UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Roaming St. Clair with Dobson

Roaming St. Clair with Dobson
Scott Dobson

Plenty of folks will say there’s a local curse in bass fishing, but in recent years that has seemed less true than ever. Jason Lambert has dominated on Kentucky Lake, Casey Ashley has crushed on Lake Hartwell and Anthony Gagliardi hasn’t let up on Lake Murray one bit. This week, the definitive local favorite is Scott Dobson – with six T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) wins on St. Clair and a bunch of wins and top 10s in other tournaments, the Clarkston, Mich., angler looks to be in prime position for a run at his first win on Tour.

Presented by Mercury, the FLW Tour season finale goes out of the Lake St. Clair Metropark, but pros can fish up the St. Clair River, through the Detroit River and out quite a ways into Lake Erie if they want to. You can expect Dobson to spend most of his time in St. Clair, close to home and close to smallmouths he’s chased his whole life.

Eager to take a look at how Dobson approaches his home lake, we joined him for the final morning of practice.

 

We all meet up at about 6:30 a.m. ET at the Harley Ensign Memorial access on the northwest side of the lake. Dobson readies his Ranger with oil, food, drink and practice partner Dearal Rodgers loads his tackle. After a few minutes of prep, we dunk the boat and crank up, heading east into the already rising sun.

 

Dobson’s first stop is a waypoint in about 12 feet of water. Slinging a jerkbait, he hooks up in minutes and flips a 3-pounder into the boat. Just like that, he’s looking pretty dialed. After another cast or two, Dobson pulls the trolling motor and cranks up again.

 

The next stop is a similarly nondescript looking area. St. Clair is mostly a big bowl, and if you aren’t dialed in to pretty subtle differences or really paying attention to your electronics it can all look the same. After missing one on a spybait, Dobson sits down to re-rig his swimbait.

“Dearal, will you catch one so we can get out of here? We’ve gotta know if they’re twos, threes or fours,” says Dobson.

According to him, the fish this time of year group up by size a lot. Soon after telling Rodgers to catch one, the South Carolina co-angler obliges, snatching up a chunky 3+ with a “saucy” big one following behind. 

Dobson makes one more short move to another waypoint and idles around a bit slinging a jerkbait some before leaving the area. So far, he’s been targeting various transitions, from sand grass to sand or cabbage to sand or places with different substrates. Invisible from the surface, but possible to pinpoint with a graph and some long hours.

 

Dobson’s next move takes us farther offshore, well away from any sort of bank. This time, he’s setting the boat down in about 17 feet of water over a bed of cabbage and sand grass that’s dotted with fish.

“I’m not a big fan of fishing deep this time of year,” explains Dobson, who’s doing it anyway. “You really have to cover a lot of water to find a school. And with three days of practice that’s a lot to ask. This time of year the fish really spread out. When the water warms up a lot of the bottom starts to moss up and it concentrates them in those clean spots. This time of year, the water is too cold for that.”

Out deep, Dobson plucks a keeper smallie on a swimbait and adds a white bass pretty quickly. Then things get fun.

 

Leaning into the fish with a monster hookset, Dobson is pretty excited for a second. Soon, he’s gone from excitement to curiosity to a little frustration. He’s fighting something huge, and rapidly coming to the conclusion that he’s got a sturgeon on the line.

After what seems like an eternity, we finally see the prehistoric fish for the first time. Then it surges back down and makes another run. Finally, Dobson gets it up to the boat and hands off the rod to Rodgers so he can try to grab the tail. As soon as he does, the fish goes from playing dead to a ball of frothing fury and pulls off.

 

After a little more fishing around near the sturgeon hole, Dobson fires up the Evinrude again and makes another move to a deeper spot. He’s mostly dragging around a swimbait, which he says is a little bit faster way to cover water than dragging a tube. Though he’s admittedly not wild about fishing this deep, he knows it could be a good way to get a big one.

“In team tournaments we like to fish out here in the lake,” relays Dobson. “Because in those you only need to catch two and a half apiece.”

 

Through the morning, Dobson has pretty much tossed what you’d expect him to: tubes, swimbaits, drop-shots, jerkbaits and crankbaits. Most of it is pretty standard St. Clair fare, but he does have an unusual number of jerkbaits on deck – you can tell he really likes chucking them.

