UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Wylie

2020 Detroit River Preview

2020 Detroit River Preview

Detroit River

Trenton, Mich.

June 27-30, 2020

Hosted by the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau

 

About the fishery

Though the Pro Circuit finale takes off from the Detroit River, that’s hardly the only place the pros will be fishing. Takeoff is near the southern mouth of the river, giving pros easy access to the west end of Lake Erie. At the other end of the river is Lake St. Clair, which has been home to some of the most epic smallmouth beatdowns on record in recent years.

Though not technically a Great Lake, St. Clair is firmly part of the watershed and is fed from Lake Huron by the St. Clair River. Broad and shallow, St. Clair is very fertile, but never stagnant, as the water retention time is just seven to 10 days. Both rivers in play are somewhat similar, with key current breaks and a mix of highly developed and very remote shoreline. Erie is a typical Great Lake to an extent, but it is the shallowest and historically one of the most consistent smallmouth producers.

For all the fisheries, the focus will be on plentiful and huge smallmouths. Depending on the weather, postspawn or bedding smallmouths could hit the scale. In Erie, the smallies live mostly around rock and sand and chow down on gobies. In St. Clair, perch and shad enter the forage mix, and there’s plenty of grass for the fish to roam around in.

 

Chad Grigsby

Last time

Though the Michigan Division of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League basically lives on St. Clair and the west end of Erie, the best comp for this event is probably the 2018 FLW Tour event held on St. Clair. Then, an epic postspawn smallmouth beatdown ensued. Buoyed by perfect weather in the tournament, Chad Grigsby walloped them on St. Clair with a tube and a spy bait for the win. Dylan Hays and Brad Knight also fished drop-shots in St. Clair, and they were within shouting distance of each other and Grigsby. Finishing fourth, Scott Dobson leaned hard on the St. Clair River and a jerkbait.

 

Scott Dobson

What to expect this time

Taking place ever so slightly earlier than the 2018 event, this tournament has a unique wrinkle – Canadian waters will be off limits to fishing until day one of the event due to the timing of the Canadian fishing opener. Though pros will be able to fish anywhere they want in the event, they’re basically only allowed to look in Canada during practice. Exactly how things will turn out during the event is anyone’s guess, but it’d be no surprise to see a lot of folks hammer them in Canada after just looking or guessing in practice.

As for the actual fishing, Mike Trombly has eight FLW wins on the Detroit River, and is positioned as well as anyone to prognosticate about this event. He expects the stage of the fish to be a determining factor.

“It depends on the type of year that we have,” says Trombly. “This past year we had a tournament that same weekend, and it was won on bedding fish. Most years, that does not happen. It’s a rarity for a big tournament to get won on spawners on the Canadian opener. Especially with a multi-day event, a school of postspawners is usually where you catch your money fish.”

Though he’s surely aware of the success Dobson has seen in the various rivers, Trombly thinks the focus will be on the lakes.

“You can catch some quality fish in the river, but a lot of them will be really postspawn, and postspawn fish in the river are usually tough to catch,” he says.

Because St. Clair warms up faster, the most likely tournament scenario is a lot of postspawn fish on St. Clair and not as many postspawn fish on Erie. Trombly expects St. Clair to play big even though pros will need to run a bit to get there.

“It’s all because of that spawn,” says Trombly. “It finishes a littler earlier on St. Clair than it does on Erie, so you have a better chance of having a school that time of year. When Chad [Grigsby] won, the other two guys were relatively close to him, almost within shouting distance, and you can get into a mega load of fish.”

One final note is about travel time. Taking off in the river means that pros will have to traverse the “Miracle Mile” section of the Detroit River, which is famed for rough rides in the afternoon when the waves from cruisers pound off the seawalls. Trombly says that the run to St. Clair might take just 20 to 25 minutes in the morning, but after about 10 a.m. it can take an hour or more to get back.

 

Scott Dobson

Baits and techniques

All the standard smallmouth stuff is going to play. Jerkbaits, swimbaits and spybaits could absolutely all be money. Plus, the usual mix of tubes, Ned rigs and drop-shot rigs will load the boat.

One St. Clair-specific method is cranking, and Trombly says you can’t totally count it out despite the early season.

“Sometimes it does play in June, and every year is a little bit different,” he says. “When those fish get schooled up postspawn there can be a good cranking bite. It’s something I always check; I’ll put it that way.”

 

3 critical factors

1. The wind – This is perhaps the No. 1 factor anytime a tournament is near the Great Lakes. Wind can impact practice or the tournament in a major way. For instance, though Trombly believes St. Clair is the place to be under normal conditions, several days with a strong north wind could make the sheltered north shore of Erie a major player.

2. Canada – Fishing fresh water is always good, but just deciding to run into Canada and start slinging is perhaps not the smartest thing. Someone that can unlock Canada in practice or in the tournament after a good start on the U.S. side could be extremely well-positioned for success.

3. Making adjustments – Adjusting to Canada is one thing, but there are myriad other changes anglers could make in this derby. When Grigsby won, one of the factors that put him over the top was changing to a spybait when the conditions got right. Someone who can combine a few patterns, or make the right change at the right time, could take the fast track to the W.

 

Josh Douglas

Pros to watch

The obvious favorite is Dobson. Though he was bested the last time at St. Clair, he’s so easily the front-runner in knowledge and history on the fishery that a top 10 already feels inevitable. However, there are plenty of other smallmouth hammers to watch out for. For one, Ron Nelson is in this, and he’s a shallow smallie master from Michigan. Grigsby, Matt Becker and Josh Douglas are also totally capable smallie anglers that should have a shot.

Of course, when St. Clair is in play, it’s hard to count anyone out. A bit like Okeechobee, when FLW visits St. Clair, someone unexpected always seems to smash them. So don’t be surprised if a Southerner ends up dropping the hammer like Hays and Knight did the last time.

