Blog

Walleyes, hell & High water

Walleyes, hell & High water

Walleyes on pool 9 historically spawn ABOUT April 20. Last year the spawn came in fits and spurts due to prolonged cold weather and high water. This year the peak of spawn is likely to be real close to April 7–night of the full moon. Water temp in the main channel has been 43-44.7 the past couple days. Walleyes typically spawn at 45-48 degrees.

We’re real close to showtime where the walleyes are swimming right now. They aren’t about to fight the current. Forage base isn’t either. The bait is holding in < 10′ and the walleyes are too!

Sure, you can join the crowd at the dam tailwaters and hook up all night long throwing a firecracker/chartreuse Pulse-R on a 5/16 or lighter jighead. The fish are here because that barrier called a dam won’t let them move further upstream. The is a seam just out from the shoreline rip-rap. Fish are holding on the inside of this seam close to shore at night AND 100 OTHER PLACES with both food and suitable spawning habitat.

The ‘new normal’ of minor flood is upon us, with the River rising at least another 1-2′ over the next week. The walleyes that you’ll find hanging in 7-9′ tonite will be in 10-11′ a week from now–with the males even more aggressive.

Far as hell–its that covid 19 thing and the economic time bomb with will go off probably a month from now. Atom? hydrogen? hard to say. Not gonna take any guide trips for at least a couple more weeks.

For the past 10 days I’ve been mostly in the fun fishin’ perch mode keeping and eating 6-10 pretty much every day. A couple of those kept are females. Yesterday I kept 4 females. One was spawned out, 2 had loose and bloody egg sacs and a smaller one about 8″ which was deeply hooked had such hard eggs I thought it was a male.

Honestly and conservatively I’ve caught probably 200 perch in the last 10 days. There are a half-dozen soaking in the fridge and one bag with the same number in the freezer.

Perch are usually tougher to locate year-round–or at least catch–than any other sought after fish in this neck of the Miss.

One exception is that 2 wk. window in the spring as they transition from pre-spawn through spawn. This happy, happy time is winding down right now. Since I don’t have to work, I go perch fishin’ pretty much every day. sometimes all day.

From the quotable Dave Koonce: “the tug is the drug”.Only keep a few to eat, but doggone…just love setting the hook and feel those jumbo ringers pulling back!

My name is Ted. I am a fishaholic. Ok, meeting’s over. Gotta go pay homage to my perchin’ jones

River rising to flood stage AGAIN

River rising to flood stage AGAIN

Pool 9 has been holding fairly steady @ around 629′ for the past several weeks, at this level there are still edges of land between the flooded trees which make it easier to corral perch and walleye/sauger. Areas which load from downstream at this level or lower still hold fish at the upstream edges. BUT conditions will continue to deteriorate as the river rising to 631.5 by next Saturday, submerging the edges and pushing water through the trees and moving fish to uncharted waters where they can get out of the current expending less energy.

Water temp is now tickling 39 degrees on the main channel and running sloughs, but I found some water over 40 degrees last week where there was minimal current near a couple edges that gave up a few perch and eyes.

Spawning urge is another strong variable in fish location right now, with these species looking for a place to carry on the family name.This is not in the ‘traditional’ places. However, a new tradition started last year with perpetual high water. I expect the fish to move to thee areas as waters push into the low 40s this week in waters where its often tough to get a boat to right now.

Walleyes typically spawn here April 15-25 when water temperaturereach 45-48 degrees. Last year the spawn came in fits & spurts…but maybe this is cuz the rising River kept fish on the move, changing the location pattern pretty much every day.

Yesterday I found th perch in an area where the bottom was covered with fallen leaves in 4-7 fow. hey wanted MEAT in the form of a minnow head or a couple redworms, deadsticked right on the bottom.

Problem was, trying to tightline buried the meat in the leaves. Had to rig with 1/8 oz sinker on the bottom and #10 red hook tied in-line about 10″ above it.

Perch in cold water like it simple. but you need to get their attention. A single 5MM orange bead works well. Placement of this bead is key, so its held pretty close to the ol’ fishin’ vest.

With this Covid-19 thing and ban on essential travel, coupled with flood AGAIN I won’t be doing any guiding for the next couple of weeks–just fun fishin’. With patterns changing every day–sometimes hourly–there are days when I run out of time eliminating unproductive water before figuring out the fish.

Folks who are paying good money ae entitled to whine when they aren’t catching. the face that the fish get to vote too has nothing to do with it.
A couple years ago I quit ice guiding because of the whining–even with fish all over the Vex. THE FISH GET TO VOTE, TOO!

The tolerance for whining is even less with passing years. This is why I’m going fun fishin’ for awhile. hard enough to tolerate my own whining when fishin’ is tough.

