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

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 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!