Since practice began for the 2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Regional on the Upper Mississippi River, anglers have had to decipher a river that is going through some changes.
Late summer rains have caused Pools 7,8 and 9 to rise several feet from what Elite Series professional Bob Downey called extremely low levels before the event started.
So far, Minnesota angler Richard Lindgren has adjusted the best to the rise in water levels, securing 15-9 on Day 1 to take the lead. Lindgren didn’t catch fish on hardly any of the areas he practiced on, but his understanding of current helped him predict where the fish might set up.
“It has come up around 2 feet since we got here,” Lindgren said. “Things are changing and the current has picked up since we got here. That has got the fish moving. It has muddy water going into places and other places clearing up. You have to pivot and read the water and the conditions. Where you found them on the first day of practice, it’s likely they aren’t there.”
With current flow picking up and water levels rising, finding clean water areas has been one of the most important factors amongst the top boaters in finding groups of bass.
Second-place angler Jason Hewitt from Iowa said some of the areas he found in practice have been muddied up by the rain and current, but managed to find enough clean water areas to land 14-14.
“You have to have that clean water,” Hewitt said. “I’ve been finding schools in the cleaner water and just one here, one there if it is a little dirty. That is definitely a key.”
Lindgren and Hewitt both have benefitted from a smallmouth bite and Hewitt said he is specifically targeting smallmouth over largemouth.
Connor Leagjeld, who is tied for third with 14-12, couldn’t find the smallmouth bite in practice and has been specifically targeting largemouth and clean water has made a difference in his pursuit of the green fish.
“Finding the cleanest water is a big key. If you don’t have clean water, especially once the current starts ripping down, they aren’t going to be there,” Leagjeld said.
Not only does current play a role in finding clean water, but also in finding the right type of vegetation. At the start of practice, Leagjeld said there was a lot of good looking duckweed and pads but the rain and current blew out some of that grass.
The change in conditions as well as the pressure the river has received has all made for a tough bite. After a 200 boat tournament was held at the venue last week, as well as a 84 angler kayak tournament, Leagjeld said not hooking any fish in practice was essential to success on tournament day.
The full field returned to the Mississippi this morning for Day 2 hoping to earn a spot in the Top 18 on either the boater or non-boater side to move onto Championship Friday. plus the top two boaters and Nonboater from each state if they are not already in the top 18. Weigh-in begins at 2:15 p.m. CT on Bassmaster.com.
The tournament is being hosted by Explore La Crosse.