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Seven Days Of Smallmouth Fishing On The Mississippi River


Greasy B

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On these trips my brother Dan and I always plan on maximizing our time on the river by leaving just after work Friday, driving all night, sleeping in the truck at the boat ramp so we’re on the water first thing in the morning. Lately we’ve been slipping a bit. I guess we’re not quite as energetic in our old age and stopped to get a room about half way through the 10 hour drive to Monticello Minnesota. By 2:00 Saturday afternoon we had our licenses, a cooler of beverages iced and we were launching the boat at Montissippi County Park just north of town for the first of a seven day Smallmouth trip on the special regulation stretch of the Mississippi between St Cloud and Anoka Minnesota. As was the case on a similar trip a couple of year’s back we brought some catfishing equipment with us to fill the voids that inevitably occur due to fatigue from long days of hurling hardware as well as double hauling dear hair bugs with our 8 weight fly rods. On this first run up the river the wind was howling with such force we started by wedging the boat against the lee shore and tossed night crawlers while we each got our bass rods rigged and our equipment organized. We never did get our bass rods rigged because every time we threw out a crawler we would catch a decent Red Horse sucker, after a dozen or so we had to tuck away the bait rods, rig up the others and just brave the wind. As it turned out the first evening gave us our best Smallie action of the trip with some very good numbers of some very good fish. Averaging about 16” all the Smallmouth had large football shaped bodies and small heads. The fish were holding is some pretty fast water and every cast behind a boulder would get a charging strike. If they missed the buzz baits and spinner baits we were tossing a quick follow up with an unweighted Senko would stick them for sure. What a start.

The next 6 days were a mix of fantastic action, sometimes catching more and bigger Smallmouth in a few hours than I typically would in a weekend in the Ozarks and long slow periods that found us holed up under shade trees resting our bones, hiding from the wind and dunking night crawlers. Some highlights in no particular order. Four nights camping on the river. Each day getting on the water just after dawn, fishing till late morning then returning to camp for a huge breakfast of fried Red Horse suckers, catfish as well as the occasional Minnesota crappie (Walleye). A Northern Pike that followed Dan’s spinner bait to the boat, when the bait was at his rod tip he yelled holy crap and immediately slapped the bait back at the water. The Northern grabbed the lure, pulled about 15’ of line off the reel then tail walked like a Tarpon snapping the line. It all happened pretty quickly, but that fish looked to be about 4’ long. After that we caught numerous Northern Pike But all were less than 24”. We had a few calm evenings when we sight fished to big bass by casting Sneaky Pete’s to slight disturbances in current seams. I figured what we were seeing was bass feeding on minnows that were feeding on Mayflies. A well placed Sneaky Pete would disappear in a toilet bowl flush and the 8 weight would bend double as the fish repeatedly dived under the boat.

Over the course of the week we fished most of the Mississippi River between St Cloud and Elk River, about 40 miles. Most of the time river is about 300’ wide and boulder filled. At 2500 cfs it was easily the most challenging jet boating I ever did. We both had to be 100% focused on finding passable water through the boulder fields and shoals. At times when the lighting wasn’t good or the wind was blowing it was nearly impossible not kiss the occasional rock. This smallmouth stream is so large even when we fished the same stretch twice we never really worked the same water over, heck we never time explored most of the back channels. A wonderful river and a great trip. I attached a few pictures.

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His father touches the Claw in spite of Kevin's warnings and breaks two legs just as a thunderstorm tears the house apart. Kevin runs away with the Claw. He becomes captain of the Greasy Bastard, a small ship carrying rubber goods between England and Burma. Michael Palin, Terry Jones, 1974

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Excellent post! Great pics! Even though there is nothing better than smallmouth, having a huge pike blast your bait is fun too! Jet boating looks challenging!!!!

"Honor is a man's gift to himself" Rob Roy McGregor

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Very nice!!! That was an epic trip. I have to get up north again some day. It is hard to beat some of that Minnesota fishing. The worst part about the driving is passing up all that water on the way!

Chief Grey Bear

Living is dangerous to your health

Owner Ozark Fishing Expeditions

Co-Owner, Chief Executive Product Development Team Jerm Werm

Executive Pro Staff Team Agnew

Executive Pro Staff Paul Dallas Productions

Executive Pro Staff Team Heddon, River Division

Chief Primary Consultant Missouri Smallmouth Alliance

Executive Vice President Ronnie Moore Outdoors

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Thanks for the comments. It is a very interesting area. The river itself is beautiful but the valley is basically suburban, a little like fishing in St Louis County. Another peculiar thing is just how focused the local anglers are on lake fishing. Even in the riverside town of Monticello every other driveway had a Lund boat parked in it. On the river you see River Pro, Blazer and Generation 3 boats, basically Missouri boats. Don't get me wrong the river does get pounded, just not by the crowds you would expect if such a stream were in the Ozarks.

His father touches the Claw in spite of Kevin's warnings and breaks two legs just as a thunderstorm tears the house apart. Kevin runs away with the Claw. He becomes captain of the Greasy Bastard, a small ship carrying rubber goods between England and Burma. Michael Palin, Terry Jones, 1974

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Yes, canoes and kayaks would be great. There's a shuttle service that works out Monticello. We ran into the fellow that runs it several times, nice guy.

His father touches the Claw in spite of Kevin's warnings and breaks two legs just as a thunderstorm tears the house apart. Kevin runs away with the Claw. He becomes captain of the Greasy Bastard, a small ship carrying rubber goods between England and Burma. Michael Palin, Terry Jones, 1974

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