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Here as a lurker most often, and a person who only gets to fish on LSC about 6 times per summer, well I can't take it anymore and need help or at least some confirmation that maybe its not only me. I have been fishing this lake for the last 10 years and pretty much only target smallies. Spring this year was phenomenal and then summer hit, (or didn't).

I fished last friday with my son, we went to a total of 11 spots on the lake from M-59 launch. I went south, turtle out to deeper water by the firecracker, out around Gull island and the twins, over to sand bar etc. We fished from 2 FOW to 20- FOW all depths in between.

I moved all over the lake and we fished for 9 hours. I am usually very patient when it comes to fishing, we threw tubes, lipless cranks, cranks, body baits and only 1 rock bass. We did have two very large hits, that bit off thinking maybe pike or muskie near weeds. But for the first time ever on this lake, no smallies....depression is very deep now.

My question is why can't I find the fish? What am I doing, I have spots on my GPS that have produced same time of year, year after year and go there and don't get a single hit. Do I need to go to live bait (just kidding) I read this site all the time and see the large bags that the tournament guys are still getting. I understand that they fish this body of water all the time, but really what is up with the lake. I am just venting as I know fishing is fishing and not catching, however someone that has spent years on this water and "thinks" he knows how to catch them, is really struggling.

So please any insight would be good for the soul.

thanks,

Don
 

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Water is cold. No warm summer nights to keep the temps up.Fish seem to be scattered ALOT. Not many places where you can load the boat in 15 minutes and go looking for big ones. Sunday I fished a tourney and hit 5 main lake spots that I almost always catch a decent (3.5+) fish on.....got one bite. A 2.5 at that. That was in 15 feet of water off the Mile Roads.

Made a move to go shallow in the north end and had a limit within a half hour. Even caught a couple of top. Lots of fun.....this year has been a tough one and if you arent staying on top of the movements of these fish, you can get lost in a day or two.

If it helps any, this is my worst year for smallies in the 20+ years fishing St Clair. I will be out tonight in the NBAA Tusday Night tournament looking for more abuse...lol
 

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SM are definitely scattered. Me & My buddy were out yesterday casting for musky in AB & caught several SM in the 17" to 19" range on bucktails (6 to 9 fow). There was a lot of balls of baitfish showing up on my graph & a lot jumping out of the way of my bucktail coming back to the boat so that's why the smallies were there. I normally don't catch that many SM in that area this time of year & I wasn't even targeting them. Hell we even caught perch when we decided to start chucking tubes.
 

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Sometimes when we have a cool spring, alot of fish will stay relatively shallow. Plus now that a few cold fronts have rolled through, as they always do in late August, there will be plenty of shallow fish now through the end of the season. Look for warm spells, and hit the shallows with reaction baits like rattle traps. We got about 30 on traps the other day by 10:30 am when a cold front's wind brought whitecaps onto the area....
 

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I think alot of us are sturgling at times. Im in the same boat as mini. I was out for four days stright and barley managed to put a limit in the boat. Not a good time to do that considering the tournament sechdule is dwindling down.
 

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Typically if someone says the "Mile Roads" I think of the area between the 400 Club and 9 Mile tower.
 

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After the easy pre spawn fish from the mile roads disapear you got to be real good to get them bass. From the reports I see here, most folks are in big trouble after the mile road bite is done. I even can recall someone saying they live for the bass C&R season. Hope they dont die when the DNR finally shuts the C&R season down like Canada has. Do some homework and study maps and their seasonal movements and you will find them.
 

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getting them is ussally not a problem, just this year seems to be real off. I would catch 20 lbs in a tourny, go out less than a week later and catch 8 lbs. that has happend more times this year than any other.
 

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QUOTE(RipNLips @ Sep 8 2009, 04:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>getting them is ussally not a problem, just this year seems to be real off. I would catch 20 lbs in a tourny, go out less than a week later and catch 8 lbs. that has happend more times this year than any other.

Ya think dragging bass of their nests has contributed to this situation? Do ya?
 

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QUOTE(HardCoreMuskieMan @ Sep 8 2009, 04:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>After the easy pre spawn fish from the mile roads disapear you got to be real good to get them bass. From the reports I see here, most folks are in big trouble after the mile road bite is done. I even can recall someone saying they live for the bass C&R season. Hope they dont die when the DNR finally shuts the C&R season down like Canada has. Do some homework and study maps and their seasonal movements and you will find them.

Not that easy this year. Their seasonal movements have not held to be the norm for the most part. I am no pro but I can hold my own throughout the summer in years past - In fact my biggest bags have come in july/august over the past several summers - but not this year...I have not weighed one 20# bag yet.
 

