Lake St. Clair Bass, Cottonwood/Topwater Connection

| June 3, 2016
A cottonwood seed

A cottonwood seed

Once the cottonwood seeds start flying around Lake St. Clair it’s time to start thinking about topwater baits for smallmouth bass. No-one knows the connection but it has been one of those seasonal indicators for years.

Topwater baits can work during many times of the year but as with many of our bass fishing presentations, it can work at some times better than others. Day-to-day we look to low-light conditions in the morning and evening to for those times to pull out a topwater bait. Seasonally, on Lake St. Clair, the advent of the flight of the cottonwood seeds helps us to know that smallmouth bass will be more susceptible to a surface presentation.

Buzzbaits may be an exception to this rule. There is usually a point at which buzzbaits become effective that runs later than other slower presentations like Pop-R’s, Sammy’s and such.

The largemouth bass are always ahead of this curve. They have already been taken on buzzbaits and other slower presentations.

Knowing all of this doesn’t change the fact that the topwater bite in the Lake has been a little off over the last few years. There is no known reason for it, but experienced anglers have noticed a drop in the surface bite. The topwater bite in the St. Clair River has stayed consistent through this period.


  • Work your topwater bait over cover or structure
  • Work your topwater bait near cover or structure
  • To gauge the bite, throw in the earliest possible time in the morning
  • If the structure or cover is ideal, you can use topwater all day long
  • Don’t forget about using buzzbaits for smallmouth

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Category: Feature, Tips

About the Author ()

Wayne Carpenter is the owner of Xtreme Bass Tackle and Combat Fishing, and author of No Secrets on Lake St. Clair.

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