This past week I spent three days fishing for smallmouth on rivers in Minnesota with Minnesotan friend John House and others. It's a trip I've made several times, and eagerly look forward to it whenever the opportunity arises. Compared to other summertime smallmouth fisheries, the brown bass fishing on the Upper Mississippi is pretty amazing.
I've often remarked that river smallmouth fight harder than largemouth in most lakes, but the current-oriented smallies of Minnesota are particularly hard hitters. Just ask Lawrence Taylor who was ramrodding this writer trip on behalf of PRADCO Fishing.
On day two, LT and I were fishing with Eric Altena, an Area Fisheries Manager with a passion for smallmouth bass angling. Fishing on a small flow that was no wider than PA's French Creek (but with more water flow), the bigger smallmouth were hugging the bank on outside turns. A fast-moving swim jig was the ticket to drawing strikes. The fish would hit the jig when it touched the water near the shore, or if the bass missed the jig, the smallmouth would chase it to the boat.
One particularly aggressive fish swiped at LT's swim jig three times before latching onto it almost at boat side. The brown bass hit so hard that it jerked the borrowed casting rod right out of his hands. As I watched the rod disappear into the water, I saw LT teetering on the transom platform of Eric's River Pro. It looked like he was going to fall in. I dropped my rod and reached out to grab him. But LT was already in the air - diving in after the rod.
He comes up gasping for air, yelling "I've got the rod and fish is still on it." So, here's LT doggie paddling with one arm as he holds the rod in the other. I so wanted to grab my camera, but felt my duty was to help retrieve LT. (Oh how I wanted that picture!)
Perhaps a minute passed before the boat caught up with LT who was being pulled downstream in the current; Eric and I pulled him aboard, rod still in hand. Check out the photo with pooled water around the knee to see the smallmouth that pulled LT into the river.
In daytime temperatures that reached into the 90s with high humidity, we still managed to land 60 to 100 smallmouth a day per boat. Many of the smallmouth in the Mississippi were extremely dark - perhaps due to the 83 degree water temperature. Fish were taken on Houdini Shad soft jerkbaits, Yum Tubes, swim jigs, Dancin' Eel, and of course Yum Dingers. Actually, LT had brought a few new F2 Dingers to field test. The first morning I alternated between the standard Dinger and the new F2 Dingers with water-soluble scent - the F2 Dingers outfished the regular ones by 5 to 1!
Darl is a veteran outdoor communicator with a passion for fishing. Darl and his wife Marilyn Wolfe Black form Blackwolfe Communications L.L.C., which includes Fishing with Darl Black Guide Service. Follow Darl's freshwater fishing exploits on this blog, and check out additional fishing content plus the NW PA Fishing Report online at www.blackwolfecommunications.com.