Luke Clausen’s Summertime Hot Spots: Five More Great Fishing Destinations

A few years back, I wrote an article about my five favorite summertime bass fishing locations. Since then, I’ve found many more great summertime vacation spots for bass fisherman. Here are five more to add to the list:

1. Lake St. Clair, Michigan – Located just a few miles from dowtown Detroit, Lake St. Clair is a regular on “top fishing spots” lists put out by many media services. There is a reason for it—big smallmouth bass. St. Clair is a shallow fishery with an average depth of 11 feet. There are also plenty of ways to catch fish on St. Clair in the summer. My favorite is with a top water bait like a Megabass Giant Dog-X or Pop Max. Either bait worked on a medium to medium-heavy rod and TufLine braid are great for morning and early evening fishing. If the fish aren’t near the surface, or on those calm, hot, high sky days, I like the Z-Man fishing Scented Leechz on a drop shot rig. From St. Clair you also have access to Lake Erie and Lake Huron, though making the trip to Lake Erie can be a rough ride. But if you are safe, it can also be well worth it.

2. Lake Oneida, New York – Just north of Syracuse is Lake Oneida; an incredible fishery for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. I’ll start by chasing the birds. By looking for birds feeding on the surface, I can locate the schools of smallmouth feeding below the boat. I target these fish with a Megabass Vision 110 or Dog-X Quick Walker. For the Vision 110, I will use a 10- to 12-pound Gamma fluorocarbon line. The Dog-X quick walker works well with the new Tufline Tournament 8 braided line. To target largemouth, I use a Z-Man Fishing Streakz stick bait near weed lines and around docks. I rig it up with light 8-pound test Gamma fluorocarbon and let the bait do most of the work.

3. Lake Coeur D’Alene, Idaho – Located in Idaho just a short drive from my hometown of Spokane, Washington, lake Coeur D’Alene is where I spend a lot of time when I’m home from the tour. Lake Coeur D’Alene is a great place to find and target trophy largemouths with the use of swimbaits. The Megabass Spark Shad and I Slide 185 are great options for targeting the big largemouth bass. I rig them up with 12- to 20-pound Gamma fluorocarbon, and I use the new eight-foot Megabass Orochi XX Leviathan swimbait rod. The area around Lake Coeur D’Alene is beautiful, which makes it a great place to take the family or a group of friends for a fishing vacation.

4. Columbia River, Washington –  This west coast capital of smallmouth bass fishing is just a short drive from Portland, Oregon. The Columbia River is well known for its great giant sturgeon fishing, as well as world-class salmon and steelhead. However, the smallmouth action can be equally as incredible. On the Columbia, I like to fish faster moving baits, like crankbaits and rip baits. A few of my favorite crankbaits on the Columbia are the Megabass Flap Slap and the Megabass Cyclone MD-X. I rig those up on 12-pound test Gamma fluorocarbon on a Megabass Orochi XX Flat Side Special rod.

5. Lake Erie, Buffalo, New York – The top smallmouth fishing spot around has to be the east side of Lake Erie, near Buffalo. It’s not uncommon for anglers to catch a dozen smallmouth over five pounds in a single day. I look to two baits to target Lake Erie smallies—the Megabass Vision 110 and the Z-Man Fishing Finesse Shadz. I work the Vision 110s around ambush points and over shallow rock islands. The Finesse Shadz works well for deeper fish on a drop shot rig.

If you get the chance to visit any of these five great summertime fisheries, take it. Any day on one of these bodies of water can be the best day of fishing you’ve ever had. Enjoy your time on the water, be safe, and remember to practice catch and release.

Image courtesy Luke Clausen/ Bass Quest Magazine