UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Mead

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Revisiting the brown bass

Approximately 90-100 boats ran north towards Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River Thursday morning.

TRENTON, Mich. - The pomp and circumstance of the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup has largely subsided. Left in its wake is the reality that the Walmart FLW Tour season still has three events (all Opens) remaining. While the pros will no longer be fishing for $500,000, they still have plenty to look forward to this week in Detroit - namely fat, feisty smallmouths.

Even as the final Major of the season at Lake Champlain featured some dandy brown bass, the tournament was largely dominated by largemouths. That won't be the case this week on Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River. While a population of largemouths exists, their numbers and size cannot compete with the famed Detroit smallmouths. Simply put, this will be the first true smallmouth event of the 2012 season.

Traditionally, the biggest smallmouths have resided in Erie, many of them congregating in the Pelee Island area. But over the past few years, the St. Clair small jaws have beefed up. It used to be the case that an 18- or 19-pound limit was about the max St. Clair could produce. St. Clair was the ticket to a Roughly two thirds of the 136-boat field pointed north towards Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River Thursday morning.good check, but never had quite enough to threaten for the win.

That all changed once the baitfish grew. Several 20-pound tournament sacks were caught this spring and it wouldn't be surprising to see that benchmark crossed several times this week - even during the dog days of summer. On St. Clair, the best spots often contain clumps or a bush of cabbage. A group of smallmouths relate to the cabbage like a largemouth relates to a brush pile. As the smaller and more protected of the two fisheries, St. Clair is much calmer should the wind decide to blow.

"Things have really changed up on St. Clair," said Pringles pro Vic Vatalaro, who finished second here in 2008. "The winters have been warmer, the weed growth has improved and the baitfish, mainly perch and emerald shiner, have really taken off. As the baitfish matured, all those 2-pounders became 3s and 4s."

Living in Kent, Ohio, Vatalaro still considers Erie his home water. But he's been so busy with his marine dealership that he's hardly had any time to fish. As such, he plans to sample both Erie and St. Clair with the majority of his time being spent in the St. Clair River.

"I think there could be more people fishing the St. Clair River today than Lake St. Clair itself. The field should spread itself out nicely with a third going to the river, a third in St. Clair and a third in Erie."

While the fisheries may have flip-flopped in terms of prominence, the tactics have remained largely the same. Tubes, drop-shots, soft-plastic jerkbaits and goby imitation baits will prove to be staples this week with some occasional topwater and cranking action mixed in.
Pro Scott Canterbury will start day one of the Detroit River event with a spinnerbait.
Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury, fresh off a second-place finish at the Forrest Wood Cup, plans to throw a spinnerbait early and then play the soft-plastic game.

"I'm going to fish my strengths and look for a big bite early, and then I'll go drag the rest of the day," said Canterbury. "I think 18 pounds a day will be what's needed to make the cut and I haven't had that since I've been here. But I know they're still out there."

Vatalaro thinks there will be 10 or more bags in the 20s on day one alone.

"I think today's leader will have somewhere close to 25 pounds," he said.

In addition to the usual FLW Tour stars, this Open will feature many of the best regional and local anglers. Notable sticks include Canada's Jeff Gustafson as well as Minnesota's James Lindner, the host of the popular Angling Edge TV show. Prominent local anglers include Steve Clapper, who claimed victory here in 2007, Mark Modrak, Joe Balog, David Reault, Bryan Coates and Scott Dobson.

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Elizabeth Park Marina located at 202 Grosse Ile Parkway in Trenton, Mich., at 6:30 a.m. daily. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will also be held at Elizabeth Park Marina beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's final weigh-ins will be held at the Walmart located at 23800 Allen Road in Woodhaven, Mich., beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round. After day two the field is pared to the top 20 pros and co-anglers. The co-angler competition concludes at Saturday's weigh-in and the top-10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

On the Web

For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com is offering real-time updates from the water throughout each day of the Detroit River event. Simply click on the "On the Water Coverage" banner from either the FLW or FLW Tour home pages.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 6:49 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 60 degrees
Expected high temperature: 86 degrees
Water temperature: 70-74 degrees
Wind: SSW at 6 mph
Maximum humidity: 53 percent
Day's outlook: partly cloudy

Tags: brett-carlson  morning-story  2012-08-23-detroit-river 

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