Lima area anglers have strong showing on Lake St. Clair


Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Findlay’s Mike Kokosa had his best tournament on the Bass fishing League (BFL) circuit and Spencerville’s Matt Elkins remained consistent as Lima area bass anglers did well on Lake St. Clair in the T-H Marine FLW BFL Michigan Division on July 13.

Kokosa landed a five-bass limit that weighed 23 pounds, 5 ounces and won the co-angler division of the event. That win boosted him to seventh in the points standings.

Elkins finished 10th in the tourney with a limit that weighed 19 pounds, 6 ounces. Coupled with a ninth place finish in the season opener, Elkins sits in third pace in the boater division.

The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five winners in each qualifying event, will be entered in the Oct. 17-19 BFL Regional Championship on Kentucky and Barkley lakes in Buchanan, Tennessee, presented by Evinrude.

Findlay’s Wilson Burton is 21st in the boater standings and was 43rd in the July 13 tourney. Lima’s Zach Maisch is 41st after finishing 26th in the July 13 tourney. Maisch had a five-bass limit that weighed 16 pounds, 9 ounces while Burton had a limit that weighed 13 pounds, 9 ounces.

Brian Cox of Convoy and Bart Say of Van Wert are still alive for the top 45 with Cox in 64th place and Say in 67th. Cox caught 3 bass that weighed 9 pounds, 9 ounces while Say caught 2 bass that weighed 7 pounds.

On the co-angler side, Wapakoneta’s Alex Newsman is 38th in the points standings. He was 69th in the tourney with 2 bass that weighed 5 pounds, 10 ounces.

The next Michigan Division tourney will be held on Lake St. Clair on Aug. 3.

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Mid-summer often can leave us feeling in a laidback frame of mind, especially when it comes to fishing. You may not want to spend a 2-3 hours casting lures for bass or whatever species you usually seek.

An enjoyable way to fish this time of year (unless it’s ungodly hot) is drift fishing with live bait. Often I would pack a few nightcrawler harnesses, some split shot and a couple of ultralight or light action rods spooled with 4 or 6-pound test line and a few dozen nightcrawlers. A whole crawler is not too much to attract a variety of species, including bluegills, crappies, perch, bass or walleye and saugeye. You may want to try part of a crawler on a small hook or something like a red wiggler, which has great action. Other baits could be a leech or small plastic worms such as Kelly’s Reveillie Junior (peach is my favorite color).

A rowboat, kayak, canoe or small craft for drifting is all you need with these basic baits. Position your boat or craft so the prevailing breeze will carry it along a drop-off or across any area with water depths of at least 12 to 20 feet. Let out enough line, or adjust the amount of weight on the line, so your bait will stay about 12 to 20-foot-deep no matter how deep the water is.

Some people set their rod down and watch the tip for a bite. I like using one rod that way and hold another so I can feel the bite. With such light line be firm while hooking a fish, but not too hard.

Fish such as bass, walleye, yellow perch, crappie and larger bluegill will move into deeper water and suspend at their preferred cooler temperature during the hot summer months. Slowly fishing natural baits at these deeper depths will often get you more than you realized you can catch during this time of year.

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This is the time for my annual suggestion to take up fly fishing. It is among the most fun styles of fishing. If you love ultralight fishing, you likely would have the same passion for fly fishing, since it provides a great fight on long, light rods.

Don’t let the looks of casting fool you. It is not as difficult as it seems. It takes a bit of work, but as I often tell people, I know of no one who picked up a bicycle and rode off easily on their first few tries.

And don’t think the method is used primarily in trout fishing. Fly rodders fish for all kinds of species, especially those who live in states and areas that offer little or no trout fishing.

The largest smallmouth bass I’ve caught came while fly fishing. One was taken in a riffle area of the Maumee River on a streamer while the other annihilated a hair bug in a lake. They both topped out at 3 1/2 pounds and gave me much more of a fight than any trout I’ve caught. The tail dances of a smallie are etched in your memories for a lifetime.

I’ve caught all kinds of panfish, both smallmouth and largemouth and a few species many don’t normally catch on a fly rod. The most unusual was a 15-pound grass carp in a farm pond although a hefty and ugly dog fish was quite a surprise, too. Catfish take a fly more often than you would expect and catfish 8 pounds and better can put a real U in a fly rod.

Ohio Division of Wildlife personnel along with volunteers will teach the art of the sport at the Castalia State Fish Hatchery in beginning fly fishing clinics. There are 80 slots open and participants will have an opportunity to practice their skills on a half-mile section of Cold Creek at the the hatchery. There are abundant rainbow trout found in Cold Creek. Anglers may also encounter an occasional brown trout and brook trout.

Registration for the classes has begun for the sessions that will be held on Fridays (Aug. 30, Sept. 6, 13 and 20). Sessions go from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m.

Participants can register at https://apps.ohiodnr.gov/wildlife/educationregistration/. Each person who registers may bring one guest to participate in the clinic. Anglers are encouraged to bring someone new to fishing, or someone who used to fish but has since lapsed.

Anglers may only participate once in the beginning fly fishing classes as either a permit holder or guest. All anglers age 16 and older are required to have a valid Ohio fishing license.

The Castalia State Fish Hatchery is located in Erie County off Ohio 269, near Castalia.

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Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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