Running up the Stairs
The upper Miss is finally shaking off winter! The 10 inches of snow we received on Wednesday is already gone from everywhere but the hills, entering the water column and sparking seasonal change.
Many factors come into play in the River as we run headlong toward May. Water temperature is just one factor. I was out for the first time in a week yesterday. Water temp on the main channel varied from 35-37…pretty much where it’s been for over a month.
BUT some dark bottom areas with little current were as warm as 49 degrees! Pike typically spawn in these areas when waters warm to 45, with walleyes typically getting down to business at about 45. A female walleye can only carry eggs around for so long.
On the Miss, pre-spawn walleye location is like coming up a flight of stairs, moving ever-shallower until its time to get into shallow water with rocky-rubble bottom and spawn at night.
Some fat females were already half way up the stairs in late March. When 2nd winter arrived, they pretty much sheltered in place. Many of these fish have already spawned…even though water temps have been below the ‘ideal’.
Other fat females are poised to rocket up those allegorical stairs. Under the almost-May sun it doesn’t take long for waters to warm–and “warm” is a relative thing. The average date of spawn on the Upper Miss is April 15-20. Although this year’s spawn has so far been fits and spurts, the soft parade of Mississippi River life is well underway!
Yesterday smallmouth bass started getting active, pretty much in the same habitats you would expect to find spawning walleyes.
Fish are cold blooded, naturally drawn to warmer water. It will be game on for pike and other species in those areas where I found 49 degree water yesterday. Time to break out the Rat-L-Traps!
Yesterday was the best day weather-wise we’ve seen all Spring. Blue skies, calm winds and a temperature pushing the average norm of 60 degrees. The only thing missing on the River was boats! Not many folks out there for a sunny Friday afternoon…with the exception of the bottom end of Desoto Bay where a dozen boats were clustered. Somebody must have caught a perch and hooted like john Gillespie.