Seasonal change

Seasonal change

Last weekend the skies were overcast with heavy, dark clouds for a solid three days. By Monday morning water temp had dropped from 78 to 76. by Tuesday it tumbled four more degrees to 72–not just on the River mainstem, in quiet backwaters, over 5 fow too…on a sunny afternoon.

I’ve kept a fishing diary for over 40 years. For the past 20 years many entries have been on Miss. River pool 9 where I work as a guide when not ‘fun fishin’. Pool levels on Aug. 1 haven’t been this low since 2006. In that year water temp dropped to 72 on Aug. 24.

Profound siltation since ’06 on the pool has changed the paradigm of fish behavior in profound ways. I’m no scientist. Just an old River Rat. It is what it is. Let’s go fishin’.

When water temp drops to 72 many aquatic weeds start to die off. The most obnoxious of these is eel grass, which comes down the River in bales til almost freeze up, limiting lure presentation and even location options to show fish the hook.

We’ve had to factor in eelgrass for 3 weeks on pool 9 for 3 weeks already. Almost a month earlier than the general norm. Is this due to siltation? Dunno.

For the past several years when water temp drops to 72 there has been a profound panfish bite in remaining green weeds in the backwaters which continues into early October. As of yesterday the pannies hadn’t showed up yet. Maybe because of low water levels. Dunno. It is what it is.

I’ve had trouble finding active jumbo perch lately. Only got into ’em a couple times. Literally a case of here today, gone tomorrow, with timing of the active bite window not really a factor.

Bluegills have been aggressive on mainstem rocks. This happens every August at low summer pool levels. They will likely slide away in about 2 weeks and the “buck” bass will move in. Happens every fall.

Walleyes have been almost as elusive as perch for the past week or so–even with willowcats. They are somewhat active early & late. But with heavy fog in the morning about 70% of the time prime time is from about 6-8 p.m–and getting shorter as daylight is too.

This has been the best summer for SMB in YEARS! Once again, rocks are a key this time of year. The frog bite for LMB has been okay, with largies also hitting Beavers in running sloughs next to current edges. Personally, I’m not keen on chasing these green carp…unless that’s what a client wants to do.

Channel catfish are also–and pretty much always–easy above driftpiles & snags in 6-12 fow over a hard sand bottom with a moderate current. This pattern should continue until water temps drop to about 66 degrees.

Bigger pike have been cruising mainstem rocks in deeper water–probably cuz there is so much food there.

The Upper Miss is my favorite water for a number of reasons. 130 species of fish. Unlimited variables in habitat & impact from weather conditions. Momentary changes in fish activity due to passing towboats. River stage. Water clarity.

It takes me an hour every single day to figure out what the River is trying to tell me. It is a democracy. the fish get a vote, too. Sometimes they vote “no”, if you’re not where they live with what they’ll eat when the polls are open. Case in point, walleyes right now. Evening bite. Cients usually wanna fish during banker’s hours.

It is Wednesday. Aug. 17,8:40 a.m. Still heavy fog in the valley. Lord willin’ I’ll be on the River by a little after 9. fun fishin’ today. Think I’ll go catch some smalljaws on East side, mainstem rocks. Start with a Pop-R if the fish tell me they’re eating on the surface. Probably switch to a Z-Man TRD tube with a snort of Liquid Willowcat if the fish say otherwise.

No such thing as a sure thing. But for the past month SMB have been pretty close. Will probably stop @ a dozen–or so–depends on what the fish tell me. Probably home by noon, regardless. 60+ yrs. as a fishin’ junkie, a couple hours to get my daily fix. My gutter is a hammock a couple miles from the river bank. Should be a perfect afternoon for a little snooze.

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