Mississippi River Day 1 Coverage - Major League Fishing

Mississippi River Day 1 Coverage

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Zack Birge Photo by Chris Burgan. Angler: Zack Birge.
May 18, 2017 • MLF • Archives

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Get to know the Mississippi

Practice stories with Matt Stefan and Bryan Thrift  


1:40 That’s a wrap for the blog

We’re closing the blog down for the remainder of the day. Some of our reporters are already off the water, and others are beginning to make their way back now. Weigh-in starts at 3 p.m. CT and it should be a fun one – there are for sure going to be tons of fish.

Weigh-In Time: 3 p.m. CT on days one and two; 4 p.m. CT on days three and four

Weigh-In Location: Veterans Freedom Park all days


Zack Birge

1:20 Birge, Morgan and Douglas

Zack Birge had a good practice and is having a good day. He’s got 15 or 16 pounds in the boat now. Andy Morgan says (read into that what you will) he’s got about 12 pounds. Josh Douglas has three largemouths and two smallmouths for about 12 pounds in the boat. 


12:50 Huff limits

Rex Huff has checked in with a limit for about 11 pounds. 


Bryan Thrift

12:40 Thrift with a limit, Murphy

Bryan Thrift is catching a pile of small fish and has a limit. We don’t know the size.

Shawn Murphy reports a small limit. 


12:35 So, not everyone is catching

There are a lot of good bags on the river, but not everyone is in on the action. So far today, Curtis Richardson has no keepers and Casey Scanlon has just three. 


12:28 Atkins, Monsoor and Weaver

Justin Atkins has a limit for about 14 pounds, which is pretty strong. Tom Monsoor reports catching piles of bass, but only a small limit. Also, word on the street is that Josh Weaver has a 6-pounder, but that’s unconfirmed at this point. 


12:20 Pool 9 update

Basically everyone in Pool 9 is splitting out now, but there’s some concern about the return trip. Right now, there is a barge in the lock between 8 and 9 and there is apparently another on the way down, though it seems pretty far way based on the FindShip app. We’ll see what happens.

As for fish, Terry "Blade" Bolton, Austin Felix, and Joseph Webster all have about 12 pounds in the boat and would very much like to get back to weigh-in. 


12:00 Buck has a solid limit

Grae Buck has cashed two $10,000 checks so far in his rookie season on Tour and he’d like to make it four over these next two events. From Pennsylvania, Buck has a good handle on the Potomac and is off to a good start on the Mississippi – he’s got about 13 pounds in the ‘well so far. 


Jim Moynagh

11:55 Moynagh with four

Jim Moynagh doesn’t have a limit, but he’s on decent quality. He just landed about a 3-pounder on a jerkbait and has about 8 pounds total for four fish. 


Larry Nixon

11:53 Nixon too

Larry Nixon has joined the limit party with about 12 pounds. 


Clark Wendlandt

11:40 Wendlandt with a limit

Clark Wendlandt has a limit in the boat for about 11 pounds. He’s tossing a swimbait in some grass and reeds. 


11:38 Behrle with 13

Bob Behrle says he’s got about 13 pounds in the boat. 


11:25 Setzer has a limit

Braxton Setzer has a small limit for about 9 pounds. 


11:00 Dortch has a limit

Bradley Dortch has a limit for about 13 pounds with one little squeaker he’d like to cull. Dortch should be right at home this week – there’s grass and current, and growing up in southwestern Alabama taught him how to deal with both. Now, he's slinging a swim jig over a grass flat with just about every kind of greenery possible in it. 


10:58 Morrow needs one more

Troy Morrow has four in the box for about 9 pounds now. If you’re wondering why that’s such a common weight, it’s because the Mississippi has great fishing. There are a pile of solid fish in it, but getting a 4-pounder is a challenge that can make or break the day. 


Buddy Gross

10:44 Gross update

Buddy Gross is down in Pool 9 and has a limit for about 10 pounds. Behind him, co-angler Tyler Meredith just caught like a 4-pounder. 


10:30 Schmitt is one shy

Bryan Schmitt has four in the box that are all about 2.5 pounds. He’s down in Pool 9,and ought to be a player this week considering his river/tidal/swim jig acumen. 


Matt Arey

10:17 Arey takes the lead

We just ran into Matt Arey in Pool 8 and he says he’s got 17 pounds. He’s one of a number of pros with a baby due soon, so he could easily be in line for a win this week. 


