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Waiting for the Edges

Waiting for the Edges

Flooding is the new normal on pool 9. In 2019 the only two months with near “normal” levels were March & August. This year we went from ice out to flood in 36 hrs. with essentially no late ice bite.

So here we are two full months after ice out still well into the ‘action’ stage. Pool 9 is the only pool on the Upper Miss where the ‘action’ stage is directly related to River access instead of gates going back in the water at dams.

Last year I whined enough to NOAA and the Corps of Engineers to change this definition, arguing the number of folks who travel great distances to fish this pool ere frustrated cuz they would get here and most–if not all–ramps were tough to access without hippers.

The new magic number for River access on this pool is now just over 625 at Genoa. Access is possible on the Army Rd. at New Albin just a couple tenths higher than the posted number which designates the lower edge of ‘action’ stage. We are now at 630.8–or close–with dam gates going back in the water at 631.

The number to watch for on this pool is 627. When the river drops to 627 there will be more hard edges as areas start loading from the bottom with little or no water pushing downstream through the trees, also bringing more areas where visibility is >2′. This is KEY for finding active fish!

Fish want to bite, but predators are having difficulty pinning prey against a hard edge for easy ambush. Sure, there are hard edges like the dam tailwaters and rip-rapped railroad beds. There are also softer edges like current seams where predators can pin prey with little effort. This includes predators with fishin’ poles.

Where there are no edges a predator will find just one or two fish. Muskies are not the only species which can claim to be the ‘fish of 10K casts until stage 627 at Genoa.

The gov’t puts out a comprehensive chart on the website https://water.weather.gov/ahps2hydrograph.php?wfo=arx&gage=genw3

On this site you can find not only the projected levels on pool 9, but essentially ever water where there is gage reference in the USA !

This also includes long term probability projections, which are usually pretty close. These projections tell me we’ll probably see 627 here in another week, and drop down to 625 by June. But all these numbers are subject to change with a gullywasher upstream.

Until we see 627, keep your line in the water with a search bait like a spinnerbait or Rat-L-Trap in obnoxious colors with a little flo orange/green/blue. The ‘oxbow’ pattern ‘Trap is perfect.

I haven’t had a paid guide trip on pool 9 for almost 6 months. Still go fishin’ here just about every day. Catching fish, but most days its a lot more work than the classic definition of fun.

Look for another blog when there if Facebook notification by me. Until then, be patient! God is in control!

Harmonic Convergence

Harmonic Convergence

We are at a point of harmonic convergence RIGHT NOW on the upper Mississippi River spawning run.

My last blog was about barriers & current breaks, The massive lock & dam systems which break the River into 33 pools are the ultimate barriers.

The average date of major spawning on the Miss is April 15-22. Last year was an outlier. Spawn came in fits and spurts. Not all walleyes go at the same time. A few dropped their eggs in a warm spell about 10 days ago when water temps in the mainstem were at 45-46 degrees…then temperatures dropped almost 10 degrees over several days, shutting down the bite.

Now mainstem water temps are back in the upper 40’s.

The full moon was last night–the 19th. Three days either side of the full moon is a big factor in fish behavior

River is rising sharply again, up 2 more feet by Wednesday.

IT’S SHOWTIME!!!

This is a no brainer. Go to the ultimate barrier: the dam
Fish a 1/4-3/16 oz jig with a purple/yellow (or white) B-Fish-n Tackle Pulse R. Steady retrieve, just off the bottom. Set the hook!

Repeat.

There is no mystery in this. If you enjoy “combat fishing” this weekend will be the combat zoo at it’s finest.

This homey don’t do combat. Don’t like crowds…which tend to bring out the worst behavior in some of those foregathered.

With no trips on the books due to flooding, I’ll be chasing smallmouths. They start migrating out of wintering areas at about 55 degrees. have picked up several of the scouts in recent days. Next week is gonna be a hoot!

Barriers & Current Breaks for high Water Spring Perch

Barriers & Current Breaks for high Water Spring Perch

Water temperatures have warmed to 43.7 degrees. The bite is on for pre-spawn walleyes & perch! The only tough part is getting to places where fish are congregated.

No easy task with essentially every boat launch flooded and water spread across the flood plain from railroad track to railroad track.

Fish don’t want to fight the current, but use the current’s flavor to lead them to areas where they will spawn–walleyes in a few days and perch in a week or so.

