Who needs spring when you can jump right to summer? Considering we fished in T-shirts on March 5th, Ma Nature seems to be giving us a break for all the cold seasons we've endured. What does this sun tan weather in March mean for the fishing? It means that you can just about throw everything out the window and start over.
On a normal year we would have been catching walleyes in the normal spots on the Mighty Mississippi - not so much this year. No moisture meant we had no run-off. No run-off means no current. No current means the fish don't have to relate as tight to specific structure and current breaks. It also means that the water is clear, which means the night bite is in effect. All things that are NOT typical when the water rises and turns dark - on a normal year.
In a handful of outings on pool 2 we were able to catch fish every time out. We never had the big number days that we have grown accustomed to and we never found the true giants. I'll be the first to admit that my knowleadge of the river is still in the learning stages. I fished new areas and techniques looking for the big bite, but never broke the 5 pound mark. I wouldn't call it a dissapointment just a learning experience.
A neat highlight from pool 2 came when Ryan Pederson landed a very rare specie. It's called a Blue Sucker and its on the DNR's rare specie list. This fish can only survive in water that is clean, so this is a good sign for our river system.
Of all the things I have learned while fishing walleyes on the river, one rule still holds true. Large walleyes tend to feed on the shallow flats. Anything over 20 feet is just too deep. Bigger walleyes seem to prefer depths from 5 to 15 feet. If I am fishing deep holes then I can expect plenty of sauger, and walleyes under 20 inches. This rule is almost always true, and this year proves it again.
This year the feeding windows have been short with the best bite occuring after sunset. We've caught some nice fish, but during shorter feeding windows you aren't allowed to dial in on the pattern like you can when they bite all day long. Hence less numbers for most anglers. Plus, the lack of current has allowed the fish to spread out over larger areas. Our best action has been on jig and minnow or jig and ringworms, but even that hasn't been great.
To mix things up I also fished pool 3 for the first time. Fishing new water is always an exciting time for me. I dig the challenge of new fish, new water, and new structure. By the time our 4 hour trip was through, we had found a school of walleye and sauger using a small shallow flat. Mixed with the eyes were a pile of bass. We hoisted fish until we ran out of bait. Then we switched to ringworms and continued catching into the darkness. The best part? No other boats in sight. I'm not saying pool 4 is over-rated, I'm just saying that there are always other options if you're willing to leave the pounded trails. Pool 3 is a good one.
Next up, the Governor's Fishing Opener is coming to town! Who will be the guide? By the grace of God, it just might be me. We should know within a week! Until then, the panfish are biting in the shallow lakes and the walleyes are biting on the river. Get after 'em!