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St. Clair Tournament Tip with Matt “Bass” Ball

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Matt Ball St Clair Smallie

I just returned from a wonderful weekend spent exploring the waters of Lake St. Clair in Michigan. I traveled there to fish in the KBF trail event held there with my Dad as well as my good friend and FishingOnline teammate Russell Johnson. Spending time with friends and family has been the most rewarding part of my tournament career but one thing that has recently came to mind has been how much I have learned as an angler through fishing around the country in different bodies of water. This trip was no different and I would like to share one of the things that I learned that has made me a better angler and hopefully will help you as well.

Smallie Underwater

To set up this tip I will give you some background as to the type of water and conditions that we faced on Lake St. Clair. We arrived at the same time that a strong cold front was making its way across the area. The weather had been abnormally warm for this type of year and the temperatures had dropped with heavy winds. These conditions made fishing the open water very difficult so we, along with the other competitors, had been limited to looking for safe places to fish that protected us from the heavy wind and waves. We were lucky enough, despite these conditions, to locate some of the Smallmouth bass that this lake is known for. I learned a lot on this trip and ultimately it landed me a top 10 finish. What was the key to getting the bites and finishing strong? Weight! These fish were staging up in anywhere between 20 to 28 ft. of water off steep ledges. On the top of the ledges were underwater grass beds which dropped sharply to the 20 ft. range. On our fishfinders were the telltale arcs of the bass we were looking for. The problem was not so much the depth of the fish but the fact that the wind was blowing us one way while the strong current was pulling our bait the other, making fishing out of our Jackson Kayaks quite a challenge. The answer to our dilemma was using enough weight to have control of our bait as well as contact with the bottom. We were using 412 Bait Co. tubes with ⅜ oz. jig heads and drop shots with ½ oz. lindy sinkers. We spent the night before the tournament searching for anything we could find that would give us the weight we needed to get down and feel the bottom. Without bottom contact the bite was nonexistent. Most of my fish came off the dropshot. I feel the ability to get down to the bottom and stay there, with the heavier weight while still being able to present my finesse technique effectively, was the key to landing fish.

So, if you are like me and have struggled with confidence dropshot fishing, try increasing your weight until you have a good contact with the bottom. You will have a much better feel and be able to keep your bait where it is needed. This may be the change you need to start having success!

Matt Ball St Clair Smallie 2

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