The walleye/sauger/perch bite has been pretty good for the past 10 days through the ice below lock & dam 8 at Genoa. We haven’t seen this kind of action since 2014–at least for an extended period. There is +/- of semi-safe ice below the fishing float. Access is safest from ABOVE the same, parking at the old tobacco shack. There is a trail through the snow to reach the west side of the River. A long walk–but try to shorten the angler by breaking your own trail and it quickly becomes work through the deep snow.
There are a lot of humps, bumps and flats below the dam, with bottom structure determined primarily by what happens to the current as it negotiates the first 3 wingdams. Perch are generally on the flats in about 12-17 fow, with walleyes/saugers holding about 21-23 fow. Most productive baits have been 1/4 oz. Buckshot Rattle spoons and #3 blue/chrome or firetiger puppet minnows with a little meat.
Use extreme caution if you try to fish this bite, which will almost certainly end suddenly within the next 10 days. it’s all about the snowmelt and how fast it comes, exacerbated if the next round of precipitation comes down as rain instead of snow.
Meanwhile, the vanguard of the perch migration is starting to show up at the usual early March spots. Caught nothing but 8-9 inch males over the weekend ahead of the latest arctic blast that showed up on Sunday. I plan on getting back after them tomorrow. My favorite bait is the Custom Jigs & Spins Li’l Cecil in 3 specific color patterns, with a 1/16 ounce Northland buckshot rattle spoon/dropper chain w/ a couple of red spikes a close 2nd. So far the bite has been slow. Small minnows on tip-downs might increase your bag by day’s end–But carrying/towing a minnow bucket and all the gear is a chore through that deep and miserable snow.
Fishing action for the next 4 months–at least–will be driven by how fast the snow goes away. For the past 2 years, snowmelt came quickly. With the Miss draining 2/3 of the USA, River levels were high until August last year. The big concern is, we have even more snow this year. More snow than we’ve seen in the tri-state area since maybe ’79. There has been profound siltation in backwaters from pool 11 south over the past 40 years, in the Corps of Engineers never ending quest to turn the Miss into a ship canal. Water volume is essentially the same as decades ago. But with siltation in the backwaters reaching the point where it is now, flooding is the new normal.
For the past couple of years, ambient temps by month’s end have been in the mid 50’s. Should that happen again this year, fishing will literally be a wash well into summer. BUT forecast through mid-March has ambient temps 7-10 degrees cooler for daily highs. If this prediction comes true and continues until April, snowmelt should be slower and we’ll be able to fish longer between now and the historic walleye peak run time of April 15-22 before the River level becomes outrageous.
My first guide trips on the books this year are the last week in March. Barring an obscene amount of rain in the meantime, fishing should be pretty good. I’m guessing it will be possible to launch at the power plant and head upstream in 7-10 days. You won’t see my Lund out there for at least 2 weeks. dodging ice floes is tolerable. Taking out a pricey transducer–or worse–removes a great deal of the incentive for catching those walleyes/sauger/perch.
Being in the vanguard is sweet–on the River. Being first in line at the prop shop, not so much.