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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Most fishermen do not want to share their "spots". That's fine with me because I don't believe "spot" fishing is the most productive form of fishing when looking at a gigantic fishery like Lake St. Clair. I believe that's why visiting pros during big tournaments tend to do better than local pros do. I'm interested in developing an overall knowledge of FALL fishing for Smallmouth on this lake. I do well in the spring and summer months, but when September comes around I always do poorly.

Would you guys be willing to share your experiences here? Not SPOTS. Spots don't help. What I'd like to discuss is what Smallmouth do this time of year and how we can go about hunting them down. I'm sure there are many guys out there like me who struggle this time of year. Do the fish tend to hold deep? Do they hold near creek channels? Do they hold near river mouths? Do they tend to stay away from weeds in the fall? Should we look for main lake humps? What do you do in this high Autumn wind we tend to get all the time now? One pro said to me recently that targeting rock piles with crank baits is deadly in the fall. Is that true? Deep or shallow piles? That's the kind of stuff I need to learn.

What do you all know about hunting down Smallmouth in the fall? I'd hope we'd all be willing to share a little more info here since we not asking anyone to reveal their "spots". Besides, "spots" are generally here today and gone tommorow. Especially since once they're known they get hammered. Looking forward to learning from your experiences.
 
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I dont have any tips as I am really glad you asked this question because for the last 3 weeks I have been struggling to find the fish I had been finding all spring,summer. Looking forward to any replies as I here that the fall is killer but not sure when that starts or were? I am sure the temps need to be a bit cooler to get the fish to realize its almost winter, I do also see a post that stated the bass will be in the shallows agon once the weather cools.
 

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well, check out the mbi post on here....
the winning weight came out of deep water with tubes, and the second best weight came out of 6 inches to 2 feet deep with a spinnerbait. this shows that fish can be caught everywere, they just need the right presentation. i don't think any fish would be caught deep with a spinnerbait, and maybe the opposite would be true about not catching any shallow fish with a tube. there are fish everywhere, they just need to see the right presentation... neither one of the weights came from certain spots, like you said, just covering water looking for active fish, wether it was deep or shallow. derrek
 

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I think once you master where the bait fish are you'll find the game fish, meaning finding the McDonalds, Burgerking, Taco Bell, Subway, etc. You'll find the smallies, Study hard on minnows, Learn minnow patterns, understand all about the bait fish and Bingo there's the smallies. So now if you know where the Spottails are in fall, there's the smallies.

h2o<---------------Learn habits of minnows
 

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H20 hit the nail right on the head. Bait is the most important factor in finding fish anytime of the year. But even more so in the fall. During the summer fish are hanging out, enjoying the sun, and eating whenever they feel like. During the fall, there main focus is eating and eating often. I believe bait fish will tend to pull up shallow (lake or river) during the fall as deep water temps drop, cover dies out, and availible food becomes less abundant. It all starts with the lowest forms of life on the food chain. Look for bait scattering on the surface when running your bait through an area. Also keep an eye out for the seagulls and other birds in the area. They know where the bait is better than us.

In the fall they should be schooled up. If your not catching you need to move. If you catch one, stay put there are more. Again this can be true anytime of year but more so in the fall. In the summer sometimes you can wait out an area or just catch fish periodically throughout the day. In the fall, if I'm getting bit within in 15mins, I'm gone. Because of this and the fact that they are so aggresssive I tend to favor a speed presentation, spinnerbaits, rattletraps, jerkbaits, etc to cover a lot of water and take advantage of their aggressive nature. Since a lot of the weeds will be dieing (sp?) out any small weed bed or rock reef which can provide cover is likely to be a gold mine. I would take an area like the mile roads, the south shore, or even the channels and tie on your favorite spinnerbait, put the trolling motor on high, and just start casting away down the shoreline untill you find a spot/area that is holding fish.

