2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Northern Divisional
Mississippi River - Ft. Madison, IA, Aug 10 - 12, 2011

The mighty Mississippi fights back

Ed Harp
Anglers check the Day Two pairings.

FORT MADISON, Iowa -- The dock talk this morning will get your attention. While the anglers are thrilled to be fishing the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Northern Divisional presented by Skeeter and Yamaha, most of them are of the opinion that yesterday was a cakewalk compared to what today will look like when it’s all said and done. Click here for the official Day One or Day Two team standings.

One group of anglers, who didn’t want to be identified for fear of being seen as complaining, predicted that weights could drop by half today. Their prediction may be extreme but the fishing is likely to be tough, very tough.

That description of the fishing isn’t so much a reflection on the fishery — the Mississippi River around here is home to plenty of quality bass — as it is with the immediate conditions, falling water and a river that’s fishing small.

The water continued to fall overnight. That, by itself, isn’t (shouldn’t) be a serious problem. Everyone knows that’ll push them off the bank a ways. It should be a matter of finding them in slightly deeper areas. But the river compounds things — quickly and without mercy.

Tom Kiefer, currently ranked second in the individual standings and leading his Minnesota State Team by almost 2 pounds, didn’t want to talk specifics about his plan of attack but did offer a vivid picture of the problem.

His Day One fish were scattered around shallow cover. He was able to put together a solid limit by pitching close against that cover and by not staying too long on one spot.

“I’m not sure I can do that again. The water’s getting pretty low and the boats are starting to spook the bass. That’s a problem in a river. The fish move with the water but then they’re fished to death at the first piece of cover or break if they stop there. And they can’t move back because the log they were under yesterday is now sitting on dry ground.

“In a lot of areas, the bass have nowhere predictable to go when that happens. Once they panic or totally shutdown, it’s easy to lose them. After that happens it’s pretty much all over. There just isn’t enough time in a tournament to find them and figure out what they’ll bite.

“I have another pattern to deal with the dropping water. I’m pretty positive about that. But I’m not sure about all the boat pressure. We’ll talk after Friday. By then we’ll know if I was right, and I’ll tell you more.”  

Click here for the official Day One or Day Two team standings.

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