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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've heard a lot of good bass fishermen say "you fish the lake early in the season and the river later in the season".

Why don't more people fish the river earlier in the season?

Is the water to cold compared to the lake?

Are the better spots in Canadian water that doesn't open until almost July?

Is fishing just plain better on the lake in June and July?

I really enjoy fishing the river and the current and current breaks. What time of year does the river bite really start to turn on?

I've heard a few people say that the baitfish start to school up and move up the river in early fall and that is when the bass start to tighten up and become more predictable. Is there any truth to this?

From my limited experience on the river (3 or 4 times) I've done fairly well in early fall (mid to late September). I haven't caught bunches of fish but I've caught some of my bigger smallies 5++++ pounds.

What happens to these fish in the spring and early summer? Do they spawn in the canals off the river or do some fish migrate toward the lake.

Sorry for so many questions. Just trying to learn more about the river and what makes it tick.
 

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The bait fish (emerald shiners,shad and other minnows) spawn in the fall and use the river as their migration route and spawning area.
Most of the bass spawn on the shallow flats in the main lake not to say that there are'nt fish spawning in current breaks in the river but the most action is out on the lake.
So it seems the bass spawn on the flats move to the breaks and work their way to the channels and the river.
Hence lake fish June and July and channel and river fish August and September.
Sound good. Now heres what I really think, River fish are river fish and probaly never see the lake and lake fish probaly never go much farther than the mouths of the channels.
My reason for this thought, look at the years that the river really produces some good sacks of fish then the next year do'nt seem to do squat. When we take those resident fish from the river it seems to take a year for that area to be productive again.
I'm sure there will be some other thoughts about this but what else can you do when its 17* outside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Mark!

I'm in agreement with you regarding lake and river fish. I've heard that some guys think smallies travel into the lake for the summer and then return to the river in the fall. I don't believe it. There is so much feed in the river and channels that they don't have to travel far. I do believe that there are some fish that reside near the channel mouths and travel between the channels and the lake as part of their territory.
 

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Tag results show that some type of migration of some lake bass does occur up into the river with some fish going as far as the thumb area. Not enough tags back to show how much are traveling bass verses resident bass.

It's okay for people to debate what they think is happening, but none of what any of us think is happening guarantees any reality. Just remember that.

Being confident about what is going on still helps individual fishing results, but doesn't help in the big picture for management and overall behavior modification of many anglers.

For example, I believe a decent migration of lake bass run up the channels and tagging results support that some bass move from parts of the lake going quite a ways. Bass have moved from Colchester to Saginaw Bay. So there is some movement. I just don't know how much as far as real numbers.

Personally, I know I catch more bass easier in the lake the first part of the season, and better and more bass in the channels later in the season. That's partly based on my preferred fishing styles. Parts of the channels heat up for a while and then slow down. I just like to be in the right part the most often at the right time.
 

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It's not quite this simply but here is my general philosophy...

colder water in the spring = low weed growth = not as much forage = less smallies

Dan is correct that the tag studies show that smallies will roam great distances. I read one study that studied smallies in a small river. They caught smallies from pool "A", then released them in pool "D". Eventually most returned to pool "A" that was miles away. Suggesting that they will travel long distances but they also like establish a home territory.

My general philosophy on St. Clair smallies is that they establish home ranges in which the move in and out. i.e. Smallies that spawn in Muscamute eventually work their way in the river. Smallies that spawn in the shallows of 9 mile eventually move out to deeper lake water (within the area). Of course some will cross from one to the other at times. Also, due to St.Clairs dynamic nature, I do believe that St. Clair smallies travel more than most. Especially the river fish. Of course this is just a theory/hypothesis of mine generated from my own private on-the-water research.
Take it for what it's worth.
 

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When i catch a small E from the lake i can tell.
When i catch a small E near the channel's i can tell.
I call the channel and river small E's river strain.
The channel and river strain fight alot harder no dought.
Lake small E's don't look as bright of a color i think.
Channel and river small E's are a brighter green.
I can tell a difference in the two.

I think because the channel and river strain have to fight the current constantly pumping there tail, makes them tough guys. Like someone in good shape. The about 7mph current makes them stronger than the lazy swimming small E in the lake lazily crusing looking for food.

Virtually all the small E's spawn in the shallow quite bays and back waters, it warms faster, than the female's hang a bit and zoom off to deep water they go, the males hang and guard the spawn.

No science behind this only what i have experienced.

h2o<---says some stay in the lake and some go to the river's and channels.
 
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