Days of travel: Three. Hours spent behind the wheel: 22. Number of Snickers eaten: Five. Getting a chance to fish the Mississippi River in two different states in one weekend: Priceless… and exhausting.
I just got back from a trip where I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to fish for smallmouth up near Lacrosse, Wisc., and walleye in Davenport, Iowa all in the same weekend. If you ever need a way to spend a weekend, I highly recommend! The weather wasn’t very cooperative — a massive high-pressure system (cold front) hit the night before my first day on the water, bringing with it a COLD North wind — but even in the less-than-ideal conditions, the fishery showed how amazing it can be.
Pro Curtis Samo of Rochelle, Ill., let me in on a little pattern that he’s been using to catch massive limits of smallmouth on the Mississippi, and he showed it off to me in person on Saturday. I don’t want to give too much away as the pattern will be featured in an article sometime in 2009, but man is it fun. Even with the weather and another boat sitting on our spot, we managed to catch and see more than our fair share of largemouth and smallies. The biggest was 4-pound smallmouth Samo caught on a topwater, and I had my shot at its twin on a Carolina rig, but the toad broke off. Word to the wise, remember to check leaders for nicks. Big river smallies make short work of any gear that isn’t in pristine shape.
Two side notes on the bass in the Mississippi: 1.) Man do they hit hard. Had that fish that broke off not almost knocked the rod out of my hands, I’d probably be at the doctor right now having him look at my seperated shoulder. 2.) Those fish are eating well. Every fish was solid, with a few downright fat. Some of the thickest fish I’ve seen up north.
After saying thanks and goodbye to Curtis, four hours of driving later put me in the boat of Davenport, Iowa pro Chris Burns on Sunday. From the start I knew it would be a good day. I cannot stress enough how much more comfortable a boat ride into a cold north wind is with a massive windshield on the boat. The day before that wind tore right through me, froze the inner workings of my body, and made me wish for a space heater. Sunday, I sat behind that windshield like it was my own personal fortress.
We started off three-way rigging jigs tipped with crawlers on a wingdam and quickly started reeling in the ‘eyes. There was one particular spot on the dam where the current seemed to create a vacuum and the fish were sitting right in it. We could always tell when our baits were in the sweet spot because we could feel the bottom so much better. Just when you’d start to feel the bottom a fish would be sucking on your worm. Burns was convinced there was a big fish sitting on the spot, but the largest we managed was a chunky 22-incher — still not a bad fish with the conditions. We fooled around and hit a few more wingdams and some rip rap, catching a few drum and a token catfish (I seem to catch those things no matter where I go!) before calling it a day.
All and all a fun trip at a great fishery. Though it did make me want to desperately invent a teleporter. The river is beautiful, but hours of driving through the surrounding scenery of flat cornfields to get there can drag on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m taking a nap. I plan on waking up in a week or so.
Slam the hooks!