Wednesday, July 12, 2017

First Trip on the River

Nice 16 inch River Walleye
My neighbor Tom Olson stopped by the pole shed on Saturday night and we struck up a conversation regarding the river, it's water levels and the potential to catch a fish or two.  Within 5 minutes we had decided that Sunday afternoon would be a great time to spend a few hours casting for smallmouth bass or what ever was hitting and he volunteered to take his boat.  That was fine with me as I had not been able to get my jon boat out and running yet and it would be nice to be able to sit back and have someone else control the boat.  There are 2 basic methods I like to fish the Mississippi River, drift with the current while casting crankbaits up to the shore and the other is anchoring in a deeper pool and soaking a nightcrawler.  My favorite crankbaits are the Bomber type with rattles which run 3-5 feet deep and are bright colored orange, red, chartreuse, or brown.   Because smallmouth feed on crawfish, these colors work quite well.  Launching across the river in the new park in Ramsey, we headed up river, the water levels were about a foot lower than we expected and it probably would have been better to have my jon boat rather than Toms 16 foot Lund with a 50 hp Merc but we did ok once we got into the main river channel.  Heading upstream we almost got to the City of Dayton before shutting the motor down and starting to drift with the current.  It always takes about 10 minutes to get back in the swing of using a casting rod again and after a few backlashes things were going well as we started catching fish right away.  I would not say the action was fast and furious however it was quite steady.  About 15 minutes into our drift a nice walleye surprised me at the end of my line.  The river has a lot of walleyes in it and someday I need to figure out how to specifically target them but we do get them occasionally casting the shorelines and structures on cranks.  It had been a few years since a walleye graced my drift so it was a welcome site for sure.  Now I have plenty of walleye fillets in my freezer from Canada so I let this one go.  We continued our trek downstream when withing the next half hour I had caught another walleye, two in a day, WOW.  Tom was fishing with a spinner bait and changed to a Shad Rap when he nailed a nice walleye, they looked like they all came out of the same mold!  That was a record for me, 3 walleyes on the River in one trip, it would be nice to be able to do that again sometime.

Biggest of the Day, 18.5 Inches
Did I say the smallies were hitting pretty well?.  Most of our fish were under 12 inches but those smallmouth bass really hit the lure hard.  Actually Tom caught an 11 incher that struck at the lure so hard the hook went through the top of it's head and threw it's brain, killing it instantly.  To be honest we didn't realize it until we released it and it floated belly up, didn't even make a ripple.  Tom scooped it out and along with the walleye he kept, it would go in the frying pan.  Not that it would have gone to waste as there are plenty of Bald Eagles on the river and an easy meal probably would have been appreciated.  Either way it was the right size for the frying pan, that's for sure.   The biggest bass of the trip was caught by Tom towards the end of our day on the river.  It was a nice 18.5 inch smallie, definitely a nice fish.  Although we don't keep an accurate count I would say that we ended the day with 3 nice walleyes and about 20 smallmouth landed and at least 8 others that either threw the hook or missed the lure on a retrieve.  So given that I would say that we had plenty of action all day.  The water was pretty nice and it wasn't too muddy either as usually the Crow Rive which enters the Mississippi in Dayton is quite brown and influences the rive below for a good 5 miles, with the south side of the river bearing the brunt of most of this water, so we almost alway fish the north shore side.  I did get Tom to agree to take a break as casting crankbaits all for 4 hours can take a toll on a guy.  He agreed and we anchored below Cloquet Island to soak a crawler.  I like fishing on the bottom with a crawler, one never knows what will show up at the end of the line, maybe a big catfish or Carp, a pretty redhorse sucker, a walleye, maybe even a sturgeon.  Within minutes of casting out the tip of my pole was bouncing.  I like to use circle hooks however they make it harder to catch fish and can prove frustrating if you don't exactly change your hook setting techniques.  If done right the fish are lip hooked or in the side of it's mouth whereas the fish would simple be gut hooked.  Within 5 minutes the rod tip was bouncing and a small catfish had become impaled on the hook.  After letting it go we headed back in for the evening,  Certainly a fun day on the water with a good friend.

Putting the final touches on the plan to go to the west end of Lac Seul in August so I'm going to meet with the guy who has organized it this week.  It should be fun.  Also it looks like another tip to Lac Seul Outpost is beginning to come together for September.  Mille Lacs shut down last Friday and my friend Bill Lundeen and I have resigned to believe that it will not open up again until Dec 1, when the new "season" starts, or the day the quota system resets,  It's not a lot of fun for guys like Bill yet he is doing OK.  Stop up and say high the next time you drive buy...........and of course buy some minnows!!

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