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Summer Bassin’….on the mighty Miss.
By: Glenn Walker
Living in Wisconsin we are very fortunate to have an abundance of
water to fish, from the smallest pond to the Great Lakes. One of the
mightiest bodies of water that we have in our state is the
Mississippi River. The Mississippi river has claimed its fame as a
great walleye fishery, but over the last ten years this river has
turned into a nationally recognized bass fishery.
With the summer heat and dog days of summer, brings forth some
amazing bass fishing on this winding water way that separates
Wisconsin from Minnesota and Iowa. Many bass fishermen develop
numerous patterns for catching bass on the river, but one that is
utilized most frequently and puts you the angler in the position to
load the boat is by fishing areas with current.
Focusing on areas with current on the Mississippi may seem like a
daunting task, since the entire main channel has current. But
understanding how the bass position themselves in this current will
allow you to eliminate water quickly. Depending on the water level
and the flow that each pool is at, will greatly depend on where the
bass are located. The main factor that determines where the bass
will be is if there is cover for them to live in and if there is
Cover on the river that will hold bass, can range from the
traditional tree and rock, to the non-traditional barge tied up.
Regardless of what the piece of cover is, the bass are using that
cover to protect themselves from the current. While the bass is
holding just out of the current, they are watching carefully for an
insect or baitfish to float by for an easy meal. If there is current
flowing by a piece of cover, chances are good that there will be a
bass on it. The three types of cover, that are most commonly present
on the river are, rock, wood and grass.
To protect the river banks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put
rock on the shore. This rip-rap as it is called can hold a good
amount of bass. Bass will tuck in behind larger rocks or hold tight
to the rocks to try and catch an easy meal. Eliminating unproductive
sections of rip-rap takes a good deal of time on the water, but by
looking for points that may be big or small or determining if there
is a depth change near the rock will allow you to quickly find the
most productive section of rock to fish.
My favorite lure choice for fishing rip-rap is a medium diving
crankbait. A bait that dives between 3 and 6 foot is the ideal depth
range you want your bait to hit. As for as color selection goes,
three choices that I would recommend are shad imitations, crawfish
imitations, and finally chartreuse colored crankbaits. A rod with a
soft tip is necessary because these bass will hit quick and hard and
if your rod doesn’t give, the fish will pull off very quickly.
A large portion of big bass that come off of the river, come from
areas that have current and wood. These areas either are primarily
located in side cuts off of the main channel that have deeper water
than other sloughs and the current is on them. Bass will hold on
different sections of the tree depending on how fast the current is
and if they are feeding or not. Determining this when you first hit
the water is done by fishing a piece of wood from all angles and
hitting all the spots where a bass can be hiding behind that tree.
Once you have an idea of where the bass are located on the wood, you
can replicate that pattern up and down the river.
When I am fishing wood with current on it, I like to flip a
Texas-rigged RC Tackle tube in either black neon or green pumpkin on
an Eagle Claw HP tube hook and a ¼ oz. weight. I suggest moving
upstream, so you can flip your bait into the current and let the
current wash it down into the wood and bank where the bass are
holding. This way you have a natural looking presentation that the
bass will just hammer when it goes by their
nose. A sensitive, but
strong line is needed for this situation, which is why a
fluorocarbon line is beneficial. Seaguar Abraz X in 15 lb. test
gives you the best of both worlds, you can feel the most subtle
bites, but when that big bass runs for heavy cover you have enough
strength to turn her around and get the bass in the boat.
There is a wide variety of vegetation that grows in the Mississippi
River, several kinds that an angler can key in on where there is
current is eel grass, deer tongue and lily pads. What I like to look
for is a grass line that starts shallow and works deeper to where
the weeds meet the current. This allows the bass to move up shallow
further away from the current or they can hold directly on the weed
line in the deeper water where the current is present. Weedlines
that are in relation to other physical characteristics such as
points, rock or sand can make a big difference in catching bass and
catching big bass.
When fishing vegetation with current on it there are two lures that
I like to throw. The first, again being the Texas-rigged tube bait
and the other being a swimming jig. There are numerous swim jigs on
the market and I suggest trying as many as you can until you find
one that you like. Swimming a jig is very productive in these
situations because you can fish it higher up in the water column if
the bass are shallow and then when it comes to the deeper weed edge,
you can let your jig free fall. The popular size for swimming a jig
is ¼ oz., but using a heavier 3/8 oz. is usefully where the current
is stronger or the bass are deeper. Jig and grub colors are
numerous, but I prefer to keep them in the colors that imitate shad
or bluegill. Making long casts is vital to keeping a low profile to
these that can be spooked easily. That is why using a fluorocarbon
line, like the Seaguar Inviz X is beneficial. It is sensitive to
detect sometimes a light bite, and also it can be cast a long
Spending time on the water and learning new sections of the river is
a great way to spend a day or an afternoon. With the information I
provided you with, you too can explore the Mississippi River and
find some hawg bass holding in the current.