Fred Roumbanis surveys an area devoid of current on the Upper Mississippi River during the second day of practice for the FLW Super Tournament. Photo by Mason Prince

Day number three of practice has come and gone for the more than 200 competing anglers in the second FLW Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament of the year on the Upper Mississippi River. The pros got their final practice shots at Pools 7, 8 and 9 before competition begins on Wednesday. Here are a few things the anglers saw through three days of practice and what they have their eyes on for tomorrow.

Low Water Levels Proving Problematic

According to many anglers, the Upper Mississippi on Pools 7 and 8 are pretty low. Veteran anglers with multiple events under their belt in La Crosse were very surprised to find out just how much the water has fallen since the last time they were here.

“The bite is tough, and this is not the Upper Mississippi I’m used to,” MLF pro Skeet Reese said. “I thought with the water level down we might find some fish schooling and that just hasn’t been the case. Still, there’s too many fish in this place to not get bit. I just have to do some reassessing and get a good plan in place for tomorrow.”

Tennessee pro John Murray echoes Reese’s thoughts on the difficult bite.

“The hot weather here, the falling water level and the fact that these fish are so pressured are all contributing to the difficulty I think,” Murray detailed. “I’m used to finding schools here the six or seven tournaments I’ve fished here and I just haven’t found any. I’m going to have to go looking for some spots where I will maybe get five bites all day just to get five in the boat. It’s definitely tough out here.”

Mixed Bag May Win It

MLF pro Fred Roumbanis spent his morning on Day 2 of practice on Pool 8 trying to figure something out with no avail. A lack of current made it difficult to find smallmouth while algae-filled pockets of duckweed and lily pads hurt his chances for largemouth. No matter, however, Roumbanis said he found enough spots on Day 1 of practice to feel confident.

The Arkansas angler mentioned that a mixed bag of largemouth and smallmouth will probably be what wins it here in La Crosse.

“I think it’s going to take upwards of 14 pounds every day to win this thing,” Roumbanis plotted. “If you can find the smallmouth in here, you can catch good ones. I was here one year where the entire tournament was won by a guy who only caught smallmouth. There’s 3- to 4-pounders in here. Pair those with some 3-, 4- or 5-pound largemouth and you can have a pretty good day.”

Day 3 Cooled off, But Difficulty Persisted

The first two days of practice in La Crosse were scorchers according to the locals. Temperatures crept well above 90 degrees in the afternoon with little cloud cover to speak of. An early-morning rain shower cooled off much of the area surrounding the pools to begin Day 3 of practice. That rain far from dampened anyone’s day. In fact, most anglers appreciate the front.

Still, even with the cooler temperatures in La Crosse – which topped out at 88 degrees – the bite didn’t get any easier.

“It’s cooled off a little bit today compared the 90s on the first day of practice so that’s nice,” MLF pro Randy Howell said. “The fishing is a bit challenging to say the least. I’m really surprised how difficult it is. I’ve made three Top-10s in four tournaments here, so I have a really good feel for this place. The low water is hurting the frog bite for sure. I spent two days on Pool 9 but I spent my last day on Pool 8. I think there’s been a lot of pressure here on Pool 8 and I really don’t want to rely on the lock schedule to try and make a run when the tournament starts.”

Dave Lefebre is no stranger to fishing in the northern part of the country. The Pennsylvania pro agrees it’s not easy out there, but still feels good about his chances for five good bites.

“The ‘postspawn blues’ are real up here I think,” Lefebre said. “It’s not easy by any means but I’ve ran into a few good ones for sure. The good thing is that we’re only looking for five bites all day. I figured out what I’m going to be locked in on this afternoon and I think I can find some good ones doing that. I caught one that was surely above 5 pounds in practice, so I just need to find more of those.”

The anglers will head out on Pools 7, 8 and 9 on Tuesday for their final day of practice before competition begins on Wednesday.