Lake St. Clair (Amazing Smallmouth Bass fishing)

Lake St. Clair (Amazing Smallmouth Bass fishing)

by | May 4, 2017 | Catch Freshwater Fish, Fishing, Freshwater, Smallmouth Bass | 0 comments

Lake St. Clair is one of the most sought-after lakes to fish for smallmouth and largemouth bass anywhere in the United States.  See what makes it so special.

This lake is geographically located in the downtown area of Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario.   The lake itself is not that deep with an average depth of about 11 feet with the deepest natural part of the lake being about 22 feet.    Lake St. Clair has a surface area of 430 square miles and has some extraordinary smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing.

Lake St. Clair is sandwiched between Lake Huron to its north and Lake Erie to its south.  In comparison to size Lake St. Clair is the little kid sister, but she sure makes up for that in fishability.

The natural flow of Lake st. Clair provides great nutrients for bait fish, crayfish and other forage for smallmouth and largemouth bass to eat.  In return this provides a fantastic food source that keeps this lake extremely healthy and full of smallmouth bass.

What does Lake St. Clair look like under the water?

There are so many opportunities to catch fish in a lot of different areas when talking about the underwater structure of this lake.  Weeds, great rock structure, large flats, and drop-offs all can produce fish depending on the time of the year.  Some spots can hold large numbers of fish from 2 to 3 lbs.

What Months produce the best?

Like other large lakes in the United States there will be patterns that the fish will follow depending on the time of the month.   From post to pre-spawn these fish will hold in different areas of the lake.

There will be a handful of times these fish move during the year to completely different areas of the lake and having a good guide will be able to put you on these fish consistently as they are always on the water and know the patterns.

  • Pre-spawn months will be from late may to June
  • Spawn will be from May to June
  • Post Spawn from June to July
  • Summer pattern will be from July to September
  • Fall patterns will be from late September to October

What artificial baits work best on Lake St. Clair

Tube baits

lake st. clair

Tube baits have been catching fish for a long time and there a great bait for fishing lake St. Clair.  Tube baits are exactly what they sound like.  Hollowed out soft plastic lures that have tentacles off the back of the bait giving it great action that smallmouth and largemouth bass love.

These tubes come in different lengths and colors but lets talk about the most popular size and colors you should look into having in your box.

You could already have multiple size tube baits in your box, if so, that is great.  For the angler that is just getting into fishing tube baits  look for lengths that are around 3 to 4 inches.  This is a solid length to have when targeting smallmouths.

Colors could drive you crazy, there’s just so many choices.  For simplicity stick to some basic colors that are known to work well.

Keep your tube color natural so look for browns, white, pumpkin seed, watermelon,  and smoke should get the trick done.

Hooking a tube bait

Typically a head will be in the shape of a cylinder, but round heads will work well also.  These hooks will thread through the body and the weighted head will slid into the body cavity leaving the eye exposed to tie your line to it.

Jig head weight

The actual weight you choose is important.  When targeting smallmouths you will want to have a few different weighs available to you.  You should have jig heads that weight 1/8, 1/4 , and 3/8 in size at all times.

Depending on depth, weather conditions, and how the fish are reacting you can determine the proper weight.  A typical rule to follow can be anything under ten foot of depth, fish the 1/8 head.  Ten to eighteen feet fish your ¼ once jig head.  Anything deeper than 20 feet fish your 3/8 once.

How to fish a tube bait

Bounce off the bottom technique

Much like a Texas rigged worm the most standard way to fish a tube bait is to let the bait hit the bottom, then real in the slack until you get just tight with the bait and snap the rod up to make the bait hop of the bottom, then let the bait naturally fall again until it hits the bottom.

The strike will usually happen on the fall so watch your line for ticks or movements they can be subtle so keep alert.

lake st clair smallmouth bass


Drag your bait to mimic a crayfish

You can drag your tub bait on the bottom to mimic a crayfish.  Crayfish are a favorite food source for smallmouth and largemouth bass so this technique can be deadly in the right situations.

lake st clair smallmouth bass

Drop Shot technique

Drop shot is an awesome finesse technique that really can produce large number of fish when presented properly.    In Lake St. Clair grass beds typically grow a few inches off the bottom and a drop shot rig is perfect in keeping your bait suspended above this grass making for an easy meal to a smallmouth or largemouth bass.

lake st. clair

Remember when rigging your drop shot you always want your hook to be pointing up. Tying a Palomar knot with a long tail end that you will attach your weight to works great. made a great video on how to tie a drop shot rig.

Cast out and let your drop shot hit the bottom.  Then slowly lift the rod until you have tension.  You will want to slowly wiggle your rod tip so it makes your bait dance on the hook.

If you can vertically fish the bait straight down it is even better as you can feel everything.

Spinner Baits work great

Spinner baits work great for covering lots of water and can be fished slow rolled off the bottom with deadly results.  White seems to be a great color for smallmouths, but depending on water color and quality you can adjust your colors.

Once  you find your fish you can always throw a tube bait to slow down the presentation and really zero in on the fish.

Run spinner baits slow and deep

lake st. clair

Jerk Baits on lead heads

Jerk baits fished on lead heads can produce huge numbers of smallmouth bass.  This bait darts and flutters when fished with lead heads and mimic bait fish great.  Again choose natural colors and choose your weighted heads by how deep your fishing.

lake st. clair

Crank baits

Crank baits should always be a part of your smallmouth tackle.  In certain times of the year like fall when smallmouths are migrating towards there winter location you can really get some stellar days catching great numbers of fish.   Here are some of the more popular crank baits

lake st. clair

  • Storm Original Wiggle Wart
  • Bomber 6A
  • Bomber fat free shad
  • Cordell Big O

Pay attention to weather conditions

Lake St. Clair is considered a world class smallmouth bass fishery that can produce huge numbers of fish in certain times of the year.

Keep in mind your on a large open lake with conditions that can change quickly.  Pay attention to local weather forecast as lake conditions can change quickly.

Hiring a professional guide

If you have never fished Lake St. Clair it may be a good decisions to do some research on hiring a professional guide.   These guides are on the water constantly and know the ins and out of where the fish should be depending on the conditions and time of the year.

In Conclusion

Lake St. Clair could be a smallmouth bass fisherman’s dream. And although this lake is large and could be intimidating to some, especially first timers to the lake, there are patterns to follow that can help in finding and producing some really nice catches.

Follow these tips, check your local weather conditions, and give this lake a shot, you probably understand why it is considered one of the best smallmouth lakes you can fish.

Here are some important resource links to smallmouth bass fishing

Michigan Bass Fishing Tours – Guide Service: Your Smallmouth Bass fishing guide service for Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, and inland lakes thru out Michigan.


About The Author

Anthony Arcodia

A Florida Native, Anthony has been a lifelong fisherman and outdoorsman. As a child, he started fishing lakes around the South Florida area chasing bass which quickly spread to chasing snook and tarpon in the 10 thousand islands. Anthony has passed his love of the outdoors and fishing to his son and both continue to enjoy the great outdoors together while pursuing their passion of fishing.

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