Mississippi River Pools 3, 4 & 5, Alma, WI
It was important going into this event for me to have a strong showing. There’s multiple reasons for this, one being that because I missed the last tournament out of LaCrosse due to conflicting tournament schedules with the Silverado, I would have to have a strong finish to assure I made divisional’s held on Old Hickory, in Hendersonville, TN. Before the LaCrosse tournament I was sitting strongly in 5th place in the Angler of the Year standings, but after I missed an entire event I dropped like a rock and was sitting in the low 40’s.
Another reason I was looking for a strong finish was more of a personal one. I really like fishing the river and my favorite time of year to be down there is definitely during the fall. Although in the past the river hasn’t been very accommodating to me during this time of year. Last year I put in lots of time preparing for the MN State Federation Championship held nearly at the same time. What ended up being one of the best practices of my life quickly turned into a nightmare on all sorts of different levels. Day one of the tournament my engine’s impeller quit causing me to overheat before I could even get to my starting spot, eventually causing a DQ because I had to be trailered off, I never even made a cast. The next day after getting my engine fixed, we all sat due to fog, during this time I received a call from my wife Bri that our four year old rottweiler Kairo who had been diagnosed with lymphoma cancer a few weeks prior, had just taken a major turn for the worse. Then after the 3 1/2 hour fog delay I got to my spot and was able to finally start catching some good fish, on the way back to weigh in one of my injectors popped. So with this all said, it was personally real important to me to have a better outing down here this time around.
I spent almost all of my practice focusing on pool 5. After two solid days I was able to come up with what I felt was going to be a solid game plan and I had multiple spots that held both quality largemouth’s and smallmouth’s. I spent a few hours on pool 4, mainly finding areas that had potential for a good fish or two and where located close to the weigh in site, somewhere I could spend my last 45 minutes in the day. When I went to load my boat to get off the water I thought of an area much further north (30 minutes or so) that always has good smallies on it this time of year. I only had an hour before I had to be off the water for registration so I trailored my boat to the closest ramp and launched again. On my second cast I hooked into a 3 1/2 pound smallie and the best part was that shad was flickering all over the place, a key ingredient for this place to be on.
All night I rigged rods wondering what I should do, If I ran up river it would take 30 to 40 minutes in perfect conditions and then take at least 45 minutes to get to my second spot and that’s if I could lock straight threw without waiting on a barge. After going round and round I finally came to a commitment that I would make the run, I mean I had to, I always live by the no risk no reward philosophy, it’s just not always a bullet proof way of thinking though.
After a nice run, I made it to my first spot and on my second cast throwing a Amp Lures Pop (Parrot), I put a nice 3 pound smallmouth in the boat. The shad started blowing up everywhere but the problem was I couldn’t get anymore bites. There was a nice school of smallies there but they where way more content chasing around real food and wouldn’t commit to anything I was throwing. I did manage a few but they where all just an 1/8 of an inch short of the mandatory 14″ size requirement. Finally afternoon was really starting to close in and I had to make a decision, I had managed one more 15″ smallmouth, it was either stick out the day up here and maybe run to a couple more mediocre spots and scratch out a limit or make the run back down river and lock threw to pool 5. I decided it was time to go.
After the 45 minute run back to lock I was devastated to find three barges sitting at the lock. I come to find out that the lock has been down all day because a barge had broke down inside the lock. Being that I spent all practice in pool 5 I had to come up with a plan quick. I decided I would just slowly pick apart the area that I had planned on saving for the last 45 minutes and just spend 4 hours there and try scratching out a limit. After two hours quickly went by with nothing more that a few shorts, which I might add where again an 1/8 of an inch shy, I finally hooked up with a quality largemouth going about 4 pounds. This really put the fire under me because if I could manage to just fill a limit than I would have a nice day 1 sack and haven’t even touched my stuff on pool 5. Although I gave it my all, the small area that I had to fish just didn’t have the quantity or quality needed for me to put together a limit and I ended day 1 with 3 bass for roughly 9 pounds.
Going into Day 2, I had a slightly different agenda, I found myself way out of the money, but my day 2 Am partner Jeremiah, was sitting in 4th place after he had a successful day 1. My goal instead turned on making sure he got a check as well as showing face and putting together a nice limit of my own. After an up and down day, we where both able to catch fish and in the end Jeremiah was good enough for a solid 5th place finish. I myself ended in a tough 41st place, though with that said it was still a good enough showing to make divisionals, believe me when I say I can’t wait to get to Old Hickory!!
No time to rest though, I’m off to Minnetonka tomorrow for the Denny’s Super 30 Shootout Championship. Wish me luck!!