It’s amazing how different the conditions are here on the Mississippi River than they were the same time a year ago.
A lot of fish were caught in the first day of the the Mountain Dew Mississippi River Rumble presented by Power-Pole here in La Crosse, Wis., but not the quality we saw last year.
On bodies of water with grass, especially river systems like this one, you never know what you’re going to encounter.
There are two key reasons it’s different here. The past winter was more normal for this region, so it was colder, and the spring stayed a lot cooler putting everything behind.
The areas that had a tremendous amount of grass, mats, milfoil and duckweed have only a little this year. The marsh grass and cattails are just coming up, and the bass are about a month behind from what they were a year ago. They just finished spawning and are starting to move out.
Water level is another key. Last year, the water was high and rising each day. It was a little higher when we began practice earlier this week but has been falling a little each day.
During practice, I found areas where fish were really grouped and relating to current, but as the water goes down, it changes the way the current flows, and these fish move faster and more often than any place we fish.
When competition began, I had areas where I thought I could whack big ones right off the bat. Instead, those places held smaller fish and held different species; spots where I caught quality largemouth held smaller smallmouth.
That means we have to adapt to the conditions each day and go from there. That’s my game plan today; fish a lot of new water and run a couple of patterns. I have to go out and look, let the fish tell me what they are on, and then go find more of it.
That’s what I did today after I vacated the area I thought was going to produce. I need a lot better quality, so I’m going to move and groove and make something happen.
It’s not like the good fish are everywhere, or you can catch two or three in one spot; it’s one here and one there, and they are moving each day. I know they aren’t going far, so that gives me hope that as conditions change and the water clears that I can make the right adjustments with them.
This has been a screwy season. Every day it’s been one of those where you go out expecting to catch ‘em a certain way and it doesn’t happen.
I’m sure when we go to St. Clair and Thousand Islands it will be the same thing because of the smallmouth.
But that’s the name of this game: You have to adapt and keep an open mind and get a mindset based upon what you saw in practice.
The thing I’ve learned about this place is that, if you get around the fish, they bite; so I will cover a ton of water and fish quick. When you put your bait in front of one, he eats it; that gives me confidence to put the trolling motor on high and burn it up.
Remember, it’s all about the attitude!