Those who have shared the Lund with me have heard this pearl “when the River’s on the rise, the fish move away from the flow, when it’s dropping they move closer to the channel’

Gonna start raining here in about 2 hrs. Time to go catch a few ringers for supper. Beats those Wuhan bat popsickles. Fundraiser to send the local 4-H kids to Italy isn’t going so well, so i’m stuck with a freezer full of those beady-eyed little devils–and almost out of ketchup

Rules changing as much as the River

Rules changing as much as the River

As of 0:900 hrs, 24 May, River pool @ Genoa 629.5′. Water temp 38.2-39.4. Projections call for River to remain stable at this level for next week–of course, one rain up north and we’re back at serious flood again.

Perchin’ was a little slow yesterday. Just 7 in 3 hrs. six were males. Also 3 sauger, 1 walleye. Fish holding @ 25-27′ contour. Caught on Kelly green killer jig w/meat. Today I’m gonna do my favorite thing: pitch a B-Fish-N firecracker/chart Pulse R on a 1/4 oz Pyrokeet Precision jighead at edge/current break microstructures in <14 fow.

New walleye harvest rules have been in place since 3/1 in Mn. waters of Pool 9. Identical walleye harvest rules kick in on 4/1. Also, new rules on white bass and panfish harvest on Mn/wi waters.

word on the river is Ia. will probably adopt reciprocal walleye rules before April Fool’s Day, BUT panfish rules will remain unchanged: 25 white bass+25 crappie+25 sunfish+25 perch. amazed at how the Hawkeye state could condone this kind of harvest! There are far too many anglers with <32 teeth and a tribal, inbred, backwater mentality who couldn’t gum that many fish fillets in a year, let alone a day.

However, if you catch a legal fish it is YOUR FISH. Nobody owns God’s River. Stewardship of this resource is entirely in your hands! So there ya go…

Look for fishing success to improve drastically in the next week or so if River level remains stable or better yet drops.

btw–podcast on “the Fishin’ Hole” w/ Hurricane Jerry livestreams on 101.9 and 1490 AM on Saturday. Topic: walleyes on Rock and Miss.

tight lines!

Back on the Grid

Back on the Grid

Finally back on the grid after chasing fish across the American south for the past month or so. Last nite closed ice fishing season for me on pool 9 with a half-dozen nice perch. All ‘safe’ ice should be gone after this weekend with significantly warming temps and a rising River

The main channel has been open for the past couple of weeks, running at high-normal winter pool and very clear. Water temps 34-35 degrees. Active walleye holding 29-31′, sauger slightly deeper. Fish are still in wintering holes.1/2 oz. Kelly green or purple killer jigs have worked best for me this past week…but maybe other colors would be better. hard to experiment when you find something which works.

Projections call for rapid rise to high action stage by Monday. This weekend will be your LAST CHANCE fishing at normal pool for awhile. As of yesterday best access was power plant at Genoa, Victory,Winneshiek east launch off of Hwy. 82. New Albin marginally open…but I wouldn’t advise launching there, as a bunch of ice will be coming down Minnesota slough over the next couple of days.

By Monday all upper pool launches will be free of ice. Kicker is, action stage will prevent getting to some of them.

I plan on starting the year’s guiding on Pool 9 next weekend–but the Creator has a consistent pattern of changing a man’s plans. Don’t know about hell. High water is comin’. I PLAN on fishin’ regardless. See ya out there on the water. Watch out for the floes!!

Jump while the window is open!

Jump while the window is open!

Tailwaters of the Dresbach and Genoa dams are primary wintering holes for walleye/sauger on their respective pools. Access is possible below both dams.River level is coming down out of ‘action stage’ at Genoa and appears to be headed down for the next week at least.

Drop in River level won’t change fish location or depth contour…at least not much. Walleyes have been holding at 29-31, sauger about 10-12′ deeper.Sauger are also holding deeper than that. But bringing fish quickly up from much more than 30′ will rupture their air bladders. They’ll likely swim away dead when released.

The past couple of days flo.orange/chartreuse has worked well. hate to admit it, but hanging a minnow on the 1/2 oz Killer hair jig has produced more bites than hair alone lately.

suspect that by later today or tomorrow the red/white/blue, Kelly green and purple will be more productive colors. Weather is supposed to be in mid-30s through Monday, then drop to more seasonal highs in the upper 20s.

This doesn’t effect the fish, as metabolism is snail-slow. “Sauger jigging” –slowly raising/lowering jig off bottom has been generally more effective than ‘walleye jigging’ with a little more snap in the jig stroke. Little nuances are HUGE in water just above freezing!

River is open for a ways downstream BUT there is a pile of ice which will be coming out of backwaters, running sloughs and from up-River with temps staying above freezing and a falling River.

Believe I’ll wait until Monday to get out again. Bumper boats is not my favorite thing. STAY SAFE OUT THERE! WEAR THAT PFD, SO AT LEAST THEY CAN FIND YOUR BODY!