Edges and barriers are key to fish location. hard shoreline along a highway or railroad track is a good illustration of this structure. Fish need to stay wet to swim. When they find a barrier, they stop and re-assess.

With river levels on the way down now, flood plain is draining. Water is a slave to gravity. Choke points like drain tubes and narrows near bridge pilings funnel the water, which is several degrees warmer cuz it has been simmering in the shallow, dark bottomed flats of the flood plain.

These conditions draw fish like gangbusters! The Admiral wants perch again for supper, so I snuck out to a spot which met these parameters that has been producing fish for over a week.

Fish are almost all males, which are now actively milting. You get just as much meat from a 10″ male as an egg-laden female. meat from males is firmer as we get closer to spawn. harvesting males has virtually no impact on the population. It sickens me that folks feel compelled to fill their livewells with bloated female perch–but I don’t make the rules.

10 nice male perch is enough to feed the Admiral & me supper, usually with just a couple fillets left over for breakfast. If you need more fish to feed the family, why not take the young ‘uns along to catch a few?

My pre-spawn perch rig is almost too simple: a 7′ St. Croix panfish rod and reel spooled with 4-6 lb. mono. At the business end there is a 1/16 oz egg sinker, a small barrel swivel, 12-18″ of leader and a red #6 long-shank hook.(sometimes adding an orange bead makes a difference).

For bait, a pinch of crawler will work. A couple red wigglers usually works better.

Just cast out, raise the rod to a 45 degree angle and slowly swim the bait in–with the accent on slowly. Perch can be finicky. The closer you can get to zero weight resistance, the better. No need to make a mile-long cast. The fish are headed for the rocks–which are pretty much right at your feet.

Got to clean some perch, then launch the Lund to look for some walleyes. Last time they were in about 12 fow, feeding on B-Fish-N tackle Pulse Rs in the new white glow pattern. Water clarity is looking better as River levels drop. Thinkin’ maybe cotton candy will be the ticket today.

Can’t catch any fish with your line out of the water, so adios for now!

Tough bite for Awhile

Tough bite for Awhile

Pool 9 has come up a bunch over the past 10 days, with higher water yet to come. As of this morning water is now over the road at Blackhawk Park, just past the Trading Post ramp. Ice just went out on the south end of DeSoto Bay, almost as far north as the houseboats and garage size slabs of ice are easing downstream all over the place.

If water wasn’t coming through the trees it might be worth donning the waders and trying to launch a boat. BUT water is coming through the trees! This is a real game changer.  The incredible perch bite we’ve seen this time of year simply isn’t going to happen. The walleyes typically spawn April 15-20.  A lot of water will come down the river between now and then. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Talk around local watering holes and cafes where old guys foregather is about the record flood of ’65.  I was a freshman in high school then.  Laughed about the chumps sitting in class on beautiful days in early May…until about 15 hours into a 36 hour sandbagging marathon. Our efforts saved the farm between Savanna and Thomson down on pool 13 and a lot of other farms…by just two tiers of sandbags around a drainage ditch pump station protecting all of Stransky’s bottoms.

I didn’t keep a fishing diary back then. But the crappie fishing was the best I’ve ever seen from the deep south to the cool blue north. Minnows a foot beneath big red-and-white Dayton bobbers, fished on 15′ cane poles. The poles had 15′ of heavy braided dacron line which was tied about 18″ behind the lone guide on the pole’s trip..just in case a big un broke the pole!

There are no trips in the guide book until late next week, but trips might very well be cancelled well into April.  Word from the north country is that there is still a good 2′ of snow up there.  it’s all gotta melt and come this way eventually. Cold nights and little rainfall would be the best scenario. God has got a plan.  he just hasn’t revealed it yet.

If you’re a high school kid reading this blog looking for the fish-catching skinny, no dice for the short haul. When something good finally starts to happen here on the River you might want to check this blog.

Hopefully it will be 54 years before you hear old geezers talking about the flood of ’19.  Meanwhile, get out and fish often. 54 years is just a blink of the Great Rainmaker’s eye

a 2014 Reboot in the works?

a 2014 Reboot in the works?

The walleye/sauger/perch bite has been pretty good for the past 10 days through the ice below lock & dam 8 at Genoa.  We haven’t seen this kind of action since 2014–at least for an extended period.  There is +/- of semi-safe ice below the fishing float.  Access is safest from ABOVE the same, parking at the old tobacco shack. There is a trail through the snow to reach the west side of the River. A long walk–but try to shorten the angler by breaking your own trail and it quickly becomes work through the deep snow.

