Mike, Buzz, Pete and myself were guided by Jade Miller on his home water of the mighty Mississippi River this past saturday.
Jade reports "After evryone arrived we launched in Pool 15 of the mighty Miss and headed up to lock and dam 14. All gates were open leading to very stiff current and difficult boat control. The only real option was to head to a protected bend. This is when the rip rap shore started to produce bass of the largemouth and smallmouth variety. The first fish hit my Big-O right at the boat. I had another fish follow and swipe at the crank and Pete put two and two together and came up with a better method of catching fish, plastics!
Everyone caught some bass with a couple of nice 16" smallies as well(pictures on other cameras).
We then tried a flat off the main channel that turned out to be way to shallow. After that we went down tword the Arsenal Island. There is a very long lateral dam that seperates the main channel from the start of Sylvan Slough. This is a hot spot for smallies, but yet again the current proved too strong and we retreated back in to the slough for calmer water. Jamie got a white bass and I missed a fish that struck at the boat in there.
It was time for a change in plans. After trailering the boats and getting some gas we made for a launch in pool 16. Turns out Mike has fished the marina there before with great results, but the desicion was to run up to the dam I fish at lunch. Good choice.
At first when we entered I counted 5 other boats along with a slew of folks fishing the bank. We worked up a shore that I havecaught largemouth and whites on before and Pete did get a drum on a zip lure there. When we got to the dam we tried the fast water where I fish from shore with Pete snaging a shad. Thank goodness Mike, Jamie and Buzz went past us. In a corner of the dam where I have watched several boats fish without catching anything, these guys came upon a school of whites busting minnows. For the next two hours the action was virtually non stop.
Mike wrote: "I think in the last 90 minutes we boated around 100 whites between the 5 of us. Funny part was, the action was so fast and furious.... Jamie, Buzz and I didn't stop to take any photos. We had numerous triples and some of these whites were pushing 18". Best White Bass fishing ever! Period.
After the first 30 minutes Jamie and I switched to the 9' ultralights and 6# test. What an absolute blast. An 3# white bass in a strong current on a 9' ultralight is quite the fight.
We were the only people catching fish in that pool and the way the current lined up we sat right on the fish the whole time. Sure was hard to leave and as usual, I had to make the panic run home to get my ass kicked.
Kept enough big fish for a fry and released the rest. Jade we owe you one, or two or three.."
Pete reports on the trip: "I just love getting out to new places. It's even better when someone already knows a few spots to try. I got there first and had a half an hour to kill while waiting for everyone. Almost got my first topwater bass of the year at the launch but missed. We headed out and tried a few places that would have been good with a little less wind and current. Finally got in some slack water and landed a few bass with a couple being real solid keepers. By 11;30 we only had that handful of bass and I know Jade was feeling it. You always want people to come and when they do you want them to slay the fish. That didn't happen early. Jade mentioned locking thru and I told him I often trailer to different pools on the Illinois and its much faster and saves on the more expensive boat gas. He drove like a maniac the 20 minutes to the new pool and the miricle of the day wasn't the fishing it was that Mike and I didn't lose him trailering our 800 pounds of boat. Once there we decided to hit the spots Jade kills at in his lunch runs and this was the ticket. Whites were in one little area thick and hit just about everything thrown at them. Lots of people there had missed them or else they were looking for walleye and sauger. The way they were positioned was ideal as our 2 boats could surround them and keep everyone else away. Nice big whites in heavy current is a blast. Between the 5 of us we must have throw at least 10 different artificial and they all had there moments. We had to go or we would have continued to catch them as this area loaded with minnows and was going to keep on replenishing at this time of year. Here are the photos from my camera. I hope we all get together soon for another Saturday run somewhere."
And I report: "
There's not much to add that hasn't already been said.
I had the curse going strong for the first half of the trip. Anyone within 100 yards of me got virtually blanked and blanked hard. At one point Jade frantically waved our boat off, sighting the curse as the apparent stop to the action.
But all was not lost. It took time. Alot of bait changes. Alot of patience. But I finally connected with a nice smallie which was my first fish out of The Ol' Miss. That was in the first section of river, surrounded by cormorants and a hundred white pelicans.
