It never gets old saying this, but a bad day of fishing still beats a good day at work. But when you get a good day of fishing, on your vacation day, it makes it that much more satisfying. Terry, a long time friend, and I spent Friday on pool 10 of the upper Mississippi river fishing the aggressive fall shad bite. For me, it was the beginning of a three day stretch of fishing culminating in the final club tournament of the year on Sunday. So Terry and I decided to leave work behind and spent the day pre-fishing pool 10 despite the forecasted 20-30 mph southwesterly winds. We wasted no time at the ramp putting on the boat lights, dropping the boat in the water, and heading out into the morning chill.
As we settled into our first spot of the morning, we noticed we had an excessive amount of boat traffic all around us. Including one boat who decided that 20 yards away from our boat would be a nice place to drop anchor and start casting to the same piece of cover we were currently fishing. Now I've seen just about every version of inconsiderate stupidity this sport has to offer, but this person was pushing the envelope. Terry and I were hooking up with a fish on crankbaits every third or fourth cast, so it was obvious we knew where they were sitting and casting directly to the spot. This individual decided he could reach that spot with a little extra effort on the cast and started pulling fish as well. I could see after a while this as getting under Terry's skin, despite the fact we were also catching fish. No big fish, but decent. So collectively we decided to move on to our next spot and leave this area to our very special "Guest".
The move turned out to be a good strategy for us as we dropped down near a secondary point and immediately began catching good fish. Terry hooked into a pair of solid 2lb largemouth on back to back casts and I began a stretch where I either got bit on every cast or managed a fish of a variety of sizes to the boat. This shallow point was a typical fall spot where the bass where holding in shallow water just off the main current flow. It was still early enough where I expected to get a top water bite, especially with how shallow the fish were holding, but couldn't manage a single taker on my pop-r. We continued to catch fish for about a half hour longer and slowly, but surely, the bite slowed and finally shut off. The boat traffic was continuing to pick up and the waves flowing over the shallow water was probably a factor in the equation. As we fished this spot, I was eyeing another spot just across the river and as soon as the poles and trolling motor were pulled up, we headed to it.
This spot was considerably deeper but had a nice combination of wood and current. So as Terry threw a deeper crankbait, I started throwing a Rivers Edge Jig. After a few yards of bank, I had the jig swim off and set the hook on a chunky 2-1/2lb largemouth. This fish came out of about 6'-7 of water and away from the shoreline which was in direct contrast to how shallow the fish were on the first two spots of the morning. As I continued to get bit on the jig, Terry started to pull a few fish with his crankbait. As we turned the corner, we noticed another bass boat fishing the bank toward us so we saddled up and headed up river to another secondary cut with lots of timber and a few points. As we quickly figured out, the fish were almost everywhere they should be this time of year. Points, back water cuts, in a variety of depths in the water column. The real trick to figuring this puzzle out was finding the bigger bass in a sea of 1lb to 2lb fish. As Terry and I continued to catch fish in almost every spot we stopped, we began tossing different lure combinations trying to see if the profile of the bait or the action would trigger larger fish. But we couldn't manage any fish larger than 2-3/4lbs to 3lbs. And these size fish were inconsistent at best.
Overall, it was a short, but productive day on the water. The bite remained the same as the day progressed and we caught fish on a variety of lures. The fall bite is in full swing and the information gathered today will aid in my decision making process over the next practice day and the following tournament day.