Jeremy Lawyer

10:15 Lawyer with a limit

Jeremy Lawyer has a limit for about 12 pounds. He’s flipping brush with a jig, so he’s probably having a pretty fun day despite the weather. 


Michael Wooley

10:03 Wooley culls, Reese update

Michael Wooley just culled up about a half pound with a 2-pounder. Jimmy Reese would love to be culling right now – he only has one in the boat. 


Scott Martin

10:00 Martin has four

Scott Martin is off to a quality start as well. The former Angler of the Year and Forrest Wood Cup champ has three smallmouths in the boat that he says are about 3 pounds each as well as a 2-pounder. 


Clark Reehm

9:57 Reehm update

Clark Reehm has a limit with at least two really big smallmouths. He’s down in Pool 9 and it is wicked windy and hard to hear, but it sounds like he has four good ones and one little one he’s looking to cull before he heads back to the lock. 


Dylan Hays

9:52 A limit for Hays

Dylan Hays just finished his limit and says he’s got about 9 pounds in the livewell. 


9:50 Techniques

It’s windy and cool out on the river, especially in the more open areas, but the fishing stills seems pretty good and pretty varied. Up at the top of 8, most of the pros are fishing current seams close to the main river with crankbaits, wobble heads and swim jigs. Down in the grass, there is a lot of flipping, pitching and swim jig action.


9:48 Four for Jimmy

Jimmy Houston is fishing docks and has four in the boat for about 9 pounds. 


9:40 Curtiss is catching

Wade Curtiss has had a rough rookie season, but he’s down in Pool 9 and catching today. The California pro says he’s already got 15 pounds in the boat. 


Joshua Weaver

9:33 Make it two

Josh Weaver just added on a nice largemouth for his second fish. He says he’s got about 4 or 5 pounds now for his two. 


9:25 One for Weaver

Josh Weaver has one quality smallmouth and has lost another. 


John Cox

9:13 Cox and Wooley

Michael Wooley has a limit of largemouths in the boat for about 12 pounds now. In Pool 8, John Cox just landed a nice largemouth. No word on his total. 


Shin Fukae

8:45 Nothing for Shin

Up in Pool 7 Shin Fukae is working a rocky island at the moment. So far, he’s fishless today. 


8:30 Dunkin, weather

Luke Dunkin has two in the ‘well to start off.

There are some spotty showers mowing through, and the wind is starting to get up pretty good. Once the rain blows through it should be dry and cool the rest of the day. 


Brian Latimer

8:25 Latimer update/correction

Down in Pool 9, Brian Latimer is rolling with four in the box already, and our first report on him was actually his fourth fish. He’s got a backwater section all to himself at the moment and he’s swimming a jig to great effect at the moment. He says he's got about 7 pounds total. 


8:21 Davis has a limit

Alex Davis has lost one good one and says he’s got a limit for just about 10 pounds. He's one of very few in the Black River this morning. 


Mark Ros

8:20 Rose is cooking

Mark Rose grew up a river rat, and he’s got a great shot to show those chops off again this week. Already this morning he has a limit in the boat for about 11 pounds. 


8:18 Two for Redington

Down in Pool 9, Tom Redington is started off well with two keepers. Nearby, Clark Reehm just landed a big one and took off – no word on what’s up with the rest of his limit. 


Grae Buck

8:15 Buck and Meyer

Grae Buck has landed his first keeper. Nearby, Cody Meyer just popped his third in the boat. 


David Dudley

David Dudley

8:10 Dudley in action

David Dudley has culled three times in the last 7 minutes. No word on how much weight he has, but he’s definitely found himself a little pocket of fish.

So far, it seems like the fishing has been pretty excellent this morning. That’s a good sign that the fresh water in the system hasn’t messed things up too badly. 


Jason Meninger

8:05 Meninger update, Latimer, Meyer

Jason Meninger says he has a limit for about 14 pounds. That’s a great start, and anyone who can keep up a pace like that will be on track for an excellent finish.

Brian Latimer has one now, a decent little largemouth. Cody Meyer just landed his second. 


7:55 Tons of folks in the horseshoe, Hays with two

There are a pile of boats down by Stoddard and Chris Johnston is among them. Moments ago, he landed a nice largemouth to get things going.

