As previous discussed, the Mississippi river is still very very high, and is not expected to drop below 15' for another four to five days. Therefore, I took another opportunity today to wet a line on an inland river after recieving an invitation from Eric, who happens to know the Wapsipinicon river backwater extremely well. So, after the Easter eggs where found, dinner was eaten, and the children were busy cracking open Easter candy, I headed out. Eric had already been on the water for an hour with little luck as I pulled up to the ramp, loaded my gear into his boat and headed up river. The water temperature was hovering around 45 degrees in stronger current with 46-47 degrees common in slower moving current points and back water. Expecting a combination of smallmouth and largemouth, I decided to tie on a Stanley Vibrashaft white and chartruese spinner bait, an RC Tackle black with red flake 4" tube, a Bandit chartruese and blue 6-8' crankbait and given my previous success with this bait, a Rapala suspending Husky Jerk. As Eric pulled up to the first spot, he explained the topography and depth in which we'd be fishing. A small channel break bending around the top side of an island that created a back flush in 4'-6' of water. I began throwing the 4" black tube while Eric started with a spinner bait. After about several casts, my tube got picked up and carried off, and as I set the hook, drew only water. This got my blood going and I threw back again and again in anticipation of another carry or tic of the line. But there was no cooperation below the surface, so I switched to the spinner bait, the crankbait, and jerkbait, and back to the tube. Both Eric and I had thrown everything we had tied on with no takers. So, we moved on to the next few spots.
The reoccuring theme was brush and timber in shallow water with both current and slack water within reach of either side of the boat. Usually a recipie for successfull bass fishing this time of year, or at least that's what we both thought. We fished every log, brush pile, current break and bassy looking cover we could find with little success. Eric did manage a solid 1-3/4 lb large mouth on a chatterbait down a 4'-5' deep log jammed stretch of bank that looked like it should hold dozens of fish that size and bigger. This time of year, slow current on a bank holding 4'-5' of water should have various stages of spawning smallmouth and winter starved largemouth. The question of whether the fish were actually there, or if the presentations we were using were the issue, kept running through my mind. Eric had caught fish in these stretches earlier this year so it was as puzzling to him as it was to me.
Since I knew my trip today was going to be short, around 1:45, Eric decided to show me a stretch of back water that might have warmed up more than the spots we'd been fishing since 11:00 am. So we laid the poles down and headed to our last spot of the day.
As we weaved our way through a few narrow cuts and the river opened up into a large backwater with cabins, docks and rock banks, I knew why he decided to head to this area. And shortly after we started fishing, it was confirmed with 50+ degree water, one small largemouth on Erics second cast, and a second bite a couple of casts later. With the max depth in these areas being only 2'-4', and little to no current, the water had a 3-4 degree increase in temperature over the water we fished earlier in the day, and we both believe this was the difference in our success. The only draw back was that we'd found it with only 15 minutes left in my fishing day.
So as Eric dropped me off at the boat ramp, I was more than a little jealous as I watched his boat speed off upstream to were we'd finally found fish..............