Spring conditions await B.A.S.S. Nation anglers on the Upper Mississippi River

Wisconsin's Mississippi River will host the 2024 Mercury B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier presented by Lowrance May 8-10.

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Spring will be in full swing when anglers arrive for the Mercury B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Qualifier at Mississippi River presented by Lowrance, which means the bass fishing will be phenomenal, according to Galesville, Wis., angler Nick Trim.

“It will be a really good tournament. Everyone will be pretty spread out,” said Trim, who fishes the St. Croix Bassmaster Opens presented by SEVIIN. “We are hitting this thing perfectly. It is going to be a slugfest.”

Tournament days are scheduled for May 8-10, with daily takeoffs scheduled for 7 a.m. CT at Copeland Park. Competitors will return to the park for weigh-ins each day at 3 p.m. The Top 40 competitors after Day 2 will advance to the final day, and the top 10% will qualify for the Mercury B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Lowrance, scheduled for Nov. 6-8 on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.

Pools 7, 8 and 9 of the Upper Mississippi River have been a staple on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail for many years now, but those events have usually happened in the mid- to late summer months. This time, anglers will enjoy spring fever, and the bass will likely be in a prespawn or spawning mode.

“Those first weeks of May can be a really good spawning time if you can hit the moon phase right, which we are going to hit perfectly,” said Trim, who holds multiple BFL titles on the river. “The last day of practice is a new moon. The smallmouth for sure will be pushing up, and there will be certain backwaters where the largemouth will push up.”

Grass is usually a large part of the equation, but Trim said most of the new grass for the year will not be growing up yet.

“Some of the backwaters where there isn’t a lot of current and places like Lake Onalaska will have a lot of grass,” he said. “A lot of the coontail and milfoil will still be around from last year in the bays and backwater areas unless we get extremely high water. But as far as new growth, the eelgrass and things like that, I don’t expect any of that to come into play.”

Trim believes any section of the river could produce the winning bag of bass. In his mind, the smallmouth will be close to their spawning grounds, if not spawning already, when anglers get there.

“I think it will be won fishing beds for spawning smallmouth, but I wouldn’t rule out the prespawn and staging bite either,” Trim said. “There have only been one or two years where I have been able to visually see the fish without some sort of electronics. I’m using Humminbird 360 to find the beds and then Garmin LiveScope to watch the reaction to my bait.”

Anglers will be able to target main-river wing dams, points, points of islands, current breaks and eddies for smallmouth still in the prespawn.

“When you find them, it is a lot of fun. You can catch them every single cast for hours,” Trim said. “They get into these huge schools and gorge themselves before the spawn.”

The largemouth, meanwhile, tend to spawn later than the smallmouth and will be in a prespawn mode and will be found in backwater areas.

“They will be one or two stops away from their spawning areas,” Trim said. “The Black River will probably be a big player for largemouth. There’s not a lot of flow there. No matter how high the water gets, that will have the same flow. They will sit in the current breaks on the backside of the points and island heads close to where they will spawn.

“If it gets warm, as shallow as you can get your boat is where you can catch them.”

Expect Senkos, jerkbaits, swim jigs and Carolina rigs all to play in this event, as well as drop shots and Ned rigs.

Explore La Crosse is hosting the event.