One note, we are starting to see the weights increase but I still do not feel that we have hit the fall feed yet. A least I have not seen it. Many of these fish are still scattered throughout both deep and shallow water. This should change rather quickly.
 

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Fall in general means moving and schooling bass. There are movements into and up the channels. There are shallow to deep, and deep to shallow movements too.

I always like to be looking for available structure in a larger area to concentrate on. It gives me more confidence. St. Clair has a lot of drops, points and humps. Some aren't as obvious or others. There are times I've marked a small rise on a computer map, run to it two miles offshore on the Mile Roads and started catching bass as soon as I shut down the first time. Doesn't always work, but it's a start.

The bird thing doesn't always work, but it's a start too.

As weeds begin to die, bass will either roam or use the next available cover and structure. Maybe the same sand drop they were already on. Maybe a rock patch. Any piece of cover left to attract them. I like to fish something just as much as some bass like to be by something.

I like to fish the channels this time of year, but the spots can change fast at times. There are plenty of lake bass that don't go to the channels. The South Shore is another good area to hit. Pick one stretch that has everything a bass needs and work it from shore out to 15 or more feet looking for differences.

There are some well-known major structures also that could be good learning points such as 9-mile bar or Belle River Hump. Bass use some of these areas all or most of the season. The Mitchells Bay corner is another one that many guys fish most of the time.
 

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First & most important is the weather.The last 2-3 falls are like today,big winds.Hard to fish when you can't get out.Fall fishing can be very easy.Lots of fish move shallow.I have already started gettin em shallow on spinnerbaits.If you want a fish to rip the rod from your hands use a spinnerbait.Seagulls I find on Erie more than st clair can tell you if their are smallies feeding.Seagulls always have a reason why they are where they are & that's food.The best fall was 3 years ago.Warm & no wind.Fish all day on both lakes.Don't forget Largemouths as they can be had one after another if you can find the secret area's.Don't forget the Detroit river as there are big ones there 4-6lbs.
 

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In regards to the heavy fall winds. I just use that as an excuse to go to protected areas such as bays, break walls, and the Detroit River to catch largemouth. Dave is right on when he says that the right spot can produce one after another. I have a few spots on the Detroit River that I catch numerous largemouth on every fall since I found it 3 years ago. As soon as the weeds start to die they just load up on this little break in the weeds leading to shallow water. My wife found these fish while I used my search baits ahead of her. I caught nothing and she started catching them on this spot with a tube on the bottom right behind me. I eventually gave in and threw a 3/8oz Texas rigged worm at them and immediately started catching them. After 3 falls of fishing this spot I have learned that they won't hit anything that isn't worked slow and on the bottom. I have begun to use this spot as a measuring stick for my fall largemouth hunt. As the water cools more and more, eventually the fishing in that spot dies and picks up much shallower and more scattered but in the same general area. This spot is just off the main current flow. Remember, no matter how windy it is, there are places to get out of the wind that have plenty of bass. These largemouth aren't going to win tournaments but 2 to 2 1/2 pounders are abundant with some bigger ones mixed in.

good luck!
 

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i was on the river last night. got to see some serious feeding going on by both smallmouth and largemouth. the bait fish were popping left and right and it was obvious they wouldnt last long.

the first area we stopped had baitfish holding tight to the rocky shoreline. they were balled up in a tight group for a while, but once the bass started pecking away, the tiny ( 2" tops, not sure what kind of minnows they were either) baitfish took on the "every minnow for himself" ruitine intil they were almost all gone. it was interesting to see the loners trying to hold behind the shoreline rocks to keep from washing back out into the current.

the next area we fished was an island. the baitfish were in greater numbers here. we were marking them on the graph in massive clumps. while we couldnt see them down there, we knew when the fish had started feeding because the baitfish were pushed to the surface and tighter to the shoreline. we kept good distance and casted around the frenzy and picked up a few quality smallmouth and a solid 4 lb largemouth.

