Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wood, weeds, rocks, or pads.........

     With the impending high water looming in the back of my mind, I figured I had better get on the water before the water rises and the islands start to disappear. So, I decided to take a day off and hop in with a father/son duo and fish pool 10 on what turned out to be a beautiful June day. Terry and Ryan picked me at the ramp, and as I quickly loaded up my gear, I got to hear about the success they'd had the first hour of the morning as I was busy driving to the ramp. They both had good fish off Bandit crankbaits and River's Edge swim jigs. As I looked over the photos that were barely an hour old, my anticipation grew as we quickly made it to our back water destination.
     Terry positioned the boat 20-25 yards off a weed chocked shoreline just off the main channel. The water had already risen over the past few days so we had lilly pads and grass on both sides of the boat in water ranging from 2'-6'. Ideal early morning conditions for a Pop-R, Buzz bait, or any top water lure. However, as we spent 30+ minutes throwing these lures, we failed to entice a single blow up. Collectively, we noticed the water color was significantly stained the more we wondered through the pad field. So we decided to head to the opposite shoreline, which was dominated by fallen trees and brush, and leave the grass and pads behind. This proved to be the right call very quickly as I hooked into a small bass after only a few casts of an RC Tackle 3" black with red flake tube. And a few casts later, landed a solid 2.7lb largemouth off another lay down. Ryan began catching fish off a swim jig swam slowly around and through the flooded timber lining the bank. In roughly 300-400 yards we'd each caught several fish apiece off soft plastics and slowly swimming a jig. But none of the fish were better than the 2.7lb largemouth, so we decided to head north in search of consitently bigger fish.
     Our next spot was a bit of a disappointment to say the least. I knew the mouth of this cut would have dirty water, but expected it to clear up as we moved toward the secondary lake in the back. We burned almost an hour trying to find clean water, and as we covered water with multiple lures, I began to regret my choice. Terry, Ryan, and I all agreed we should find another stretch of bank similar to the one we'd had our previous success on so we once again strapped everything down and headed further upstream.
     Terry dropped the boat down in the mouth of a cut just off the main channel, and we immediately began catching fish off the wooded bank. The current was significantly stronger than what we'd been fishing most of the day, however, the bass seemed to want the comfort of limbs, logs, and thick brush around them. In general, these fish were eager to bite, but we had to put our lures as closed to the lumber as possible. If you made an accurate cast, it usually resulted in a hook up. As we worked up the wooded shoreline, and finally reached a rocky culvert with 8'-12' of water, I switched to a Rivers Edge flipping jig while Terry threw a deep diving crankbait and Ryan threw the same swim jig he'd been catching fish off of all day. As we worked the deeper water without any luck, we turned our attention to the shallower flooded timber on the opposite shoreline with almost immediate results. Ryan had a fish crush his swim jig and come off shortly after the initial hook set. Usually, that's the end of the story for a particular piece of cover, however, Ryan threw back into the same spot and bent the rod over on a solid 2lb largemouth he quickly got to the boat. It was the bookend to a good day of fishing the quickly rising Mississippi river.
     Two things were clear during this day of fishing............One, the bass wanted the comfort of logs, and laydowns. They were crushing our lures if we got it in the strike zone. And second, Ryan had put on a clinic with the Rivers Edge swim jig. He caught fish at almost all of our stops slowly swimming the jig in and around whatever cover we could find. And what makes this even more impressive is the fact that Ryan was in the middle of the boat with little casting room, sandwiched between two other fisherman who were struggling to keep up with his catch rate.
.........................The old guys appreciate the lesson Ryan.... :-)

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