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Author Topic: Short trip to Lake St. Clair to break in a new boat for cameraguy! 6-28-17  (Read 819 times)

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So Wednesday, June 28, 2017, I got up pretty early to make the 100 mile drive for the first time to cameraguy's new house in SE Michigan. I was meeting him at 6:30am but I wasn't driving through the dark just to see someone's new abode, no... the real reason for this trip across the early commuter highways was to finally break in the 'new' boat with cameraguy!

Yes, cameraguy, after many years, has rejoined the world of boaters!! Yeah! He was excited (and maybe a little nervous if we're being completely honest about it)!! We had texted back and forth the day before going through a checklist of all the things you need or have to have in your boat for the Great Lakes, and everything seemed to be checked off!! Ready to go...

It did take a little longer to make sure everything was in the boat, add my load to the gear, make sure everything is hooked up right... 'got the plug?' 'Yup.' Hook up it to the used tow vehicle he also had to buy, of course. And finally, off we go towards bass nirvana (aka Lake St. Clair)!!

We decided to launch at Selfridge because it's right down the road practically from his house - he doesn't live super close but a heck of a lot closer than me - and we could start close by checking a few old spots in Anchor Bay maybe. We remembered how to do everything and set off to an old spot in Anchor Bay.

The weather was nice. The wind was a little stronger than a spoiled bass angler would like, though the southern end of Anchor Bay was fairly protected from it. Being a weekday, tuna boat wakes weren't too bad either. Nicer to relearn the feel of a new boat without too many higher level challenges... plus, cameraguy has never had a hotfoot before so he commented that it felt 'different' and I can remember how it was for a while when I first installed a hotfoot in my boat.

Our first spot looked nice - sand with scattered weed clumps but we didn't get any definite bites. Not even the pike that will probably infest the area a little later this summer (from past experience). After fishing around a little we decided to move over to Belvedere Bay to see if there were any late spawners or postspawners hanging around there yet.

cameraguy says we have to be honest so here it is! cameraguy's Official 1st Fish of the new boat - a pike... Actually, minutes earlier, cameraguy was reeling his spinnerbait over a shallow, thick weed clump when a nice keeper smallies nailed it! But as smallies often do, it leaped for the sky and sent the spinnerbait back towards the boat empty of fish... But of course, the pike had not problem nailing the spinnerbait and getting into the boat, albeit with a lot of thrashing and flopping in an attempt to bend the spinnerbait into a pretzel!

I should probably mention more about the boat - it's a very nice, clean 2008 Ranger Z21 with a 225 rude HO. You can fish little water and big water with this rig as long as it has a reasonable boat ramp! Also, we left all the myriad of cameras home so we just had our phones for pictures. May be the only time I've seen cameraguy out doing anything in the outdoors without a bunch of cameras. With the goal being to break in the new boat, distractions must be minimized.

cameraguy looks happy because he FINALLY has a boat again!! And he, strangely enough, doesn't mind pike... I told him he can have them ALL!!!

We had turned around and were working our way back towards open water when I finally got whacked. ...well, ticked - barely - when a skinny 6 inch bass ate a little swimbait on a jighead I was slowly swimming across the sand and weeds. I didn't take a picture. I was thinking any minute now we'll find a little wad of real smallmouth bass!! ;D

Not too long after that, cameraguy was pitching a tube (I think?) into holes in the weeds when he missed a fish and said it was a nice bass. The wind was pushing us pretty good, and though there weren't big waves here, the ripple made it hard to see really good.

He pitched back into that approximate same spot and moments later he sets the hook on a really nice smallmouth bass! The luster of the 1st fish of the new boat is gone but hey, this is the 1st BASS of the new boat, so that is nice. (Plus, I think he forgot how hard Lake St. Clair smallmouth bass fight over his years of absence.) It was a nice bass! After this quick picture he released it to grow even bigger, and maybe be caught by us again next year!?!

We fished for a while longer in this area. There was a new thicker weed edge nearby so we fished down that a little ways. Actually saw a few keeper size bass patrolling the edge but there was another bass boat a little ways off that had recently fished the same area, catching a few bass on the way, so the bass seemed to be a little shy.

We decided it was time to look for something better so off we go. It was fairly bumpy out across the opening to Anchor Bay as the wind was blowing right up into it! cameraguy wasn't sure we wanted to take what was supposed to be an easy break-in day and turn it into a bumpy, possibly wet boat ride... but I helped talk him into it (because I always want to see what is on the other side, or around the next bend...).

Considering how weird the waves were with some occasional mixed in tuna boat wakes, and he was driving a completely new hull to him with a hotfoot, he did pretty darn good! We only got a few splash drops on us and didn't hit anything real hard - not an easy thing to do when you're driving across the grain of building, mixed height and direction waves!! I know I appreciated it! And having driven Ranger Z21's a few times myself including once all day a long ways on one of the roughest Great Lakes days I ever spent on the water I knew it was a good hull for rough water. cameraguy has previously owned Champions in the distant past, and he commented that he thought we would have gotten wet in his old boat... mabye. Maybe not. But he's happy, and I'm happy with his new boat!

We stopped and fished the 'Strawberry' break for a little while thinking some postspawn bass might be marauding along it. It wasn't too rough there, decent clarity and it looked good overall, but we weren't seeing any real signs of any fish life and never had a bite on top, down or out from it a little ways so I suggested we now head back into Goose Bay. Maybe there's still some spawners or postspawners in there...??

It's nice to have the water up a foot and a half to 2 feet, especially if you're driving your 'new' boat and motor into it for the first time!! We ran to a favorite reed bed of mine. Though it was hard to see well because of the stout wind blowing a lot of glaring heavy ripples across the surface we could see where many, many beds had at least been - the place was loaded with beds!!