in all, i would have to say that the first signs of schooling and feeding were evident on the river. i havent been out on lsc in over a week. so i cant say whats happening out there. but with the shift in temps and the loss of daylight, it wont take long if it hasnt happened yet.

i have done well in the fall in the past by following and mimicking the baitfish. my top 3 lures in the fall have been a 4 blade spinnerbait, a smithwick rogue floating jerkbait ( more action than the suspending model ) and a rattle trap.

i think attention to detail could be your key to success this time if year. if you find a good school of fish, take the time to study the area. figure out what the fish ( baitfish and game fish) are relating to. pay attention to air and water temps, wind direction, etc. i have found that a good fall pattern will last as long as a few of the elements remain the same or close to the same.

but as long as you can find some minners, you should be able to catch some bass


madman himself
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So far so good. There's been lots of good info already shared. Here's been my experience over the past couple of weeks. At the State BASS Fish-off, most of the good fish seemed to be caught at or near Stag Island. This caused me to wonder if some Smallmouth migrate up the river in the fall. If this is true, I wonder if the same will be true in the Detroit River? Thursday I plan to go out and scout out the Peche Island area and see if I can locate Smallies in that area. It'll be interesting to discover if the Smallmouth are relating to the upstream end of a river. I also fished Stag Island yesterday (Sept 23) but didn't do well at all. It seems as though the fish have moved out of that area or weren't willing to bite. I then went to some shallower structure in the river and did much better. Most of the fish were caught in 7-8 ft. This again perplexed me since just a week or 2 earlier the fish were holding deep, deep, deep. Does anyone know what's up? Was there a certain water temp that caused the fish to move up again?

How about main lake stuff? I have (of course) spent some time at the Mile Roads, but can't seem to get it going like it was 2 months ago. I keep hearing that "they'll be back in at the Mile Roads soon", but that hasn't been my experience. I've worked it shallow and deep. Around humps and rocks. A few scattered fish is all I seem to be able to find. So now I'm thinking that I should abandon the Mile Roads and try the rock piles that line the main shipping channel. I'm wondering if perhaps the Smallmouth are coming up out of the deep stuff and perhaps relating to the first shallower structure. Anyone have any light to shed on this thought process?

BTW - I agree with the minnow thing. Everywhere I've found schools of minnows I've found a few fish. The trick though is finding the little buggers. Birds help sometimes, but with all the shotguns going off lately, it even seems like they're not around as much. But we sure do have our fair share of bees though...SHEESH!

Knowledge is power. Let's hear from anyone else who is doing well this September. Who knows??? You may get to become my new fishing hero!
 

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Lots of big fish move into the Detroit river from Erie.I don't know how many people realize the huge drop in fish numbers in the river since the water levels have fallen.Before the drop fishing was better in the river than anywhere.Large 4 pound smallies were common also lots of Walleye & Musky in the fall.I was spoiled.Now with spawning grounds above water I think a lot of fish moved to the lakes then the Musky followed.The Walleye just depend on lake Erie numbers & they are at all time lows now.Still the river is great & always fishable no matter how bad the winds get.
 

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One thing you have to be careful of is how you use water temp. Water temp does not always move bass. The only time that I believe that bass move because of water temp is during spawn or extreme hot/cold. Water temp causes other changes to ecosystem that are more important i.e. weed growth/decline, oxygen content, increase/decrease plankton, etc. Which moves forage/baitfish, which in turn moves bass. Sure bass have "preferred" temperature zone, but if the forage is in 50degree or in 80degree temps you can bet bass will not be far behind. I use water temp as more of a guide to what's going on the lake as opposed to telling me where to fish.

