While a lot of us are waiting for hard water here in Minnesota, do you realize there are open water options most of the season as well?
Minnesota/Wisconsin’s famed Pool 4 of the Mississippi River flows all year long. At any given time during the winter months, if you prefer boat fishing like I do, you can hit the river for some fantastic walleye and sauger action. I did just that on Sunday with good friends Doug Robinson and Guide River Dan Ryks. River Dan spends a lot of time guiding on Pool 3 & 4, along with the St. Croix River. I honestly don’t know a single person who spends more time on that stretch of water.
We launched out of Everts Resort on Pool 4 and made our way up river. It was noted almost immediately that the river was high, muddy (from recent run off), and the current was strong. The dam was wide open, which is unusual for this time of year. However, given all the rain and snow we have had lately, it’s expected.
It didn’t take us long to locate a good school of fish that were relating to a current break in 18’-21’ of water. These fish were using a sandbar to feed and find some calmer water out of the main current. It didn’t take us long to connect on our first fish. With three anglers, all starting off with different colored plastics, you can really dial-in the day’s presentation. Once an angler connects on a few fish with a given size/shape/color plastic good angler’s switch to that presentation. Sunday’s best lure was a glitter silver 3/8oz jig with a Oystershell 3.25” BFishin’ Tackle Pulse-R. River Dan and Doug worked these rigs with precision. Changing colors when things slowed down, but quickly going back when the other colors didn’t produce. I ran a Dubuque Rig most the day.
Being Pool 4 is a Boarder Water, anglers can fish 2 lines each. A lot of anglers will work a jig/minnow, jig/plastic combo or something along those lines. A Dubuque Rig is a simple 3-way swivel, a heavier bottom jig on roughly a 1’ dropper, and a second lighter jig with around a 30” leader. With yesterday’s current, I ran a 3/8oz glitter silver jig with and Oystershell Pulse-R on the bottom. The other jig off the longer leader was a 3/32oz that I tipped with a 4” Green Pepper ringworm. Over the past couple of years fishing down on Pool 4 I have really gotten to like fishing with a Dubuque Rig for its versatility. I fish this rig just like I would a bottom bouncer in the summer time. I use the heavier jig to stay in contact (or just above) the bottom. Using two jigs gives me the opportunity to experiment with more colors. On Sunday, both worked and caught fish for me.
The three of us ended the day keeping 13 Sauger between 14”-18 ½” while throwing back I would guess somewhere around 20 to 25 others. In addition to the Sauger, we caught White Bass, Drum, Walleye, and a big Gizzard Shad. You just never know what you’re going to hook into on the mightily Mississippi. That’s why I love it.
I’m excited for what looks to be the start of winter here finally in Central Minnesota. The cold weather that is on the horizon will help with making ice for my ice fishing friends. As well, it will help to slow the flow on the Mississippi, and settle the murky river. I have seen visibility close to 4’ in the past years down on Pool 4. When that happens, along with an uptick in temperature to above freezing, you can bet there is a good chance you will find me down there! I know from experience; 75-100 fish days are often possible down on Pool 4.
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