There are a lot of humps, bumps and flats below the dam, with bottom structure determined primarily by what happens to the current as it negotiates the first 3 wingdams. Perch are generally on the flats in about 12-17 fow, with walleyes/saugers holding about 21-23 fow.  Most productive baits have been 1/4 oz. Buckshot Rattle spoons and #3 blue/chrome or firetiger puppet minnows with a little meat.

Use extreme caution if you try to fish this bite, which will almost certainly end suddenly within the next 10 days.  it’s all about the snowmelt and how fast it comes, exacerbated if the next round of precipitation comes down as rain instead of snow.

Meanwhile, the vanguard of the perch migration is starting to show up at the usual early March spots. Caught nothing but 8-9 inch males over the weekend ahead of the latest arctic blast that showed up on Sunday. I plan on getting back after them tomorrow.  My favorite bait is the Custom Jigs & Spins Li’l Cecil in 3 specific color patterns, with a 1/16 ounce Northland buckshot rattle spoon/dropper chain w/ a couple of red spikes a close 2nd. So far the bite has been slow.  Small minnows on tip-downs might increase your bag by day’s end–But carrying/towing a minnow bucket and all the gear is a chore  through that deep and miserable snow.

Fishing action for the next 4 months–at least–will be driven by how fast the snow goes away.  For the past 2 years, snowmelt came quickly.  With the Miss draining 2/3 of the USA, River levels were high until August last year. The big concern is, we have even more snow this year.  More snow than we’ve seen in the tri-state area since maybe ’79. There has been profound siltation in backwaters from pool 11 south over the past 40 years, in the Corps of Engineers never ending quest to turn the Miss into a ship canal. Water volume is essentially the same as decades ago. But with siltation in the backwaters reaching the point where it is now, flooding is the new normal.

For the past couple of years, ambient temps by month’s end have been in the mid 50’s.  Should that happen again this year, fishing will literally be a wash well into summer. BUT forecast through mid-March has ambient temps 7-10 degrees cooler for daily highs. If this prediction comes true and continues until April, snowmelt should be slower and we’ll be able to fish longer between now and the historic walleye peak run time of April 15-22 before the River level becomes outrageous.

My first guide trips on the books this year are the last week in March.  Barring an obscene amount of rain in the meantime, fishing should be pretty good. I’m guessing it will be possible to launch at the power plant and head upstream in 7-10 days. You won’t see my Lund out there for at least 2 weeks. dodging ice floes is tolerable.  Taking out a pricey transducer–or worse–removes a great deal of the incentive for catching those walleyes/sauger/perch.

Being in the vanguard is sweet–on the River. Being first in line at the prop shop, not so much.

Another strange fishin’ year ahead?

Another strange fishin’ year ahead?

It’s been awhile since posting a blog.  If you’re looking for the skinny for a hot bite happenin’ now, better check elsewhere. Not that i’m not fishin’ and breathing are basic life functions.  It’s just that 2019 is showing ominous weather patterns reminiscent of topsy turvy 2018. Checking River level, and the website www.wundergound.com are two things done first thing every morning. Logging in the fishing diary I’ve kept for nearly 40 years is something that gets done after every trip. There haven’t been any entries in the diary since last Wednesday, as I was doing a seminar at the Rockford show on Walleye Patterns.  Posted on FB about Wednesday’s outing and the impact of both water color and the barometer on the crappie bite.

 

Crappie activity is about what you would expect for this time in February. The diary says the crappie bite picks up in both length of activity and fish aggression about Feb. 14. Longer daylight hours are a big part of this. Barometric pressure has even more impact, with ambient air temp a byproduct of barometric pressure hovering around 30.00 rather than spiking at almost 31.00. Part of that wunderground website contains a calendar noting actual temps, forecast temps and traditional temps a couple weeks down the road. The point where this chart morphs from forecast to traditional is worthy of note: the forecast is a solid 10 degree COLDER than traditional (22 instead of 32 for daily high) 22 is the average traditional high for LATE JANUARY.

