Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The River is Hot!

Dave's first Smallie!
Last week was spend getting the Jon Boat ready to fish the Mississippi River behind the house.  It hadn't been run in almost 2 years as it never made it on the River last summer.  New plugs and gas did the trick and by last Friday it was ready to go.  At the same time my friend David Grant texted me Friday wanna go out on the river tonight?  Well, not finding any excuse I said sure, meet me at the pole shed about 5:30.  We hooked up the boat to my Razor and off to the landing on my neighbors property.  I asked Dave, bass fishing or Lazy man's fishing.  He wasn't too sure so we decided to go both.  Heading up river about 4 miles, we got in front of an island just south of the City of Dayton then drifted down the north side of the river casting crankbaits for smallies.  Dave is pretty good with a casting rig however it took about a half an hour to drill it into his head that when river fishing the fish face upstream so you need to cast above where you want the lure to go then drag it either into them or across their face.  We drifted stern first so I could maintain control with the trolling motor and I think he was in normal lake shoreline fishing mode where you sort of leap frog in front of each other.  While drifting it's really about the spots and one casts tight to the shoreline then drag your lure to the waiting fish.  I assured him that there was no way I could cover every spot and that I would definitely leave you with at least half the good areas..............STOP casting in front of me!!! Well it took about a half mile but being a smart kid he finally figured it out as I pointed out the choicest places to cast.  Bang, a nice smallie grabbed his firetiger Bomber A.  This was not only Dave's first river fish but his first smallie and the fight was on.  These river fish dang near jerk you rod out of your hands and they don't have to be that big.  He was pretty happy about it and even more so after he got the hang of where to cast, we must have gotten 15 smallies in an hour and a half, including a huge one that I estimated in the 20 inch category that took a swipe at my crankbait.  Dave did pretty good for a rookie and we had a lot of fun.  Well it was about 8:00 and I suggested we
Dave's 15 pound channel cat
try Lazy Man's fishing, where we anchored in the pool just below Cloquet Island on the river and fished the bottom with nightcrawlers.  It is one of my favorite ways to fish, I suppose because it really isn't much work.  The pool is around 12 feet deep and has a current edge to it, we fish right on the edge in the calmer part of the current.  One of the things I like to fish with are circle hooks.  If you have the right ones, the fish can swallow the bait however because of the hook shape, it will not become lodged in their throats but catch on the side of their mouth and literally rotate around and hook the fish in the corner of their mouths.  It is very easy to remove the hook and release the fish with little effort without hurting them.  The first bite we got was a big fish, it had taken the hook, swallowed the bait and was heading down river when the hook simply hooked itself in the fishes mouth, no hookset was needed.  I handed the rod over to Dave and the fight was on!  Although last week he got a 22 pound salmon, fighting this fish from an anchored position was a battle unique.  Getting it up to the surface it was a huge channel catfish, maybe 15 to 20 pounds. These fish really fight but those circle hooks work great and it was easy to unhook and have Dave pose for a great picture!  I was another first for him, earlier in the trip his first smallmouth bass and now a significant channel cat.  You probably can tell by his smile that he was having a good time.  We went on to catch another smaller catfish and a first for me in the river, a bullhead, but time was getting late and we had to head back and try to find the boat landing.  That was another adventure as the landing was very slippery and we barely made it back. Back we did though and I would classify it as a great trip for Dave to experience river fishing. He commented that it was hard to believe we were 25 miles from Downtown Minneapolis, but the river is simply a diamond in the rough, and of course it is in my back yard.  Admittedly it also good for my ego, to help pass on some fishing knowledge to a kid that is two generations away from me.  I am thrilled that he likes fishing with this old man, it truly makes one feel young again, thanks Dave!

Todd's first Catfish
As state before I do like fishing the river with night crawlers, it reminds me of my childhood growing up in Eleva when Kevin and I would fish the river all the time, often in August we would go to the chicken plant and get some chicken livers then go below the Buffalo Bridge (the Highway 93 bridge going south across the Buffalo River).  One other option that I have near home is to fish the river from my neighbors dock, it's pretty relaxing, no need to haul the boat down, just drive to the dock, bait up and cast out then set your pole into the dock poles (which make excellent rod holders) and wait for the bite.  This time I asked my neighbor Todd to join me.  He had never been river fishing before, especially like this.  I was showing him the string of bubbles breaking at the water's surface, that's a carp working the bottom.  I don't think he believed me however about 10 minutes later one of the poles doubled over and was pulsating pretty hard.  I grabbed it and gave it to Todd, here you land the first fish.  As stated earlier, the circle hooks will set themselves as the fish pulls against the current and away from the line.  He had a huge carp.  The problem is that we did not have a net and the deck of the dock was about 3 feet above the water.  We could see the fish next to the dock and the only opportunity to handle the fish was to get on the shore and wade through the mud however buy the time we figured it out the hook broke and the fish swam away.  I had made the hook snells with 10 pound mono so lifting a large fish like that was out of the water and 3 feet up would surely snap the line, although it did anyway!  After re-rigging the the pole we casted out again and it wasn't long before the pole bent
over again, This time I wasn't about to lose it.  I let Todd reel it in while I waded in the muck to grab
Golden Redhorse
the fish.   Dang, this fish was another nice cat, I estimate around 18 pounds.  I got it cleaned off and had tod hold it up for a picture before releasing it.  We were on a roll!  Shortly after that we hooked another fish, this time it was what I call a river redhorse as the fins were very dark reddish in color, just like we used to catch in the river back home.  Next was another huge catfish, about the same size as the first one.  Next on the list was a Golden Redhorse, a beautiful bottom feeder, they put up a great fight and their coloration is a stunning golden color.  For some reason I really like catching these fish, and of course beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but they are truly a gorgeous fish. Fishing until dark our final total was 3 channel cats, all at least 15 pounds, 4 redhorse suckers of which 3 of them were the golden type, 2 rock bass which quite honestly I have never caught in the river, and the 1 nice carp, a total of 15 fish for the 2 hours we sat on the dock.  Not bad as those big catfish took about 10 minutes to land, unhook, take pictures, and release.  This time we didn't think of it however I have a new telescoping landing net in the boat that would have worked out just great for this, oh well the muck did wash off pretty easy.  On the way out we stopped at the neighbors house and showed him the pictures, I think he was impressed.  Either way I will probably head back out to the river this weekend as these last two trips have reminded me how much I truly enjoy the simpler aspect of fishing the river.  And besides, one never knows what one will catch, the most exciting part!  I know that this time I am stepping up the size of my snells to 15 pound test!

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