Baits and Lake St. Clair Water Clarity

Back in the day (for me that comes to about 15 years ago) the water clarity on Lake St. Clair wasn’t what it is today.  The somewhat heavy stain to the water allowed us to take advantage of a reaction bite from one day to the next.  Soft plastics worked just fine but the Lake could have easily been characterized as a spinnerbait and crankbait lake.  You could pull up to any weedbed on the Lake and hit on two pound smallies.

Today the water clarity is remarkable.  Zebra mussels have come along and filtered the water to the point where we have experienced a smallmouth explosion.  If it’s a tournament you are fishing then two pounders won’t do any longer.  Three pounders across the board probably won’t do either but the increase in average weight has come with a price.  Overall, the spinnerbait and crankbait bite we lived off of before has lost the broad appeal it once had.  We still get smallies that way but the choice of structure and bait are more selective.

Although any spinnerbait will catch fish smallies tend to prefer the ones with double willow leaf painted blades.  The top smallmouth killer over the last few years has been a chartreuse spinnerbait with two chartreuse painted blades.  White on white runs a close second.  Crankbaits that tend to fish the best are ones that have a natural finish.  In the clearer water bass have a long time to look a bait over before they have to decide whether to hit it or not.   Because of this, the crankbait color has to be just right.  All manner of plastic colors work but the colors that have a higher percentage hookup are the ones that have small flake, orange (copper) flake or purple flake and tubes that are laminated.

Above all it helps to keep an open mind when selecting baits because smallies can be very presentation and color selective from one day to the next, or even from one hour to the next.

(c) Wayne Carpenter

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