Lake St. Clair – Aquatic Vegetation Maturation (weed growth)

Weed growth on Lake St. Clair and connecting waters has a direct impact on fish position, quality and quantity.  In some areas a weed patch six inches high and a foot wide can hold a school of smallies then in other areas the bottom can be covered with weed for over a mile and it would be really something to find one fish.  Unfortunately, weed growth or dispersal hasn’t been one of those elements in the environment that can be predicted with certainty so each year it  takes a trip out to the water to be sure.

When the water levels dropped the last time from a relative high point in the 80’s conventional wisdom said that there would be an explosion of weed growth in the shallows due to increased light penetration.  What happened in most cases was just the opposite.  There was barely any weed shallow and the first weed to come up (and the heaviest) was in the 8 to 9 foot range.  Even in the St. Clair River system the same was true.  Areas we thought would blow up with heavy weed turned into bare sand flats.

At the Belle River Hump in Canada one year we saw milfoil beds blow up going east and west as far as one could see.  The water clarity that year was crystal clear to at least 16 feet and you could count small rocks the size of a dime in 12 feet.  On the sonar the milfoil beds looked like Volkswagon Beetles parked side by side.  We had never seen this phenomenon before and never since that time.

In 1995 we were fishing a wall of weed in 16 feet of water at 11 mile road.  The weed was so thick on the way out to the 16 foot mark you couldn’t make an open water cast.  Smallies would use the end of the weedbed in 16 feet as a superhighway and run the edge.  Since then it’s been pretty skinny for weed growth in the same zone.

If you are interested in tracking the water levels go to the Corps of Engineers website: http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/greatlakes/hh/greatlakeswaterlevels/

Below is a monthly bulletin pulled (April 2010):

(c) Wayne Carpenter

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