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KVD: Great Lakes smallmouth are the best

The Great Lakes rank near the top of my list as best fishing in the world.

They can also be the toughest because of their vastness and the affect weather can have on them. That was illustrated during Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year Championship on Lake Michigan’s Bays de Noc last weekend.

But as tough as the weather can become around the Great Lakes, the fishing can be ridiculously good, especially in the fall. Although the championship was shortened to two days, keep in mind that several 20-pound limits of smallmouth were caught over those two days.

That’s not something you can do just anywhere.

Yet, when the wind blows on these giant waters, it makes it tough to fish. And it can change quickly; you might launch on a calm lake in the morning, but two hours later, it might be rolling with 4 and 5 footers.

That makes it tough on tournaments that are limited to a specific boat launch and schedule. Oftentimes the best fishing is a long way from the launch site and making that run can be a risk, yet no different than the risk an angler takes making a long run through locks and dams on places like the Arkansas or Mississippi Rivers.

Fun fishing is a different situation. You can pick a launch site near a fishing area and get off the water quickly and safely when the weather turns nasty.

On the other hand, fishing can be nothing short of fabulous on those days when it’s uncomfortable. These big fall smallies bite best when the wind is blowing.

This is the time of year when huge schools of smallmouth are moving toward the bays and protected areas. These fish get very little fishing pressure and will bite even if they see you or the boat in that clear water.

And when there’s one smallie there, chances are there are others, if not hundreds.

For example, Mark Zona and I spent a day on Lake Huron earlier this week and had one of the most amazing days of smallmouth fishing I’ve ever experienced. We were filming an episode of Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show and hit it just right. The show will air in early 2015.

There were several times when Zona and I would reel in a fish and there would be 20 or more swarming around it.

On several occasions, we had doubles and triples on. When one guy would hook a fish the other would drop his tube bait next to the fish being reeled in and hook another. At times, we would each would be playing a fish and grab another rod and hook another. You talk about some crazy fun!

It’s unfortunate that the wind had to hamper the AOY championship, but I’m happy for my friend and Strike King Pro teammate Greg Hackney for winning the title. I know the weather delays made it tough on him but he still persevered and did what he had to do to finish off one of the best years of bass angling that any of us has witnessed.

Hack is a true outdoorsman and as good of a hunter as he is an angler. I’ve hunted with him several times and I can tell you this – the man can skin a rattlesnake faster than any man on this planet. And he knows how to cook them too!

So, congrats to Greg and his family. He spent a lot of long, hard days on the road this year and his family deserves a lot of credit for his success. When you have the kind of support he gets from his family, it makes that time away from home more tolerable.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!