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QUOTE(HardCoreMuskieMan @ Sep 8 2009, 04:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>QUOTE(RipNLips @ Sep 8 2009, 04:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>getting them is ussally not a problem, just this year seems to be real off. I would catch 20 lbs in a tourny, go out less than a week later and catch 8 lbs. that has happend more times this year than any other.

Ya think dragging bass of their nests has contributed to this situation? Do ya?

No i do not! You can catch bass off there beds and they will move right back in. Have a look at the bfl weights up on burt and mullet lake, 28lbs to win. They have been plucking smallies during the spawn forever up there and the weights have been geting higher. Also there is a good chance that you have stuck a bed fish and did'nt even know it. If you fish anywere around the mile roads during the spring YOU HAVE. More fish die from the spawning stress than fishing pressure!
 

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C & R season has NOTHING to do with what's going on out there this year.

If you were to beleive that C & R was to blame, then you would also have to beleive that all of the smallmouth in St. Clair spawn in Michigan waters, with a high percentage of those fish doing it in the Mile Roads where angling pressure is the highest at that time of the year. (How's that for a run-on sentence?
) Yeah, there's alot of spawning that takes place in the Mile Roads, but it's not the only spawning grounds in the lake. There's a tremendous amount of Canadian water that supports spawning, and receives extremely little - if any - angling pressure.

The fish are hard to pattern all over the lake, not just where a C & R season exists.
 

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my son and i fished lsc for a week around the 20th of june.we fished the mile roads strawberry island,grass island both muskamoots and even bouvier bay.plus many other places at various depths.we caugt hundreds of bass large and smallmouth alike.but we noticed something far different from past years,the absense of visable spawning beds.did any body else notice this ?.i know the cool spring backed things up,but alot of the fish had already spawned out.we had a awsome trip,but this has had me puzzled all summer.this reply may not match this thread but i'd really like somebody elses thoughts
 

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QUOTE(Freek @ Sep 8 2009, 05:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>QUOTE(HardCoreMuskieMan @ Sep 8 2009, 04:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>QUOTE(RipNLips @ Sep 8 2009, 04:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>getting them is ussally not a problem, just this year seems to be real off. I would catch 20 lbs in a tourny, go out less than a week later and catch 8 lbs. that has happend more times this year than any other.

Ya think dragging bass of their nests has contributed to this situation? Do ya?

No i do not! You can catch bass off there beds and they will move right back in. Have a look at the bfl weights up on burt and mullet lake, 28lbs to win. They have been plucking smallies during the spawn forever up there and the weights have been geting higher. Also there is a good chance that you have stuck a bed fish and did'nt even know it. If you fish anywere around the mile roads during the spring YOU HAVE. More fish die from the spawning stress than fishing pressure!



When the wind blows and you drift a ways off from where you got em, they probabkly are NOT going to go back to their bed. It is just common sense. I saw am In -Fisherman TV show just about this issue. It AINT GOOD! I dont care if you are a guide or just a bass fisherman, if you are not a bioligst, it is just your opinion. I cant figure why all you guys fish for them fish anyhow. Thety dont pull string and you land em all 30 seconds.
 

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The weather has been the biggest problem with fishing this year. This may go down as the a top 5 coldest summer since records have been taken. Water temps are down, weed growth is down....lots to consider outside of early CIR season.

The bait fish have not migrated away from lake like they do during the HOT summer (when we have one). Coincidently the fish have been scattered following the pods of bait. Also the weeds havent grown up like have in years past, thereby not giving the baitfish and perch their usual places to hide (my guess as to why the perch fishing has been better, they cant hide....but they do move quickly). These smaller fish (bait/perch) will move alot and school up (safety in numbers). When the bait moves the smallmouth move.

Of course these are all theories of mine.

As far as catching fish off beds....that has been beaten to death here. If you dont like, then dont do it. The advent of all of the different deiseases that may or may not have been exaspirated by catching fish during the spawn would be the biggest factor to closing the early season. I am NOT a biologist and I trust what our biologists in the MDNR are doing to enhance and protect our fishery on Clair. I will leave the professional decision up to them.

Fish DO return to the SAME bed almost immediately. Most use the SAME bed year after year. I have tried it. As I have stated numerous times here, I have caught and weighed in a tournament the same fish off the same bed year in consecutive years. Even consecutive weekends. So if they dont return to the same bed, how did he (it was a male) get back to the same bed from the weigh-in? The bed is about 8 miles from Harley Ensign launch.... Now I am not saying it is the case for EVERY fish. But there are plenty that DO.

Hey just because you dont like to fish for them (and I will assume you dont by your comment on "I cant figure out why you guys fish for them fish anyhow") doesnt mean that others dont. I dont really care to fish for musky but I do on occaision. When I go fishing I like to catch fish, not just cast. And I really dont like to troll....kinda like watching grass grow (or dragging a tube...lol).
 

