Contenders in the Cabela’s Bassmaster Federation Nation Northern Divisional will take to the Mighty Mississippi this week near Savanna, Ill.
An increase in weed growth and improved water clarity have resulted in good bass recruitment on this section of the Mississippi River since the 1990s. “The bass population really has blossomed, and the fishing up here has just been wonderful,” said Dan Sallee, Illinois Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist. “The guys have a great year to hold a divisional here. I am very optimistic. I think they are going to have a good time.”
Sallee gave last summer’s DNR electrofishing sampling for bass an “excellent” rating. “We were getting lots of fish in the 2- to 4-pound range,” he said.
Pool 13 features the most backwater areas and could provide the best action during the divisional. “The biggest bass I have ever sampled on the river have come from Pool 14, but consistently 13 is the best pool bordering Illinois,” said Sallee. “It is one of the best pools on the river.”
“I would imagine a lot of fish are going to be caught in Spring Lake in Pool 13, which is a backwater area that has a lot of grass in it,” said Milt Waltermire, former Illinois B.A.S.S. Federation Nation conservation director, who has fished tournaments on this section of the river.
Waltermire predicts the most productive patterns will be working plastic frogs or soft plastic jerkbaits over the weeds, flipping Texas rigged watermelon beaver-style soft plastics into the weeds or running 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits (yellow-and-black) in areas with current and dirtier water.
- Dominant structure/cover — stumps, logs, rock dikes, lily pads, eelgrass, arrowhead and milfoil
- Forage — gizzard shad
- Average depth — 2 feet deep in the backwaters
- Expected water clarity — 20 inches of visibility
- Predicted winning weight — 53 pounds