blue cooler).

He's caught & documented more Giants  . . . . .

#dinkdroppingfives

:smiley:

A-Jay

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, A-Jay said:

The habitats of many fisheries has changed in a couple of ways, all good in my mind. 

One particular lake here that I fish a few times per season has literally transformed over the course of the past 20 years since I've been fishing it.  Mille Lacs is not a secret anymore, but when I started fishing it in 2001 (walleyes and muskies), the water was significantly murkier than it is now.  You could see a foot or two into the water.  Upgraded septic systems around the lake and the invasion of zebra mussels has rapidly cleared up the water.  Not exactly good for walleyes, but clearly a positive for smallmouth.  Back in the early 2000's, no one even thought of targeting smallmouth.  Occasionally one would get caught.  Now you can see to the bottom in about 10 feet of water on clear, calm, sunny day.  Its almost like one of the crystal clear waters or tributaries of the Great Lakes.

 

Clear water allows sunlight to penetrate deeper, also allowing weeds to grow deeper.  The northern pike population has also increased because of this additional weedy habitat.

 

Also, a regulation on this lake which only permitted harvest of 1 smallmouth over 21 inches for many years created a trophy caliber fishery loaded with big, old bass.  When I fish out there, rarely do I catch a small one.  The average size is of tremendous quality, and this can be attributed to that special regulation they had for years while the population took off.

 

I think the transformation of smallmouth quality in and around the Great Lakes can be attributed directly to the presence of gobies.  While considered an invasive species, there's no doubt that the average size took off when this food source arrived.

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Living not far from there growing up, I fished erie back in the mid 90's with my dad and he fished it all the way back into the 70's. Funny enough, back then the bay and lagoon area of Presque Isle was a largemouth hotspot.  Smallies in the 90's were there with lots of 5+ fish caught by casual anglers every year.  30+ fish days were common if you could get out onto the lake and fished tubes.  When the zebra mussels came in there was a lull period (I think the emerald shiner population collapsed due to competition, but have no scientific evidence).  The water got really clear (it was decently clear before) and then the goby population kicked off.  Fast forward to current day and from reports it looks like its fishing its best ever, though I haven't been personally in a long while now.

 

saying its the best though?  I think there are quite a lot of lakes putting out record numbers of 5+ smallies right now.  The St lawrence didn't use to be as good for smallmouth as it is now.  We fished it in the 90's and it was a great largemouth fishery, but the smallies weren't in the river like they are now.  BASS tournaments were won by either big largemouth bags or running into lake Ontario for smallies.  Now both lake ontario and the St lawrence are on fire.  Champlaign is dropping big fish.  No one has mentioned lake st clair yet.  And don't forget the video a couple months ago of the guy in california that weighed a 35 (?) pound bag of 5 smallies all on video.

 

I think the best way to put it- if you love big smallmouth, there might not be a better time in history to be fishing for them than now.

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11 minutes ago, casts_by_fly said:

No one has mentioned lake st clair yet. 

I mentioned it above.  Its ranked 2nd behind the St Lawrence for smallmouth at this time.

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It may be the best consistently. An argument can also be made for the St. Lawrence River. Those are probably the 2 best smallmouth fisheries consistently. But there are several others that have crazy years. Right now the finger lakes are popping off. And there is always the TVA reservoirs, the Snake River, and Lake St. Clair that all could be the best on any given year. A new world record could come from any of them. 

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@Jar11591 I know I'll pi-- off a few people but St. Clair is a better numbers fishery than Erie but seems to lack the quality that Erie produces. It just doesn't produce as many 6lbers or bigger smallies than Erie. But it is a much smaller fishery in size & does not have the diversity of depth that Erie has. 

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Dale hollow tournament weights don’t get mentioned for smallies because you can only keep 1. (There are some big LM in there too)

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All I know is I wanna fish them all. ?

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I think we should all go on an extended month long trip from the end of May until the 4th of July to all of the lakes mentioned above so we can “research” the topic.

 

I’ll write a Drs note/note from the boss for your wives if one of you can write one for mine!

