In order to locate good concentrations of fish for the upcoming Country on the River Tournament out of Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, my friend and fishing partner Rick and I planned to spend the better part of six days pre-fishing. And yesterday was the beginning of our optimistic journey toward cashing a check at this summers most popular, and valuable tournament on the upper Mississippi river. With the recent rains in the area, the river levels were predicted to be rising slowly, which didn't concern us as much as the anticipated water clarity we might be experiencing. Chocolate milk is what I expected to see when we arrived at the boat ramp, however, we were pleasantly surprised to see cleaner water and hoped it would be consistent as we set out on our first of several pre-fishing days.
As we pulled out of the marina and headed to our first spot, my excitement was increasing by the moment because we were headed to a spot that Rick has previously slaughtered fish two weeks prior. As we pulled up on the spot, Rick quickly noticed the increased water level, and the increased current over this spot. This spot had all the components including current, rocks, wood, and weeds. As we began fishing this area from the main current side, we realised boat control was going to be an issue, and if we intended on fishing for the entire morning, fighting this current with the trolling motor on high wasn't going to be an option. So we let the current float the boat down stream from the spot and made our way around the back side of the current break. There we were greeted with our first largemouth of the day from just off the weedy shoreline on a single bladed spinner bait. A solid keeper, but long and skinny. We continued to fish this spot for another 20-30 minutes managing only one other fish off the same spinner bait. Even though the second fish was a solid smallmouth, we made a few more casts, found a few more rocks to snag our lures on, and decided to move to another spot within sight of our current position.
The next few spots produced nothing but a dink, however, our movement did expose us to the reality of just how many bass boats were out pre-fishing for the weekend BFL tournament out of Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin the very next day. After realizing we'd spent a few hours with little to show for it, we decided to head back to our starting spot and see if the fish were more active than they were at first light. We placed the boat in about the same spot behind the current and up against the shoreline and began fan casting the point like we had previously done. Within a few casts, Rick hooked into a solid largemouth with less than five feet of line out. This fish short lined a River's Edge swim jig within feet of the boat and surprised us both. Shortly after that, I hooked up with a good smallmouth that made one solid effort to spring out of the water and throw my spinner bait, and he succeeded. I'm not sure which situation is worse. Never seeing a fish that you've hooked into that doubles over your rod, or getting the pleasure of seeing a nice fish leap out of the water as he spits your lure. Both are equally painful. Regardless, Rick and I fished the spot a little longer and decided to head to a few weed choked spots in search of faster action.
As we pulled into the entrance of a shallow water lake, we began counting the bass boats in the top end. With this disheartening news, we decided to give the bottom end a little effort because the entrance had a nice weed point, slightly flooded with a current break going from inches of water to 5'-6'. Even though the conditions seemed right, and we'd thrown a variety of baits, the fish weren't there, or didn't have an interest in what we where throwing. At that point, we moved to the shoreline where the boat docks ended and the weed line begins with no more success. So, we decided to head into a weed chocked back water down stream to finish our day fishing frogs in hopes this is where the fish would be as the sun creeped higher in the sky.
Our final spot had all the components for tossing the vulnerable frogs across a loose mad of weeds and having them exploded on by hungry largemouth. But as we wound our way through the mats of grass, the only real action was occasionally pulling up the trolling motor and removing the salad that had accumulated in the prop. We did manage to have one largemouth under two pounds slam into a green/white Spro Frog a short distance from the boat, but that would be our final fish of the day. As we idled our way back to the boat ramp, it was funny, and quite obvious to use we were being out fished by a Pelican that was eating more fish in 10 yards than we'd seen all day.
The ride home was spent discussing the potential for increased water levels over the next week, where our efforts should be focused, how the fish might react to the changing water levels, and what we'd learned from the days fishing. It wasn't a day filled with observations that would direct our efforts over the next few weeks, however, it did help us eliminate some stretches of water, and with alot of water to cover in the next week, every little bit helps.