This has been the toughest year in over a half-century of fishing the Upper Mississippi. The fish want to bite, but vision has been minimized by high, dirty water forcing predators to rely more on vibration along their lateral lines, hearing and scent to survive.
The strike zone is very small–sometimes just inches–when the pool level at Genoa is above 630.2. Water is coming through the trees providing 100,000,000 potential ambush points. But which one do you cast to, and will that cast be in an orientation for optimum attack?
In a world where the best visibility is only about a foot, finding areas with the best availability. This eliminates about 99% of fish producing water when the river is flowing at 632. Finding the 1% requires a lot of running…and visibility can change over just a couple hours, forcing the fish to move on or hunker down.
Fish are ALWAYS on the move in the Miss, driven by the need to eat and not be eaten. With flood conditions they are swimming in brand new territory, looking for a bucket sized area here they feel safe, but every smaller critter is in peril.
Sometimes they will take a chance and move out to the quiet spot on a sandbar seam or backeddy behind some rocks where there was once dry ground…like a big flat slab of concrete which is a boat launch at normal pool levels.
When they find such a spot fish tend to stack like a SWAT team making a building entry or speed skaters falling into line in a 1500 meter race.
One fish doesn’t make a pattern but TWO do when they come just a cast or two apart at the same angle and retrieve.
Most of the time casting your bait upstream and bringing it back right in their face produces the most strikes. Fish are designed to face into the current. Have you ever seen a plane come in for a landing BACKWARDS?
In low visibility situations, the strike window is considerably smaller. Casting the lure downstream where it can ‘struggle’ slowly keeps your offering in the much smaller strike zone longer.
When fish are hunkered near a bucket-sized open spot in heavy cover an ‘in your face’ technique like pitching can be effective. The Tokyo rig or shakey head can work very well..but you want to have a winch to move fish quickly out of cover.