Deciphering Fish in the ‘new normal’

Deciphering Fish in the ‘new normal’

After 6 weeks of ‘low summer pool’ water which began on august 2, pool 9 has returned to ‘new normal’ levels–a couple of feet above ‘action stage’.

Action stage is when access becomes difficult at most boat ramps on the pool–about five feet below ‘minor flood’ stage when water is coming through the trees taking away many fishin’ spots which load from downstream. Translation: tough fishing.

For the past week or so the River has been running at about 627. There is still definition on most of the islands and backwaters, providing edges where predators can push prey and we can tempt ’em with a hook.

Frequent rains of seasonal change muddy some of these areas for a day or two–but it is still possible to find water with 2′ visibility–a major key to hooking up.

A couple days after a rain areas near any trib entry point provide a likely place for fish to locate–especially away from current that is carrying sandgrass downstream.

If you know fish are in the area, but sandgrass is a problem, switch to a low profile, single hook presentation like a jig and add a small split shot or barrel swivel a couple feet up the line to intercept weeds. Catching fish means getting your hook down through the floating stuff where it can remain a viable presentation for most of your cast. Picking up weeds on the hook at the end of the cast may be inevitable, but you’re still in the game.

The only option is to move across the River, out of the current, essentially to a point where you can throw a bait without feeling compelled to curse on every cast.

Stable river levels have allowed the main channel and many backwaters to clear. Water temps are in the mid-60s. Action for all species is good, once you find a place where fish are holding and get down through the weeds.

Yesterday I had a half-day trip with a couple Illinois anglers who were staying on an S & S houseboat rental–an annual family tradition for decades. The patriarch announced fishin’ was a waste of time, citing just a half-dozen bluegills in three days.

It was my first day on Pool 9 in over a week. Just returned from fishing bull reds and offshore in Venice, La. Being away from the River this long and predictions of a ‘seasoned veteran’ will put a knot in any guide’s gut…but when the River is stable with mid-60s temps, you can usually find a few.

The old guys remaining on the houseboat snorted when advised to grease up the skillet. 10 minutes later my guys texted them pix of a 34″ pike which garwoofled a chatterbait. A few minutes after that, pix of a double on LMB, then pix of WB, then 3 lbs. of SMB the hard way: 2 fish fighting over the same oxbow @Rat-L-Trap!

They ended up catching about 35 good fish. Just one legal ‘eye. But plenty for a couple good frys with pike & WB.

Tomorrow is another day, with meaty urologists calling for more rain. they are overpaid for being wrong so often. Fishing for LMB & SMB will remain good through mid-Oct…or until water temps drop to about 55. Then walleyes, pike, crappies and perch will be primary targets for awhile.

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