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Don’t mean nothin’, push on!

Don’t mean nothin’, push on!

Just spent the past couple days on a species specific quest for walleyes. Even with willo cats fishing was tough. Most fish came pulling cranks, anyway. with the River up almost 2′ and dirty over the previous 48 hrs. and boat control a little channeling in winds gusting to 30+ fishing was TOUGH.

Not that we couldn’t catch fish. All that was needed was finding water with 2’+ visibility. Pike all over the place. We were actually sight fishin’ them. Only a few bass, cuz they’re still shaking off the spawn. Rapid rising water levels pushed a lot of ‘gills & perch back into timber now flooded where it was too shallow to get a boat. Crappies now post spawn and cruising clear water suspended 3-6′ down looking for food.

USACE projection calls for River to drop like a stone over the next week. Thanks to judicious placement of gravel on Army road @ new Albin, access should be possible by Friday or Saturday IF USACE PROJECTION HOLDS TRUE. But if somebody in the Twin Cities stops rioting long enough to flush a toilet, all bets on River level are off, thanks to the change in paradigm from siltation over the past couple of years.

Should this happen, it will be time to search for that water with 2′ + visibility again. In the words of my generation: don’t mean nothin’ push on.

Meanwhile, the Immortal River isn’t impacted one little bit by the covid thing or riots. This is where I spend most of my waking hours, just trying to plug in to the Creator’s unspoken but obvious message about who is really in control of all things during these turbulent times in America.

Don’t have to work today, since the 6 man crew gave up and went home. gonna be too hot to fish, anyway. have tomorrow off, too. Will probably get out early and catch a few ‘eyes for fun and see if the bass are on the prowl yet. But game plan is likely to change once the Lund gets wet–just like the River.

Kicked off the Team

Kicked off the Team

BRP corporation announced Wednesday that they are no longer gonna make Evinrudes. They didn’t really announce this…it just kinda leaked out. I’ve been on the Evinrude pro staff for over 30 years, coming on long before OMC went belly up in 2000. jerry’s Sports Service in Beloit has sponsored me for over 30 years. They are still carrying me on the Lund team–but this is a real kick in the teeth to the great folks at Jerry’s, fellow hall of famers Jim Grandt & Tommy Skarlis (who is already battling cancer) and thousands of other Evinrude owners across the USA.

When OMC declared bankruptcy all motor warranties were voided. BRP says they will continue to stand by limited warranties to original owners. At least that’s what they are saying now.

Officially, BRP is blaming the covid crisis for ending production. Industry insiders several pay grades above my humble status say otherwise. Learned a valuable lesson about trust from my Dad when just a wee bairn. At least that’s the way he used to remind me years later. He said he put me up on the fireplace mantle, extended his arms to catch me and said ‘jump’. Then he let me hit the floor saying ‘that should teach you to never trust anybody’. The Old Guy was a beaut. Certainly wouldn’t put it past him. But this and many other old guy saying have stuck with me through the years.

Everybody who has shared a boat with me over the years has heard Dad’s wise observation ‘the surest way to get 2 rods tangled is get them within 10 feet of each other’ Maybe this will cross your mind the next time fishin’.

Boat traffic is so outrageous from noon Friday til Sunday at 2 p.m. that I’ve raised guide prices within this time frame to $1000/4 hrs. Just sayin’

The River is still on the rise and generally dirty as of right now. Supposed to crest on pool 9 tomorrow @ just over 628′ at the upper end of the pool. This will push fish back into haunts they became familiar with last year. But at 628 there are still some edges beyond firm shoreline like RR track rip-rap where fish will be following their forage base.

Forecast calls for the level to gradually decline over the next week. But if somebody in Mpls. quits rioting long enough to take a shower, the level could go the other way. if it goes up to 630′ I can motor across rather than jump a beaver dam which has clear water and a pile of pike and bass. There a are a couple of sweet spots which develop when you need to go to the half-mile scale on the boat’s nav chart to see blue which indicates water.

This evening I plan on grilling a couple of backstrap tenderloins then later sit around the campfire with the Admiral. yesterday she surprised me with the new M.I.T 70 automatic inflatable PFD from Mustang Survival. New vest is incredibly ergonomic and comfortable. Will be much easier to hold on to the wheel with one hand while waving the other over my head for the full eight seconds it takes to jump a beaver dam!

Topwater baits are producing a few fish with water temp now tickling 70 degrees and some emergent vegetation beginning to appear. Crappies and bass are done spawning.The return of higher water has probably moved the walleyes away from the rock pattern they’ve been on for the past couple weeks. Lord willin’ gonna find out where they went tomorrow afternoon.

New Baby!

New Baby!