3rd time at ‘action stage’

3rd time at ‘action stage’

Water is back up in the trees AGAIN on the Upper Miss–3rd time since ‘first ice’ a couple months ago.

Tailwaters of Dresbach dam and Genoa dam both open. Access is easier at Dresbach in this unusually warm January.

rising waters are moving fish AGAIN from favorite winter haunts. Fish really don’t want to expend energy moving if they don’t have to. But hanging in the current is not an option so they are following food to places they wouldn’t think of locating in a ‘normal’ winter.

Most of the backwaters have 5-7″ of decent ice. toughest part is getting on it as the shoreline is ever-changing.

Besides locating in extremely low current areas, water clarity is a key. It takes a couple days for the water column to settle down after levels peak. Looks like we’re there now, so fishin’ should be good again by about Wednesday.

Was on fish all day today, but with the exception of a couple small gills they were all frosting lickers. fish looked at both horizontal and vertical presentations but would not commit.

They surely would have started to bite if somebody stayed out there long enough. But a couple of dinky gills after sitting on a bucket 4 hours sort of takes the fun out of fun fishin’.

Always figured the “back 9” of winter shows up here about Valentine’s Day with consistently easy fishin’ until the ice goes out. Until then there is only one universal truth; YOU CAN’T CATCH ANY FISH IF YOUR LINE ISN’T IN THE WATER!

River open for business

River open for business

The Miss is open from Genoa down past Lansing. Running a little high and dirty. Temp 34.6. Minnesota slough is open. Access possible at Army Rd. launch.

Some guys ice fishing shore slough @ Lansing and north of Lawrence Lake on west side–DeSoto Bay, green lake on east side. Won’t catch me out there again until we start making ice instead of losing it!

Might mark jan 16-19 on calendar. www.ilsportsshow.com .This is the old Rosemont (Chicago) fishin’ show. I’m doing a walleye seminar on the main stage at 11;30 on Sat. the 18th. Followed by induction into Natl Fishing hall of Fame @ 3 pm. Real tall cotton for an ol’ river rat.

Believe i’ll head up to Alma to chase mongo eyes on wingdams with my bud Lee Fluekiger after church today. Maybe tomorrow too. Website has been experiencing issues. Will try to blog soon. Gotta get ready for the day. tight lines!

Zip Tie Dipstick

Zip Tie Dipstick

I’ve been too busy fishing this past month to blog. The River dropped down below ‘action’ stage several weeks ago. But a blast of “Inuit Summer” around Halloween sent water temperatures plunging into the mid-30s. A matrix in which high water became cold water resulted in substantial change in walleye/sauger behavior–bypassing the normal ‘stair step staging’ these fish typically exhibit with seasonal change in Spring and Fall.

Hopefully when the ice goes out in late March there will be a return to normalcy with the bite starting in deep water wintering holes and ‘stair stepping’ to ever-shallower depth contours as waters continue to warm.
We haven’t seen a semblance of this ‘normalcy’ since the Spring of 2018–and conditions haven’t been textbook sa-weet since Dec. 2015. But consistent success is turning ‘fishing’ into ‘catching’.

This past month has redefined “stair step staging”. The fish moved, all right–from 3-7′ to 21-23′ in essentially ONE big step, with saugers holding in slightly deeper, faster water as they went through this transition. A basic tenet of Fishing 101 is “follow the food”. This is exactly what those marble-eyes did!

With water temps in the low 30’s walleyes didn’t feed often. But when they wanted to eat, they really chowed down. I cleaned one fat sauger with SEVEN two-inch shad in it’s gullet which still felt the need to chomp a purple 3/16 hair jig.

Essentially, we’ve been ice fishing in open water for about a month. With water temps holding at about 34.4 the fish only eat when they wanna eat .The odds of a harmonic convergence between fish and your hook are long when only on the water for 3-5 hours in a 24 hour day. This, and the fact that it a helluva lot of work, is why I no longer guide ice fishing…an pulled the pin on open water too after an absolutely awful 2019.

This is a major reason why I haven’t blogged. Fun fishin’ is less fun when you tell everybody where/how you’re fun fishin’. Where I was fishin’ this past month there were zero to maybe a half-dozen boats. Condtions were borderline brutal. No guarantee of being able to fish another day. I ‘winterized’ my E-Tech Evinude a half-dozen times this month. Pretty simple. Just play with the high speed idle lever for a couple minutes before leaving the boat ramp.

Yesterday, I finally took winterization to Step 2 : gear lube in the lower unit.
All this entailed was removing the top plug and sticking a zip tie in the hole.
Nice, clean gear lube was only about an inch below the plug. No need to pull the bottom plug and change out the gear lube in a brand new motor.

