Mississippi River Pool 4 & 5, Wabasha, MN
After making all the wrong decisions on Day One of the tournament, Ryan and I decided we would let the weather dictate our pattern for Sunday. If the wind would allow us we would head for Pepin and try to cash in on the good sized smallies that we had patterned in practice. If the wind was blowing and again making Pepin impossible to fish than we would head South to Pool 5 , lock thru and fish for the nice smallies we had found a week earlier in practice and possibly get a nice largemouth to boot.
At take off we decided that with the cold temps (high 30’s), the relatively light wind, and the high bluebird skies, that we would once again venture north to Lake Pepin. Decision making is extremely important on this body of water. The winds seem to turn on and off within seconds. Making a decision to either go North to Pepin or South to Pool 5 so critical because there really isn’t any turning back. The amount of time it would take to get to our fishing holes on the North end of Pepin is about twenty minutes at 65 mph in perfect conditions. If the wind picks up it could take at least 45 minutes. If you get all the way up there and find that your areas are completely washed out it would take more than and hour to run all the way back down river to Pool 5, lock through the damn, and get to your fishing areas. Than take your drive time back, again through the damn for weigh in, and you can waste at least half of your day driving and not fishing.
We arrived on our spots on Pepin and were pleasantly surprised that are areas were very fishable. The only problem was we couldn’t catch anything. We decided to work a couple nice underwater points very slowly, we did get bites but the only fish boated were to small to keep. There is a 14 inch minimum on this stretch of river and I’ll tell you they are always 13 1/2 when you really need a fish. After spending half the day on Pepin with no success we decided to head back to the river and fish the backwaters of Pool 4 and try to get a limit of largemouths. WIth only a few hours to go, no fish in the livewell, we arrived in a pretty nice looking area. Ryan got a couple bites early, some that missed and some that broke off. Not really sure whether they were bass or northern pike, it was still incentive enough to continue to fish hard through the area. We were both flippin’ light weighted tubes with rattles, 1/8 oz., into the grass around the current. With about 45 minutes to go I finally boated a descent largemouth, about 16 inches. Than two flips later I got bit again, but as luck would have it, the fish came unbuttoned. At this point it didn’t surprise me.
Back at weigh in there were teams who did have big sacks and there were a lot of zeros. With the unseasonably cold weather we were having it appears that the smallmouths were still in big groups and if you could find them you could catch them all day. After the weigh in was over it appeared that all the teams that did real well were fishing mild current in the cuts off the main river of Pool 5. That’s were the biggest schools of smallies seemed to be staging. After the tournament I couldn’t help but think what if we never would have had such luck on Pepin on the last day of practice. We probably never would have headed that way at all. Although that’s what I mean when I say decision making is so critical in bass tournaments. Could a, should a , would a, does not cash paychecks, although they are a great learning lessons.
Needless to say after this tournament I can’t wait to head out to Wisconsin and start preparing for a couple of club tournaments on Bone and Deer Lake. Happy Fishing!