Another year with my least favorite river conditions–LOW WATER! At least it is low now, after a summer of nice, high water. I often talk to anglers who think low water is better as it concentrates the fish. I actually find the opposite to be true–during low water the fish spread out all over the place, while in high water the strong current forces them to hug the shorelines, and generally puts them in a more aggressive feeding mode.
I couldn’t take it any more, and decided to check a section of river I had not been on before. Despite the low water, I convinced myself I could get up the river far enough from my chosen access to be worthwhile. Just to cover all bases, I swapped out the good prop that was on my trusty 30 Yamaha to an old, beat up one. I figured I would be doing more grinding through rocks than running at high speed anyway. I also brought waders in case I had to walk the boat through any super shallow areas. I have fished above and below this section, and was excited to be “connecting the dots” between a couple of access points.
I was really on a muskie mission, but this river section also boasts a nice smallie population, which can prove to be a major distraction when I supposed to be targeting something else. I am convinced that the smallies that live in this part of the river are like a “subspecies”–they look different, and scrap like no other smallies–wild, red-eyed, hunchbacked, jumping freaks!
After about an hour of alternating between put-putting up the river at idle speed, and occasionally opening it up on deep bends [and once getting out to walk the boat through a very shallow section],I recognized a landmark and decided to start fishing. Depending on the water, I alternated between casting for muskies and smallmouth. It didn’t seem to matter what I threw or where I threw it, the resident pike were on fire and attacked everything. It was no surprise where the smallies were hanging–you smallie junkies know what I mean when I say “rocky shorelines with just the right size rocks and just the right depth and just the right speed”. There was plenty of this water around, and wherever the shoreline was sand dominated, every logjam had either a brownie or a pike waiting to ambush something. All water that was slower and deeper got flailed for muskies, and by the time it was raining hard enough to get me to quit, five nice muskies had shown themselves, no takers though. That’s alright–I know where they live, and I’ll be back.
It was nice to see I still had it in me to do some exploring, and although I know I would have caught more fish had I spent the day on familiar water, I’m glad to have some new water to call my own. It may look like all I have to show for the day is a couple more dings on an already beat up prop, but I do know where several 20 lb. plus muskies are living right now, and I do know a rock pile with a bunch of 15-20″ smallies on it, and maybe it’s just because I spend so much time fishing close to the metro, but I do know of a section of river that has far more eagles, deer, and otters than fishermen.