UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Eufaula

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 

The Top 5 Limits of All Time

The Top 5 Limits of All Time

Catching 25 pounds in a single tournament day is a pretty rare feat, and catching five bass for 30 pounds in a tournament has been done fewer than 200 times in FLW history. Knowing just how special those giant limits are, we decided to dig into some of the top bags from years past. READ MORE »

College Fishing Returns June 14

College Fishing Returns June 14

As the tournament season begins to ramp back up across the FLW tournament platforms, Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI is also getting ready to get back in the swing of things come June 14 on Smith Mountain Lake. READ MORE »

Mixed Bags will Play at Neely Henry

Mixed Bags will Play at Neely Henry

Winding north to south on the Coosa River in Alabama, Neely Henry Lake is one of a number of Alabama impoundments famous for feisty spotted bass that love the current. Neely also has largemouths, and depending on where you’re at in the lake and river, there is plenty of grass and wood to fish. READ MORE »

Great Lakes Division Fires Up on Wolf River Chain

Great Lakes Division Fires Up on Wolf River Chain

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Great Lakes Division is preparing to get underway on June 13 on the Wolf River Chain of Lakes, and it promises to be a derby predicated on catching good numbers any number of ways. READ MORE »

Angler’s Delight at Eufaula

Angler’s Delight at Eufaula

Kicking off the Southeastern Division of the Toyota Series on Lake Eufaula should be quite the show. Early June at Eufaula offers anglers the chance to catch bass any way they like, from shallow to deep. With as many 4- and 5-pounders as this Chattahoochee River impoundment holds, there should be plenty of fireworks to watch. READ MORE »

Summertime Patterns Taking Over at Dardanelle

Summertime Patterns Taking Over at Dardanelle

Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine competition is returning to Arkansas when the Arkie Division picks up competition with a weekend doubleheader June 13 and 14. READ MORE »

6 Super Tournament Story Lines

6 Super Tournament Story Lines

The expanded field list for the new Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournaments brings with it some very fun matchups and the potential for some record chases to reignite. Because many of the newly added Major League Fishing anglers have had longer careers than those at the top of the Pro Circuit, they’re in a unique position to chase down some records that otherwise may not have been touched this year. In other cases, it’s simply going to be a pleasure to watch the best of the best duel on some epic bodies of water. READ MORE »

Pickwick Will Produce in a Big Way

Pickwick Will Produce in a Big Way

The second stop of the Toyota Series Central Division ought to be a really good one. Set for Pickwick Lake in late May, the offshore bite ought to be in full swing, with plenty of shallow fish as well. READ MORE »

Anglers React to Super Tournaments

Anglers React to Super Tournaments

When the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season picks back up, it will be with a new schedule, some new anglers and a lot more money in the pot than originally planned. READ MORE »

Pros’ Favorite Baits for May

Pros’ Favorite Baits for May

Across the country, May is a great time for fishing, with tons of bass in and around the spawn and a lot of baitfish species spawning as well. With warming water, it’s a great chance to throw a topwater for the first time, or really to do just about whatever you want in some parts of the country. READ MORE »

How to Make a Buzzbait Squeak

How to Make a Buzzbait Squeak

One of the key aspects of buzzbait fishing is the sound, and Bradley Dortch modifies his with a file and some pliers to get the most squeak he can. READ MORE »

Throw Bigger Swimbaits in Tournaments

Throw Bigger Swimbaits in Tournaments

Fitting larger swimbaits into a tournament arsenal is a goal that a lot of anglers never hit. Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Kurt Mitchell has gotten it done, and actually earned a lot of money with some of the more specialized and larger swimbaits over the past few years. READ MORE »

Bryan Thrift’s Greatest Hits

Bryan Thrift’s Greatest Hits

Thrift had a superlative career while climbing the ranks in FLW and competing on the FLW Tour. With more than $3 million in earnings in basically 15 years, Thrift has been on the leading edge of the technical side of fishing and an overpowering competitor since the start. READ MORE »

The Ultimate Clear Water Jerkbait Mod

The Ultimate Clear Water Jerkbait Mod

Schooled on tough Western fisheries with clear water and smart bass, Wade Strelic knows a thing or two about getting the most out of baits. One of his favorite modifications for super-clear water is to add a strip of holographic tape to each side of his jerkbaits. READ MORE »

Review: Berkley Frittside

Review: Berkley Frittside

Berkley’s take on a flat-side crankbait is the Frittside, a plastic bait that is designed to have the same action and attraction as balsa baits. Designed in part by David Fritts, who is one of the best crankbait anglers of all time, it seems to be a good bait at a good price. READ MORE »

Swimbait Experiments in Florida

Swimbait Experiments in Florida

In his time guiding in Florida, Brent Anderson has learned a lot. From adding standard Florida techniques to his arsenal to adapting his topwater program to the Sunshine State’s bass, he’s intentionally broadened his horizons a fair bit. Picking up big swimbaits was a bit of an accident. READ MORE »

Review: Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head

Review: Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head

There are a ton of different Ned heads on the market now, many of which are quite good. The Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head was designed by Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit angler Josh Douglas, and having used it pretty extensively this spring, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. READ MORE »

Review: Blade Runner Turbo Tail

Review: Blade Runner Turbo Tail

The Blade Runner Turbo Tail is a very cool variation on the standard tail spinner. READ MORE »

Florida Topwater Tips

Florida Topwater Tips

Since spending as much time on the water in Florida as he has, Anderson has applied a topwater a lot more than he expected to. READ MORE »

How to Catch Tailrace Smallmouths

How to Catch Tailrace Smallmouths

The reservoirs strung along the Tennessee River are tremendous fisheries, but they perhaps don’t get as much shine for being smallmouth producers as they should. READ MORE »