St. Clair smallies don’t disappoint

The writer used a Ned rig to bring this smallie to the boat during a recent trip on Lake St. Clair. (Photo by Mark Gomez)

When my long-time friend Mark Gomez invited me to join him and Dan Kimmel on Lake St. Clair earlier this week, I started gathering my gear before we even hung up the phone. Although I live less than an hour from one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the world, unfortunately, I don’t get the opportunity to fish St. Clair as often as I’d like.

I don’t own a boat large enough to fish safely on this Great Lakes connecting water so my adventures are limited to the whims of friends. When opportunity knocks I run to the door.

We motored out of the Clinton River Cutoff DNR boat launch at 8 a.m. on an overcast day – surprisingly, the sun peaked out a couple times, but unlike most days so far this year, it did not rain. We only had a short boat ride to reach the gravel-bottomed shoreline along the mile roads where post spawn smallmouths are still lurking.

Dan Kimmel wasted no time in putting the first fish in the boat with this St. Clair smallie. (Photo by Bill Parker)

We started out in about nine feet of water and Dan wasted little time bringing the first bass to the boat – while I was still rigging my rod.

I decided to start out with a Ned rig, something I’d never fished prior to this day. I’ve heard and read all about the resurgance of this finesse technique so I purchased a couple Ned rig hooks and worms, and set out to explore the Ned on Lake St. Clair.

On my third cast I got a solid hit. I could tell from the head shaking and the way the fish raced to the surface that I had a decent bass on the hook. Moments later a healthy 3-pound  smallie was in the boat.

With a surface area of 430 square miles and 130 miles of shoreline there is a lot of water to ply on Lake St. Clair. We focused our efforts on the American side of the lake in the area off the mile roads and spent most of our time fishing between 11 and 12 mile roads.

Mark Gomez holds a healthy Lake St. Clair smallmouth bass. (Photo by Bill Parker)

A few hours and some 20 bass later between the three of us, we motored out to deeper water and found fish in 12- to 13-foot depths.

I focused on Ned rigs and wacky-rigged stickbaits and easily boated a dozen bass, a few rock bass and two fat and feisty sheepshead.

Mark and Dan each caught at least as many bass as I did, likely more. They mixed up their presentations between tubes, drop-shots and jerkbaits.

“The fishing was OK today, but not as good as it can be,” Mark  said, almost apologetically,

I understand why Lake St. Clair is considered a world class smallmouth fishery. Any time three anglers each can boat a dozen or more bass between two and four pounds apiece, that’s a great day of fishing in my book.

Categories: Bass, Blog Content, Michigan – Bill Parker

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