A week ago, a friend and fellow tournament angler and I decided to take part in the annual 2-man Grant County open in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. We both knew we would have limited pre-fishing time, however having just come off the spring Iowa State Tournament, we had a good feel for pool 10 and since the tournament is always well run, thought we'd spend the entry fee and just go fishing. Eric and another friend of mine spent the Friday before the tournament pre-fishing pool 10 and found fish, but not in great quantities, with the exception of one spot, and that would be our starting spot the morning of the tournament.
As we came around the corner to our first spot, the air was quickly let out of our sails as we saw another tournament angler sitting right on top of our spot. So, we drop in just below and started fishing while politely keeping our distance. Eric managed a solid keeper shortly into our day off a spinnerbait, but the thrill was short lived as we watched the gentleman fishing the "sweet spot", set the hook on three keepers within moments on each other. The spot we needed to be in was fast moving current with a ledge gradually dropping from 2'-3' into 11'-12' of water. A combintion of largemouth and smallmouth would move up the ledge, actively feed, and drop back down. The spot was roughly 10-15 yards long and was not large enough for two boats to effectively fish, so we decided to head up around the corner and into a protected lake to try and find some spawning and posting smallmouth and pre-spawing largemouth. This led us into roughly two hours of exploring with little more than one more keeper that exploded on a Berkley Pop-R in a quiet cove. As we made our way back out of the lake, we were disappointed to find yet another boat on the spot we were seeking and decided to head to other areas in search of fish that would put us in contention.
Eric and Rick had found fish two days earlier in a back water lake enlarged by the flooding Misissippi river, and as we entered the lake, we were suprised to count nine other boats inside the same area. However, we decided to drop the trolling motor and start fishing the outside of a dead lilly pad field in 3'-4' of water. It didn't take Eric long throwing a colorado bladed white and red shirted spinnerbait to boat a 2-1/2 lb and a 3-1/4 lb largemouth quickly helping the cause. We thought this might be a pattern, but after an hour of nothing else but an 8+ lb northern pike on a rattle trap, we moved out of the heavily bass boat ladden backwater and took a short drive to a smaller lake with similar topography.
Shortly into fishing the smaller back water pocket, I hooked into a solid 2lb largemouth off a Rivers Edge white and blue chatterbait and added him to our livewell. We continued to fish into the farthest end of the cove where the water became clear and calm. The area had all the components for holding fish including standing timber, laydowns, buck brush, and most importantly, bait fish. We fished everything we could throw at with no luck until Eric hooked up with a keeper near the transition between timber and the dead lilly pad field on a spinnerbait. Before it was over, he had caught several fish, but only one keeper. The action was fun, but time was getting short and we needed two more keepers to fill our limit. So, we decided to start spot checking our way back to the weigh in.
As we fished our next spot with no luck, we decided to check a heavy current spot we'd seen on our way down the river earlier in the day. This spot had a slight current break in the form of a small rock point and it was worth the stop as I pulled a solid 2+lb largemouth off the first cast with a brown/green/orange Rivers Edge flipping Jig with a papi-craw trailer. After 15 minutes with no luck we ran to one last spot and made a series of casts with spinnerbaits and chatterbaits in flooded backwater filled with timber and sparse lilly pad stims. With the clock winding down on our day, we packed up one fish short of our limit and headed to the weigh in.
Of the eight fish limit, we weighed in seven fish for 15.91lbs. We need the eighth fish to give us a chance at cashing a check, but as hard as we fished, it wasn't meant to be. We caught fish on spinnerbaits, jigs, tubes, and rattletraps, in heavy current, dead water lakes, in shallow and deep water. Which tells us the pattern was a little hard to dial in on given the high water level, the varying stages of the spawn between smallmouth and largemouth, and the immense fishing pressure of the last three weeks on pool 10. Regardless, we were happy with our efforts.