Up in Pool 7, Dylan Hays has started with a pair of 16-inchers. 


7:33 Three for Meninger, Pool 9  

Jason Meninger is a little on fire. He just boxed up another smallmouth for about 3 pounds.

Down on Pool 9, about 30 boats just made it through the lock. 


Jason Meninger

7:30 Meninger has two

Josh Douglas and Jason Meninger are both fishing the point of an island in Pool 8 to start. Meninger has boxed a couple decent bronzebacks so far, but Douglas has struck out. 


Alex Davis

7:22 Stefan has two, another for Davis

Matt Stefan elected to start his day with spawning smallmouth and has two early, one that goes about 3 pounds. He was found in 8, but he’s headed to 9 now. Alex Davis has also added a keeper largemouth, and has four now. 


7:18 Davis starts off right

Alex Davis is the first on the board, or at least the first that we’ve found. He’s got three keepers already, and one of them is a quality smallmouth. Down the river, Joe Holland has one pike to start. 


7:05 Nine into 7

Nine boats rolled through the lock first things into Pool 7. That group includes Dylan Hays, Shin Fukae, Tracy Adams, Michael Wooley, Chad Randles, another Bridgeford wrap and Troy Morrow.


6:56 There are a lot of pros headed south

One of our reporters posted up at Goose Island to watch for a little this morning and it looks like a ton of the field is headed down south toward Stoddard and the surrounding area. We also expect a fair number of folks to head into Pool 9, and we’ve got a boat waiting at the lock into Pool 7 to see who heads thataway. 


Clark Reehm

6:45 Here we go again

It seems like contrary weather has followed the FLW Tour season all year, and it looks like the sixth stop will be another doozy. Day one of the FLW Tour presented by Evinrude on the Mississippi River (Pools 7, 8 and 9) has pros setting out into conditions that are totally different from practice yet again. Sunday through Tuesday, the pros practiced in calm, sunny and warm conditions for the most part, with just a few dousing, yet passing thunderstorms mixed in on the latter days. On Wednesday and overnight, a fresh round of storms buffeted La Crosse, Wis., and dumped inches of rainfall upstream and on the surrounding area – things are likely to be a lot different. That said, takeoff was actually quite pleasant, but supposedly it’s about the nicest the weather will be all day.

The biggest takeaway from practice is that there are a ton of bass spawning right now. How easy they’ll be to catch with rising and possibly muddy water remains to be seen, but many of the pros will at least know where to begin looking. There are also definitely some bass on the main river and in some of the first postspawn areas, like sand drops and wing dams near spawning flats. Prior to the event, most experts agreed that both smallmouths and largemouths would contend for the win, and that probably still holds true. There have been some pretty special smallmouth catches reported in practice (namely by Kyle Cortiana), but smallmouths can be fleeting at the best of times, much less in turbulent conditions.

Each of the three pools in play this week offers similar types of structure and cover, so many pros will be content to stay in Pool 8. Because of that, the added risk of locking into 7 or 9 might pay big time – having more fish and fewer anglers is always a good thing. Nonetheless, locking is always a bit of a risk, so it’s a gamble that many in contention for the Forrest Wood Cup with likely eschew. After all, memories of how badly locking worked out for the pros headed to Wilson Lake on day one of last year’s Tour event on Pickwick are still fresh in the minds of many.

Today is going to be very interesting – not only will we see who leads out of the gate, we should get a pretty good read on how the changing conditions will affect the fishing. Though day one isn’t really the day to reveal a ton of patterns and info, we’ll also get at least a glimpse at what techniques will be in play come the weekend.



Temperature at takeoff: 63 degrees, dropping

Forecast high: 63 degrees

Sky: cloudy

Precipitation: 20 percent chance of rain

Wind: NW at 14 mph

Water levels


Tournament details

Format: All pros and co-anglers will compete for two days. The co-angler champion will be crowned on day two, and the field will be cut to the top 20 pros on day three and the top 10 pros on day four. The winners will be determined by total cumulative weight.

Takeoff Time: 6:30 a.m. CT

Takeoff Location: Veterans Freedom Park, 1 Clinton St., La Crosse, Wis.

Weigh-In Time: 3 p.m. CT on days one and two; 4 p.m. CT on days three and four

Weigh-In Location: Veterans Freedom Park all days

FLW Live: Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. CT to 12:30 p.m. CT