 

Will longer daylight trump colder temps? Water temp under the ice doesn’t change until there is a little snowmelt. Snowmelt adds color, flavor, increased 02 and change in pH. We got a little kick of that when temps crawled out of the arctic vortex for a few days last week. looks like we’re headed for stable temps in the mid 20s for highs for the next 10 days, with a little snow which should trigger fish activity ahead of it. BUT if the barometric pressure stays high, it may have a deleterious impact on fish activity. We won’t know until late Feb. get here in a couple of weeks.

 

Last year we were back on the main River in boats the last week of Feb, and on the running sloughs by March 12–this is about 10 days ahead of the 10 year average. March weather came in April last year. We had 7 SNOWS in April! The River came up shortly after April Fool’s day and didn’t get down to normal pool until August.  The walleye run came in fits and spurts–mostly a MONTH EARLY in the ‘seasonal’ March weather. This is why we didn’t have much of a hot pre-spawn bite…and the fish were mostly done long before the typical April 20 spawn date.

 

I fear it may be late March before we can run where we want to go in boats.  But it is what it is. Breathing. Fishing. Both happen when the time is right without even thinking about it.  I promise another report within 48 hours when the Lund is back in the water and the E-Tech is purring like a kitten.

Might be something in the meantime on the ice fishing bite. But I don’t guide ice fishing anymore. Too much work. Just go fun fishin’ when the bite should be easy and not much work…or the Admiral hints she wants perch for supper.

 

 

Swans say ‘Safe Ice’

Swans say ‘Safe Ice’

Migration of the last tundra swans on Friday signals the arrival of ‘safe’ ice after more than a month of purgatory on Pool 9. Seems a fitting conclusion to the dog turd split of a fishing season Ma Nature served up in 2018. The whipped cream was a River on the cusp between open water and ice with neither safe nor productive access either way. Seven swans were swimming on one of my favorite early ice perch spots on Pearl Harbor Day.  They left a cherry on the ice when migrating east over the weekend. It is now Tuesday morning. Time to grind a hole past that cherry and pop a fish or two.

I’ve been keeping a fishing diary for nearly 40 years, noting significant events in the natural world to better predict future patterns. About 20 years ago I noted that the tundra swans had suddenly departed. Two days later I noted we finally had safe ice. When this sequence repeated the next year it was worth a closer look. I shared this pattern with the world when my first book Mississippi Musings with the Old Guide was published back in 2010. Here we are 8 years later. The big birds bug out. Two days later we have ‘safe’ ice on the usual spots on both sides of the River.  Now THAT, my friends, is a PATTERN.

Five years ago my ol’ pal Tom Gruenwald showed up to do a couple of ice fishing segments on Sportsman Channel for his show Tom Gruenwald Outdoors. The ambient temp was -15, with wind chill, -50…and we were BUCKET FISHING. When the shows aired the following year it changed my life. The decision was made right then to spend the coldest part of winter in the Sunshine State. The Admiral and me found a little place in Mexico Beach on the Fla. panhandle and have been going back every winter since. You can still see these episodes by going to the HT Enterprises website, clicking on the TV show, then clicking on Season 3. But the show no longer airs on Sportsman Channel in 2018…and after Hurricane Michael hit the panhandle back in October Mexico Beach ain’t there either!

So for the first time in five years I’ve grown some facial fur, with a plan of sticking around Dodge this winter. The swans are gone.  Time to hit the ice. Back when I first started going to Florida the decision was made to no longer guide ice fishing. That decision still stands. Too many folks think just because you’re a guide you can make the fish bite. You can’t. Fish metabolism is extremely slow under the ice. They bite when they want to bite. Odds are long–even at ‘prime time’ that they’ll want to eat during the 4 hour window of a trip. Besides, its too damn much work for an old guy who has just been told both his shoulders have ‘severe’ damage. Poking 40 holes through 3 feet of ice certainly won’t make this condition any better. So from now on, hardwater is all about fun fishin’. Maybe you’ll see a pearl or two here. maybe not. Might not blog again until the River opens up enough to fish. Maybe February, certainly by mid-March.

There will be a new policy on guided trips in 2019: leave your demons and shiny objects at the dock. If you feel compelled to bring that electronic teat along, fine. But plan on grief from this old River Rat every time you respond to that Pavlovian tone! Maybe this is why boss Bob Gillespie called me “outrageously outspoken” in the bio beneath my pro staff photo in his 2019 Custom Jigs & Spins/ B-Fish-N tackle catalog. Any trip with me is all about THE RIVER, that immortal, icon genuine force of nature.

