Lake St. Clair is officially showing off.
Weights typically drop on the second day, but day two of the FLW Tour on St. Clair presented by Mercury was actually better than day one. A total of 50 20-pound bags crossed the weigh-in stage today (36 pro, 14 co-angler), with Dylan Hays cracking the derby’s biggest bag at 26 pounds, 7 ounces.
Chad Grigsby was able to catch the day’s second-largest bag at 24-4 to retain his lead, but with how the lake is fishing, he may need to catch more than that to hold off the rest of the field.
2. Dylan Hays – Sheridan, Ark. – 49-13
After coming off the weigh-in stage, Hays turned to his co-angler and simply said, “What just happened in our boat today?”
What happened was probably the best day of smallmouth fishing he may ever have in his life, and amazingly, he was done fishing by 10:30 a.m. with a staggering 26 pounds, 7 ounces in his livewell.
“We don’t fish for smallmouth in Arkansas,” Hays says. “So yesterday was my best day of smallie fishing ever, with my biggest, too. Well, now today is the best for both. I doubt I’ll ever top it.”
Anchoring his giant bag was a 6-8 kicker, and if you can believe it, he lost one even bigger.
Also unbelievable is that he’s sharing his spot with Brad Knight, who is sitting in sixth.
“We’ve really been working together, trying to fish our own sections of it without burning up the area,” says Hays of the stretch on the southern Canadian side. “It’s a half-mile area, but I don’t think either of us even fished 200 yards of it today before we both left. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of what that place can produce.”
As for techniques, Hays says there’s no special bait.
“The fish are big, aggressive and hungry,” he says. “They’ll eat anything you throw out there.”
3. Darrel Robertson – Jay, Okla. – 46-9
While everyone is catching fish, no one may be catching more than Robertson. Of course, they’re not all the right species.
Watching him and his co-angler today, it seemed every cast with a drop-shot produced a perch or an eater-sized walleye, with some pike thrown in. Yet while weeding through all those other fish, every so often he’d set the hook into a smallmouth, and it always seemed to be a big one.
“There are just all kinds of fish in that area,” says Robertson of his 300-yard stretch around the Belle River Hump area on the Canadian side. “They’re all over my screen, especially along one stretch.”
Like Grigsby and Hays, Robertson was done fishing by 10 a.m., which only makes him even more excited for the weekend.
“I think if the conditions stay right, I can catch 25 pounds a day and make a run at winning this.”
4. Scott Dobson – Clarkston, Mich. – 46-5
Dobson figured 23 pounds a day would put him in contention for the win, but after two days he’s thinking he may need a little more than that. He’ll also need some better execution.
“I could’ve done a little better today,” Dobson says. “I lost four fish I should’ve caught and had several more get off, including some 5-pounders. That’s going to happen with how I’m fishing, though.”
While most of the top 10 is fishing the main lake, Dobson is concentrating up the St. Clair River. There, he’s employing a shallow pattern in anywhere from 3 to 12 feet.
“I do the same thing pretty much everywhere,” Dobson says. “I throw a tube, a swimbait and then a jerkbait. With that jerkbait, you’re going to lose fish with those small trebles.”
While he only hit three spots on day one, he ran through 11 today. If that was concerning enough, he also never culled up once after 11:30 a.m.
“I’m still in good shape for the weekend, but Grigsby is going to need to slip up a little,” he says.
5. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 46-4
Most anglers are fishing small stretches or even areas of the lake. Thrift is fishing the entire lake.
“I’m just running a big circle around the entire lake,” says Thrift. “With the conditions being so calm I’ve been able to run. Hopefully, they stay that way, but if they don’t I still have a few key areas to camp in.”
Thrift says the flat-calm conditions today allowed him to eliminate a lot of areas today, leaving him with five key ones. There’s no real similarity to any of them, though, as he has ones in 3 feet of water and some in 18.
The one similarity he has found is that he has to fish slow to get bit. That resulted in him having 20 pounds by 9:30 a.m. today, but he didn’t cull up to his 23-2 until very late in the day.