ST. CLAIR SHORES — Our first drift, maybe 90 minutes over 15 feet of water with isolated patches of sand grass maybe five miles off shore, resulted in seven smallmouth bass (and a couple of rock bass). Neither fast, nor furious, but solid; the fish probably averaged a little better than two pounds.
Out next pass, a short distance away in similar water, we caught 13.
Twenty bass in three hours. Very solid.
“Well, now that we’ve caught some fish, let’s go find some big ones,” said my host Marcel Veenstra.
We moved a few miles to what seemed like similar water, but there was a difference: The fish weren’t there.
“They move in and out of here,” Veenstra said. “They were in here really good last summer but apparently they’re not here yet. But everything’s a little bit behind this summer.”
Two hours of fishing — me with a drop-shot rig, Veenstra with a tube — produced one smallmouth (and a couple of rockies).
Oh, well. We moved back toward where we started and the catching commenced.
“I really can’t tell you why they’re here,” Veenstra said, as he boated a 3 ½-pounder. “But they are.”
Over the next hour we caught another 20, a few dinks, but mostly solid, fat chunks, pushing a three-pound average. (Veenstra noted that the fishing generally picked up in the afternoon.) It’s no wonder why Bassmasters magazine has dubbed Lake St. Clair the best bass lake in America. The proof was in the catching. The rap on St. Clair — and you’re really picking nits to find something to complain about -- is that it doesn’t produce a lot of giants. And though it often produces 20-pound-plus bags of bass (five fish) to the tournament guys, they sometimes have to catch a lot fish to get there.