Angelo and Pete find surprisingly great fishing – and countless species of fish – on the populated U.S. border waters of the St. Clair River.
Angelo and Pete visit the beach community of Mitchell’s Bay on Lake St. Clair, a border lake that lies a mere 10km (6 miles) north of Downtown Detroit/Windsor. Surrounded by major urban centres, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River nonetheless features some of the best fishing in Canada, whether it be Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Walleye, Muskie, and Pike.
Often considered an unofficial “Great Lake,” St. Clair is part of a waterway that links Lakes Erie and Huron. And, like the Great Lakes of Southern Ontario, it features a mixed shoreline of concentrated development, farmland, and green spaces.
As a border lake, St. Clair presents some special circumstances regarding licences and international identifications, but more than makes up for that with its tremendous stocks of sport fish. Despite its shallow and nearly featureless bottom, the lake consistently ranks as one of the best in Canada for Smallmouth – as well as for other species.
Mitchell’s Bay is a sleepy beach community, known for its appreciation of nature and a slow, quiet way of life.
Welcome to the close-knit community of Mitchell’s Bay Ontario, right on shores of Lake St. Clair in Southern Ontario. Lake St. Clair is actually located further south than a good number of States in the U.S. – and, along with three of the Great Lakes, forms the border between Ontario and Michigan – which, as we’ll talk about later – has both benefits and a few extra things to prepare for.
The Walpole Island Rod and Gun club is a perfect place to stay for the travelling angler to St Clair. It’s situated smack dab on the edge of one of the many Largemouth loaded canals that run in this area. As well, the boat launch is just a short drive away.
When fishing a river system like the St Clair River one needs to remember that current can be a very important factor. Not to say that all fishing areas are current influenced but the majority are. A ½ ounce Flipping Jig (black or green) or a 3/8 ounce Tungsten worm weight (Ang used this on a Yamamoto 10” worm) will help in the Largemouth Water while the same weights in a Tube Jig head and Dropshot weights will deal well with the Smallies.
The back channels are perfect for 2 anglers to pitch for Largies. In the narrow areas, each angler can take a side covering water fast. In the wider sections, both can work the same side making sure not to pitch or flip to the area that buddy just hit. You can fish fast here as these Largemouth are waiting for something to drop into their feeding abode.
As for the Smallies, we fished both shallow and deep. For the Shallow fish we mostly dropshotted Yamamoto 5” white Senko’s near rocks, weed edges or old wrecks. Shipwrecks by the way are great for both species of bass… if you find one, fish it!
When we moved to the fast deep breaklines on the main river Channel, we stuck mostly with the Dropshot Senko’s but every now and then tried a 3.5” green tube. Use the current to your advantage and correct boat position with your trolling motor if you have one.
As an important note, this shoot was during the hottest part of the 2013 summer… scorching temperatures of probably close to 100 degrees F. It was killer on us but the fish still bit with aggression. If your fishing these conditions make sure you bring and drink lots of water… you’ll fish much more effectively!
DUCK DINNER… AND STILL FEEDING!
Angelo was beyond words when shooting this beautiful (and hot) episode of the Fish’n Canada Show.
“In my 30 plus years of fishing, I’ve never experienced anything as remarkable as this”, exclaimed host Angelo Viola. “Of course we’ve had fish spit out smaller bait fish or other creatures, but never have I seen a duck ejected from the belly of a caught fish … and certainly not from a smallmouth bass!”
For more on the duck and other oddities off the shore of the St Clair River, check out Angelo’s blog post.
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GETTIN’ THERE with RAM TRUCKS
To get to our great St. Clair River destination we first travelled west on hwy 401 through Toronto. Next we turned right on regional road 21 and then left on to road 15. Once in Wallaceberg we turned left on Dufferin Ave and then continued onto Tecumseh Rd. Finally we turned left onto River road and ended up at our destination of the Walpole Island Rod and Gun Club.
- Walpole Island Rod and Gun Club
- The Black Goose Grill (Wallaceburg)
- Wayne & Mike Minogue