I always try to provide readers with possible fishing destinations that are close to home. This last week I fished a good one. For many of you, this will be no surprise, but I think I have gathered some information that will be helpful to you as you think about future trips.
My family spent last week in Wisconsin fishing Pool 9 of the Mississippi River and its backwaters. To be exact, we exclusively fished the Winneshiek Slough area. This backwater is located just north of Ferryville, Wisconsin. For those of you more familiar with LaCrosse, it is about forty miles south of the city.
I’ll be honest with you. I’ve known that Pools 7, 8 and 9 have always been good. The only problem is, these backwater areas are so expansive they can be overwhelming for an angler that has never been there. I have fished Pools 7 and 8 in the past, but Pool 9 was new to me.
While looking at a map of the Pool I decided on the Winneshiek Slough for one reason – there is lots of deeper channels. The Mississippi River takes a sharp turn to the west at this point. While the main channel swings away from the Wisconsin side, there are several large channels that branch off the main river and cut south. These deep-water channels are what make this slough so good.
There were numerous areas where grassy pockets and islands were surrounded by water that was anywhere from six to fifteen feet deep. These channels had really strong current, which helped to position the fish.
River fish look upstream for an easy meal coming down to them. Wherever you could find nice flow passing by a shallower point or pocket you would find fish. Sometimes they would be stacked up in there like cordwood.
We found one such pocket that was about the area of two boats. Within that small space was one particular spot that held numerous largemouths. In fact, we caught seven quality fish from that tiny hole in about fifteen minutes. Every one of them were caught on topwater frogs, so the action was explosive, for sure.
While there are numerous lures and presentations that work here, I focused on only two. I used a plastic frog in the weedy slop and also a ¼-ounce swim jig in black and blue. Whenever we ran across a weedy, shallow flat along a current break we used the frogs. If the area was matted solid with duckweed, you could almost guarantee the fish would be there.
Otherwise we just swam a jig, with the current, making sure to bring it past every rock and tree that we came across. Swimming a jig is a very easy presentation that anyone can do. Just remember to reel it slowly and keep it flowing naturally with the direction of the current and you will get bit.
I was so proud of my two boys. They caught both quantity and quality. In fact, both of them landed the biggest smallmouth bass they had ever hooked and set personal records.
I would recommend using the Winneshiek Landing for your boat launch. Just take Route 35, Great River Road, north until you see Highway 82. Head west towards Lansing, Iowa and the landing is immediately to your right.
From there, you don’t even have to fire up your big motor. You can get the trolling motor going and hit the many points that are created by the convergence of several channels. The railroad embankment is good for multiple fish because of all the riprap shoreline. We caught lots of good ones there everyday we went out.
If you do venture up to Pool 9 be sure that your trolling motor can handle the extreme current. When the water is a little high it really rips through this slough and can be frustrating if you don’t have enough power to hold your position and move through it. Also be sure to check river levels before you leave home. For much of this spring and summer the river was extremely high.
You can let the current push you and drift, just make sure that you are casting back up into the current and letting your baits flow with it. Yes, you can get bites going against the current, but you will get hammered much more often fishing with it.
I cannot say enough good things about Pool 9. If you have heard about it, never heard of it, or have always planned to fish it someday – do so. I guarantee that I will be back. If my youngest son had his way, we would have never left.