Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A day off.........

     After attempting to take a day off from work here and there, and never having it work out for one reason or another, I was finally able to get a Friday off. A long time friend had just purchased a new boat, so we decided to venture out on pool 10 with his son Ryan to try and figure out what the bass were doing with the decreasing water levels. After a short map session, we decided to start our morning up the Wisconsin river and see if the smallmouth were starting to school up and feed agressively after having so much water available to them over the last three weeks.
     We started our morning near the railroad trussel on a short stretch of bank with water levels near the bank around 1'-2' sloping into 10'-12'. Terry and Ryan started the day fishing Stanley White and Chartruesse spinner baits while I followed up behind them with an RC Tackle Brown and Tan Beaver. It didn't take long before the RC Beaver got bit but I failed the seal the deal with the hook set. A cast or two later, Terry had our first fish of the day, a 1-1/4 lb largemouth. Very quickly Ryan followed up with similar sized fish and quickly after that, I sank the hook into a solid 2+lb fish that came very close to the bottom of the water column in 8'-9'. We continued to fish our way up the bank edging our way closer to a point where we had been seeing active feeding taking place. After watching the bait fish getting chased, I was confident in our ablility to take a few fish off a Berkly Pop-R, but after a dozen or so casts, that pole quickly got put down, and the flipping stick got picked up. We continued around the corner and onto a rock wall with 7'-10' of water and good current coming out of a flooded lake. This had the makings of a solid transition spot for smallmouth coming out and largemouth going in. To our delite, the smallmouth were there, and hungry. Ryan and I both caught fish immediately while Terry had a few bites, but couldnt hook up at first. However, he would have the last laugh on us as we got to watch him set the hook on a solid 3 lb smallmouth he quickly boated. We continued to fish the rock wall picking up a small fish here or there, but nothing like the solid fish Terry caught earlier. So we fished out and around the rock wall, packed up our gear and headed to our next few spots.

     Because of the recent high water, the bass have had to fight the Mississippi river current almost anywhere they go, however, it has been in some of the strongest currents we could find that the fish have been in good concentrations. So we stuck with that plan for the next few spots, but had little luck finding anything more than a dink her and there. So, by late morning we decided to hit a few back water lakes where we thought we could find fishing using the entrances as highways to and from deeper water. In one of sloughs bordering the Wisconsin side, we headed into a shallow, but large, backwater lake only to find a bass boat in the entrance. Quietly going by the other boat we decided to fish a grouping of dead lilly pad stems where we had found fish in weeks past. After about 45 minutes, this philosophy was quickly put to rest as the water levels where barely reaching 2.7'-2.9', and we hadn't had a bite. So, we decided to head out of a flooded opening at the south east end of the lake. As we trimmed up the big motor and pulled up the trolling motor to glide through the shallow opening, Terry noticed bait fish getting chased within feet of the boat. So I quickly threw a spinner bait in the area and got crushed, but was unable to hook up. Terry let the boat drift through the opening, which was only about the length of the boat wide, and turned us around so we could cast at the targeted area. What a spot this turned out to be. The smallmouth were stacked up behind the base of three large trees feeding on a school of bait fish. And for the next hour, we were catching fish at will. Spinner baits, chatter bait, tubes, jigs, crankbaits, and beavers got bit with rectlessness by an agressive group of smallmouth. The current was howling through the cut, but the fish were holding in a very defined area and if you landed in that 5 yard circle, you got bit almost immediately. Ryan took the biggest smallmouth of the group on a Rivers Edge Chatterbait weighing easily over 3+ lbs with a wide range of sizes coming in the 30 or more fish we took off that spot before the action finally cooled off. Needless to say, always keep your eyes open because sometimes, the fish will give themselves away.
     After the barrage of fish we'd recently experienced, it was hard to believe it could get much better than that, so we considered calling it a day. But since we had a lot of water between us and the boat ramp, we decided to check a few other areas on our way back up river. For Terry, this was the right idea, because he landed the largest fish of the day in a small back water area near Johnson slough. This 3-1/4 to 3-1/2 largemouth slammed into Terry's spinner bait after he made a cast to the base of two intersecting trees in about 2' of water. This was a pre-spawn female with a good size belly which led us to believe we might have been in an area with more females making or sitting on spawning beds. But no suck luck as we fished the entire area with only one other small fish to show for it. But our day wasn't over as I had one more stretch of bank i wanted us to fish before we quit.
     The shoreline I wanted to check was in a secondary channel with current on a flooded rock and small tree bank. It took two cast of my pumpkin green RC Tackle Beaver before we found eager fish. I pulled in my largest fish of the day, a 2-1/2 lb largemouth followed quickly by smaller, but equally agressive fish. We never found another solid fish on that bank, but given the time of day, i believe the quality of fish would have increased had we been there first thing in the morning.
     Regardless, we had an excellent day on the water with a vareity of fish coming on a multitude of baits and techniques. Spinnerbaits and plastic beavers and tubes brought us the majority of the fish, but overall, the placement of the bait was the real factor in getting the fish to react to the presentation.

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