After an unsuccessful and fishless first outing back in April on these waters, I was excited to get back down to the river and try my hand again at catching some decent Mississippi River bass. Since I virtually had no success back in April, with the water temps being in the low 40 degree range, I felt that this time around would be extremely different, hopefully more successful, with the challenge still being locating the fish. My pre-tournament thoughts were fairly typical for this stretch of water; either fish the backwaters for largemouth, or target smallies holding on wingdams that will shield them from the current.
It was my dad's (Gumby's) first time fishing on this stretch of river, so we were reliant on my previous knowledge to guide us to some fish. Bright and early on Saturday morning I was still contiplating our gameplan and how we should start the day. I made the decision to attack the largemouths first in the backwaters, hoping that a morning bite would prove successful in landing a few keeper fish, and then if need be, head out to the main channel to target some smallmouth. Another reason I wanted to head to the backwaters was to show Gumby the terrain, as I think the backwaters are not only fun to experience from a visual standpoint, but with all the laydowns and trees, it is also a fun area to fish as well.
So from blastoff, we headed to the backwaters. I started the morning throwing topwater lures, a buzzbait by Booyah and a Heddon Zara Spook, which is a great walk-the-dog surface lure. I caught two fish early, probably in the first 15 minutes of fishing, and one was my first keeper of the day at 15 inches. As we proceeded through the backwaters, I switched up my lures and began tossing a weightless stickbait in watermelon made by All Terrain Tackle, as well as a green pumpkin Zoom Brushhog, t-rigged with a 3/8 oz bullet sinker. I made this adjustment to target the various laydowns, trees, and stumps that were lining the shores. I used the green colors as they matched the greenish, opaque color of the river water. I believe Gumby was throwing a green jig as well as those stickbaits, both also made by All Terrain. As we started fishing the laydowns and trees, the fishing was unbelievable! Almost every piece of structure was holding fish willing to bite. Our limit for this tournament was 4 fish with no culling, as are the rules when fishing in Wisconsin waters. I had my limit by 9 am, anchored by a 3lb 9.02 oz largmouth, which fell short of big fish by .04 ounces, ouch! Gumby had 3 fish, anchored by a nice 17 inch smallmouth, also caught in the backwaters.
After fishing our first backwater area, we headed out and ran into some battery trouble as we burned through our starting battery using our electronics. After fussing with that for some time, we decided to head to another backwater area. No fish were landed in this area, except for a decent pike. We also saw a really nice buck along the shoreline, catching a cool drink of water on a hot summer day. As we headed back to the landing, I was fairly confident that my bag would contend for the top three, but you never know who may have stumbled upon some huge fish.
At the weigh in, Gumby squeaked into 3rd place by 1 oz, his best tournament so far this season,
with 3 fish and 5 lbs 14 oz. Bob Downey, our Angler of the Year, fished for a strong second place with 9+ lbs, and I finished first with 10 lbs 14 oz. As I mentioned earlier, I lost big fish and the massive pot ($35) by .04 ounces. Thanks John B. ! It was a great tournament and great practice for the Minnesota Bassmasters State Tournament of Champions being held in those same waters the first week of September. I had a great time fishing those waters and I know my dad did as well. I recommend that if you are a bass fisherman or fisherwoman and you need a change of pace from your regular lakes, head down to the river and try your hand at backwater largemouth and river smallies. It won't disappoint.
Thanks for the support.
Team BassAckwards... "We're the one's hooked!"