Lake St. Clair's is a big lake with clear blue water and plenty of small protected bays with lots of channels and rivers for small boats.
All my life I have chased the tournament trail. Some success, many heartbreaks, but over the years I learned enough to be good at figuring out how to pattern fish. My downfall as I have come to realize was I couldn’t always get the mental aspect of the game right. My mind would be full of all the other challenges in life at all the worst possible times. I could find fish with the best, I could catch fish, but when it came to making the right decisions on the day of the tournament, too many times there were distractions that clouded my mind and kept me from reaching the top. Now, I fish a few tournaments, but mostly I fish my Bucket List. My bucket list has one rule. If I fish one, I have to add two. What a list!
Lake St. Clair, Michigan in May; if you have a bucket list, add it now! It is an amazing fishery. I just got back from my first, but not my last trip. 160 Small Mouth in two days!!!! On top of that we boated 56 Largemouth in less than one hour. The largest a 5.09, with many in the 3 to 4 pound range.
Absolutely anyone can catch fish in this amazing lake, but there are a few keys to turning a good trip into a great trip.
Accommodations and restaurants are plentiful in Roseville, Michigan. If you decide to hire a guide, they will provide the knowledge and equipment needed. If you decide to go it on your own, here are a few things you need to know.
During the month of May the small mouth are feeding up in preparation for the spawn. They feed on goby’s and crawfish making the shell beds in 6 to 7 foot of water an ideal place to start looking. The shell beds, or zebra mussels are attached to small out cropping’s of rock which are easily detected on a good depth finder like my Lowrance HDS 8. If you don’t have good electronics, drift and drag your bait until you feel a rough patch. That will be a shell bed. Once you find one, hold on to your rod, you are likely to get your line stretched by a big brown fish.
A green pumpkin Bass Pro Shops 3 ½” tender tube is the bait of choice. I prefer the green pumpkin with red flake, but any color of green seems to work. When the sun is high or the water is calm change to smoke purple. The preferred equipment would be a 7 to 7 ½ foot medium action spinning rod and reel combo, spooled with 8 pound XPS fluorocarbon fishing line. You will need a good supply of XPS tube heads in 1/8, 3/16 and ¼ ounce. Use the lightest weight you can get by with and still keep the bait in constant contact with the bottom. The trick is to drag the tube across the bottom, the bite is often soft and the rod simply loads up when they eat the bait.
If the wind picks up and blows you off the lake or if you simply get tired of catching smallmouth, you could try out one of the many canals in the 10 mile road area of the lake. The water in these canals will range from 8 to 10 degrees warmer and they are loaded with eager largemouth. Pitching a ¼ ounce, white Bass Pro Lazer Eye spinner bait close to the sea walls and letting it flutter will produce some amazing strikes. If the bite slows, try rigging a stick-o wacky style. My buddy and I caught 56 of these brutes in less than an hour. It was truly an amazing day.
This one gets added back to my bucket list. It should be on yours too.