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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So one of the things I've always wanted to do was go pike fishing on St. Clair. For whatever reason, it's just never happened. Well life changes, and as a result, I'll be moving out of state this fall. I'd like to make a trip over in the next couple of weeks, and honestly not totally sure where to start. I was thinking around the north channel on up to Fair Haven. Ideally, I'm looking for fish around the 30" mark. I have a lake nearby that i fish and can catch a dozen between 20"-26" in an hour, so that's not really what I'm after. What I'm not sure of is what water depth I should be targeting there this time of year. Will I find weed edges in 20fow? As far as lures go, one of my favorite pike baits is a black spinner bait, and I'll probably start with that. Having said that are there better color options for St. Clair? Are musky baits a better option for reducing the number of hammer handles caught?

I'm not looking for anybody specific spots, I'm fairly confident in my ability to find fish. Just looking for some general pointers that might cut down the learning curve a little. Thanks in advance!

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I fish for numbers, not just big fish, and find plenty of 30-35" pike mixed in with the smaller guys. So just stay away from really warm water (80s in June) and you'll have a good shot. You'd probably have better luck in the lake launching out if Harley or Selfridge in that timeframe and spend the first hour driving around marking weedbeds on the west side if Anchor Bay. If the stuff in 5 or 6 feet of water are too thick to fish when you get over there, move out to the ones in 8-12 feet of water. You could do a good job if covering that area in a day and feel confident you gave it a good shot. I find the area you mentioned to be harder to figure out. Some days can be great while many others are frustrating until you really learn the area. And it doesn't look like you are going to put in a lot of trips to do that.
 

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I haven't casted the lake in years but when I did cast for musky caught quite a few 25-35" pike casting smaller musky lures. One area that was usually good was around Grass Island in the outflow of the North channel and out in front of the Salt river. You will also catch many largemouth and smallmouth while casting for musky, along with a walleye every now and again.
 

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I found some nice ones around where PT said a couple weeks ago. Perch color body bait trolling around 2.2 mph in 10 fow. Not sure about this time of year but I have caught them casting dark green swimjigs with chartreuse paddle tails and spinners tipped with paddletails into the tight reedy shallow areas (4-6 feet) around the north and middle channels. That was earlier in the year though and I'm not sure if those spots hold fish now. I've had better luck on bluegill and perch colors. Seems like the bigger ones like natural colors on this lake.

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It is well known that big pike tend to prefer cool water. If you want gators, the channel outflows with the cool St Clair River water are certainly the places to be throughout the summer. That may include well into the lake, depending upon where the cabbage beds are.

Yes, big baits do help the size percentages. I got one just over 35 inches Sunday trolling the N Channel outflow, and missed another that seemed pretty big. Those were on 9 and 7.5 inch baits, respectively. I've also done well with natural colors, but that's just about all I've fished.

Pike 35 inches or better are rare in SE Michigan. Got my PB 37 inch pike on a 13 inch lure on a very chilly December 1 between the Clinton and Strawberry Island. Have caught many to 34 inches, a few 35 inchers, but only a couple or three a yard long yet.

Caught the big one Sunday on a steep drop-off that would be a tough area to stay on and cast due to the strong current, unless you have a real good anchor or auto-pilot capabilities. This is prime time. When I've hit the pattern early enough, I've had days with about a dozen good sized pike, especially if the water has a good stain.

Later the N Channel drop-off can get rather weedy to troll without getting hung up constantly, though the pattern of the weeds is visible on the surface, so staying clear and on the deep side might work. And you can drift and cast the edges or with weedless baits over the tops of the beds. But weed growth is so low this year that might not even be a factor for a while.

Some of the reedy cuts could hold a mix of sizes, with great numbers, too around now, and until the the water temperature gets to the low 60s. Look for cuts with some depth.

And like piktroller said, the water is still cool enough to find them on the W side now. I had a nice day catching solid upper 20s to low 30s inch pike in the Clinton River inflow about this time of year a few years ago.

Hope this helps and you put back the big ones, as I do. May the fish be with you.
 

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It is well known that big pike need cool water. If you want gators, the channel outflows with the cool St Clair River water are certainly the places to be throughout the summer. That may include well into the lake, depending upon where the cabbage beds are.

Yes, big baits do help the size percentages. I got one just over 35 inches Sunday trolling the N Channel outflow, and missed another that seemed pretty big. Those were on 9 and 7.5 inch baits, respectively. I've also done well with natural colors, but that's just about all I've fished.

Pike 35 inches or better are rare in SE Michigan. Got my PB 37 inch pike on a 13 inch lure on a very chilly December 1 between the Clinton and Strawberry Island. Have caught many to 34 inches, a few 35 inchers, but only a couple or threr a yard long yet.

Caught the big one Sunday on a steep drop-off that would be a tough area to stay on and cast due to the strong current, unless you have a real good anchor or auto-pilot capabilities. This is prime time. When I've hit the pattern early enough, I've had days with about a dozen good sized pike, especially if the water has a good stain.

Later the N Channel drop-off can get rather weedy to troll without getting hung up constantly, though the pattern of the weeds is vsible on the surface, so staying clear and on the deep side might work. And you can drift and cast the edges or with weedless baits over the tops of the beds. But weed growth is so low this year that might not even be a factor for a while.

Some of the reedy cuts could hold a mix of sizes, with great numbers, too around now, and until the the water temperature gets to the low 60s. Look for cuts with some depth.

