My introduction to the Mississippi river began when I was old enough to walk, and I've been in love with this river ever since. My grandparents owned a summer home in Harpers Ferry and I can remember spending almost every summer weekend with my grandfather on the river fishing for everything from blue gills and crappies, to walleye and northern pike. So every Memorial Day, I spend at least part of my day fishing the Mississippi river allowing it to take me back to much simpler times in my life. And this last Memorial Day was no exception as I spent another day on pool 9 with Eric, a fellow Northeast Iowa Bass angler.
As fun as consistantly catching fish can be, Eric and I both wanted to keep searching for bigger fish so we put the poles down and quickly traveled around the corner and into a partially flooded island cove out of the wind. Eric quickly noticed all the activity in the area, but realized it was carp and other rough fish making all the commotion. Regardless, the area looked solid with shallow, but cleaner water and fresh green grass patches springing up to the east of our boat and an immature lilly pad field to the west of the boat. Eric blanketed the weed line with a spinner bait and swim jig and I pounded the small lilly pad field with a modified Stanley Vibrashaft spinner bait. Eric quickly swept two solid 2-1/2lb fish into the boat and I added a third keeper minutes after that. As we made our way between the weeds and pad field we would pick up a keeper every 10-15 minutes, but what made this intriguing was the fact we were catching no dinks. These were solid tournament fish. As we made our way into the very back side of the island we were in very skinny water and spooking fish as we went. At first we thought these were the carp we'd seen jumping and moving around earlier, but Eric and I both realized these weren't very quickly when he hooked into a solid 3lb largemouth and I boated another solid keeper on a Rivers Edge Peanut Butter and Jelly Swim jig. This area was being used for spawning and the pad field on the outside was a staging area near deeper water. Even though the fishing wasn't fast and furious, we continued to pull quality fish from this area until my watch told me it was time to be getting back to the vehicle and heading for home.
Eric and I began the day struggling to find consistent fish in areas we both thought would be holding various stages of spawning fish. But as it often plays out, we needed to move around from spot to spot to find areas with active fish. Even though we caught fish in two main areas, it was clear this was two different kinds of "active". The mouth of the creek had fish in the feeding mode with schools of bait fish holding behind almost every log and current break. The shallow weed flat and adjacent lilly pad field had larger fish, but they were reacting to baits in and around spawning beds. Regardless, we would have had a solid bag of fish on any tournament day, and in the process, learned a lot about how the fish were using the two different areas for different purposes.