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QUOTE(HardCoreMuskieMan @ Sep 9 2009, 12:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>QUOTE(Freek @ Sep 8 2009, 05:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>QUOTE(HardCoreMuskieMan @ Sep 8 2009, 04:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>QUOTE(RipNLips @ Sep 8 2009, 04:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>getting them is ussally not a problem, just this year seems to be real off. I would catch 20 lbs in a tourny, go out less than a week later and catch 8 lbs. that has happend more times this year than any other.

Ya think dragging bass of their nests has contributed to this situation? Do ya?

No i do not! You can catch bass off there beds and they will move right back in. Have a look at the bfl weights up on burt and mullet lake, 28lbs to win. They have been plucking smallies during the spawn forever up there and the weights have been geting higher. Also there is a good chance that you have stuck a bed fish and did'nt even know it. If you fish anywere around the mile roads during the spring YOU HAVE. More fish die from the spawning stress than fishing pressure!



When the wind blows and you drift a ways off from where you got em, they probabkly are NOT going to go back to their bed. It is just common sense. I saw am In -Fisherman TV show just about this issue. It AINT GOOD! I dont care if you are a guide or just a bass fisherman, if you are not a bioligst, it is just your opinion. I cant figure why all you guys fish for them fish anyhow. Thety dont pull string and you land em all 30 seconds.

I doubt that you're a biologist, so it is also just your opinion that they don't return to their bed.

I'm no biologist either, but I've done enough studying of smallmouth behavior to make some fairly educated statements about them. I've read countless books, articles, and reports over the last twenty years about fishing for smallies, from In-Fisherman's publications and many, many others. The fact is that the vast majority of smallmouth will return to their bed when quickly released, even often times after being released a good distance from it. I've watched videos by Kim Stricker taped on St. Clair showing the exact same behavior. You can't just make a blanket statement that none of them return to their nest, because it's simply not true.
 

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QUOTE(Mini @ Sep 9 2009, 01:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>The weather has been the biggest problem with fishing this year. This may go down as the a top 5 coldest summer since records have been taken. Water temps are down, weed growth is down....lots to consider outside of early CIR season.

The bait fish have not migrated away from lake like they do during the HOT summer (when we have one). Coincidently the fish have been scattered following the pods of bait. Also the weeds havent grown up like have in years past, thereby not giving the baitfish and perch their usual places to hide (my guess as to why the perch fishing has been better, they cant hide....but they do move quickly). These smaller fish (bait/perch) will move alot and school up (safety in numbers). When the bait moves the smallmouth move.

Of course these are all theories of mine.

As far as catching fish off beds....that has been beaten to death here. If you dont like, then dont do it. The advent of all of the different deiseases that may or may not have been exaspirated by catching fish during the spawn would be the biggest factor to closing the early season. I am NOT a biologist and I trust what our biologists in the MDNR are doing to enhance and protect our fishery on Clair. I will leave the professional decision up to them.

Fish DO return to the SAME bed almost immediately. Most use the SAME bed year after year. I have tried it. As I have stated numerous times here, I have caught and weighed in a tournament the same fish off the same bed year in consecutive years. Even consecutive weekends. So if they dont return to the same bed, how did he (it was a male) get back to the same bed from the weigh-in? The bed is about 8 miles from Harley Ensign launch.... Now I am not saying it is the case for EVERY fish. But there are plenty that DO.

Hey just because you dont like to fish for them (and I will assume you dont by your comment on "I cant figure out why you guys fish for them fish anyhow") doesnt mean that others dont. I dont really care to fish for musky but I do on occaision. When I go fishing I like to catch fish, not just cast. And I really dont like to troll....kinda like watching grass grow (or dragging a tube...lol).

Well Mini I must admit I respect your opinions as I believe you are a knowledgable fisherman. I say that based on your posts over the years. We simply disagree on this issue. I rarely fish muskies anymore. Trolling aint fun as you stated and casting is 1 tuff task for an old man like me. I spend most all my time river fishing for steelheads in Steelhead Alley. I am on a river every week from Sept till April. The rest of my time is spent chasin salmon in the big lake. I sometimes do a day trip in the fall for muskie. I actually spend a few days chasin bass in DR. Last year I even jigged for bass at the mile roads 1 day.. I must be a hypocrite. Whatever one enjoys is fine with me. My opinon is different than yours regarding the C&R season on bass. I dont know much about bass fishing but I read alot and watch fishing shows regularly. When I saw the TV show regarding C&R bass and the negatives associated with it, well, it stuck with me. Growing up I was afull blown bass fanatic. Until the day in 1973 when I hooked my 1st steelhead in the Little Manistee River.
 
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