Surrounded by the Great Lakes - Lake Huron to the north and Lake Erie to the south, Lake St. Clair is dwarfed in size and legend. However, this lake of 430 square miles of the surface area is responsible for nearly 30% of the sportfishing catch of the Great Lakes and 50% of all the sportfishing in the Great Lakes. It has, over the years, gained new respect amongst the 'world's' anglers, making it the 'little lake that could.'
Lake St. Clair boasts millions of smallmouth and largemouth bass that grow to an average of 2lbs. This large population of North America's favorite game fish thrives by no accident or coincidence. The 'lake' flushes itself into Lake Erie every seven days, taking as little as two days or as long as 30 days to push the flow from the St. Clair River through the Detroit River. This flushing provides plenty of nutrients for the small forage fish and creatures that make up the diet of resident bass. It also helps keep this shallow lake somewhat cooler than you would think, considering it has an average depth of only 10 feet, with the deepest section being the shipping channel at 27 feet.
The smallmouth bass fishing is nothing short of spectacular. Once the summer patterns have settled in, it is not uncommon to catch upwards of 40 to 60 bass in four hours, with many days providing more action than that. Clients (2 to 4) are treated to non-stop action on our charter operation throughout their 6-hour trip. These 'games of all sportfish' give them all they can handle.
It's hard to argue with the success of the tube bait. Competition is fierce among the bass, with the smallest most often beating the largest to the bait. With a bit of patience, those four-pounders will come to the lure. One way to get to those lunkers among charter operators and tournament anglers alike is to wait until your partner or buddy has bass on and near the boat. Almost always, there is another bass lying in wait for the first one to cough up its catch, and in most cases, it's usually the largest of bass that waits for this free and easy meal. Don't disappoint him. Toss your tube out close to your buddy's fish and hang on. It's just a matter of a few seconds before the 'follower' takes the offering.
In other situations, you'll see the bass cruise around your boat at about a depth of four to five feet. A quick toss of the tube, and you have yourself a four-pound trophy.
You can spend all day running Lake St. Clair, looking for the productive hit-and-miss spots, or you can let the lake come to you. I prefer to let the lake come to me. Using the wind or breeze that pushes you over productive areas not only saves gas but lets you present your bait (the tube) to the large loners that wander the lake in search of food. This method is called the Drift & Drag.
Letting your tube bait scratch the bottom, as a crayfish would, is easily the most popular and deadly of presentations. If you know the lake and have found the bottom structure you're looking for, set up a drift pattern that allows you to present your bait over the productive area slowly. Too many times, I see tournament bass anglers use their electric trolling motor over productive areas. I believe this makes them much too fast over these 'hot spots, thereby missing much fish in the process. Take your time. You'll be rewarded for your patience in not only the quantity of fish but quality as well.
It's hard to beat the spinning gear of today to make this legendary scrapper even more of a combatant. The famous line choice is 8lb. test, with some using 6lb. or even 10lb. Brand choice is yours. However, if you use 10lb. test line, try to use one of the premium, small diameter lines like Seaguar Tatsu. Those who fish tournaments welcome the extra strength found in the small diameter lines. A little insurance is a good thing.
The spinning rod is usually in the 7 foot or 7 1\2 foot category. A quality graphite rod with a fast tip and strong backbone is a great choice. In addition, a reel with positive anti-reverse is almost a necessity for solid hooksets.
Whether you're a weekend fisherman or tournament warrior, Lake St. Clair, it's hard to find more productive and dream-fulfilling water to fish on. Fish On!