Dealing with the high water new norm

Dealing with the high water new norm

Just about a month ago the River eased past the ‘action’ stage into ‘minor flood’. Flood is flood. There is no such thing as being ” a little bit pregnant”.

The challenge comes when River levels rise to the point where water is coming through the trees, eliminating edges where predators can push prey for easier ambush.

With edges gone, predators have to adapt to survive. This includes the top of the food chain who chase prey from boats. On pool 9 the River has been dropping an inch a day for almost two weeks now. The drop is supposed to accelerate in another week. With no major rain events upstream, that should put us back down to the ‘action’ stage—where some access points like New Albin, Millstone, Bad Axe and Visagers become flooded.

Right now, water is still in the trees, but it isn’t coming downstream with a vengeance. Edges are developing, making fishing easier every day.

Given conditions, water clarity is good on the mainstem now. In some backwaters it is clear to the point where a fluorocarbon leader is needed to avoid spooking fish.

No creature wants to work harder than it has to to ensure survival. With cfm still cranking along at about 90, the mainstem isn’t the first place you want to look.

The flood plain beyond the backwaters spreads out horizontally with every inch of river rise. A foot of water is enough to survive in if escape cover is nearby—and with so many flooded weeds in the flood plain, cover is everywhere!

With infinitely more places to hide, it takes longer to find fish. When you find ’em you usually find a bunch…and the bunch is there because they’ve found easy prey.

Baits which work well in shallow or weedy water work well. This is why I caught a walleye on a buzzbait yesterday. One nice thing about being on the water essentially every day, is the daily hunt for active fish is shorter. They have tails. They move. But with water only dropping an inch a day, they don’t move that much.

It will likely be almost a month before we see a good main channel wingdam/closing dam bite. A few weeks after that the fish will start moving into fall patterns.

The good news is, casual anglers are staying away in droves. Many fish have forgotten what a hook looks like. Fog is burning off. Time to go educate a few of those scaly critters.

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