And like piktroller said, the water is still cool enough to find them on the W side now. I had a nice day catching solid upper 20s to low 30s inch pike in the Clinton River inflow about this time of year a few years ago.

Hope this helps and you put back the big ones, as I do. May the fish be with you.
Some of the science today says that big pike needing cold water might be more myth than fact. The bigger ones like to eat high caloric meals like cisco and whitefish if available, and to eat those kinds of fish they need to feed in cold water. But they still typically will come back to the warmer water to digest that meal, and later defecate before going on the hunt again. If they sun themselves in shallow water right before feeding, they will get their metabolism running faster and have more energy to chase the fish down in the cold water until they themselves cool off, a bit like Popeye eating his can of spinach. In LSC, there's no thermocline, so no deep water cold areas to support cold water baitfish. From mid July to mid September, the river is pumping in water in the low 70s, so there's nothing cooler to be found anywhere.

In late July last year, I did better on average getting at least one 30"+ pike per trip casting that area I mentioned on the west side of the lake than anywhere else in the lake or river. And that was even with never fishing those areas before. It was a lot easier to figure out. The areas around all the river channels have the problem that everything looks like it should hold fish. And everywhere can have a fish on it at one time or another, but finding the specific spots that seem to hold fish most of the time is the key to success, and it takes a lot of time to find them.
 

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Some of the science today says that big pike needing cold water might be more myth than fact .. If they sun themselves in shallow water right before feeding, they will get their metabolism running faster and have more energy to chase the fish down in the cold water until they themselves cool off, a bit like Popeye eating his can of spinach. In LSC, there's no thermocline, so no deep water cold areas to support cold water baitfish. From mid July to mid September, the river is pumping in water in the low 70s, so there's nothing cooler to be found anywhere.

In late July last year, I did better on average getting at least one 30"+ pike per trip casting that area I mentioned on the west side of the lake than anywhere else in the lake or river. And that was even with never fishing those areas before. It was a lot easier to figure out. The areas around all the river channels have the problem that everything looks like it should hold fish. And everywhere can have a fish on it at one time or another, but finding the specific spots that seem to hold fish most of the time is the key to success, and it takes a lot of time to find them.
Interesting, PT. I've caught all my big summer pike (but not muskies) in relatively cool water, but those are the locations I've emphasized, often for my own comfort on hot days, so it's not a fair comparison. I was finding temperatures in the upper 60s in some of the delta area all last summer, though I fished very little.

Great point about finding specific locations that are readable. I've used that principle to my advantage fishing the Detroit River in spring. But the pike seem to beat it from those spots by late May

My approach in an area where everything looks good is to focus on specific characteristics that look best. Such as certain weed growth, structural elements, current patterns, deeper water nearby, etc. But I've definitely much to learn.

I'm still looking for good summer pike casting spots, and of course don't mind catching big bass, walleyes, and of course muskies, so your tips may come in handy. One shallow spot among the reeds in the delta that I thought looked great for pike produced some nice walleyes!

Some locations out in the lake that were great from 2008 (when I got my boat) to 2017 have been dead the last few years, probably due to the higher water levels and colder spring weather, which kept the weed growth down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks everybody for all the help and PM's, I sure appreciate it! I'm in the middle of doing some house updates, so I've been a little preoccupied lately between that and work. I'm tearing the shingles off the roof this afternoon(I'm a glutton for punishment). Right now the plan is to make the first trip that direction on an afternoon next week. And for clarification, all big fish will be released, but I may keep a smaller one or two. Thanks again for all the input and I'll keep you posted on how it goes.
 

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Tuff day. Had two hits north of Strawberry Island, along the weeds on the channel, water temp was 66. No action, little weed growth around Grass Island. Cruised and went by ANG, but water was 74 degrees. Did pick up a handful of rock bass east of Hall Rd. Launch. Good fish/mayfly hatch.
 

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Monday they were on the shallow side of the drop-off. Got 4 good ones, a couple nice 'eyes, and a good sized white bass in about 6 to 8 FOW. Motly caught going downstream, kinda slow and erratic. Some hit when virtually drifting. Lost a bunch, which improved when I tightened the drags a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So my trip yesterday didn't go exactly as planned. I decided to take my dad and older friend with me because I haven't got to fish with them much the past couple of years due to my boys usually going with me. We launched at Deckers and I drove around and checked a few spots and located a few different weed beds that I wanted to try. We fished through a couple of different spots without any hits. At this point the natives started to get restless and the comments of "we haven't even caught a fish yet" started. Sometimes taking old guys fishing is a lot like taking kids fishing. My dad wanted to try to catch some walleye jigging, so we headed back out to the north channel and started drifting. My older buddy had never vertical jigged before. My dad caught three on that first drift. I managed to miss 2 fish and hook and loose 3 more while trying to help my buddy figure it out. Man that pissed me off, I don't often loose fish, let alone 3 in a row! Between a combination of my increased frustration at the situation and my buddy dragging his jig 50 yards behind the boat for a half a mile, it was time for a change. We motored back up river and broke out the bottom bouncers. I dropped one down and handed my buddy the rod, 10 minutes later he caught his first walleye. He than boated 5 more over the next hour. During that time, my dad and I caught a couple of fish each as well. We caught quite a few that were 14 3/4" and ended up taking 7 home, the biggest being 26". Not really the trip I had planned on doing, but it was still fun. Thanks everybody for all of the info, and even though I wasn't really able to use it, I still appreciate it.
 
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