The Reality of the River

The Reality of the River

If you don’t think God has a sense of humor, just tell him what your plans are. Experience gleaned from a half-century working on the Immortal River teaches there will be at least a full month every year when going fishing with legitimate expectations for favorable results is a fool’s mission.

The second half of march and first half of April were generally tough–but fishable. The second half of April moved right into pretty much waste of time status–perpetual cold fronts and muddy waters.

Every morning the first cup of coffee is savored while perusing and the USACE River level and forecast. With Sunday morning comin’ down, it LOOKS like the River will stabilize at the level where USACE delineates between moderate and major flood. This observation is akin to being ” a little bit pregnant”.

As of yesterday essentially every boat ramp is inaccessible with a “dry foot” policy. Parking lots have several feet of water covering them. Those with a railroad trestle or road bridge require a Limbo maneuver to negotiate.

IF the River level stabilizes along the imaginary line between moderate and major flood by this time next week, fishin’ will be worthwhile by the 1st week in May. Accessibility will be a major issue. But a River Rat will find a way.

With water still flowing through the trees the only barriers to stop fish may be shoreline along railroad tracks or areas which are normally dry & solid ground.

Sometimes getting there requires snaking through flooded timber between trunks and under limbs to arrive at calmer waters. Visibillity in these places is generally greater than 18 inches. With dark bottom the water column here will warm quickly to above 55 degrees. something about that number pushes the “eat” button on species like bass and pike AND displaced walleyes.

My Lund Alaskan draw about 18″. The 14′ AlumaCraft Jon boat, about half that much. The jon is really too small to guide more than one person. Fine by me. Fishin’ between now and mid-May will almost certainly be an adventure…with quick potential for turning into a pickle.

Pickles aren’t a problem on fishin’ missions with just one “strap”. But i certainly wouldn’t put a client’s life in jeopardy–ever. Right now there are only a half-dozen trips on the books where clients will need to make an informed decision between now and opener of Wisconsin’s general fishing season. If you aren’t one of these folks there are a few open dates in both May and June when the hazard level on the River will likely be more “normal”.

After coming very close to the Big Adios over last winter I’m just thankful to still be vertical and able to fish. And tussling with a toother where wild flowers usually grow is a sure recipe for a grateful grin.

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