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After the past few weeks of tournaments on the Pond! I wonder if the fishing is really as down as many (including myself) have stated!
After watching numerous 19,20,21,22 and even 23 Pound bags being weighed. The thought crossed my mind yesterday (as I was weighing in my tiny 13# limit). What if the fish have just changed their habits and feeding areas? With the introduction of the Goby and other forage based food sources in an up swing could the fish have just moved from the areas we traditionally fish? The weights being brought in by some competitors tend to make me feel much better about the fishery then I previously thought!

Just think.....We have seen two fish over 6.5 lbs and dozens of 5lbers weighed in over a 3 week period. Yesterday the GNT had 5 bags over 20lbs. Even three years ago during the supposed peak of the fishery we didn't see fish over 6lbs!

I tend to feel these fish are not coming from the same locations as past years!! Nor are they coming from Erie!!
So are they coming from a newly found sources? New techniques? or have they just changed habits due to feed?

Based on what I know of the fish coming in! I don't think it's a new source or technique! Even though many fish have been brought to the scales from the same location in the past. Why are there so many huge fish now?

I guess the best part is the signs of a healthy fishery with lots and lots of big fishing! I guess I better start changing tactics if I want to compete with the big boys!

Thoughts anyone?
 

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The top anglers won't admit this, but most of those big ones have been coming from a fish market in town.
 

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hello all, anyone having any luck on the north channel, was out yesterday from 6a to 2p, got the skunk....still better than a good day at work
 

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The entire system is in a constant state of change. The weather patterns, the water clarity, the food source(s) all have been "changed" since the introduction of non native species in the system. Do I think the fishery is in trouble? No. Do I think its time we took a long hard look at how we are effecting it? YES!

I do know that the fish that are being caught are in areas that have been known for big bass in the past, but for some reason the bigger bite seems to be eluding me. I will keep on keepin on till I find some of those fish.

Mini
 

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I agree 100% Bass Pro. There is TONS of water out there and the fish could literally be ANYWHERE!!

Just because we may have had a great day in one area doesn't mean that fish will always be there. I think most bass anglers are creatures of habit. If you pull a huge bass of a stump on a jig n pig, then every time you go to that lake you are going throw a jig at that stump. Even if you haven't caught a bass there in 3 years, you'll always remember that big one.

I'm sure a lot of bass guys get hung up on "spots" and when in a tournament they run like hell from this "spot" to that "spot". When word of a "spot" gets out someone will sure enough publish a book or a map and then EVERYONE goes to that "spot". Then the spot gets hammered so the fish move on to one of the other 100 gazillion plus acres in the lake system.

I wasn't here 3 or 4 years ago so my opinion is of limited experience but I have no reason to believe that the fishery is any worse than years past. What I do believe is that the fish are in different locations than "Fishing HOT SPOTS Map" and "Combat fishing Books" tell us.

When you can't pull big fish off that stump anymore, it doesn't mean the fishery is poor. It means that you have to go find a new stump to through your jig at.
 

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There were some huge weights last fall too, especially out of Mitchell's Bay. The big ones are there.

It's really a two-part issue. What is realistic to expect from a healthy, even awesome smallmouth fishery? What can angler's do to realistically keep it healthy?

I'm not done on this topic. I just don't feel very well right now (and it's fishing season) and I'm behind on my MDNR response and disappointed by all the opinions on boards and magazines that have nothing to do with available data, nor show any desire to actually learn from available data, or worse, twist and misrepresent the data to their own desires - most disappointing from professionals who know better - I just expect better. (It's crazy because it isn't hard to find out from someone else why another is presenting or misrepresenting 'data' to serve a personal agenda that may not really serve the fish or large numbers of anglers - the Ohio situation is a good example; Another is the In-Fisherman magazine lately.)

I needed a rest before I roll up my sleeves and get back into it. I've learned more yet about these issues from various public and scientific sources. I also need some time to work on at least helping the circuits I participate in have the available data to decide whether they are doing all they can do or just making a show of doing all they can do. I've always said, do it right or just don't do it. People know a show when they see one.

I just wish all of you could hear some of the candid things I hear when I actually talk to all these people/experts/agenda-seekers. Maybe if you heard it with your own ears, you'd understand what I'm attempting to do. The main thing is, you don't have to agree with me or anyone else, but PLEASE at least know your rationale has any ground to stand on or not by being truly knowledgeable about the data, and admit whether or not it's because the fish/lakes/etc need 'it' or you just want it that way in your 'idea' of the perfect world.

Then we can work for what is needed and try to compromise on everyone's idea of a perfect world.
 

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Ya, it's deep alright. Sounds like someone isn't getting what they want in regulatory changes, as in a year round fishery for St.Clair smallmouth.
 