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2020-06-27-detroit-river 

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Bites were easy to come by at Lake Martin. It was getting the quality bites that separated the field. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Martin

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Martin

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop goes down this week at Lake Martin in Alexander City, Ala. Here's how you can watch the action live. READ MORE »

Practice Report: Lake Martin

Practice Report: Lake Martin

March in Alabama can be boom or bust in terms of weather, but luckily this week’s forecast calls for mostly gorgeous springtime weather for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Though the total weights didn’t live up to some expectations, the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee was still a lot of fun. The weather was great, there were plenty of fish caught the first two days, and there was a truly dramatic race for the win on the final day. READ MORE »

Niles Goes Back-To-Back

Niles Goes Back-To-Back

Hailing from Ocean Springs, Miss., Andy Niles has now won on Okeechobee two years in a row. In 2019, he picked up the win in the Southeastern Division event on Okeechobee, and this year he got the win in the second Toyota Series Southern Division event of the year. Weighing a total of 44 pounds, 7 ounces, Niles takes home a new Phoenix bass boat for his efforts. Friday was Niles’ son Cooper’s 8th birthday, and though he’s probably not going to get the boat for a present, he’ll at least get a very happy dad. READ MORE »

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Weighing the biggest limit of the final day worth 19 pounds, 4 ounces, Brandon Medlock locked up his third Toyota Series title in the Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. With 54-4 overall, Medlock won comfortably and was essentially the only pro to put together two very good days of fishing, with a 13-9 catch on day one as his worst day. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Okeechobee is proving to be just as tense as expected. With the entire top 10 less than 4 pounds apart, anything can happen, and it’s entirely possible that someone in ninth or 10th catches a big bag to come from behind. READ MORE »

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

It was another slow morning on Lake Havasu at the Toyota Series Western Division opener. Though, that was to be expected. Most of the top 10 pros have had their best luck in the middle of the day and early afternoon. Mornings have been tough. READ MORE »

Medlock Ahead on Okeechobee

Medlock Ahead on Okeechobee

Despite nice weather this week, which has been a rarity for FLW tournaments in Florida this year, the fishing on Okeechobee just hasn’t been what the lake is capable of producing. Still, Okeechobee hammer Brandon Medlock rallied on day two dropping 21 pounds, 7 ounces on the scale to take the lead in the Toyota Series Southern Division event on the Big O with 35 pounds even. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

The weather is still splendid, but day two of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee has been tougher than day one. While keepers were pretty easy to come by early yesterday, that hasn’t quite been the case today. Still, the weather is good and there’s plenty of time left for the lake to turn on. READ MORE »

Honnerlaw in Front at Big O

Honnerlaw in Front at Big O

Day one of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Okeechobee was great from a fish-catching standpoint, but somewhat lacking from a big fish perspective. In the lead, Bryan Honnerlaw of Moore Haven, Fla., put 19 pounds, 14 ounces on the scale. Behind him, three other pros also managed 19 pounds or better, and there is an absolute stack of anglers in the mid-teen range. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee has been a beauty so far. Takeoff went off without a hitch in the morning, and there’s basically been just a light breeze and sunny skies all day. Though it hasn’t been oppressively hot, it has been quite warm, and after setting down on their first spot, many anglers probably never put their hoodies back on. READ MORE »

Game Day on Okeechobee

Game Day on Okeechobee

The second stop of the Toyota Series Southern Division is hitting Lake Okeechobee later in the year than usual for FLW. Typically, big, multi-day FLW events on the Big O go down in January and February, but this one runs March 12-14 and should offer a different look at the familiar and ever-changing body of water. READ MORE »

ETBU Gets School of the Year Rings

ETBU Gets School of the Year Rings

Tallying up 1,752 points for the season, ETBU beat out Tarleton State-Stephenville by 16 points to earn the Southern Conference School of the Year title. READ MORE »

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

Pre-tournament optimism can be hard to find, but this year, if the weather holds, the fishing might be really good for the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

College Open Prize Pool Bigger than Ever

College Open Prize Pool Bigger than Ever

The annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open returns to Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in mid-March for the sixth consecutive season. This time around, however, the stakes are even higher, as teams compete for a brand-new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat, 20 spots in the 2021 National Championship and 20 spots in the all-new Major League Fishing College Faceoff presented by Wiley X in Raleigh, N.C., later this spring. READ MORE »

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

The kickoff event of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Volunteer Division takes place on Douglas Lake on March 7. One of the most scenic lakes in the country, Douglas promises some good prespawn fishing. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Harris Chain 

AOY Update: Harris Chain 

Through two events, the leader of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Angler of the Year race isn’t unexpected, but the standings behind Ron Nelson are in absolute turmoil. With Lake Martin and Cherokee Lake on tap, things could begin to clarify a bit as spotted bass, smallmouths and lakes that actually have rock become factors. So, while we’re about to run through the top contenders, it’s highly likely that the next few events really reshape the standings.  READ MORE »

Red-Hot Spawn Bite Expected at Havasu

Red-Hot Spawn Bite Expected at Havasu

Spawning bass and spring break will be the story lines at the Toyota Series Western Division opener at Lake Havasu in mid-March. Well, OK … the spawning bass will certainly be the main focus of the anglers. But dealing with traffic from pleasure boaters will definitely contribute to the pros’ decision-making, particularly on the weekend.  READ MORE »

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 Mississippi Division schedule at Ross Barnett Reservoir on March 7. Ross Barnett is an annual early season stop for FLW and the first crack at gaining essential points in the race to qualify for this fall’s Regional. This time around, anglers might have to navigate tricky conditions due to a wet and rainy winter. READ MORE »