 

Moving back in toward the bank (so we’re now hundreds of yards as opposed to miles off the bank), Dobson ties up a crankbait to whisk over some grass.

“Alright Darrel, I’m gonna cover some turf,” advises Dobson. “It’s gonna be hard to throw that spybait.”

With that, he starts chucking, making long casts and cranking back at a fast clip. After a few minutes of trolling around he shelves the rod and picks up. Fishless for a few stops now, it’s time to try something new.

 

Moving in shallower still, Dobson makes a few adjustments and quickly connects with another chunky smallmouth. This one bit before he ever got the juice of the spot, and he takes off for the next spot feeling good.

 

The next couple of stops are similarly shallow, but fruitless. After a pause to tie on a new jerkbait, the next stop produces a St. Clair special. Dobson stealthily plays it around the boat for a while before bending down to lip it for a picture.

 

After another shallower stop, Dobson ducks back toward the middle of the lake and starts fishing a little more slowly. Dragging a tube around, he hooks up with an eater-size walleye. He’s already got plenty in the freezer, so after giving it a helping hand by removing a small lamprey, the walleye goes back in to be caught another day.

 

With time ticking on in the day, Dobson is getting a little anxious to start checking some of his best places.

“I haven’t got to check anything really good yet,” he says. “I grazed a few places yesterday though. I’ve just been sampling. I wanna be surprised on derby day.”

That in mind, Dobson decides that noon is high time to run me back so he and Rodgers can move unhindered the rest of the day. After 15 minutes or so fishing the point in front of the Lake St. Clair Metropark (good for one little smallie)

 

After dropping me off, Dobson idles back out onto the lake he’s more comfortable than any other on. He’s got a lot on the line this week – the presence of St. Clair on the schedule was a big reason he decided to fish the Tour this year. A good finish would put a nice cap on the season and lock him into the Forrest Wood Cup, but he’s after a lot more than just good.

 

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2018-06-28-lake-st-clair-metropark 

FLW Cup Schedule of Events

FLW Cup Schedule of Events

The FLW Cup goes down August 9-11 on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. As the crowning event of the FLW Tour season, there’s naturally a lot that goes with it, from takeoffs, the FLW Expo, a Trace Adkins concert and of course the weigh-ins at the Bank OZK Arena. Below you’ll find everything you’ll need to follow or attend the Cup, from the times to each event and seminar to each giveaway going on. Keep in mind, everything is free to attend and all times are Central. READ MORE »

Pre-Practice Report from Hamilton

Pre-Practice Report from Hamilton

For some, preparation has been in the form of map study and online research, while others have made the trek to Lake Hamilton to get eyes on the playing field, which went off limits July 22. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Baits from Lake Champlain

As usual, the fishing on Lake Champlain was great. Pros and co-anglers alike loaded the boat with smallmouths and largemouths each day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event, and they did it with a wide array of techniques. If you’re wondering what to throw up north when there are green and brown fish on the table in the early summer, you could hardly go wrong with anything the pros in the top 10 used.  READ MORE »

The FLW Cup Playing Field

The FLW Cup Playing Field

It’s been 14 seasons since the FLW Cup has been held at Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. In the years since, FLW fans have likely developed some familiarity with nearby Lake Ouachita, which has been a frequent destination for the Cup and, in fact, hosted last year’s championship event. Hamilton is less-known because it hasn’t gotten the nod to host the finale since July 2005, when George Cochran won his third bass-fishing world championship . READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Grueling wind on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division opener on Lake Champlain didn’t do the field any favors, but otherwise, it was a heck of a tournament on the big northern fishery. The aftereffects of an odd spring with high water had things somewhat scrambled, putting some of the local participants on their off foot, but a variety of patterns proved to be successful. READ MORE »

Champlain Midday Update – Day 3

Champlain Midday Update – Day 3

While day two was windy and rough, day three has pretty much been calm from the get-go. It has also been hot as blazes. It’s made fishing a little tougher than expected, with a lot of anglers reporting missed or lost fish and a generally slower bite. That said, a slow bite on Champlain is a great bite most everywhere else, so we’re still going to see plenty of bass. READ MORE »

