UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

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 

Big Weights Expected at Santee Cooper

Big Weights Expected at Santee Cooper

The Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division finishes up its 2019 season at the Santee Cooper lakes, Marion and Moultrie, in South Carolina this week. Forty pros and co-anglers will qualify for the championship, and an Angler of the Year will be crowned as the field fishes for hefty postspawn largemouths. READ MORE »

Review: iRod Genesis II Legit’s Finesse Swimmer

Review: iRod Genesis II Legit’s Finesse Swimmer

Built to FLW Tour pro Aaron Britt’s specifications, the iRod Genesis II Legit’s Finesse Swimmer rod is a mid-priced spinning rod that’s specifically designed for tossing small swimbaits on light heads. READ MORE »

AOY Update – Cherokee Lake

AOY Update – Cherokee Lake

This year’s FLW Tour Angler of the Year race is hurtling toward one of the most dramatic finishes ever. After finishing 46th at Cherokee Lake, rookie pro Miles “Sonar” Burghoff took advantage of a stumble by Terry Bolton to move into the top spot in the standings. If Burghoff can hold on through the final two events, he’ll be the first rookie since Shinichi Fukae in 2004 to win the AOY award. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Cherokee Lake

FLW Live Schedule for Cherokee Lake

FLW Live is back for 2019 FLW Tour stop No. 5 at beautiful Cherokee Lake. The event, which is presented by Lowrance and hosted by the Jefferson County Economic Development Alliance, runs Thursday, April 11 through Sunday, April 14. READ MORE »

Get to Know Cherokee Lake

Get to Know Cherokee Lake

The fifth stop of the FLW Tour is presented by Lowrance and sure to be fun if you like east Tennessee, smallmouths and good fishing (who doesn’t?). Cherokee Lake plays host and promises to both challenge and delight anglers. READ MORE »

Beavers Breaks Down Cherokee

Beavers Breaks Down Cherokee

Beavers started the year off about as badly as he could, finishing 121st at Rayburn, but he’s been on a tear ever since, finishing 54th at Toho before banking back-to-back top 10s at Seminole and Grand. READ MORE »

Scouting Cherokee with LeBrun

Scouting Cherokee with LeBrun

Now in the second half of the Tour season, LeBrun is up against another new lake, and sort of a new species. He says he’s never seen a smallmouth on a bed in his life, and has spent just two days on Cherokee in pre-practice. READ MORE »

2019 Cherokee Lake Preview

2019 Cherokee Lake Preview

Nestled in the hills of east Tennessee, Cherokee Lake is a TVA impoundment on the Holston River, and it sits roughly between Norris Lake (to the northwest) and Douglas Lake (to the southeast). READ MORE »

Prespawn Throwdown on Tap at KY Lake

Prespawn Throwdown on Tap at KY Lake

The Costa FLW Series Central Division hosts its season opener at Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley April 4-6. Instead of a postspawn ledge showdown, like is typical of major multi-day bass-fishing tournaments in the region, this derby should be a prespawn or spawn slugfest, with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, ChatterBaits, umbrella rigs, swimbait and jigs all playing a major role in the outcome. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

If you’re going to fish Grand Lake this time of year, you’d better be good with a spinnerbait. The FLW Tour event at Grand Lake last week sure showcased that. READ MORE »

Get to Know Grand Lake

Get to Know Grand Lake

The fourth stop of the 2019 FLW Tour is presented by Mercury at Grand Lake. Though the Tour last hit the big Oklahoma lake in 2013, Grand sees plenty of tournament action, especially in the spring, and it never fails to deliver drama. READ MORE »

Poking Around Grand with Cortiana

Poking Around Grand with Cortiana

Since starting to fish Costa FLW Series events in 2016, Kyle Cortiana has banked over $100,000 with FLW and finished in the top 10 of the Southwestern Division three times. On the FLW Tour, he’s been a bit less successful, with no top 10s and no FLW Cup qualifications … yet. This year, he’s sitting 35th in the points, with a good chance to go to the Cup, and the FLW Tour presented by Mercury on Grand Lake finally gives him a shot at a Tour event with home field advantage. READ MORE »

Day 1 Practice on Grand with Warren

Day 1 Practice on Grand with Warren

There’s a good crew of Oklahoma anglers on the FLW Tour, but of them, Chad Warren is definitely one of the favorites at Grand Lake. Stop No. 4 of the 2019 FLW Tour, which is presented by Mercury, heads to Grand in the early spring for a prespawn tournament that might feature really good fishing. READ MORE »

2019 Grand Lake Preview

2019 Grand Lake Preview

Grand Lake is situated in Northeast Oklahoma among the foothills of the Ozarks. The impoundment was created in 1940 when the Pensacola Dam was finished along the Grand River. The 46,500-surface-acre reservoir now hosts plenty of recreational opportunities, but more importantly, is also home to some of the best bass fishing in the country. READ MORE »

Setting Up a Slugfest at Chickamauga  

Setting Up a Slugfest at Chickamauga  

The second stop of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division promises much better fishing than the first. Moving north from a cold front-plagued Florida swing, the field will visit Lake Chickamauga for the middle event of the season. The tournament, which is presented by T-H Marine, should feature excellent fishing, as the east Tennessee reservoir pretty much always kicks out giants. READ MORE »

Review: Lew’s Speed Spool LFS

Review: Lew’s Speed Spool LFS

The Lew’s Speed Spool LFS is a re-design of the Speed Spool, and it’s a very affordable casting reel that works quite well. It hit the market in the fall of 2018, and though it doesn’t visually stand out and it’s lacking in nonessential bells and whistles, the reel is more than capable of getting the job done for under $100. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Lake Seminole

AOY Update: Lake Seminole

Bryan Thrift’s bomb at the third stop of the FLW Tour on Seminole may ripple through the minds of fans for a while, but the other contenders for Angler of the Year pretty much stayed on fire. In the lead, Terry Bolton banked his second top 10 of the year and padded his lead. Behind him, Scott Martin earned his second top 10 in a row to push him into the runner-up spot as he pursues his second AOY title on Tour. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Seminole

Top 10 Baits from Lake Seminole

Vibrating jigs and Texas-rigged soft-plastic creature baits, along with a few finesse baits, were the primary tools used to catch prespawn bass from hydrilla beds on Lake Seminole in March. Learn how to put more early spring fish in the boat with the lures used by the top 10 pros. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Seminole

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Seminole

FLW Live is back for 2019 FLW Tour stop No. 3 at historic Lake Seminole. The event, which is presented by Costa and hosted by the Bainbridge Convention & Visitors Bureau, runs Thursday, March 7 through Sunday, March 10. READ MORE »

Britt’s Final Practice Day on Seminole

Britt’s Final Practice Day on Seminole

Fishing his third year on the FLW Tour, Aaron Britt is off to his best start yet, sitting at 26th in the points and fresh off a top 10 at Toho. As is the case for many of his peers, Britt has never fished Lake Seminole, the site of the third stop of the FLW Tour presented by Costa. READ MORE »