The white bass we ran into at the second dam....I'm still in awe. Total awe. Never have I seen whites that big. The fish I fileted that night were unbelievably huge. I was cutting each filet into 3 seperate pieces for fish fry. I had some filets that were measuring 10" long by 8" high. Take out a ruler and look at that. THAT'S a big friggin filet. Several fish were in the 17-18" class.
The lures that worked were...well, just about anything that a white could hit. Bass and walleye lures were gettin' smacked by these huge whites with ease. Buzz was even catching them on a 3" Ika on a 1/8oz Slider head. Oh..speaking of Buzz; he does this annoying thing were he sits in the boat after banging fish for a while and fishes as stupidly as he can, refusing to stand up to land the fish, using some WAY oversized lure on some whippy ultra light....basically being a smart ass and tempting fate. He connected with a monster (what we think was probably a smallie) that bulldogged under the boat and came unglued. Nice goin' Buzz. Normally he lands those fish in his ever-so-lax style of carefree fishing, but karma finally slapped him with a loss. Still, for only his second day out this year he's good numbers-wise til Canada. I think all of us in "The Local Moron" (Mike's boat) are.
At one point Jade was automatic with a twister/float combo. It was insane. Every.Sinle.Cast. Pete was on a streak for a while as well. So was Mike when he switched to twister/float that he and Jade where drifting in the boils under a barge. I had my moments of madness with a white rooster tail and a plain 1/16oz jig and a 2" twister. Buzz had a stint here or there as well that set off his white bass fishing career.
Here's some pics from the trip.
Notice the mojo?? The Customfish hats. They're running out. You better get one soon to cover your mellon. contact email@example.com and we'll toss in some free baits as well.
Ok...now, I'm gonna change the subject here. Let's talk about danger a little.
THAT is without a doubt the most dangerous insane one-bad-move-and-your-dead river I have ever personally seen...and I've seen a few from the U.S. , Mexico, The U.K., Italy, and Canada. I'd like to put it into words what it's like in a boat 100 yards in front of the rollers, but I can't. If I never get that close again it's ok. There was no boat control in some spots. You could run the trolling motor full out and you were still going backwards while being sucked into this vortex or that. The boat got spun around a time or two with no way to hold it back. We missed a small ladder in a corner thingy once that, if we would have NOT missed it by 3" could have easily taken a piece of the boat off or thrown it off balance just enough to roll the whole dame thing. I'm not shittin' you...I got nervous a couple times. The power of the Mississippi if merciless and now that i have been in it I'll give that river my total respect. It's fast anywhere there's not a current break, and even the current breaks are a huge swirling vortex of spinning water. It makes high water on the Fox look like a weak stream. It's nuts. If you've never been on the Mighty Miss do NOT go out there blind and without a guide/map. There's more hazzards than you can count. The depths go from 20'-1.5' in a matter of a couple yards.
Anyway..we're all good. Lots of fish were caught. We laughed alot and had a great day out there. That's got to be at least an annual trip.
Check back tomorrow for even more pictures from our Mississippi River Trip.
Also included are some of Jade and his friends catches during the week. These guys have Mississippi River fishing down to a science. Keep in mind that most of these pictures are from short trips during lunch hour....these guys aren't wasting any time! They get on quality fish, land 'em, and still have time to eat. THAT is some pretty productive angling skill.
In other news, field reporter Pat Halko went muskie fishing. It's not good enough for him to go catching sharks from a kayak. So he comes back home and has an unreal day of muskie fishing. I'll post the details and the VERY impressive pictures if I get approval from he and his partner. Please stay tuned for that. You wont want to miss it.
Next up, here's Customfish Field reporter Ken with your fly fishing report:
" Larger flies are being ignored. Most of these fish were caught fairly shallow, on the deep side of a weed edge. When I sent to smaller files (mostly weighted nymphs) I am getting hits from large panfish and a few bass. I was out again yesterday for 3 hours and got probably 8-10 panfish and one 14" Largemouth. All on the 5 wt fly rod. The biggest challenge has been winds and finding the pockets where the fish are."
Here's a recent 18" trophy largemouth bass Ken landed on one of his 5 WT fly rods.
And finally, some closing shots from Captain Jade Miller who is indeed ON FIRE.