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updated: 11/20/2013 11:05 PM

The secret's out — sort of — with Lake Michigan smallmouth

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No one dares talking about the big smallmouth that wait around daily for a fresh piece of Chicago-style meat (chub) on the big lake's shore.

Sure, the old-timers know, and even some of the newer, egomaniacal expert angling wannabees will share a secret or two about locations. Some of the younger element take pride in telling others they have the "keys to the smallie kingdom."

And if I told you jumbo smallmouth are there along the lakefront in droves, responding with violent strikes when an angler's guard is relaxed for a microsecond, you'd probably scoff and move on to the column describing the new Cubs manager and the wonderful dreams, false promises, and follies yet to come.

There are cliques of fishermen who hold the secrets to their bosoms, and God help us if one of us infidels stumbles upon sections of the forbidden territories.

Like the muskie columns I have written pertaining to Lake Catherine and Channel Lake, those tomes have evoked threats and scads of nasties from various readers. The same pattern emerges when I mention Lake Michigan smallmouth bass.

There are 5- and 6-pound fish, and maybe some heavier, along the shoreline of our immediate territory. Yet because of slovenly behavior of some of the big lake anglers, the fishery itself is in constant danger of being crippled.

Even on my Sunday morning outdoors radio talk show (6-7 a.m. at 1240-AM) I am constantly getting emails from listeners and some readers as well, asking me where they can find smallmouth bass "everyone" talks about.

I would be a very wealthy person if I got a buck for every inquiry I receive.

To tell you the truth, there are a number of super-large guys who act like enforcers regarding this issue. So I must be careful.

Smallmouth bass fishing for many in this area is nothing more than a novelty, a lark, if you will. For most, Lake Michigan angling means yellow perch, coho salmon and its jumbo cousin, the mighty Chinook.

But if you should stumble upon some good smallmouth fishing, state regs require that you release them so they may grow to even larger sizes to fight another day.

Again, if you happen to locate a school of smallmouth, say near the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, you may, and I am explicit by saying may, first encounter a gunboat or inflatable, high-speed rubber watercraft loaded with big-time weaponry and a sailor equipped with a government-issue loudspeaker demanding you immediately leave the area. I advise that you hit the throttle and skedaddle. It's a Homeland Security thing.

And during your stumbling about, please keep in mind Lake Michigan smallmouth bass have a royal-like lineage, based on ancient writings found in a pocket of clay, unearthed by workers digging out the never-ending big tunnel project in the city and burbs.

And because of fragments in those parchments, you do not need formal wear while on the water -- just a fishing license.

•Contact Mike Jackson at

Catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

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