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Bass Pro, East Coast, and Djkimmel (Hey Cajun, shove your snide comments up your gumbo. Everyone else here has tried to be constructive. Is that difficult for you?) have hit the nail on the head. The big fish are out there. Try something different--a different area, a new technique, etc. The huge weights I saw brought in during the Federation State Championship opened my eyes. Some of us have suspected that there were still plenty of big bass out there, but hadn't yet been found (by me, anyway). Well, someone has found them and they are huge. It took over 31 pounds for two days to make the Federation State Team this year (12th place). Four years ago it took 29 pounds to make the team.

In 1997 (I think), I took second place in the State Championship with a little over 27 pounds. This year I had almost exactly 27 pounds and placed 35th.

Now, I realize that over the past six years, no one has fished for bass during the spawn and for the ten years before that, the smallmouth were beaten up in the spring by naughty anglers and that's why the weights are so big now...no fishing during the spawn.
What horrible evil people those early anglers were. How dare they enjoy a day of fishing so early? Didn't they know what harm they were doing? Thank goodness that no one is catching bass before the season anymore. I love catching the dozens and dozens and dozens of 12''-18" bass that I catch now. That's why there are so many of them out there, right?...No one is fishing during the closed season??
 

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I only target bass 2 or 3 times a season, but I fish the lake 4 or 5 days a week (somtimes more!) , what I consistantly see is bass boats working the same (obvious)spots day after day, I can't leave the marina without seeing 20 to 30 bass boats between 9 and ten mile.
with constant pressure like that the big bass that remain in the area are not going to fall for the same old tube that they see all day everyday. I catch a some big bass while fishing for walleye (in the spring) and yes on big muskie lures while trolling for muskies after the first sat in june thru november. most of my big bass hit out in the middle of the lake (look for schools of baitfish). the edges of the shipping channel hold bigg hawgs (especially south of the dumps) and the south shore seems to hold a lot of big bass crazy enough to hit a 10" long nils master lure.
If I want to catch a lot of bass I can pull out in front of the marina to that shoal north of 9 mile, throw out an anchor
and catch 20 to 30 (2-3lb) bass in a morning, but for big bass you have to head east at least a mile or two and keep moving until you find them.
I saw a couple of big bass (over 5 lbs) in a bucket with a mess of perch at the dock at the marina sat morning, they said that they were caught in 15 ft of water in a spot that was hot for perch.
I know that you guys can't troll during a tournament
but maybe you should try it on weekdays because it is
the best way to discover new spots.
(your own secret spots)
 

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You know, sometimes it's hard to admit our mistakes. I am one of the individuals that has at times thought and posted my thoughts about the declining number of big fish on St. Clair. Our beautiful lake is truly a miracle. Where else do you know of that you can go catch a boat load of smallies on any given day that average 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds - and still we complain (including me). On it's worst day St. Clair is flat out AWESOME!

This year I swore to myself that I was going to try different things on LSC and not just drag a tube all day long - I failed. I have to admit I just love dragging when I fish out there! It's fun, it's relaxing, it's productive (at times) and it's just what I need after a hard week at work but it's not always the best choice. Sometimes I just don't feel like chucking a 3/4oz spinnerbait or jerking a jerkbait all day but that may have been what the fish wanted that day. I have had days when I spanked my partner in the morning hours with tubes only to get spanked harder in the late morning and afternoon when he threw a spinnerbait while I tied on somewhere between 1 and 10 million different color tubes - BULL HEADED.

Lake St. Clair is a massive lake to really get to know and understand. I bet there isn't anyone that knows the lake better than Muskie Bob and even he has only fished a small portion of it. Because of limited time on the water most of us don't go out looking for new water or our own spots, instead we tend to gravitate to proven spots that we have fished in the past, learned from others or news letters or rumors. These spots get hammered time and time again with very little recovery time between anglers and tournaments. When we have 3 or 4 poor outings we start to over react and say the lake is in trouble. In a lake of this size there may be great spots that are over fished but if moved only a few hundred yards we may find a new spot that is even better. Next year my personal plan is to fish far fewer tournaments and spend more time learning this great fishery. I also plan on having a few outing where I leave the tubes home so that I'm forced to try different things. I'm not a marine biologist so I don't really know if the lake is in trouble or not. What I do know is that I will become a better fisherman by working harder and finding new spots and techniques that work for me.

That's my two pennies.

Tight lines everyone - It's HAWG time!
 

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I think since the water has cleared up, these fish are acting more like stripers, following bait around, and not always relating to something. You find them and you'll load up, but they could be gone the next day.
 

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I think alot of the fish we are seeing (especially the bigger ones being weighed in) are not native to Lake St Clair. Even with the recent increase in bag weights, I still dont see the numbers of 3.5+ fish as I did in the late 90's. It could be that the fish have moved, but who is to say that the fish we are seeing now werent there before? That someone has changed tactics and they are now starting to exploit the new found resource? Only to have, as East Coast stated, "someone write a book about it" and the resource gets hammered until it too has been reduced?

