The Lessons of 2009

Every year the overall health of the fishery is bantered about and it usually starts with what the bite was like the year before. Even in the midst of a season it’s not always evident how the rest of the year will work out. Looking across an entire season does help to provide a good overview of the action but it doesn’t always carry a clear message as to what it means. 2009 was definitely one of those years.

The years with the most definition and clarity are the “hot” years. Record 90 degree days group the bass up into nice neat spots where any angler can have qualified success with a minimum amount of information or access. Hardly anyone goes home without having at least a part of their day filled with a stretch or two in smallmouth heaven. Last year however qualifies as one of those seasons that was “spring all summer long” and patterns didn’t hold up, structures weren’t holding good numbers of bass in the same year class and a lot of water needed to be covered to put together a good limit. There were some exceptions to this though and if there was one item that sticks out as universal, some anglers caught some of the biggest bass of their lives.

What we generally don’t have from a year like that is information going forward to compare to this year unless 2010 is a “spring all summer long” season as well. Last year anglers were perusing classic spots, coming up empty and perhaps making a late season adjustment to start to bring in some good fish. If we get a “hot” year those same anglers might give up on the classic spots because of the frustration they went through last year and miss the bite by fishing for last year’s fish. How do I know this for sure? I’ve been there and done that. Because we work hard at what we do to find fish it’s hard to give up that knowledge on a macro level, unless we recognize the signs.

Early season fishing is a good example. We get 100 fish days, the bite is strong and it seems like every bait we are throwing is working. If we happened to hit schools of four pounders with some frequency the assumption is that it will be a good year and that the bass will be positioned in similar spots. A different angler under the same conditions might be getting the 100 bass but they are all in two pound or less range. Neither angler is seeing the whole picture but each is making a call on what the rest of the season will be like based on some very easy to catch schooling fish. The real test is the summer period where bass to begin to fall into predictable patterns which can be measured against all previous years. It’s at that point a fair comparison can be made.

So as far as 2009 goes we might as well just throw it out for statistical purposes until we find another year that matches it in low intensity temperatures. 2010 could go that way but traditionally we don’t have two of those types of years back-to-back. It would be a good idea to keep close tabs on the LIVE information coming out of Fishing Spot Specs and the Marked Maps Live! sites and see what adventures the bass lead us to this year in this great smallmouth fishery, Lake St. Clair.

(c) 2010 Wayne Carpenter

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4 Responses to “The Lessons of 2009”

  1. Mike McGrane Says:

    Okay I’m catching up — but you did not address bait patterns (where were the Gobbies) and the intrusive Rusty Crayfish (no weeds).
    Mike

  2. Wayne Carpenter Says:

    Thanks Mike! Gotta love getting more blog material from my friends. Stay tuned for more on all of that in future blogs. Wayne

  3. Mike McGrae Says:

    Spring all Summer is the perfect description for ’09. Interestingly big fish were both shallow on flats in 2 -3 Ft. and also deep in 17-18Ft. with consistency. If you could find weeds deep or had clear water on sunny days shallow, the bite was solid — but finesse was needed.
    Based on the past News Letters, I think 2003 was was the last Spring all Summer long year.

    • Wayne Carpenter Says:

      Thanks Mike. That answers a question I was thinking about but didn’t have the time to dig into it yet. If anybody watches out for these types of things it’s you. For guests to the blog site and at the Ultimate Sports Show Grand Rapids this weekend starting March 18 through 21st Mike will be in the booth on Friday and part of Saturday. He really knows Lake St. Clair and will be happy to help you get acquainted with it.

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