Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Back on the River

20" Smallie on a 6 inch sucker minnow
My good friend Pete has been doing really well on the Mississippi River, including some really nice walleyes.  He fishes the Monticello area and knows that river like the back of his hand and his report on Saturday was no different, 20 fish, 15 smallies and 5 walleyes.  Figuring out where the walleyes are on the stretch of the river behind the house has proven difficult at best.  Although there has been 4 walleyes caught in my river boat this year, nothing has been of any significance compared to the stories I have heard.  Some of those stories were heard on Sunday morning as I stopped by my friend Rick Shermer, returning his tractor with a 6 foot rototiller attached to the back. BTW, it a phenomenal machine which gave me the time to go fishing but that's another story.  Rick's friend John was picking his apples as I parked the tractor and walked up to them.  My neighbor Lory had offered to pick me up and was there to take in the conversation about fishing the river in Dayton.  John sounded like he had fished the area and was familiar with all the "walleye holes" from the bridge across Hwy 101 to behind the house and with time running away from us we decided to try this stretch one more time.  It's pretty easy as we simply hook the boat to the ATV, open a few gates and we are on the river in less than 10 minutes.  Planning on fishing the Mississippi on Sunday I had stopped at the hardware store to buy some smaller sucker minnows in that 4 - 6 inch range.  Arriving at home my aerator on my Engel Bait Cooler didn't work so it was off to Cabela's to get a new air pump.  They had a Marine Metals Hush Bubbler Air pump and I am pretty impressed as it is significantly quieter than the one that came with the Engel.  With the sucker minnows alive and ready to go we hit the river.  With the water clarity at over 4 feet and it's temperature in the low 50's we concentrated on a couple of deep eddies that usually hold fish. Looking for those elusive walleyes, it seems as though they should be congregating in these holes about now.  Lory decided to fish with a jig and plastic while I rigged up a simple slip sinker and a 18 inch leader with a plain hook and a sucker minnow.  We worked the first hole pretty good but didn't
Lory's 18 incher
have single hit.  Next stop was the next eddy behind Cloquet Island, it's 10 - 12 feet deep and "should" be loaded with fish.  Within a few minutes of dropping my sucker to the bottom of the current break I noticed the line moving in the opposite direction it had been going.  Taking up the slack it was obvious a fish had my minnow but with a circle hook one has to simply reel the line and yanked the bait out of it's mouth.  Verifying the sucker minnow was still good I put it right back in and as it hit the bottom it started moving away.  This time I gave it a minute to take the bait and when I reeled the hook drove home.  This fish was a dandy and once Lory got it in the net we measured the smallmouth at 20 inches.   Within a few minutes Lory had a nice fish on but we never saw it.  His determination to land a fish with plastic paid off with a nice 18 inch smallie.  Our next stop was were we caught a walleye in the main current near the old Steven's farm.  A couple of drifts produced nothing so we headed up river to the spot John has given us.  I knew where he was talking about and once we arrived it wasn't easy to fish his spot with a boat, in fact it was all but impossible with the amount of water flowing.  Nest time I see John we are going to have that discussion!

Check out the red eyes!
Our next stop was checking out what was upriver from where the Crow empties into the Mississippi. After navigating the rapids below this point we found a very nice eddy that looked promising yet after 20 minutes we didn't even have a hit.  Deciding to try the area just below the 101 Bridge again, another great looking spot but not one fish.  I suspect that maybe we simply needed to spend more time but with the day running out we headed to the bridge to fish the pillars.  We were greeted by a Cajun Bass boat with 2 guys casting the area with plastic.  I sensed they had been there before as we watched them orchestrate a number of precise casts into the pillars.  Not wanting to horn in too bad we waited for them to move off then dropped our lines.  Within a minute a nice fish hit my sucker minnow and the fight was on and soon a nice 18 inch smallie was in the net.  In the meantime the guys in the Cajun noticed the fish and gave us a nice compliment as they had been only getting smaller fish.  Big fish like big minnows, that's all I could say.  Lory did get a couple smaller smallies before we headed back down river to fish the Cloquet Island area before dark.   It's nice to have the GPS trails to help you back yet one never knows if your choice of routes is the ideal one as we still hit a number of rocks on the way downstream.  Luckily the Rock Hopper really does a great job of keeping the propeller intact and we didn't miss a beat.  Arriving back where I caught the first fish another 18.5 inch fish hit my minnow and we landed that.  Lory decided to try the sucker minnows and immediately had a nice bite but unlike plastic, it's good to give the fish some time which is hard to do if you are used to setting the hook right away.  Those 6 inch sucker minnows take time to get turned in the fishes mouth and patience is certainly needed.   The last spot was the first one we tried and although it's been a good producer it never did anything for us this trip.  We ended up with 8 smallies with 6 of them in the 18 - 20 inch range.  The walleyes continue to elude us but I'm not giving up as they have to be somewhere, I've heard stories you know!

I am heading to see my friend Bill Lundeen on Thursday to try a little trout fishing.  It's been a while since I have fished with Bill for trout so I'm pretty excited and hopefully we'll be successful.  I had helped my friend Mark Taylor pull his big boat out of Lake Minnetonka and besides the usual reward of E & J, he brought some smoked salmon from Costco.  I have to admit it was pretty good, enough to buy it myself.  The Salem Ice Cabin is about ready for ice fishing as I have finished up the last of the improvements, now we are just waiting for the lakes to freeze over.  The Packers won convincingly last Sunday, the fish are biting, Indian Summer continues, I'm not sure there's much to complain about other than the speed in which time flies these days.

1 comment:

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service said...

Next time ice fishing I guess I can pick up some Costco fish instead of bringing my own. Ha!


p.s. beautiful bronze backs. You should haul your boat up to Crow Wing State Park. That stretch of river is very good for smallies and muskies.