Lake St. Clair, Michigan; July and August
July 01, 2016
Lions, Tigers and bass. That's Detroit Lions, Detroit Tigers, and elbow-jarring St. Clair smallies. When asked his favorite summer bass fishery, Bassmaster Elite rising star Jonathan Van Dam was quick to reply Lake St. Clair. When I asked the Michigan native why he picked St. Clair after reminding him of the manifold sky-blue-water opportunities in Michigan and neighboring states, he was quick to reply: "It's a big fishery, it has lots of fish, and it is one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the world. A 'good day' in the summer is 20 to 30 bronzebacks ranging from 12 inches to 6 pounds."
St. Clair smallies feed heavily on yellow perch in the summer. Van Dam's advice was simple: "Head toward the middle of the lake and look for perch fisherman." The "middle of the lake" area isn't exactly the middle, rather more like 1 to 2 miles out from the shoreline area referred to as "Mile Roads," the stretch of shoreline from Metro Park south to Ford's Point. The water will be 14- to 19- feet deep, and the habitat will be clumps of cabbage. Use your electronics to find groups of bass.
When he finds what he is looking for, Van Dam starts with a Strike King Series 5 crankbait. If the crankbait doesn't produce, a drop shot or a tube gets the call. A deep diving jerkbait always deserves time in the water.
The fish often group by size. Keep moving until you find the quality of fish you want. Then mark the spot with a waypoint and fish around it.