Smallmouth bass Fishing trips
2. Lake St. Clair, Michigan-Ontario — Professional bass ace Kevin Van Dam calls it “the best smallmouth lake in the world. When bass are spawning and I can spot them in the 3- to 5-foot depths and select for larger fish, it’s possible to catch 100 four-pounders in a day.” How many lakes can make that claim?
Sounds like an exaggeration until you visit this urban wonderland. Surrounded by Detroit and Mt. Clemens in Michigan, and Windsor on the Ontario side, it seems impossible that such a lake could produce that kind of fishing. But smallmouths inhabit the entire shoreline of this 420-square-mile lake. Maximum depth is only 25 feet, perfect for smallies throughout. Clearing due to zebra-mussel activity has allowed weeds to grow deeper and thicker than in the past, and smallmouths inhabit the edges and pockets of milfoil and coontail beds.
Ron Perrine, president of Bass’N Bait Company, likes Mitchells Bay in Ontario. “Fish average a solid three pounds there, ” he says. Other hot spots include the entire shoreline from Gaukler Point in St. Clair Shores to Belvidere Bay near Selfridge Air Force Base. Spinnerbaits, tubes, and suspending minnowbaits account for lots of smallmouths all over Lake St. Clair. Ripping minnowbaits as fast and erratically as possible over pockets in massive weedbeds takes both largemouths and smallmouths throughout summer. When fish are less active, try tubes, Texas rigs, or the Float ‘n’ Fly technique. The usual bait rigging techniques with nightcrawlers or minnows seldom fail here, either.
Information: Lakeside Tackle Shop Hotline in St. Clair Shores, 248/473-2033. Guides: Canadian side — Vincent’s Guide Service, 519/352-1148; American side — Bob Korznowski, 810/954-2612. Lodging: River Crab Bluewater Inn in St Clair, 800/468-3727.
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3. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin – Few waters have the classic look of Sturgeon Bay for smallmouth bass. Shallow, rocky substrate dominates points, humps, and shorelines around the Door County Peninsula and its many islands. Sturgeon Bay is about 100 miles by 30 miles of awesome smallmouth habitat. Huge rocky flats pocketed with reefs and rock piles extend the entire length of the Peninsula, including the Lake Michigan side. And literally every foot of shoreline is inhabited by smallmouths at one time or another during the year, creating one of the finest bass fisheries in the world.
“Catching 100 bass a day is easy during a good bite, ” according to professional guide, Dale Stroschein. “And several of those fish could weigh over 5 pounds, with a dozen or so over 4 pounds. The tip of the peninsula is lightly fished, and smallmouths are everywhere.”
Located straight north of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Sturgeon Bay smallies generally spawn in June, which is a good time to visit. Natural reproduction has been exceptionally high the past several years, according to biologists, who report numbers good. Divers report images of reefs carpeted with bronze. September is another good time to visit, when big walleyes and smallmouths chew crankbaits along rocky breaks in 10 to 15 feet of water.
Water is so clear that at times it’s possible to spot fish in depths exceeding 10 feet. Every retrieve might lead in a bronze convoy.
Guides: Dale Stroschein (lodging, too, at Sandy Bay Resort), 414/746-9289; Tim Dawidiuk, 414/746-9916. Fishing, lodging, and guides: Door County Chamber of Commerce, 414/743-4456.
4. Pickwick Lake, Tennessee — loves Pickwick Lake, and not only because it’s 11⁄2 hours from his driveway. “Pickwick’s smallmouth fishery is fabulous, ” he says. “It’s right on the southern boundary of the smallmouth’s natural range, with a high-protein forage mix. It’s not a Lake Erie for quantity, but it’s world class for quality. I’ve caught only three smallies over 8 pounds, and two of those came from Pickwick.