UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

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Canterbury’s First Day on St. Clair

Canterbury’s First Day on St. Clair

In his 11 years as a pro on the FLW Tour, Scott Canterbury has developed a reputation as one of the more consistent anglers. His tournament stats back that up as he cashes in nearly every Tour event each season and is on pace to qualify for his eighth straight Forrest Wood Cup.

This week’s season finale on Lake St. Clair is presented by Mercury and it will be just Canterbury’s third time on the big lake.  Though not known as a smallmouth expert, he’s found success out here before when he finished 18th back in the 2012 FLW Tour Open on the Detroit River.

With that in mind, we figured it’d be a good time to check in with the Alabama pro and see how he tackles the smallmouth factory after a few years away.  

 

The morning plan is to meet at Lake St. Clair Metropark – which is where takeoff and weigh-in will be held this week – at 7 a.m. ET. While we are both on time, the rain pouring down has both parties less than enthused about going out. On top of that, Canterbury can’t locate his kill switch for his motor and after some rummaging around in his truck finds a lanyard that will make do until he finds a suitable replacement.

The idle out from the ramp takes a few minutes, so Canterbury and co-angler/travel partner Anthony Coupland have time to converse about life. From duck hunting to how much better the weather feels here in Michigan compared to back in Alabama, the duo seems very relaxed about the final tournament of the season.

 

As we close in on the end of the idle I ask Canterbury if his plan is to fish St. Clair all three days of practice.

“You know, I wanted to look around out on Erie to see if there were still some fish spawning, but the forecast was calling for some decent wind every day. If that holds true, I’ll just stick around on St. Clair, but I wouldn’t mind looking around down there on the final day of the weather is nice.

“I’d rather head down to Erie than try to catch a largemouth up here,” Canterbury says with a smile. “I didn’t drive all this way to catch a largemouth.”

 

As we exit the no-wake zone the rain lets up and we run about a mile to the first stop of the day. Canterbury grabs a tube and Coupland fires out a Ned rig – both seem like excellent choices for a hungry smallmouth.

It takes all of about 10 minutes for Coupland to hook into the first bass of the day. Definitely not one to be proud of on St. Clair, but the skunk is out of the boat.

 

Just a few casts later Coupland is hooked up with another smallie. There is no doubting the amount of fight even little smallmouth have and Coupland seems to enjoy every second of it.

 

It doesn’t take Canterbury long to notice the abundance of mayfly carcasses floating on the water and I can sense the wheels are turning in his head. For some anglers, mayfly hatches can be the kiss of death and for others it is a sign the fish are biting somewhere. Canterbury doesn’t seem too concerned about it, but notes that maybe the topwater or hair jig bite could be the deal.

 

Following Coupland’s lead, Canterbury boats the smallest smallmouth of the day on a drop-shot.

The fish tore his bait up, so he busts out a pack of NetBait B Bugs to reload. He cuts the beaver-style bait in half to put on his drop-shot and is back in action in no time.

Unfortunately, the duo doesn’t get any more bites – or at least not from the size of the fish they’d like – so it’s time to move on.

 

We mosey our way into the St. Clair River to see what the conditions are like in comparison to the lake.

The water temperature is in the lower 60s – several degrees cooler than St. Clair –  which is a stark contrast from the last time Canterbury fished up here.

“I caught some fish in the river the last time we were here [2012],” Canterbury says. “But that was in August, so I know it probably won’t be the same.”

The St. Clair River can be a dynamite place to catch smallmouths, though most of the tournament history there is from the summer, so this timeframe is relatively uncharted territory for a major derby.

From seawalls to docks to deep rocks, the river offers plenty of options. Canterbury wants to explore a little bit of everything, so we don’t spend too much time at any given spot.

 

As we work our way up the river it begins to rain again.

Canterbury stops on a channel marker that looks like it should almost guarantee a bite. After making several flips to it with a drop-shot with no takers we continue our way up the river.

 

Canterbury’s rod selection is pretty standard smallmouth gear. He’s got a few tubes, a few drop-shots, a jerkbait, a spinnerbait and a hair jig.

Even when it comes to his tackle he’s got everything pared down.

“I think this is the least amount of tackle I have ever had in the boat,” jokes Canterbury of his half empty storage box.

 

The rain lets up again and Canterbury stops on a shallow point in the river with some scattered grass and rocks. He grabs the spinnerbait for the first time today and starts launching away in hopes of connecting with a brown bass.

After a few minutes his phone rings and it’s Justin Atkins. Atkins isn’t the first pro to call Canterbury today and the two chat it up about how their day has been so far. Neither has much to report, so after hanging up it’s back to fishing.

 

Drifting downstream, Canterbury eases over into a current seam created by a seawall and shallow point. Not long after flipping around in it with a drop-shot he has several smallmouths chase his bait to the boat.

“Look at all of ‘em,” hollers Canterbury. “They aren’t giants, but they are smallmouth.”

He immediately flips back towards them and hooks up. Much to his surprise, it’s a white bass.

“I didn’t even know they had these in here! But I swear there were smallmouths that followed me. I can’t believe one didn’t eat it.”

A few flips later, Canterbury connects with the right species. Not a giant, but it is the best one of the day.

 

Canterbury continues down the bank working a hair jig along a shallow flat. He finally connects with one and it’s a first for the Alabama pro.

“That’s my very first fish ever on a hair jig.”

A momentous occasion, no doubt. He’s now one step closer to being a smallmouth master.

How to catch smallmouths with hair jigs

 

Canterbury isn’t liking what the river is kicking out, so we roll back down into St. Clair. The rain has not only started back up, but it looks like it might be here for a while. Canterbury makes a drift along a river channel break while my camera is in the safety of the case, but only catches a walleye. From there, he cranks up the Mercury and idles around for a minute before deciding it’s time to drop me off.

 

It’s a little after 12:30 as we roll back up to the ramp. With the rain still coming down, I’m more than happy calling it quits. Canterbury wants to work his way south this afternoon and may even venture into the Detroit River at some point. Though he certainly didn’t set the world on fire to start, he’s got two and a half days of smallmouth hunting ahead of time. That’s more than enough time for Hammerbury to find some fish.

 

 

Tags: kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2018-06-28-lake-st-clair-metropark 

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