River on the Rise

River on the Rise

Pool 9 at Genoa is supposed to rise 3′ over the next week–a couple feet downstream at Lansing. Yesterday water temps on the River mainstem were in the mid to upper 50’s. Wind has been a perpetual factor.

All things considered, conditions are pretty much status quo now after a roller coaster since open water became pretty much navigable in early February.

With River level climbing well into the Action stage at Genoa fish in the River mainstem seek water with less color and turbulence–like the downstream end of islands where River rise results in bays & pockets loading from downstream.

Once the River reaches flood stage and water is coming through the trees its an entirely different ball game. As of this morning, not part of the forecast.

Walleyes relating to structure near the channel on the mainstem move to the non-channel side rocks of closing dams and shore ends of wingdams–on the downstream side, joining bass, pike and other species.

Action stage also pushes a lot of fish into the backwaters and running sloughs Perfect for bass & crappies as they move toward spawning areas to drop eggs at mid-month, with bluegills following pretty close to Memorial Day.

The River is always changing. This is most notable in running sloughs between the mainstem and major running sloughs like Minnesota slough, also in downstream areas like the matrix of cuts below highway 82 in the Winneshiek.

One of these passages on the upper pool known locally as Goose Lake or Lost Cut–which I told Bassmaster editor James Hall was “Dead man’s Cut” when this 1st time visitor to the Driftless came up from ‘Bama to fish in May 2017.

He asked innocently “do you think we’ll see a dead man? Followed by ” Damn, you’re a prophet” when we came across a body near where the cut joins Minnesota slough.

I visited this spot for the first time this Spring yesterday. When walleyes go post spawn in May they like to cruise sand bottom areas with moderate current in 9-13 fow. Until this Spring there was a short –but very productive–drift here. It is now two short, shallow cuts with a sandbar island growing between them and some small trees/buckbrush already starting to grow.

Likewise, there are significant changes in navigating between the new Albin boat ramp and Hayshore slough at the northern end of the pool. James Hall caught his first ever walleye here on a Z-Man chatterbait back in ’17–a fat 26″er.

No problem navigating up there as we ease into action stage. But when the River drops back down to normal pool you’ll be able to hear the agony of big motors on bassboats stranded on sand flats where passage recorded on charts in their electronics in previous years echoes across the River valley.

I love the sound of waterfowl, sandhills and songbirds out there in the wildness of the backwaters. But the mechanical whine of a bassboat that has just gone from 60 to zero never fails to bring a smile to this old River Rat

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