Just when you think you have these darn smallmouth figured out, they throw you a big, sweeping curve ball.
That’s what happened to me Thursday in the Plano Bassmaster Elite tournament on Lake St. Clair. I had one of the toughest days I’ve ever had on the lake.
That’s the same Lake St. Clair that I’ve really love and have fished numerous times.
But this time…and at least the first day…the smallmouth won.
My practice was challenging because the wind blew out of the south 25 mph the first day, 10-15 the second day, and 5-10 the third day. Now, 5-10 may not sound like much, but on St. Clair it can create three-foot waves. That makes it hard to move around.
Despite all that, the fish I caught in practice were good ones. I was able to locate three big schools way off shore and the fish were much healthier looking than the last time we were here. I was really excited to get out there Thursday with better weather conditions.
But the wind shifted out of the north, and every time that happens on St. Clair, it changes the currents and the fish move. I was dumbfounded when I went to places that had exactly what I thought the fish were using only to find little guys. I caught more 1 pounders Thursday than I’ve seen here in a long time.
And the bite was funny. In practice, they would knock the rod out of my hands when I fished jerkbaits and crankbaits. Today, I had 10 good bites and they all came off in five cranks of the handle.
So, I switched to a drop-shot and caught fish, but still lost quite of few big ones. They were just moody biters.
The big active schools had moved. It’s easier to find schools of largemouth when they move, but smallmouth can move 100 yards or three miles. The place I’m fishing is so far offshore and so vast that it makes it difficult to rediscover the schools of big fish.
Smallmouth will follow the current and forage. My hunch is that the change in wind changed the water color of my area and that messed up my best spots. What was clear in practice was dirty Thursday. Smallmouth like that clearer water.
That’s one of the neat things about St. Clair. While I struggled in my areas and with my patterns, other anglers did quite well and my hat’s off to them. The system is so big and offers so many options that if you choose the right one, you do well. If you make the wrong decision like I did, you struggle.
One cool aspect of St. Clair is the dirty water flushes out pretty quick with the heavy current coming in from Lake Huron down the St. Clair River. This lake can clear up in a just a day or so.
So, Friday (today) I will check the weather and try to make better decisions. One thing about smallmouth -they will tell you real quick if they’re feeding in an area. There is no sense spending a lot of time on one spot trying to make them bite.
Friday’s plan is to keep moving around until I find clearer water and keep hammering them with moving baits. St. Clair is such a good lake that a fickle bite doesn’t last very long!
Remember, it’s all about the attitude!