 

Next Saturday, Dec. 15, I’ll be working the aisles at Cabela’s in Prairie du Chien for another great sponsor, Northland tackle company. Northland, Custom Jigs and HT all have some tremendous products which really catch fish.  Please stop by and howdy if you’re in the neighborhood.

 

It really torques me on how the fishing industry has changed in recent years, putting more emphasis on social media than actual fishing ability and activity out on the water. One long time lure sponsor’s new pro staff manager told me I HAD TO contribute to social media if I wanted to stay on their pro staff.  Fortunately, my boss saw value in actually being out there 200 days a year and ‘grandfathered’ me in. How ironic! They even named a lure after me “Red Head Uncle Ted”.  But this blog isn’t about me. It’s all about the Big River and all things which swim here. Speaking of Big River, there is an article in the current issue about walleye fishing. I also shot the cover photo. But this ain’t about me.  Guess I’m felling bummed about two toasted shoulders right now.

 

We can talk all things fishin’ next Saturday at Cabela’s in PdC, or February 8-10 at a seminar on walleyes at the Rockford Fishing Show. This seminar is essentially bullet points for the next book Walleye Fishing on the Upper Mississippi River, due on the book shelves when I’m done going Hillary with hammers and bleach bit on every shiny object which comes within arms length. Shiny objects will be what takes down the greatest nation in world history.  Just go for that serotonin buzz by responding to that Pavlovian ring tone out there in the boat next spring and you’ll hear all about it.

Last best day for bass fishin’

Last best day for bass fishin’

One reason Dave M. has been a favorite client for so many years is his tendency to be easily misled. We cancelled a trip about a month ago due to high water.  Told him the bite wouldn’t be hot again until the pool dropped to 627. Called him a few days ago to tell him the River would be at 627 by today. Unfortunately Dave said he had meetings and appointments. I told him ll/2 would be the last best day to catch a nice SMB of 2018. He called back a day later and said he would take the day if it was still open. We left the dock at 10:30. Told him if we could put 20 fish in the boat over the next 6 hours it would be a good day. At 2:06 into the trip we caught the 20th fish and quite counting. Then the fishing actually got better!

I’m on the water about 200 days annually, so having the ‘best day of the year’ is a long shot. But today was by far the best day of the year. Dave averaged one bass, walleye or pike every six minutes for 5 hours.  Then he & I were both plum tuckered out and decided to call it a day. All fihs came on the Rat-L-Trap or Trap MR-6 in <8 fow. Huh?

Just about everybody out there today was vertical jigging in 14-20 fow, cuz that’s what usually works this time of year. But the water temp is still 47 degrees. The baitfish are shallow, so the predators are too!

 

I’m sure the fish know tough weather is coming, TOMORROW. Rare enough to catch SMB in 47 degree water, but about 1/3 of the bass we caught were LMB.  Now that’s really weird. Also caught a half dozen pike and a few quality walleyes. One more thing I like abouit fishing with Dave is that he is a SPORTSMAN.  kept just for walleyes and one 32″ pike, releasing everything else.

 

Thee weather was perfect. No wind. Sunny sky.  Sweatshirt weather. Thumbs are scraped raw from bass lips. Hands sliced by walleye gills. Not complaining. Not one bit. Caught enough quality bass to cash a check in any tourney here on the River. They were all released so you can catch ’em in the future. They won’t be there tomorrow, but will be ready to bring lotsa smiles next year. Today was the last best day of 2018. Time for a couple slices of Pork’s pizza and a beer. I’m whupped.

 

It’s All About the Numbers

It’s All About the Numbers

My wife, the Admiral, calls me “Rain Man” cuz I’m always crunching numbers. None of that ‘new math’ stuff. No algebra, either. When I entered high school algebra was a requirement. A half century later I can attest the need for this course of study to find success in life was pure crap…and I worked for many years as a paramedic, requiring algebraic equations to assure correct dosage of meds.

But I was a paramedic–not a pharmacist or MD. The formulas could have bee easily memorized by a task-trained monkey. OK, so the Admiral’s nickname for me also has to deal with attitude.

A pessimist is an optimist with experience. Failure to plan for the worst invites disaster. Anything better than disaster is a good day on the water. Most days on the water are terrific.

This morning might have been an exception. I cancelled a trip because of exceptionally high water and 83% prediction of rain. The weatherman got the rain wrong, but the 35+ mph sustained wind correct.

