High water in August? That's the story on the Mississippi
The Mississippi River is finally dropping after some heavy rises, but it's still a few feet above normal, causing problems for anglers.
Trout streams, on the other hand, are back to normal for the most part.
Water levels have posed a persistent problem for Mississippi River anglers for much of the summer. Randy Stevens, a veteran angler and guide, said the river around Red Wing is the highest he's ever seen it in August. With the water has come a lot of debris that clogged lines and hooks for those long lining on Lake Pepin, he said.
The flow is about 30,000 cubic feet per second at the Red Wing Lock and Dam, while normal is maybe 15,000 to 20,000. It's up about 3 to 4 feet.
Dean Marshall of Everts Resort a few miles below the dam said he's not surprised fishing is slow. "It's August, it's late August," he said. He suggested anglers fish the head of Lake Pepin or the back channel of the Mississippi near Red Wing. Live bait seems more consistent — leeches on the lake, nightcrawlers on the river.
Also, look for big crappies along the rocky shorelines of the lake, he said. And don't forget about white bass.
Marshall doesn't foresee the best fishing until the first freeze, which is probably a month away at least.
At the foot of the lake, "they're getting striped bass like crazy," said Bea Koch of Camp LaCupolis. The two best places are at the buoys at the camp where Pepin again becomes the Mississippi and around Lake City on the Minnesota side. Very few anglers are using live bait but most are going with lures line Sonars.
Tom Allen of Hooked on Fishing in Rochester said from what he's heard, walleye are hitting on the Mississippi in 6 to 8 feet of water on current breaks or vertical jigging in weeds. With the current, debris has been a problem, he said.
On Lake Zumbro, crappies are biting on real worms or things like Mini-Mites. But you have to keep moving, you can't just vertical jig, he said.
Mike Pierce of River Valley Outfitters in Wabasha said panfish and perch are biting in some backwaters but forget fishing wing dams for walleye — the water is too high. For walleye, try near Camp LaCupolis or the Great Alma Fishing Float below the Alma Lock and Dam.
Water is dropping in a hurry and fishing should improve as the water drops, he said.
Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, in this week's report, agree the river is indeed up and fishing is down. But vegetation seems really good for the upcoming waterfowl hunting season.
As for trout, the news is a bit better. Streams had been high but are now reported close to normal and generally clear.
Jim Mauer of Mauer Brothers in Elba said fishing has slowed, with no fish registered in the tavern's fishing contest in the last two weeks but a 2-pound 4-ounce brown this week. The biggest is still a 7-pound 8-ounce brown caught by Steve Nelson on Rochester much earlier in the season. He used a Mepps in the South Branch.
The DNR report for the southern part of the region is tricos are hatching on streams from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Baetis and a small caddis are hatching the rest of the day.
POACHED BUCK ON DISPLAY:The rack of the poached monster 8-point buck, perhaps the largest yet measured, will be on display at the DNR's Minnesota State Fair building from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. It was shot last fall; Troy Reinke pleaded guilty to poaching it and is serving jail time.
Conservation Officer Tyler Quandt of Red Wing, who helped investigate the incident, said he is investigating a complaint of a trophy buck shot between Frontenac and Lake City and left to rot. It was in full velvet. Anyone with information is asked to call TIP at 800-652-9093.
JIM KILLEN SPORTING CLAYS: The 15th annual Jim Killen Boy Scout Sporting Clays Shoot to raise money for Boy Scouts of America will be Sept. 11 at Gamehaven Scout Reservation south of Rochester.
Killen, the well-known outdoors artist, sponsors the shoot that will be at a 20-range clay course. Cost is $125 per person, $600 per five-member team. Lunch is provided and there is a silent auction and reception. To register or for more information, call (507) 287-1410 or go to www.gamehavenbsa.org.
NEW BULLHEAD RULES:Anglers can use live bullheads up to 10 inches long as baitfish but can't take them north of Minnesota Highway 210, according to a regulation that went into effect Aug. 9.