Got off the River ahead of the rain to find an email that my latest book “Tails, Trails & Tales with the Old Guide” is now available on ebooks through the Kindle store–just type in the title and it pops right up. Will be out in paperback on Amazon.com and select outlets by late next week.

Walleyes are active on both crankbaits like the #Rat-L-Trap MR-6 on the rocks and with a half-crawler drifting sand based running sloughs in 9-13 fow. Water temp is now 67-68. Bass are on the beds. Perch/gills/crappie are shallow and very active. Kept 2 ‘eyes for supper, should go well with the batch of outstanding potato salad the Admiral whipped up last night.

Walleyes on the Rocks

Walleyes on the Rocks

River level on pool 9 has stabilized about a foot higher than a week ago. Water clarity is good. Water temp has warmed about 4 degrees since Wednesday to 62-63 on main channel. Have targeted walleyes on rocks the past couple of days. #BillLewisLures MR-6 in ‘Caitlin” pattern and oxbow pattern Rat-L-Trap both catching fish. With River still a little high, boat position/presentation are KEY in hooking up

Holiday crowd started showing up when we got off the water at 11 this morning. Saw a lion, 2 tigers, 2 elephants,5 clowns and some guy in a top hat pull up in a Baraboo-wrapped party bus when leaving the ramp. The circus is definitely in town! I plan on avoiding the River like it was a wrinkle wranch with Wuhan bat infestation issues til at least Tuesday

New math?

New math?

Yesterday I posted a blog stating we’re seeing the best fishing in 2 years on pool 9. That statement was and still is–true.

Over the past 24 hrs. the dry hills and fields of the coolee region received a much needed, gentle rain. The rain gauge at our compound read 0.7″ this morning. Apparently, points upstream must have received a deluge. How can 0.7″ of rain overnight falling on parched ground raise the pool level 1.5 FEET??

The dirty little secret is SILTATION from perpetual flooding over the past 2+ years–a direct result of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fulfilling the mission given to them by Congress in 1878–maintaining a channel on the Miss. USACE was finally able to turn the Immortal River into a big, narrow ditch less than 80 years after placement of 33 lock & dam systems between St. Paul and St. Louis.

The results of this disaster can be seen in the still-standing tombstones of nearly 60% of mature timber which drowned and died over the past couple of years. The hazards to navigation mentioned in yesterday’s blog are nil when juxtaposed against what will occur in a few years when these trees begin to topple and head downstream.

There will be plenty of water to navigate back-channels in over the Memorial Day weekend. Just keep a sharp eye for floating dunnage. Forecast calls for more rain next weekend. So long as there are ‘edges’ created by islands in the back channels, fishing will still be great.

If the Iowa DNR got off it’s bureaucratic butt and spread just 7-9 loads of judiciously placed gravel in five low spots from the Army rd. boat launch to the west, this sole west side access for over 12 River miles on the west side of the River could remain open next weekend. This will ONLY happen if YOU call the IDNR and tell them!!!

No apologies for this rant! The River’s decline and overall gov’t malfeasance is explored in depth in my latest book “Tails, Trails & Tales with the Old Guide” which will be out on e-books in a few days and available through amazon.com by June 1. I am also not ashamed of more shameless self-promotion on this blog and elsewhere when this new baby is born!

So there ya go. No need to look for morels in the River bottoms with this recent, gentle rain. Soil temp is good. They should be popping now on southern exposures. Gonna go find some this morning, then probe for pike for upcoming trips this afternoon. I know where the fish are headed-just wanna have a Rat-L-Trap ready for when they get there. tight lines.

Best fishin’ in Two Years

Best fishin’ in Two Years

It has been several years since Pool 9 has been at such a low level as we head into the Memorial Day weekend. fishing has been great for almost a month already–and getting better every day!

Water temps on Friday had warmed back up from the low 50’s after Mother’s Day to the mid 50’s and beyond. By Friday afternoon I found some panfish-crazy conditions in 66 degree water. Fish were perch and ‘gills. Water was this warm cuz it was dark bottom, on the West side of the River, clear water and <4′ deep. Earlier in the day I was in another running slough where water was only 55 degrees. male crappies were in the wood–4-5′ down over 10′. bigger females were suspended about 10′ down over 18-21 fow. makes you wanna go hmmmm.

It is Sunday morning. Imbedded front will bring gentle rain all day. Had to postpone this afternoon’s trip for a couple weeks. Even though the fish are already wet, those who want to learn more about fishn’ the River don’t need to grow gills to understand them!

River level projection for the next 10 days call for totally stable conditions. Water temps will continue to warm. Suspect those female crappies will follow the males into even shallower water by this time next week. With so much less flooded timber to hide in, they should be easy to find. Of course, the gills and perch will be shallow, too. Today’s rain will also bring the morels, which have been pretty much hiding so far.

