River levels dropped almost a foot overnite last Friday, goading fish to move accordingly. With significant changes in River level it takes fish 24-36 hours before they start feeding aggressively again.
The bite was improving again by Sunday morning, on a mission of discovery with Brian and his wife Amy. Like most days it took about an hour to figure out both new fish locations and their activity level. Fishing a River isn’t about where fish were last time–it’s about anticipating where they’re headed.
When the River is rising, this means probing backwaters. When falling it means targeting structures just off the main channel. Either way there are migration stops which fish make which are great checkpoints every time you get on the water. I’ve got several such spots just a short run from any boat ramp which are the first stop on any trip. These checkpoints enable me to check client’s skill levels and determine a good starting point on where we are most likely to find what they are looking for.
On Sunday’s trip, the primary choice was walleyes. The first place we stopped was holding fish a couple days prior, but after 10 minutes of casting cranks with only a couple of SMB , I had a fair hunch where marble eyes were liable to be. A cold front was blowing through when we got on the River. Cold fronts don’t affect fish on rivers as much as they do in lakes–but they still have an impact during late summer/early fall…and they impact walleyes much more than bass or pike.
We picked up one healthy fish, lost another and Brian tied into a hefty 19+ SMB by mid-morning. Sky turned bright, wind subsided and walleyes decided to take a break–so we went crappie fishing. Found crappies suspended down about 4′ over water at least 10′ relating to wood and eating my Perchantor jig/fly with a hint of crawler. Caught several respectable fish, lost a couple of real nice ones(have you ever lost a LITTLE fish?) and decided to go for pike, which were extremely active last week before the River dropped–but it DID drop, moving the fish out of the weedy habitat which they have been prowling in out to deeper water. WE caught a couple of mid-20s fish on Rat-L-Trap and Bombers before determining wingdams/closing dams would provide the most action–primarily for very willing bass.
As of Monday morning, pool 9 is low to the point of hazardous navigation away from the channel and profoundly clear due to lack of rain. Visbility is at least 2′ on the main channel now. Water temp had also warmed from 63 last week to 71 yesterday, influencing fish activity in a slightly negative way. With cool overnite temps and mid-day highs predicted in the 70s this week, it won’t take long for temps to drop back to the low 60s, pushing fish to feed with a little more urgency.
The flathead bite is starting to pick up in deeper main channel holes, crappies are getting active suspended in the wood, bass action will be off the charts soon, perch and walleyes will bite when you find ’em and they feel like it. Same scenario with pike, always ready to eat once you find them…and you find them where you find abundant baitfish.