Fishing a flowing sea of grass

Fishing a flowing sea of grass

Eelgrass coming down the River is an autumn fact of life on the Upper Mississippi. A week ago the grass was just a nuisance. The water has dropped a foot since then. The grass is now a plague.

River level and water clarity are both near-perfect for holding walleyes and smallmouth on wingdams and other rocky main channel structures.

Crankbaits like the Rapala DT series and Bomber 6A are the most effective weapons. But these crankbaits have six weed-grabbing hooks.

Active walleyes are holding in 7-1 f.o.w. right now. If you manage to get the lure down through weeds to bump the rocks, there is a good chance of hooking up.

But any cast which doesn’t quickly find a fish will most certainly find weeds on the way back to the boat.

One alternative is fishing a salt-n-pepper Kalin grub on a 1/4 oz. jighhead on a 10″ dropper line beneath a barrel swivel which will intercept at least some of the weeds. The Kalin grub or Sizmic Shad rigged weedless will intercept fewer weeds, but it is also less appealing to fewer fish right now.

Finding fish is the most important first step in catching them. It doesn’t make much sense to leave fish to go find fish–UNLESS you can’t get a hook in front of the fish!

Sadly eelgrass tends to head downstream along the same seams which hold active fish. Sometimes there is more eelgrass coming down one side of the channel than the other. Sometimes the eelgrass will subside for awhile making fishing a little easier.

Frog around long enough and eventually you’ll stumble into an area holding active fish where walleyes are eager to eat a crankbait. Unfortuantely, there are days when you run out of time before running out of weeds.

One alternative is seeking other species. Crappies and gills are hungry right now all over the River. Perch are too when you find them. But this is often a case of here today, gone or not interested an hour later.

Weeds will likely be a factor until almost ice up. They will be less of a factor if we get some substantial autumn rain. But a high and dirty River present an entirely different set of challenges.

My best advice for a successful day on the Mississippi is ‘listen to the River’, then go with the flow instead of trying to fight it.

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