A check of surface water temps revealed 45-47 degrees. Looks like my last blog was on target! Bass pretty much shut down at 53 degrees in the fall. Walleye action really picks up when water temps go below 48. We are now at this point.

Water clarity is good, given perpetually high water conditions. River levels are dropping slowly. Right now they are about 629 on Pool 9. Water is still coming through the trees. Fish don’t have edges to relate to, making it tougher to corral food. This will change markedly when the level drops to 627. Edges appear then, both above and below the water–back eddies and current breaks in which forage can hold, with predators hovering nearby.

Conditions get even better when the level drops to 625–and below. We should see this by the first week in November, barring more significant rain.

Here’s a positive thought: walleyes have had very little pressure ALL YEAR because of perpetual high water. The dominant year class of ‘eyes in the system which started 2018 just shy of the 15″ minimum keeper length are now fat, legal fish–with little discretion as winter comes knocking at the door.

But the Rain Man becomes the Ice Man when that magic number 32 appears on the thermometer. Fish will still be biting as long as the boat ramps allow access. Then it will be time to break out the buckets and short rods again.

Two years ago I quit guiding ice fishing. Too much work for this old river rat. Besides, a fishing guide is not a magician. A guide can’t make them eat, When water temps drop below 40 degrees the feeding window is short–often outside the window of a half-day guided trip.

Using basic math I crunched the numbers, concluding it costs $62 every time I launch the boat, based on 75 guide trips per year.

Beginning next year the U.S. fish and Wildlife Service is taxing Miss River fishing guides 3% of their gross income up front.

FWS personnel have never worked as fishing guided on Ol’ Man River. Most have probably never run a business. I’ve done BOTH for longer than most of ’em have been on the planet. But they feel compelled to tell me how to do both, and charge 3% of my gross income up to $500 annually with every cent of this tax going to ADMINISTRATIVE PURPOSES.

Doesn’t matter that the River has been at the ‘Action Stage’ perpetually every month this year since August. Doesn’t matter if the outboard blows up and you’re out of business for awhile.

A couple weeks ago I had a phone conversation with Tim Yager, assistant refuge mgr. for the FWS. Told him how much it cost to launch the boat, based on 75 trips/yr and how this year’s work didn’t even come close to that.

Yager said “how can you afford to run a business?” gotta say, he’s mighty sharp for a college boy. Believe my life’s work of teaching folks about the joys and wonders of the River are about done.

Only the Creator knows where the numbers go from this point forward. God is the ultimate Rain Man

Last Cast for Bass

Last Cast for Bass

With the River well into the Action Stage for two weeks now–and on the rise AGAIN fishing will be generally tough for the foreseeable future.

The one exception is bass both green and brown. Water temps are now in the mid-50’s and will drop like a stone over the next week or so. When the water temp drops below about 52 aggressive bass activity comes to a screeching halt until next spring when 43 degrees means an active shallower water bite near wood on dark bottom bays with a good northern exposure.

Right now bass are real close to where you would expect to find them in mid-October: congregated at ambush points where they can chow down with little effort in preparation for winter.

In years with ‘normal’ flow this means the top of closing dams, the leading edge of wingdams close to shore, tributary entry points and rocky points on islands: essentially anyplace they can herd minnows for an easy meal.

Minnows aren’t going to fight the current. They will retreat to the DOWN CURRENT side of wingdams and closing dams, SLACKWATER areas of tribs and backside of islands away from current.

I had clients out last week who were amazed to find smallmouth bass stacked on a mudflat and eager to garwoofle Rat-L-Traps fished in a burning retrieve.

The River was rising and stained, the air temp had dropped over 30 degrees overnight and the wind was howling out of the northwest at 20 mph–not exactly prime conditions.

But these conditions slapped those little bass brains into the realization that their metabolism was about to slow waaaay down and the need to take on fuel is critical.

This is definitely a run-n-gun situation. If fish are present you’ll know after about a dozen well placed casts. Hook one and give the spot another five minutes. Hook two and its time to stay and play.

Find a pod of active LMB or SMB (sometimes they’ll be schooling in same spot) and you may find fish-on-every-cast action. When the bite slows, change the presentation instead of the location. If you don’t hook up again in 15 minutes, move on.

With pool levels tickling Minor Flood stage by mid-week with water temps continuing to fall, the show might be over until we get ice. The situation is driven entirely by River level. If it goes up from 628 instead of down look elsewhere to get your string stretched.