April greeted us with many days of East winds and dirty water. We had several warm ups followed by extreme cold fronts the entire month. The smallmouth fishing was very good when the wind and water color allowed us to get out. The biggest smallmouth of the month came while jigging for walleye and weighed in at 6 pounds 4 ounces, an absolute St. Clair stud. Along with guiding I hopped in the boat with Detroit Lions Pro Bowl Center, Frank Ragnow and filmed a segment for Michigan Out-of-Doors Television.
The first 10 days of May provided us with more stable weather than the month prior and came with a great pre-spawn smallmouth bite. Fish were staging on areas that had hard structure. This means that they were located on anything from rock piles to wood to sea walls. Covering water and hitting several spots until finding one with active fish was key. We were rewarded with several fat pre-spawn females, including a giant 6 pound 1 ounce fish that ate the 4" Poor Boys Mango Magic Tube. Around May 11th we had a major warm up and the first wave of spawning fish hit the shallows and locked onto beds. The rest of the month has consisted of starting on a few pre-spawn transition areas in the mornings and then sight fishing spawners once the sun gets up.
The weather to start the month of June was absolutely beautiful. We began with several warm, calm days and with the stable conditions the spawn peaked and there were fish everywhere. The mornings started out with great top water action catching Smallmouth and a few bonus Largemouth. The best bait choices were the trusty Pop-R or Sammie with a slow retrieve working them across shallow flats that had actively spawning fish and fish that had finished spawning but were still shallow feeding up. Once the wind picked up we were able to find bedding fish and pick them off with a Poor Boys Darter Jr rigged on a drop shot. If the conditions didn't allow us to sight fish we covered water by fan casting a drop shot or a grub. Both the single tail and double tail grub caught fish however, it seemed like day to day they would prefer one over the other. The end of the month brought the much anticipated Canadian Season opener. The first two days of the season we had a huge Mayfly hatch and the grub was on fire. Going into July the spawn is wrapped up and the fish are moving offshore to their summertime haunts. Chasing after Smallmouth offshore with forward facing sonar is one of my favorite ways to catch them. We are able to get away from the crowds and have schools of fish to ourselves.
The month of July started off right where June ended. More and more fish started to show up offshore and fishing remained excellent. Drop Shot with the Erie Darter was still hot along with the Ned Rig with an array of soft plastics. When the wind kicked up, depending on the skill level of the clients, we were able to catch fish cranking and throwing swimbaits. Several fish over 5 pounds were boated during the month of July. Weekends were very busy with an abundance of pleasure boats and some of the heaviest fishing pressure I have ever seen on Lake St. Clair, making fishing on weekdays ideal.
Early August continued to see an astronomical amount of fishing pressure on the lake. As the month went on the fishing got tougher and tougher. Catch numbers went down as each week went by. We had to really slow down and pick apart areas that had active fish. There were very large lulls in action and the first light bite was best. Drop Shot and Ned Rig remained key for these pressured fish. Precise casting towards fish was paramount to getting bites as these fish would not chase or swim over to baits to eat. Our first cold front came through the last week of August and made fishing really tough and dirtied up the water a lot.
Temperatures through September were warmer than August and led to a very inconsistent bite. The fishing was mediocre to poor, however there were a few days of great fishing that kept us coming back. Covering water and keeping the school fired up was critical. The bite would be fast and furious until a fish was lost or we threw one back and then they would shut down and you couldn't buy a bite. Drop Shot and Ned Rig were still major players. Colder weather and biting fish were on the horizon as we headed into October.
Wind and Waves were the dominant theme of October. Every trip was accompanied by 15-20 mph winds which really limited where we could fish. With that being said we were still able to put some fish in the boat with a great average size including a couple of 6 pounders. Swimbaits and tubes were the major player with the Poor Boys 4" Tube being my go-to.
Cold fronts and ever changing winds are the name of the game when it comes to fishing in November. Knowing this, it is very important to pay attention to the forecast and be ready to go when the weather allows. We were able to get out on the Detroit River and jig a couple times with some really nice fish in the 2-5 pound range being caught. Fishing the main channel in 40-45 ft is where most of the action took place. During the end of the month we were able to get out on Lake St. Clair pulling boards. Walleye, Muskies, Pike, Perch, and Smallmouth were all caught pulling crankbaits. The rest of the year I will be trolling Lake St. Clair. If you see a nice day in the forecast and want to put some great sized walleyes in your freezer give me a shout.
The first week of April sparked the return of giant great lakes walleye into the Detroit River. Early in the month we had a great color in the water and several huge hens hit the net. Vertical jigging dark colored plastics with a live emerald shiner was the key to getting those big girls to bite. Limits were not caught on every trip, but the quality of the fish we did catch more than made up for the quantity. Once the water warmed up a bit during the second week of the month the bite was hot and heavy with limits almost every trip out. Finding the stained water was key along with staying tight to the breaks near spawning flats with a hard bottom. The bite stayed strong for the rest of the month and we bounced between the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers.
May started right where April ended with a very good jigging bite on both the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. Still finding that off colored water proved to be the best sections of the river to fish. With the weather warming up and becoming more stable the crawler bite really took off. Jigging was solid until the sun started to come up over the trees and then switching to crawlers became key to finishing out our limit catches of great eating sized walleye. With fish wrapping up their spawning activities in the river, the trolling bite on Lake St. Clair really took off. Huge schools of hungry post spawn walleyes traveled into the lake and made for some great fishing.
The spinner bite for Walleye in June was absolutely phenomenal. We did not see the same caliber fish that we had in the system from October through April, but the size of fish that we caught were excellent table-fare. Early mornings were critical as the bite was definitely best as soon as the sun started to rise. We targeted both the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair. When the wind was in a favorable direction I preferred to fish the lake, but when the wind was blowing, the river was a great option to stay out of the wind and still catch plenty of great walleye. Going into July I will be giving the Walleye a rest and focusing on Smallmouth. The summer months bring a lot of floating weeds in both the lake and river which make trolling very difficult. Later this fall we will get back after the Walleye once the floating vegetation is gone.