McKee Takes Co-Angler Title

McKee Takes Co-Angler Title

Weighing in 16 pounds, 2 ounces on day three, Henry McKee beat out co-angler superstar Gary Haraguchi for the win in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division on Champlain. With a 47-8 total, McKee won a $1,050 and a brand-new Ranger Z175 with a 90-horsepower outboard. READ MORE »

Thrift All the Way on Champlain

Thrift All the Way on Champlain

Taking the win in wire-to-wire fashion, Bryan Thrift tallied 18 pounds, 4 ounces on the final day for an even 57-pound total in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. For the win, Thrift earned $44,200 and a new Ranger boat, and it’s his 11th win with FLW. The Northern Division is presented by Gajo Baits and the tournament was presented by Polaris.  READ MORE »

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

One of the windier tournament days in recent memory did a lot to reshape the leaderboard of the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. The run south to Ticonderoga was not impossible, but the wind up north kept a lot of pros from effectively fishing their best stuff. That made weights drop pretty much across the board on day two. READ MORE »

Thrift Still Ahead on Champlain

Thrift Still Ahead on Champlain

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Champlain featured a bunch of wind and a lot of turnover on the leaderboard. Though he struggled to replicate his massive day-one success, Bryan Thrift still managed 16 pounds, 6 ounces for a 38-12 total to retain the lead. Behind him, Scott Dobson rose from ninth to second with a robust bag of smallmouths worth 18-10 for a 37-14 total. READ MORE »

Champlain Midday Update – Day 2

Champlain Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series event presented by Polaris on Lake Champlain is going to be quite a swing from day one. Typically turnover in the standings is common on Champlain because the weights stay so tight, but today’s turnover is going to have a lot to do with the weather. READ MORE »

Champlain Midday Update – Day 1

Champlain Midday Update – Day 1

Takeoff was a little blustery, but overall, it’s been a perfect start to the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. The event is the kickoff of the Northern Division, which is presented by Gajo Baits, and the tournament itself is presented by Polaris. READ MORE »

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Last year, every event in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division, which is presented by Gajo Baits, was won entirely with smallmouth bass. This season, the kickoff event on Champlain, which is presented by Polaris, looks destined to involve some largemouths. Everyone in the top five weighed green ones on day one, though somewhat surprisingly, the south end down by Ticonderoga didn’t play an overwhelming role, as only three of the top 10 anglers made the long run southward. READ MORE »

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Each of the last three years have seen the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits kick off on Champlain. This tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but the dominant pattern certainly won’t be spawning smallmouths. Instead, it could be a largemouth slugfest, as the fishing has continued to prove strong on the south end of the lake. READ MORE »

Thrift Takes Command on Champlain

Thrift Takes Command on Champlain

Less than three weeks removed from a third-place finish on Lake Champlain in the FLW Tour’s 2019 season finale, Bryan Thrift hauled 22 pounds, 6 ounces of green fish to the weigh-in stage to take the day one lead in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division opener, which is presented by Polaris. In second, Brandt Tumberg weighed 21-10, and Joe Wood is just an ounce behind him with 21-9 for third.  READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Brian Latimer 

Check-in Time: Brian Latimer 

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Brian Latimer.  READ MORE »

McCaghren Ready for Hamilton

McCaghren Ready for Hamilton

Billy McCaghren spends a lot of his free time coaching 8- to 10-year-old boys on how to swing and catch; but when the FLW Cup visits Hot Springs August 9-11, the Arkansas pro is hopeful that some of his young baseball players will be able to swing by and see the Lake Hamilton bass he plans on catching. READ MORE »

Summertime on Champlain

Summertime on Champlain

For three years running now, the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits has kicked off on Lake Champlain. The tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but it’s going to be far different than the last two FLW Series tilts on the big Northern lake. READ MORE »

Nelson Wins ROY

Nelson Wins ROY

Ron Nelson blanked on the first day of his first FLW Tour event. Then he got things on track – so on track that he finished the season ninth overall in the standings and above every other rookie to earn the Polaris FLW Tour Rookie of the Year award. Winning ROY is typically a career-setting accomplishment, and to go with the hardware Nelson will also receive a Polaris Sportsman® 570 ATV. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Champlain

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Champlain

FLW Live is back for the season finale of the FLW Tour on Lake Champlain. The event, which is presented by T-H Marine and hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau runs Thursday, June 27 through Sunday, June 30. READ MORE »