As fast as the open water season began, I am sad to say that it is once again over. At least for me, and at least for a little while. Saturday we snuck out one last time knowing that it was likely to be the last day of the early spring run on the area that I like to fish. All the local news stations were reporting flood warnings for nearly every river in the state, and my thoughts were that I could get just one more trip in before it got too out of control. If you fish the rivers a lot, then you probably know there are online resources that show you what is happening. The changes I was watching online were incredible, but I figured one last hurrah was well within the cards.
We hopped in the boat and found exactly what we thought we would. Dramatic changes from the day prior. The water levels rose about 1 foot higher than the previous afternoon. The water temps were a solid degree cooler, and nearly doubled in speed. We knew that we were in for a tough bite, but we didn't care. We were going to fish hard and see what our rewards would be.
We tried a few locations and found no fish. The cold water temps gave them lock-jaw. After our 3rd move we finally got a bite. A nice one at that. In the conditions, it was a surprise to see that the fish actually ate the bait instead of accidentally getting snagged below the jaw. An interesting scenario in the high water and heavy current is that you can actually be fishing where the fish are, but they won't bite. The fast current speed moves your jig so fast that you snag fish just below the mouth. They are facing upstream and you are moving downstream at a rate so fast that while jigging up and down along the bottom you can actually snag them. If the jig is in the mouth, then they ate, if it's below, then you simply snagged them. More people snag them in the high current than actually realize it, and I just don't care to do that.
Our first bite of the day was in the mouth, an eater, and I was pleasantly surprised. This gave us hope to continue the rest of the afternoon in that location. It wasn't gang busters by any means, and the area where the fish were was a very short stretch of river. We could fish it for about 1 minute and then take 5 to go back upstream and start over. A tough way to fish, but we eeked out a grand total of 6 nice walleyes. Again, this wasn't awesome, but we toughed it out and made something out of very little.
This story does prove that you can catch fish in high water, however it doesn't mean that you should try. I've received many emails over the course of the last few days, and my response has been the same for all. If you are questioning whether or not you should be on the water right now, then the answer is that you should not. Wait for the levels to go down, wait for it to be safer, and wait for it to be worth your time. I checked the status of the river again today and I will just say that it makes Saturday look like a slow moving babbling brook. This is just the beginning of what mother nature has to offer. It will get far worse before it gets any better. I'm sorry if you missed out on the action this year, but it is now going to be a while before it gets better. The flood is here. From the raging waters of the mighty Mississippi, keep on livin' the dream!