I could write for hours on how frustrated i am at the Mississippi river levels on pools 9, 10, and 11. Its been over 14' and as high was 18' with a projected crest next tuesday of 22.7'. Needless to say this has put a damper on my early season fishing, forced the cancellation of our first club tournament, and is threatening the Iowa State Bass Federation spring tournament the last week of April.
Since the mighty Mississippi doesn't want to yield any of its early season bass fishing, i've had to take advantage of what is available to satisfy this bassing itch. And that has meant fishing the Maquoketa river. The river levels have remained stable the last few weeks and the water clarity is excellent. This has created a normal spawning window for this rivers smallmouth population, which in years past, has been increasing in quantity and quality of fish. I have been targeting two different locations with similar depth, around 4'-6', and similar structure, which includes larger rocks near the shoreline and smaller rock flats out from the bank with slow but steady current. The first spot i targeted was one i'd had luck in previous years throwing a chartreuse and blue 4'-5' diving crank bait. Specifically cranking the lure until it hit bottom and then slowing my retrieve so the lure would touch an occasional rock or two but mostly stay off the bottom. So, after 10-15 casts, I began to think the smallmouth had stopped using this as a spawing flat when i spotted a small fish following the crankbait to the shoreline. So the next few casts I tried to stagger my retrieve thinking once the lure would pause, the bass would be enticed to strike. No suck luck. However, I did have a second decent sized fish follow the lure to the bank. This made me analyze how the pause in the crank bait might look to the fish. As we all know, a standard crank bait will start to rise when we stop retrieving, and this unnatural presentation is usually a deal breaker. So I remembered I had a couple Rapala Husky jerks in one of my crank bait boxes, and tied one on. This change in presentation was the answer on the second cast! The first smallmouth of the year, a small male, crushed the jerk bait as it sat suspended in the water column. In the same amount of casts i'd made with no luck using a chartreuse and blue standard crankbait, i caught four smallmouth and had one get off using this suspending jerk bait. This was enough to satisfy my bassing itch for that day, and also reminded me that i hadn't forgoten to take the little pieces of information the fish give you, and use it to your advantage.
(The weather conditions were sunny, little to no breeze, 55-57 degree air temperature, and the time was 10:30-11:00 am.)