Alot of questions, not many answers. But I am heading out to find some big fish soon....


Mini
 

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I do not target bass at all but have caught more this year than any years past and I have been pretty impressed at their size(almost all in the 3-5# range on the boga grip). This is especially true in the last few weeks while perch fishing, is seems pretty common for a few to liven up the day on the light tackle. I can't say the same for 3 seasons ago.
 

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Guys...I love fishing St. Clair...but i've only done it like 4 times in the last 4 years! I just wanna fish. I'm a poor college student that wants to fish...preferably St. Clair...cause I love that lake....

God bless,
Jose
 

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I guess it makes sense if I keep catching musky when I bass fish that I should go perch fishing to catch big bass...

No one knows what is happening yet on the season since the process isn't done and last I heard, the MDNR was keeping their proposal a secret.

Heck, I still haven't even reached my initial goal which is to have just one angler on one of these boards answer yes to my questions about have they read any complete studies and/or talked to an assortment of fisheries biologists about what their studies show and don't show, but I keep hoping.
 

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DJK, I think some people read the studies, but alot of us are recreational fishers and place our trust in the DNR biologists. I usually read the Mt Clemens reports that are available online during the winter (I guess since I cant be out on the lake!). I don't profess to understand everything. Their studies on the sturgeon are my favorites, I find it very interesting since these are such a rare fish and you can find them in our backyard.
 

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Great, OneSided. I'll add you to my list of guys who say they've actually read the studies. Let's see, you're name is number...hmmm, 1 on my list.

Maybe this is counterproductive and I really don't want to just make guys mad, but reading articles in a magazine or reading a few excerpts only that anyone posts isn't the same. I also realize many people don't want to take the time or can't to read the entire 'exciting' document each time. I do realize that some anglers have read some of the studies and maybe even talked to a biologist or two.

I do take the time myself just because fishing is that important to me. What I really think more anglers would gain from reading a handful of different reports is some diversity in their thought and also see how difficult it is to reach simple conclusions that are rock solid about the complex water world. After a while, you will see a lot of language that seems to say 'we think it means this, but based on this, this and this, it could mean something else' or 'be caused by this instead' or 'the individuals beds are impacted, but no apparent change to the overall population could be demonstrated.'

I had one well-respected biologist candidly tell me that in reality with bass in Michigan "DESPITE all the different things biologists have done to the bass over the last 50 years, they are doing okay." Did he mean biologists are unnecessary or bad? Of course not! What he means is what MDNR used to always tell me, bass pretty much take care of themselves. This is simplified of course, but it's true - that if you give bass clean water, good habitat, and forage, they will and have flourished in those cases.

The only real thing we done for bass in Michigan in the last 30 years as far as regulations, is to slowly move up the minimum size limit. There are no studies showing this has resulted in more bigger bass alone because at the same time we've had major environmental improvement and/or water clarity changes in some of these fisheries that have exploded. Despite increased fishing pressure by increasingly more skilled and technologically advanced anglers, and tournaments, a lot of our bass fishing is tremendous - some of it better than ever. This is looking at long-term trends not just last year to this year. You can't look at fish populations that way for many useful things.

Which is why I get impatient when I see people claiming all these concrete conclusions from small parts of studies they've seen, let alone the whole study, or from opinions they've read in a magazine. More often than not, my position is just to point out what a study did NOT or can NOT be said to have shown, which is why I usually dig hard to find the ulterior motive of anyone who makes strong claims about studies. Because there usually is one - like "I just really think it's an attempt to have more tournament."

Not that any studies have shown we will harm entire populations by fishing bedding bass, but because "I don't like tournaments." I respect fisheries biologist who are honest and do their job, which is to protect the resource. I don't respect someone who misrepresents the studies to serve their personal bias.

I feel bad anytime a public 'official' uses the public by doing this and I know if the public had seen all the same facts, the public is smart enough, and enough of them would act, that the real issues could be brought into the open. I have no problem debating with someone who doesn't like fishing bedding bass about whether or not anyone should, but it needs to be clear that it is a debate about personal beliefs, not scientifically supported necessity. Big difference.

I'm not against the MDNR and have been friends with some over the years. I sat in on and compromised my way through many meetings over the years with them, but I had no time of day for someone who was or is against tournaments and would try to say "it's not just that I don't like tournaments, but that they are BADDDD based on studies." I always ask, "which studies would that be?," which is why I get the "well, I know their bad based on my professional opinion" response usually.