I also agree with your comments regarding watching birds. This does not always work. Especially with seagulls, they'll eat any dead piece of nasty whatever on the water. One bird I do keep a close eye on are Turns (not sure if that is there technical name, just what I've always called them). If they are diving into the water, there after something&#8230;

Another point I did not cover well in my first post and Dan hit on, is bass tend to hold tighter to a piece of cover, structure, or eddy in the river than in the summer. Again, find them and you should be in for a good time.

just my 2 cents
 

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This is just a curious question? has anyone seen smallmouth spit up crayfish this year after landing them. I have pictures from the past that show what a great match green tubes are to the crayfish from LSC. I haven't seen one in several years and many fish. It appears their diet may have changed, or maybe their location has changed their diet. anyone else notice this?
It looks like its all baitfish now.

john
 

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i have caught several fish that later spit up crawfish parts in my livewell this year. i have also caught many that spit minnows.

i think it comes down to where you are fishing and what forage is available to the fish. also, i believe that crawfish are a more easily accesible forage at certain times. and minnows at others.

but more than anything, i think its all about where your at and what the fish are eating. if they aint eating crawfish in the area you are fishing, they arent gonna spit any crawfish up.

madman himself
 

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This is an interesting side bar topic. I always check my livewells for what they may have spit up after a tournament. I also take a quick peek in their throat before they go in the livewell to see if there is anything there to help me determine what they are feeding on. Of course I've had all kinds of crazy things spit up, alewives, gobies, crawfish, perch, caterpillars, etc. One thing I have noticed though is crawfish are spit up more often than the others. Even with fish I know (or think I know) are feeding on baitfish or gobies. I believe part of the reason is digestion. Crawfish are simply harder to digest than the soft-bodied food. But also, even with large amounts of bait, the intro of gobies, and conventional wisdom that has says smallies gorge on baitfish in the fall due to there high protien content, smallies still love crawfish. They must be tasty…
 

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Many people think that just because this is fall, that many of the fish will be aggressive all the time. I've fallen into that trap many times in the spring but also in the fall. Fished in the channels last weekend and saw minnows everywhere but only caught 2 fish. Good fish but only 2. We gave up on that pattern after about an hour and probably should have stuck with it.
Don't expect to see giant schools of bass roaming around blowing up on minnows. It happens but get it in your mind that fall is also a transition period and the fishing isn't awsome all the time.
Speaking of lures, jerkbaits and flukes have done well for me. And just because there doesn't seem any way possible a 4 pounder could be sitting in 2 foot of water, it happens. Going out tomorrow, I'll report later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Here's an interesting scenerio. I went out Thursday and the wind was rough. We fished down by the Delphine and got nothing. The wind made it difficult. So we went to a more protected area closer to shore and got several keepers in shallower water. That was Thursday. Friday (today) we had a club tournament. The wind was straight out of the South, so the protected areas I fished on Thursday were now choppy and windy. We decided to try those areas again anyway since we caught a few fish the day before. Guess what? No fish, no baitfish, and no fun. We quickly gave up because we realized that the wind dramatically affected the area and we weren't going to do well.

The only keepers caught in our tournament came from the St. Clair River where presumably the wind doesn't have so much of an effect. I'm starting to wonder if the wind has a greater effect on fish than I previously believed? Were they still in the area and just not biting? Or did they move themselves to a protected area? This is a really interesting question because it would have helped me in my decision whether to keep trying there or pick up and leave.

When it comes to windy days (especially in the fall) what do you do? Is my only recourse to go to the river or some out-of-the-way protected area? We even spent a few hours in Anchor Bay where the wind was a little less of a factor, but still no fish to be had. This wind question is a big one for me. Any insights? Anyone do well today? (Friday) River or lake? Protected or out in the open?
 

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We also made it out on Friday and found much of the same. The wind didn't get real bad until around 10:30 but we had decent success earlier in shallow water. Seven and Eight feet seemed to be the magic number and even when the wind got bad, we still caught a few keepers in that depth range.
I think the fish are still there but many times our confidence levels drop when the wind picks up. Still lots of minnows up shallow also and we found this to be critical in finding fish. Overall it was a little slow but we still caught a few good ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Were you on the American or Canadian side? What I'm interested in understanding is what the wind direction was when you found baitfish.
 
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