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41 minutes ago, TheBaitMonkey said:

I think we should all go on an extended month long trip from the end of May until the 4th of July to all of the lakes mentioned above so we can “research” the topic.

 

I’ll write a Drs note/note from the boss for your wives if one of you can write one for mine!

I'll volunteer! I have lots of experience explaining to my wife why I need to fish again so soon! I have very little experience getting away with it. ?

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58 minutes ago, TheBaitMonkey said:

I think we should all go on an extended month long trip from the end of May until the 4th of July to all of the lakes mentioned above so we can “research” the topic.

 

I’ll write a Drs note/note from the boss for your wives if one of you can write one for mine!

And fish the ones in the south from November to February 

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6 hours ago, A-Jay said:

Nothing last forever, but some of the bigger and better brown bass producing waters

have been more or less consistent over the years.  Many have been mentioned here already.

What has been truly amazing in my mind is how the size and overall structure of what a big smallmouth is, has changed so much.  In the last 20-30 years brown bass frame & girth has literally exploded.  Comparing Smallies from say 1990's to the mutants seen today, they almost appear as two different species.  While that may seem like a long time to some, in the big picture of evolution, it's a blink of an eye.  Looking back at pictures of Big Largemouth from the same time frame, the fish pretty much look the same.  Why this has happened to the brown bass populations has been well documented.  The habitats of many fisheries has changed in a couple of ways, all good in my mind. 

 

As for which is the best now, I really can't say.

And if I knew I wouldn't anyway. 

However a short while back, and for a solid 10 years At Least

Lake Erie was about as good as I've seen.

Social medial was not quite in full swing so much of what was going on was sort of under the radar.

However those who knew, knew.

Insert @Dwight Hottle (and that little blue cooler).

He's caught & documented more Giants  . . . . .

#dinkdroppingfives

:smiley:

A-Jay

 

 

 

Are gobies and zebras pretty much single-handedly responsible for this explosion or is there more going on?

3 hours ago, Jar11591 said:

It may be the best consistently. An argument can also be made for the St. Lawrence River. Those are probably the 2 best smallmouth fisheries consistently. But there are several others that have crazy years. Right now the finger lakes are popping off. And there is always the TVA reservoirs, the Snake River, and Lake St. Clair that all could be the best on any given year. A new world record could come from any of them. 

Yeah I knew about Dale Hollow but always wondered if Norris had some monsters.

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39 minutes ago, Ohioguy25 said:

Are gobies and zebras pretty much single-handedly responsible for this explosion or is there more going on?

Certainly believe that's part of it and it may be a big part.

I'm not a bass so I'll never know for sure.

But I like it either way. 

Normally I'd be inclined to add a picture of a trophy Brown Bass right here,

however this makes me smile too.

post-13860-0-41330000-1386045030_thumb.jpg

?

A-Jay

 

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1 hour ago, Ohioguy25 said:

Are gobies and zebras pretty much single-handedly responsible for this explosion or is there more going on?

I think they are major factors, plus a strong catch and release ethic amongst most bass anglers.  You could also argue a longer growing season is a positive contribution.  They grow faster when the water is warmer.  It has certainly been a contributing factor where I am.

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26 minutes ago, A-Jay said:

Certainly believe that's part of it and it may be a big part.

I'm not a bass so I'll never know for sure.

But I like it either way. 

Normally I'd be inclined to add a picture of a trophy Brown Bass right here,

however this makes me smile too.

post-13860-0-41330000-1386045030_thumb.jpg

?

A-Jay

 

#FUTUREMUTANTSOFAMERICA!!!

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Define best.....Chance to catch the most smallies per hour? Largest average size fish? Chance for really large fish? Best chance for world record? Lake fishable and productive year round? Good quality and quantity? Lake/river with best access? Productive lake/river with least traffic? Best from shore? Best from Kayak? Best from boat? "Best" all depends on what you want to experience. Suffice it to say, there are many great smallmouth fishing lakes/rivers right now. Some say we are living in the golden age for smallmouth fishing, and I don't disagree with that statement.

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