Lake St Clair, Fall Turnover or Changeover?

| September 14, 2018


Jeff Feraiuolo with a smallmouth from the St. Clair River channel system

Saying goodbye to summer pattern fishing is a way of life in the northern part of the U.S. Every year the cutoff is different. There are years where summer runs right to the end of September, but most of the time the change comes right around September 15th. This year (2018) we only had five days of summer in September before the weather broke in favor of the new season.

Unlike many inland bodies of water that develop a thermocline during the summer months, Lake St. Clair doesn’t have that. As a rule-of-thumb, water exchanges in the Lake at a rate of every seven days. Couple that with the general shallowness of the Lake and there is no chance for an oxygen depleted layer to develop.


When the St. Clair River temperature and the Lake St. Clair water temperature is the same. We are getting close.

Lake (Canadian Weather Buoy) – Highest daily temp on Sept 14

09 14 12:00 am NNE 3.9 5.8 0.3 2 30.14 +0.01 69.3 68.0

St. Clair River – Algonac, MI – Station ID: 9014070

Water Temp 67.5°F as of 09/14/2018 07:36 LST/LDT

At this point, the bass aren’t sure if it’s summer or fall. You’ll know for sure that this period is in play when you hit all of your summer spots and come up empty. Blessed is the angler who has a pattern during this time.

It’s not that there aren’t bass to be caught, it’s just near impossible to put together a pattern that will hold up. The bite at the ten top spots producing for you all summer long may soften, and just one of those spots may hold a weak population of bass.

Another indicator that we are about to enter the “changeover” is that the leaves on the trees start to change color.

This period is similar, yet for me, more difficult than the post-spawn period. In the post-spawn at least one can be relegated to catching numbers of pattern specific, smaller bass.


If there is anything I go to during this period it’s the St. Clair River, or current related Lake spots. There is enough movement in the smallmouth population to put many transition spots in play.

On a recent trip the Xtreme Bass Tackle 4″ Sweet Green™ tube caught every smallmouth in the 4lb class that day. Another popular color is Formula G3™ and a natural forage choice would be Great Lakes Perch™.

These Xtreme Bass Tackle tube colors are designed for Lake St. Clair smallmouth fishing

No matter the weather, the “changeover” usually lasts two weeks. You’ll know the fall patterns have arrived when you can go out to an area in the Lake and begin to put together multiple bass with a healthy average size in a single spot.

Find Xtreme Bass Tackle baits locally at:

Sportsmen’s Direct (Metro Parkway and Jefferson), Nautical Mile Pit Stop (9 Mile and Jefferson) and Angler’s Point Marina (End of M59, at Selfridge Boat Launch)

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Category: Bass Fishing Articles, Feature

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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