Christopher Smith

Green Bay Smallmouth Bass

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With the BASS Elite Green Bay tournament over, its time to look at insights from the pros about Green Bay Smallmouth bass. Kevin Van Dam wasn’t as successful as his nephew, Jonathan Van Dam, but as the top pro of the last 5 years, he offers some excellent insights into Lake Michigan, Green Bay, Great Lakes and large lake fishing in general.

Green Bay Smallmouth Bass

I’ve been fishing for smallmouth bass for 30-plus years, yet I’m amazed how they can have different, little idiosyncrasies within the same region.

Lake Michigan and the Green Bay Challenge served yet another example. I’ve fished Traverse Bay on the eastern side of the lake for years, yet the smallmouth don’t react the same.

I was counting on the wind because that makes smallmouth bite my reaction baits better. I spent my practice looking for areas where the water was clean and I could fish spinnerbaits and get reaction bites for when the wind did blow hard.

Here’s another oddity. On the east side, smallmouth won’t bite anything when the water is slick. These Green Bay fish would bite a spinnerbait early and would still eat a drop-shot rig once the sun got high. You don’t see that many other places on the Great Lakes.

The combination of clearing water and no wind made it easy to see the bottom and fish swimming around it. The bass were coming off the spawn and were hanging around rock trenches and sandbar drops in water 10 feet or less. Although they were in a bit of a funk, they would still bite.

They were typical smallmouth in that they moved around and changed every day and you had to adjust with them and wait them out. You may not get a bite for three or four hours then suddenly catch four or five big ones. Read more here…

The tournament was a roller coaster ride with different leaders every day. Jonathan Van Dam had a phenomenal 4th day but it was a close contest the whole way.

VanDam fished a Strike King Dream Shot plastic worm in KVD Magic (green and silver with blue flake) on a drop shot rig above a 3/8-ounce sinker for the bulk of his catch. Though he struggled early, falling behind Palaniuk and others, he came on strong in the last couple of hours to claim the championship. Source

 Green Bay smallmouth bass are plentiful, especially if you look at Sturgeon Bay, where according to Van Dam there are many 5 lb smallmouths.

 Sturgeon Bay Smallmouth Bass

“Catching 100 bass a day is easy during a good bite,” according to professional guide, Dale Stroschein. “And several of those fish could weigh over 5 pounds, with a dozen or so over 4 pounds. The tip of the peninsula is lightly fished, and smallmouths are everywhere.”

Located straight north of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Sturgeon Bay smallies generally spawn in June, which is a good time to visit. Natural reproduction has been exceptionally high the past several years, according to biologists, who report numbers good. Divers report images of reefs carpeted with bronze. September is another good time to visit, when big walleyes and smallmouths chew crankbaits along rocky breaks in 10 to 15 feet of water. Source

Look how clear this Sturgeon Bay water is!

If you get the chance to fish in the Green Bay area, make a bee line to Sturgeon Bay and remember to always change tactics if you aren’t having success because the bass are there, you just need to figure out how to catch them. Green Bay smallmouth bass fishing is now better known to the rest of the bass fishing world after the exposure given to it by BASS.

Remember to always practice catch and release to preserve this wonderful fishery.

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