Well, this is a country full of opinions. If I want opinion, I have no trouble getting it, but when I talk to an 'official' who's job is steward the resource (along with those participants that care), I don't want their personal opinion, I want their scientific knowledge and interpretation. They can give me their opinion too, but there is a big difference between their opinion and what science says. In the case of a few Northern biologists, their opinions and science are at opposite ends of the issues. That is okay as long as they don't try to twist the science back towards their personal opinions and desires for their ideal of a perfect world. Just be honest and say, "the studies show this, but I'd rather have this."

That's the part that is missing. I probably haven't done a good enough job to explain these things. I also realize that some people won't care how many words I write. A few are against anything I'm for. That's real productive in a democracy. Some are just set in their thinking and I realize that. I won't change their mind and I've probably wasted some of your time, and mine, trying to change their minds futilely. I've actually tried to back off a little since there are others that can get good messages across too and everyone should have a say in their own way.

It's hard when I see something like Gordon Pyzer, who definitely has a thing against fishing spring smallies, suddenly, now that he's retired, going on his personal crusade. He's a perfect example of a scientist claiming science and stretching things to make a broader argument than exists. I talked to another Canadian biologist about him and even that biologist (who was not 'in my corner' but fair) showed disappointment that Gordon was using his credentials to make it appear that actual results exist that back his drastic desires. These results don't exist. He's hoping they will eventually and doesn't want to wait. Of course, if he's wrong (which so far, decades of data suggests he is), then thousands of anglers will lose fishing opportunity (and all that goes with that is lost too) for nothing other than someone's personal ideals.

It's bad enough when anglers do this, but when a 'professional' misrepresents things this way, I truly believe it is unethical and borders on being a crime - if not in the legal sense - at least in the area of trust and decency.

People have said I'm no different myself - that I misrepresent things so I can just catch bass all year, but I'm not trying to TAKE or KEEP AWAY fishing opportunity. I'm trying to provide as much fishing opportunity, for those who want it, as science says the fishery can support. I'm actually being more conservative than the real science says I could be since it's not necessary to go that far.

It is only if a good number of anglers want it to be. Which is why I'm proposing what I am - I believe a good number of Michigan anglers want to be able to legally catch and release bass any time and I believe that studies show this can be allowed on most waters. There are things happening in other States too. It all comes down to what can be handled in regulations that meet the most anglers' preference without harming the resource.

If most of us just wanted to catch a few big bass, than the regulations desired might be different than what I'm proposing, but we have a very diverse group of anglers in Michigan and I think my proposal best meets the broad range of needs based on our fisheries and geographical location.

The MDNR is doing something. It's unfortunate, but they are keeping it 'secret' so far. Unfortunate because they may be doing it so we anglers don't have a lot of time to react to specifics, but also I'm sure it partially has to do with not just fear of those of us wanting a change being unhappy with not enough change, but those who are against screaming that they are changing it at all.

I also believe they expect us to 'give up' something in return, such as a later regular season date. Depending on how this is done, it may or may not impact those of us who enjoy tournaments. I don't believe there is any major justification for 'giving up' anything and I'm fairly confident I already can hear their rationalizations in the back of my head since I know how they think and what is available to use and/or stretch.

I've seen things done this way before - the secret way - and it usually has the opposite effect than what was hoped for, but change is hard for many people regardless of what history shows. It's like the sign I had on my desk during a particularly enjoyable re-org years ago - "Change is Good! You go First!"

I also expect there will be a 'start' date proposed other than January 1, which really doesn't make much sense to me. What is the difference between March 1 or April 1? Or January 1 or February 1? Make it simple. This part of the year, you can legally catch bass as long as you throw back. This part of the year, if you want to harvest some bass, you may. Simple.

I would be only a little surprised if they don't start thinking about this latest stuff about protecting fall smallmouths too. This could really impact tournament anglers in particular. I will tell you, I talked to Minnesota biologists about their action. It's a different situation than ours AND the whole issue started over 1 lake and stream smallies (since that is what most studies on the topic deal with). Somehow, it was expanded to the entire state, all waters despite no apparent actual scientific basis for this broad a change - the Minnesota biologists' words, not mine. There wasn't enough opposition against it, particularly because the major tournament groups in Minnesota don't normally have tournaments that time of year there. If enough Minnesota anglers want it and not too many are against, that's their business. What will they gain from it? Who knows? Will they show this change directly resulted in better bass fishing? Hard to say. A lot will depend on what other factors change or don't change also such as weather and environment.

What we end up with eventually will depend upon how many people want what and how bad. You have to have a goal before you get anywhere, though.

Now, I'm going fishing on St. Clair - a fishery I believe is very healthy and has about as good a population of bass as anyone can realistally expect to have.
 

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Dan you are true ambassador for our fisheries. Every time I see one of your posts now I have the Journey(??) song "Fight the good fight" playing in the back of my head.

It's disappointing that the MDNR would be working on new reg's behind closed doors without the input from some of the people who would know our bass fishery the best, the anglers.
 
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