Lake St. Clair

by Chris McCotter

As many of us do in the off season, I was sitting in my garage one winter telling fishing stories. In the course of the conversation, my fishing buddy and fellow guide Sonny and I (we are Associate Guides for McCotter’s Lake Anna Guide Service) agreed we wanted to do a fishing adventure in the spring. We talked Florida, Texas, the Carolina’s, and then Sonny mentioned the Great Lakes and said he had been to Lake St. Clair, and it had fantastic smallmouth bass fishing. That’s how this Destination File all started out several years ago.

   I said I was all in for some smallmouth fishing, so we did our research and planed a trip for the last week in May. We had booked a hotel in nearby Detroit and off we went. 

  We were not disappointed that pioneering year. The fishing was unbelievable with 100+ fish a day in the two- to four-pound class many tipping the scale very close to the five-pound mark. That first trip set a tradition that I look forward to every year. 

  Lake St. Clair is located between the Canadian Providence of Ontario and Michigan, about 30 miles northeast of Detroit. It was named in 1679 by French Catholic explorers after Saint Clare of Assisi, on whose feast day they first saw the lake.

   It is part of the Great Lakes system, and along with the St. Clair River and Detroit River, Lake St. Clair connects Lake Huron (to the north) with Lake Erie (to the south). It has a total surface area of about 430 square miles (@26mi. x 26mi. and 275,000 acres) with an average depth of just 11 feet. To ensure an uninterrupted waterway, government agencies in both countries have maintained a 30 feet deep shipping channel through the shallow lake for more than a century.

    This year’s tradition was a bit different as Sonny and I decided to share our adventure with some friends, and we booked a house on Airbnb. 

  The six of us took to the road at the end of May and trailed three boats. Sonny and I fished together. Jason Craze and Robert Bruce were another. Kevin Alonzo and Dave Levesque were the third duo. 

   After the 10-hour trip we arrived Saturday, May 20th to the Harrison Township of Detroit. Of course, we’re eager to get to fishing in the morning so we set up basecamp in the house and prepped our gear for the morning.

   Sunday morning arrived and I woke thinking I was the early bird. Not so, as everyone was ready to go, and we drank our coffee discussing the day’s game plan and off we went.

   When picking our house, we wanted something close to the Metro Park boat launch. Michigan doesn’t play around with their parks. The launch points we used were absolutely amazing, arguably the best ramps I have ever used. 

   Once we all were in the water, off we went. Sonny turned on the Lowrance and it didn’t take him long to find something he liked, and just like that, we were on them.

   We quickly determined the fish were pre-spawn and used 3.8-inch Keitech swimbaits. I think we boated around 90 fish that day with a few bonus walleye for dinner.

    Jason and Robert got on them pretty quick as well and had an epic day. It took Kevin and Dave a minute to figure it out, but they too, had an amazing first day. 

    We returned to the house, tired but excited that the fish were biting well.

    Day 2 brought us lovely 15 mph north wind and we knew we could not fish the same area as we did Day 1, so Sonny decided we would drive south to the famous Mile Roads section of the lake.

   This decision proved wise. Robert got off to a hot start using a jerkbait and caught several nice muskie as well. We fished hard all day and ended with a 100+ fish. 

  Back at headquarters we ate well, had a couple of drinks and pretty much passed out cold by 9:30.

    Day 3 was Kevin and Dave’s day as they found a small pocket that was holding some nice three- to four-pound smallmouth and caught something like 50 fish.

    Days 4 and 5 were much the same – cold and windy that kept us from doing much running, so we had to settle for fish we could catch close by.

   Day 6 dawned windless. Sonny put the Basscat in and off we went to Anchor Bay. Sonny was throwing a drop shot with a KVD dream shot and instantly hooked up and didn’t look back. I lost count after the first 50 fish. All were in the three- to four-pound range.

  In closing this was an outstanding trip that Sonny and I got to share with some great friends. I highly recommend the adventure to anyone looking to experience smallmouth fishing in a new part of the county.

  If you go that time of year, bring plenty of those Keitec swimbaits and ¼-ounce ball head jigs. You can use pretty much any goby style baits for drop shotting. We used 8-10 pound test Sun Line FC Sniper.

  The Metropark launch ramp facility is quite the complex. It features over 1 mile of shoreline, and a 1,600-foot boardwalk offers a wonderful view of Lake St. Clair. This 770-acre recreational facility is a haven for boaters, swimmers and fishermen. Picnicking, shore fishing, Nature Center, fitness and nature trails, boat launching area and marina. Olympic-size swimming pool. Water slide with a 120’ long flume and a 17-foot vertical drop. Tennis and shuffleboard courts. 18-hole miniature golf course. Ice skating, ice hockey, ice fishing and skiing trails. Par three, 18-hole golf course.

Related Posts

Woods & Waters Magazine contains monthly features on awesome destinations, new techniques, outdoor personalities, tide charts, our Regional Focus Reports, monthly columns from our staff experts and more. If you want to receive the best hunting and fishing magazine for Virginia, consider subscribing today!

Woods & Waters Magazine is Virginia’s source for hunting and fishing information featuring award-winning articles and photographs by top regional experts intended to inspire you to get out and enjoy life outdoors! Pick up a copy today at over 100 retailers or subscribe here.

Featured Articles

Latest Articles

©2022 Woods & Waters Magazine, LC. All Rights Reserved.