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Small Rivers Produce Some Trophy Walleyes
By Sam Anderson
Small rivers are overlooked by many anglers, because they
shallow and have some of those nasty prop eating snags,
but in the spring and the fall of the year these rivers produce some trophy
walleyes. This past May I was at the Mississippi River fishing in the In-Fisherman
Professional Walleye Trail Powerbait/Lubrimatic
Midwest Pro-Am out of Red Wing, MN.
I spent a good portion of my time in the main river,
looking for larger fish. Many of the spots that would typically be
hot this time of the year weren’t good due to the high water and fast current.
I found some nice walleyes back in the sloughs and small channels near
the Wisconsin channel. I also looked at the Vermilion River and although
the fish weren’t as plentiful they were the right ones for bigger weight.
Feeder streams funneling into a river represent yet other spots which fisherman
should check out. The mouths of these tributaries often turn into
fishing gold mines, especially after a heavy rain washes fresh food and
fresh water into the river. Depending on the force of the current and the
water clarity, fish may be as shallow as a couple feet deep, or in the
bottom of a washout hole, or river channel 15 to 20 feet deep.
If the current is stronger than normal, the fish probably are hunkered
in a slackwater area. All anglers must learn that "current" sets
the rules for location and presentation when fishing rivers. One ingredient
that alters fish location and traditional seasonal presentations is water
level. When water levels are high, current breaks attract baitfish
and the walleyes follow.
When walleyes are holding tight to cover because of a
change in water
temperature or barometric pressure, or because the water
risen or fallen, it is essential to fish the walleyes
in almost vertical motion.
Walleyes relate to holes formed at river bends or at
creek junctions, or to the deeper water just behind the downstream tips
of shoreline points. Active walleyes lie along the shallow lip of
a hole or the edge of a point, while resting fish are down in the basin.
If a hole’s large, try power trolling a
#7 Shad Rap or a Junior
Thunderstick on a long line. Select a lure that dives just deep enough
to scratch bottom in the deepest portion of the hole yet doesn’t snag too
much if debris is present. Troll upstream and downstream. Sometimes
fish display a preference. Downstream is the most natural bait presentation,
but speed is necessary to make crankbaits dance. Lures wobble better when
they’re worked upstream, but slow down just enough to get them rolling.
To catch shallow fish, I use my bow-mount
to get as close to shore as possible. I face into the current and
cast upstream so the bait moves downstream. This is essential because
90% of all fish in a
river face into the current in order to feed. When
I make my first cast
it is critical to present the bait to the feeding fish
in a natural life like manner. I will cast upstream as close to shore
as possible, then I
rod directly at shore. This gives my crankbait a
direct downstream run. By extending my arm and
using a long 7 foot rod
I can get as close to shore as possible. As the
bait starts down river
I will use my wrist to jerk or flick the bait causing
it to dart and
dive representing a wounded minnow. As the bait
approaches the boat I
will also take in as much slack as possible to allow
myself better feel
and better hook setting leverage. Trolling up along a
stretch of flooded woods, I would stick my rod tip right next to
the trees to catch walleyes holding tight to the wood.
FireLine was one key ingredient to catching those fish. With all
the small debris in the high water leaves or weeds could foul the crankbait.
Therefore, if I couldn’t feel the crankbait vibrating, I ripped my rod
tip to get the junk off the crankbait, or reeled in to
remove the fouling debris. FireLine also gave the
action. This fall with all the rain that we have been
having it might be
beneficial to look at feeder creeks and small rivers.
up these rivers in search of baitfish
and I hope to be there when they
decide to bite
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