Stable, low pool levels will also make gamefish easier to find–and catch. Walleyes have been on the wings…but their high-water orientation is different than when we are approaching normal summer pool levels.

Even though we are still on the high side of normal pool levels, siltation from prolonged high water has created a “new normal”. You want to use extreme caution trying to run anywhere beyond the designated channel. The River is ALWAYS changing–and there are some surprising and PROFOUND changes where bassholes running willy nilly cracking the whip on 250 horses will go from 60 to zero in about a boat length next weekend.

heavy boat traffic is why I now charge a premium for working on Saturdays: $1000/4 hrs. for up to 2 anglers. The same rate applies for holiday weekends, but I supply red rubber noses and orange fright wigs in addition to terminal tackle, and advise clients they need to bring their own popcorn and peanuts.

After a lifetime of fishing the Miss–the past 20 of which mostly exploring Pool 9– I’ve concluded that fishin’ here is like a pendulum. For the past two years consistent success has been tough. Over the past few weeks fishin’ has become LOL easy–with the exception of hazards to navigation.

During the week I’m out there pretty much every day. Still have some openings during the week. So far, Saturdays are WIDE OPEN. Time for church on-line now. With the exception of holiday weekends, still booking trips on Sunday afternoons. Best time to be on the River, as NASCAR on the water has pretty much gone home.

Bite is HOT–and getting better every day!

Bite is HOT–and getting better every day!

Fishing is GREAT right now for all species on Pool 9! As of today, Wi. gov. Evers has opened the state to allow guiding again. don’t matter. Never needed that pinhead’s permission to work anyway!
River has dropped below ‘action stage’ now and projections call for falling trend to continue for the forseeable future. Yesterday, the water temp had dropped to 52. Fish didn’t seem to mind! Ambient temp should rocket up from this point forward, prompting spawning in warmwater species like bass, gills, crappies. Predators like pike and walleyes will follow this movement closely and be on a serious chew.
Most exciting is fact that we are now able to fish places in May into early June which we haven’t been able to fish for TWO YEARS! On a personal mission to edumacate as many of those scaly critters as possible during the week, with quite a few dates still open for those who want to hire this old guide

55: Brown Bass Come alive!

55: Brown Bass Come alive!

Water temps on the main channel are about 52 as of this morning, 55 degrees in most of the running sloughs. The River level is continuing to drop nicely. if this trend continues, level should be below ‘action stage’ by May 5.

Picking up a fair number of walleye/sauger pulling 3-ways or leadcore in sand-bottomed running sloughs now. Walleyes tend to favor 8-11 f.o.w. , with saugers holding a few feet deeper–usually with a little more current.

White bass are spawning, stacking near current/slackwater interfaces. My all-time favorite search bait is a oxbow pattern Rat-L-Trap. also a big fan of Blakemore Buffet rig (2 roadrunners w/spinners in tandem)

Smallmouth bass are on the move, both migrating up into tribs and staging near wood in dark bottom sloughs in preparation for spawning.

1st guide trip of the year is tomorrow. Until this covid 19 bruhaha ends I am limiting trips to no more than 2 clients. Kinda tough negotiating around the Plexiglass shield around the driver’s seat to get to the net…which is getting plenty of use now!

River trajectory is hopeful

River trajectory is hopeful

River levels have been borderline outrageous for a couple of weeks. But projections as of Easter Monday call for levels to drop at least to the point where more ‘edges’ beyond the nebulous shoreline on both sides become visible providing greater access to fish.

Water temperatures have dropped from 47 down to about 42 over the past few days. Typical walleye spawn is April 20ish. but I think many ‘eyes got ‘er done already. I had been catching saugers and post spawn fish pulling 3-ways and leadcore in that 42 degree water in 8-14 fow prior to the winter redux we are now experiencing. Bait profile, COLOR and trolling speed were all critical last time out .

Ambient air temps > 40 are forecast beginning later this week. Believe I’ll get out ‘fun fishin’ for these critters then and maybe go for SMB & pike. Was catching a few SMB pitching Northland Buckaroo jigs/Sassafras pattern PulseR’s even in the chilled water. Every reason to expect this action to continue–and improve–as waters continue to warm and hopefully drop by the traditional walleye spawn time of 4/20.

Believe I will start guiding again on 4/20. From this point forward I’m not gonna work too hard at guiding. last year’s flood induced slim pickins and chance to fun fish hard so far this Spring has produced personal edification beyond that generated by a stack of dead presidents and my favorite renaissance man; America’s first fire chief.

But I love teaching folks how to fish the River. Benny & his brothers continue to make guiding a happy/happy choice. tight lines y’all

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