I run aluminum props. The prop which is on my Blue Baby had a rough year.
Only a couple dings and nicks–per blade–but all three blades are pitched in different directions with different bandage–the outboard version of a cauliflower ear. Torn between repair or replace. Leaning toward the latter and storing the prop next to other trophies in the man cave as a tormented reminder of what an awful, AWFUL year 2019 has been…so far.

Only a month remains ’til we turn the page. If you check my previous blog, you’ll see its about getting ready for hardwater. Guess this blog is a prequel to my last.

The Creator alone knows when our last day on the River will be. I’m truly thankful to have been around for 2019–which was an S.O.B.–and hopeful but realistic about what 2020 will bring.

My blogs this past year have been about as regular as an old guy’s bowels…but I am an old guy. Apology is not in the vocabulary. When you’re an old guy you’re thankful for a fart instead of a shart and not about to miss taking a cast to worry about it.

Making Ice

Making Ice

Perch were biting yesterday afternoon in 40 degree water @ the 8-12′ contour. Small perch pattern Northland Buckshot Rattle Spoon w/piece of redworm.Woke this morning to 2=” of snow. Forecast calls for below freezing for pretty much the next 10 days. Guide business is shut down til Spring. River is dropping, but still at ‘action’ stage and will remain so until probably thanksgiving. Water clarity is good. Essentially, November is shaping up just like last year:not good.

The River backwaters will be making ice the next few days, certainly not enough to walk on probably until early Dec. at least AND when we finally get out there, don’t expect to find fish in the usual places!

During the cold water period, fish like to hang where there is essentially ZERO current. At normal pool levels, sloughs like the ‘Indian’ just north of New Albin on Mn. slough are good. Not so last year–not so this year. too much current!

heading out ice fishing always requires extreme caution This year unseen current under the ice requires some SERIOUS consideration!

Unusual for me to spend much time indoors–any time. But River levels this year and the deep freeze over the next few days has resulted in some behavioral changes.

have decided to spend some time solving the world’s problems. This morning my wife was all bent out of shape regarding “climate change”.
Took a few minutes to show her this thing on the wall called a ‘thermostat’. Push a couple buttons and the climate changes! Problem solved.

Gonna work on world hunger in an hour or so–starting right here. Fresh perch! It’s what’s for dinner.

Belay My Last!

Belay My Last!

These are the words a salty old captain growls when he knows he got it wrong. In the last blog I opined that the October Bass blast wasn’t gonna happen because of a rapidly rising river and plummeting water temps.

The bass bite typically shuts down when water temps drop to about 50 degrees in the fall. In the Spring, just after ice-out bass go on a rampage chasing #Rat-L-Traps when water temperatures warm to 43-48 degrees, typically at the north end of a shallow back bay. Once temps hit 48 they ‘wake up’ and need to be finessed a little more with a suspending stickbait or another in-your-face presentation.

I’m thinking the bass bite which is happening RIGHT NOW on the Upper Miss is the doppelgänger of this Springtime phenom. The bass know they have to chow down, cuz winter’s on the way. The need to feed trumps what should be a slowed metabolism.

The bass still don’t want to work too hard at it, so they herd baitfish to points of easy ambush: edges like shoreline, deadfalls, trib entry points, converging currents which create quiet water pockets…

The Rat-L-Trap is the ideal search bait for finding active fish. Wednesday when fishing with Dave M. the ‘eyes weren’t really interested. With water temps still hovering @ 46-47 degrees they haven’t started sliding into deeper water wintering holes yet. Since it was a sunny afternoon I figured they might be holding shallower than the 11-15 foot contour I’ve been catching them on. Had Dave try an oxbow pattern Trap. He hooked a scrappy small-jaws on about the 5th cast.

One fish doesn’t make a pattern, but when the bite is tough it’s a start. There wasn’t much time to fish, so we took the Lund downstream to a classic spot under these cold water/high water conditions.

Dave hooked up on the first cast. and the second. and the third. The only casts which didn’t produce a scrappy smallmouth over the next 45 minutes are those which found wayward weeds. FAT quality fish 16-20″. Every one of ’em on the oxbow Trap.

The next day the action continued. Caught a few on a suspending Rattlin’ Rogue and #B-Fish-N Tackle Pulse -R in sassafras color. But most came on the ‘Trap…probably because I just LOVE throwin’ the ‘Trap.

Yesterday I returned to the well(s) with Larry. The fish were still there, but grass was coming down the River. When you get salad on 9 of 10 casts it isn’t fun–or productive. We still had fun with the smallies.

Not gonna fish today cuz it’s Saturday, or tomorrow morning cuz I need the Hour of Power provided in church. But Sunday afternoon and every day that the wind isn’t outrageous I plan on being out there.

Now hear this: The October Bass Blast will extend through the first week in November. Maybe. You’ll never find out if you aren’t on the water.