Nixon doubles up in Detroit
WOODHAVEN, Mich. – With his spot in bass fishing history already secure, it would be easy for Larry Nixon to coast for a few years before riding off into retirement. But Nixon simply isn’t wired that way; the competitive fire still burns. This week at the Walmart FLW Tour Open on Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, Nixon clinched his fourth FLW Tour win and his second on Lake St. Clair – a week before his 62nd birthday no less.After a poor practice, Nixon was apprehensive about his chances to even cash a check. He’d go hours without a bite, but every time he’d return to one particular area, he’d get bit and then immediately leave. What Nixon didn’t know was that this 1/4-mile area of St. Clair, located on the south end near the Belle River, was absolutely loaded with giant smallmouths.Thanks to a stable stretch of weather, these bronzebacks were on the feed in preparation for fall. The area itself was essentially a flat in 15-feet of water with a hard bottom and scattered rock and grass. Also cruising the flat was a considerable amount of baitfish – namely emerald shiners. Nixon fittingly named this spot “awesome” on his GPS after day two.“There was one big school of fish out there and it just happened that four of us (McDonald, Shuffield and Fukae were the others) found it,” Nixon said. “But we all worked together and never got in each other’s way. And you wouldn’t believe how many smallmouths we caught from it.”To mimic the baitfish, Nixon drop-shotted with a variety of baits. He started with a Berkley PowerBait Jerk Shad, but late in the week ran out and borrowed some Z-Man Scented Jerk ShadZ from fellow Chevy pro Luke Clausen. He would simply cast his 1/4-ounce rig to the fish as opposed to dropping it straight down – a technique he referred to as “drag-shotting.”In addition, he would mix in a swimbait (Havoc Sick Fish) with a 1/2-ounce head. While most of his fish came on the drop-shot, the swimbait accounted for several of the week’s kickers.
“When that wind blows on St. Clair they don’t chase nothing,” Nixon explained. “But if it gets flat calm and sunny, they will chomp that swimbait. Overall I had to use a lot of baits. It didn’t work the same every day. I’d get there and couldn’t get a bite, so I’d grab another rod and start catching them.”
As good as his primary area was, he left around 10:30 a.m. to sample another spot. Twenty minutes later he caught a 5 1/2-pounder that brought his limit past 20 pounds. All of his final-day weight (officially 20-4) came on the drop-shot in Sunday’s blustery weather. After that, he decided it would be wise to ease his way back in the heavy chop.
“That rough water today by the Chevy building coming down the Detroit River? I’m glad I left an hour and a half early, because it took every single bit of it to get through the ‘Miracle Mile.’ You know why they call it that? It’s a miracle if you get through it in a bass boat.”
Nixon’s four-day cumulative weight was 84 pounds, 11 ounces. All 20 of his bass were smallmouths that came exclusively from Lake St. Clair. This was Nixon’s 18th tour-level win, his first since 2007, in 36 years of professional bass fishing. He earned $100,000.
“I’m in total shock. We found those fish on the first day of practice, and I really didn’t know how many were there. And after that I just kept struggling and struggling and looking for something else. I didn’t dream there was enough fish there to win the tournament.
“A lot of my body parts are worn out, I’ll tell you that right now. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. But fishing is my fountain of youth. They say for every day you go fishing you get another day to live. If that’s true, I have a long, long time yet. This one is pretty special, and that lake (St. Clair) has been awful good to me.”