Covers an area of 430 square miles
Maximum depth of 27 feet.
Connects Lake Huron and Lake Erie.
Capacity: 4.6 trillion gallons of water
Shoreline: 160 miles
Maximum depth: 105 ft. at the dam
Annual economic impact of over $36 million.
Smallmouth bass are a popular game fish that are found in many freshwater bodies of water, including Lake St. Clair. As an angler, understanding the preferences and behaviors of this species can greatly improve your chances of success on the water.
Spring Arrival: Smallmouth begin spawning.
As winter gradually relinquishes its hold and temperatures rise during the early spring, smallmouth bass become restless, seeking out warmer waters and actively feeding in anticipation of the approaching spawn. It is during this period that multiple fish can be found in close proximity when one is caught. The early season presents an excellent opportunity to land some of the largest fish of the year. However, it is important to note that despite the warm air temperatures, the water remains cold, and venturing onto the water can still feel quite chilly.
Spring Symphony: Smallmouth Bass spawning season.
From May to June, a remarkable spectacle unfolds on Lake St. Clair as successive waves of smallmouth bass embark on their annual spawning ritual. The lake transforms into an expansive spawning flat, hosting this mesmerizing phenomenon. During this period, smallmouth bass can be found at various stages of the spawning process, presenting anglers with ample opportunities to employ different techniques. The choice of fishing locations is guided by factors such as wind direction and water clarity, as these variables determine the most productive areas to explore during this time of year.
From Spawning to Spectacle: Seasonal Journey of Smallmouth to the Bounty of Summer Fishing
As the spawning season comes to a close, smallmouth bass embark on a gradual journey towards the depths of offshore waters, congregating in impressive numbers. During the sunny summer days, these schools become a haven for anglers, offering exceptional fishing prospects. With the arrival of the later stages of summer, smallmouth bass instinctively begin their return to the shallower banks, motivated by their appetite and the need to bulk up before the approaching winter.
From late September until the lake succumbs to freezing temperatures, this period unveils yet another golden opportunity to pursue colossal smallmouth bass. As the season advances, the schools multiply in size, and when paired with optimal water clarity, a day of fishing can yield abundant rewards.
Vegetation beds are one of the most efficient locations for smallmouth bass in Lake St. Clair. Smallmouth bass love to seek shelter in and around plants since it offers cover from predators and a food source. Eurasian milfoil and cabbage weeds are the most common vegetation species in Lake St. Clair. These plants grow in water depths ranging from 4 to 12 feet and are frequently found near drop-offs or other areas where the depth changes rapidly. When fishing weed beds for smallmouth bass, anglers typically use a variety of lures, such as spinnerbaits, topwater lures, and soft plastic baits. The key is to cast your bait into the weed bed and retrieve it slowly, allowing it to bounce off the weeds and mimic the movement of natural prey. When fishing weed beds, it's essential to be patient and persistent since smallmouth bass may not always be active and feeding.
Lake Saint Clair
Lake St. Clair is a true gem among the country's top fisheries.
With a reputation as one of the top 10 bass lakes in the United States, it's no surprise that Bassmaster Magazine ranked it the #1 bass lake in the world back in 2013. Lake St. Clair's status as a premier smallmouth haven is enhanced by its unwavering track record of yielding colossal fish. The lake is known for harboring giant smallmouth bass, with weights exceeding five pounds being a regular occurrence. Anglers are drawn to the opportunity to target these trophy-sized fish and experience the thrill of battling with a true heavyweight.
As a top fishing destination for smallmouth anglers, the lake and surrounding river system offer many opportunities for a day of fishing other than the mighty smallmouth. The system holds exceptional numbers of walleye and perch, along with the great lakes muskellunge. Largemouth bass, some panfish and a rare sturgeon may also show up in the catch. From ice out until iced over, there is always something to be caught out on the lake.
Sunken islands, also known as humps or reefs, are submerged land masses that rise from the lake's depths. These underwater structures serve as natural fish magnets, attracting various species seeking shelter, food, and favorable conditions. Lake St. Clair boasts numerous sunken islands that present exciting fishing opportunities all year.
Anglers typically use a variety of lures, such as jigs, tubes, and drop-shot rigs when fishing sunken islands. Keeping your bait close to the bottom and varying your retrieve speed until you find what the fish are biting on is key. Be aware of the wind and current when fishing sunken islands, as they can impact the movement of your bait and the behavior of the fish.
Always pay attention to the weather: Wind and current can affect the behavior of smallmouth bass and the movement of your bait. Adjust your approach based on the conditions and be aware of how they may impact your fishing.
Lake St. Clair Bass Guide
Saint Clair Lake
Rock piles and points are also effective places to find big fish. Not only are smallmouth naturally drawn to rock piles due to the shelter they provide, they also enjoy the abundance of food sources such as crayfish and baitfish. These underwater rocky structures act as feeding and spawning grounds for smallmouth bass.
Drop-offs can be found in a variety of depths, from shallow areas of 2-5 feet to deeper areas of 10-20 feet. Drop-offs refer to sudden changes in water depth, often occurring along the shoreline or near islands. These areas serve as transition zones, where smallmouth bass move between shallow and deep waters throughout the day. They also offer ample feeding opportunities and can concentrate fish during certain times.
Drop-offs can be a favorite spot for smallmouth bass in Lake St. Clair. These underwater structures provide cover and structure, as well as a food source in the form of baitfish and other bottom-dwelling creatures.