We just kind of randomly drifted through the middle of the reeds with the wind pushing us along pretty hard and fast! We were casting various lures through the reeds looking for roamers, and maybe even a few bass still holding to beds... I was nervous about pike still so I let cameraguy keep to his spinnerbait while I tried to toss a somewhat weedless wacky rig.

Thinking back, I should have added a fair amount of weight to the rig because I had no feel at all in the stiff breeze and my accuracy was actually pretty bad. Whenever we got close to an obvious bed I would try to drop the wacky rig right in on it but between the bent over reeds and the bow in my line from the wind I wasn't getting all the way down into any beds much, and definitely not keeping it in there for more than a second or two. Not good when you think these are the tail end spawners that have probably seen a bunch of lures already...

I actually tried to toss a few heavier things in them but the fast drift of the boat and the reeds bent over in the wind led to lots of annoying snags. I only ended up losing one lure but efficiency was not in the cards. I was starting to think I should just toss a spinnerbait too, or maybe do some serious retying...

I think cameraguy caught a small keeper on the spinnerbait from among the reeds. It didn't come obviously from a bed so maybe a roamer? I had tossed my wacky rigged stick worm back behind us into a large, dark black bed. As it was getting pulled away by the wind - I fed it some line to let it stay near the bed longer - a really nice smallie came out of the dark slowly following my 5" stick worm. I pushed my rod back and tried to strip out some more line. The long smallie pecked at it a couple times, then grabbed it mostly with it's lips and started to turn back to the bed. I set the hook too soon and pulled the lure away from it. darn...

With the wind pushing us along and all the bent over reeds between us I couldn't get another cast close to the bed. I watched where it was so when we turned around to come back out I could take another crack at it when the bass had forgotten us.

We couldn't see well enough, and it was deep enough now, that we couldn't actually see any bass on any beds, but we saw signs of a few bass swimming in there, and a bass or two seemed to come off some of the beds as we cast near them. No shallow water anchors on his boat so our only options would be to keep drifting, or to turn the trolling motor up a lot higher, making more noise, and try to hold going back into the wind. The issue turned out to be that we couldn't stay out long on the maiden voyage so were were already running out of time...

I looked to the left at a reed clump that appeared to probably have a bed in it and saw a decent looking bass ripple along the surface appearing to slurp in some mayfly husks... I mentioned this to cameraguy and he cast his spinnerbait over the reeds past the spot and quickly got hammered by another nice Lake St. Clair smallmouth bass!! (I was a little jealous but it would have been hard to try to get the wacky rig I had in my hand at the moment over to the spot, and besides, I fish quite a bite lately and cameraguy hasn't hardly fished at all!!)

I wised up a little (that red-headed stubbornness again...) and decided to 'join' him. I picked up my spinnerbait rod and started to cast it around the reeds. It was tricky to find open lanes with all the reeds bent over in the wind, and the main idea was to actually bring it through reed clumps, especially over the spots that looked like beds!

Finally, I caught a keeper!! Not a big one though when I first saw it, or what I thought I saw, I expected a really nice one!! I again saw a bass come out of the reeds near the surface, most likely from a big dark spot in that clump. Looked like a fairly big one so I rifled my spinnerbait over the clump and brought it mostly through the reeds and over the dark spot. I got hammered!!! You know how a Lake St. Clair smallies hits a spinnerbait!! Of course, I said 'big one' and for a minute or so it fought like a big one as pretty much only a muscular St. Clair smallie can! So I was pretty surprised when it eased off a little and I got it in the hand, and it was just a small keeper!?!

Oh well, it felt good!! Of course...

Unfortunately, we were now out of time. Though we'd only been out a little over 3 hours we had to get back to base camp. And it was going to be a bumpy ride back across to the ramp. cameraguy did good again keeping us dry and not hitting anything too hard - yes we needed to get back but we weren't in 'tournament weigh-in hurry' which was nice.

We went back to base camp and cameraguy grilled up a nice cheeseburger for me before I got back on the road to face the beginning of SE Michigan rush hour traffic - never my favorite part of visiting the big lake. It did take about 40 minutes longer to get home than it took to get there.

All the way home I was trying to remember what the heck I did with my nice free (drawing gift win from a meeting) Pheasants Forever insulated water container...?? I got all my stuff out of the cooler, and it wasn't there. I looked around the boat. Nothing. I was sure I put it in the boat?!? But I looked back in my cooler in the car. Nope, not there.

I racked my brains for hours over the next few days trying to remember what I did with it after I got to cameraguy's house. I just kept coming up blank... a common problem for me for a while now... I finally wrote it off as gone forever into the mysterious universe of lost things.

Yesterday, I get a text from cameraguy... he finally got his wife and daughter out fishing in the new boat. When he opened the cooler, this is the first thing he saw... my 'missing' container!?! He said it was really hard to spot sitting there all big and shiny in the little boat cooler... ??

I looked 2 or 3 times! There wasn't hardly anything in there at the end of our fishing... I even put my hand down in there and ran it around in case my eyes are so bad it was hiding in a sneaky corner, or under some strange, unknown cloaking device...?? Oh well... I guess the good news is I will get it back (if we remember... ;D) next time we get out fishing. Hopefully sometime soon. Maybe...
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 05:41:41 PM by djkimmel »

Help stop invasive spcies. Don't move fish between unconnected bodies of water. Clean, drain and dry your boat before launching on another water body.
Unless clearly stated as such, opinions expressed by Dan Kimmel on this forum are not the opinions or policies of The Bass Federation of Michigan.
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