TROLLING CRANKBAITS ON MISSISSIPPI RIVER   Leave a comment

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Trolling crankbaits is a great way to fish as it allows you to cover a lot of water when going after aggressive fish.  You get aggressive strikes at speeds upwards of 3 mph.  The strikes are from the fish’s reaction to what they see.  Walleye are a predator and they just naturally want to bit that crankbait.

On the Mississippi River water levels are somewhat under control in late winter.  Dependent upon conditions upriver, the ice may not be moving downstream.  The result is deep water conditions both above and below the dams.  Public boat ramps are available in each of the river towns and at the dams.

Fishing the diverse habitats created by the river/dam combination is somewhat intimidating to some anglers.  Each dam creates its own habitat both above and downstream.  Anglers need to select a specific dam/pool combination and study water flow, levels, and depths.  One dam may have deep water holes that hold suspended crappie relating to the rocks and logs that have wash into them.  By contacting local bait shops and anglers, a profile of the pool is constructed.

Fishing around anything that looks like deep water structure in slack current is a good idea.

As a predator Walleye and Sauger want to take advantage of timber, of structure so they can get out of the current and have things floating past.  The do move out to get their forage and return to the shelter of the structure.

Walleyes are going to be on the front sides and backsides of wing dams.  Typically there is a wash hole on both sides of the wing dam.  Active fish like the front side.  They feed on the front side and rest on the back side.

Fishing the river you learn to read slicks.  You see these water slicks of everything from trash to leaves and seeds that have fallen in the river.  Fish in the slicks can feed with little effort as the river brings them food.  The fish are on the side of the slick with the least current passing.

Anglers often troll downstream because they believe that the fish sit facing the current.  That is true if they are in the main current.  However wash holes in the bottom create eddies.  In an eddy the current is flowing the opposite direction from the main flow above the fish.  As a result the fish are actually facing downstream.

Anglers trolling downstream think they are putting the lure in front of the fish and they are not.  They are bringing it along side of the fish and not giving him enough time to look at it.

As one goes south on the river, the waters tend to be more muddy.  Up north the water tends to be clearer, an important factor to consider in lure selection.

In muddy water it is advisable to go with lighter colors especially white.  Dark colors in dark water can actually be good.  Fluorescent colors tend to lose their color in dirty water.  It is not that the water is stained, but rather that it contains particles blocking the vision of the fish.  When a fish looks up against the light from the sky it is easier to see the profile of a bait.

In the clearer water up river the more natural colors or shad, perch, crayfish work well.  White always seems to work everywhere in the river.

The fish tend to be shallower this time of year.  If you pay attention, you can walk crankbaits over submerged wood.  Walleye and Sauger will hold right by timber just like bass.  Pitch the right bait up against trees and run them along bumping occasionally.

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