This is the worst year for the guide business that I can ever remember. Pool 9 had been running at the ‘Action’ stage since we came down out of flood stage, after the April Ice Age. By next weekend the pool level is supposed to creep back up to the point where it tickles ‘minor flood’.
Thing wingdam/closing dam bite for walleyes was just coming on when the River jumped a foot and got muddy a week ago. Now the easy-peezey crankbait fishing which makes ‘eye chasing so much fun in the summer will be spotty at best til probably month’s end. The fish can still be caught drifting crawlers(if it doesn’t get too muddy again) but a high percentage of fish are shorts.
In the meantime, water clarity is key to fish location for walleyes and other popular species–and the key of the key is finding water that’s kinda clear but not uber clear. This takes time on the water. You just know it when you see it.
The clarity situation changes daily. sometimes almost by the hour. It is necessary to run-n-gun until you find ’em. Fortunately with about 30K acres to fish in Pool 9 it is possible to make a milk run until finding water which is liable to produce.
Consistent success is still possible, but to a great extent success is driven by attitude. If you head out thinking that the fish are already wet and they don’t leave the River you’re on the right track.
Some little areas where you would run aground at normal pool are panfish magnets when the River is up–and preadators are right behind them.
Weeds can’t grow as fast as the River can rise, so weeds which were emergent become submergent. ideal conditions for running a chatterbait, spinnerbait or squarebill like the Rat-L-Trap Echo 1.75.
When you find places with just-right clarity and the weeds are in between emergent and submergent–and the air is muggy causing great surface tension it’s a fantastic opportunity to throw buzzbaits–one of the funnest ways to catch fish. Bubbles which occur from a buzzbait’s wake are a good indicator of surface tension. The longer the trail, the more effective that buzzbait will be.
These are precisely the conditions I found fish in on a trip last week. The guys caught over 30 pike and some quality bass at mid-day under a bright sky in 1-3 fow. Several buzzbaits died in combat with toothy critters, forcing an emergency run to buy a dozen more for the week ahead.
Folks who come to the River on a species-specific quest under ANY conditions are setting themselves up for disappointment.
Better to see what the River feels like giving up, then honing location and presentation to cash in on the bounty.
More often than not, if you want to chase bass, then walleyes are on a rip. Go looking for walleyes and the pike won’t leave you alone.
Catching a fish on the very first cast is never a good thing. Might as well bring bananas for a snack. The River is always listening. Mention serious intent for catching walleyes when launching the boat and more often than not, you’ll get euchered.
Nothing wrong with THINKING walleyes. Just don’t say it. The very best trips are those when we talk about catching Amberjack or Blue Marlin when we slide the Lund into the water .Better still is a species-specific quest for sheephead.
Speak loudly about the pugilistic ability and great taste (both true!) of sheepies while secretly hoping for smallmouth and you probably won’t see a sheepie all day.
Like the old saying goes “if life gives you lemons, buy a chainsaw and book a trip to the rainforest”