So what's the trick? After talking to many of the River Rats and Pro's that fish the river, there is a little secret that will help the new person avoid the feeling of frustration that I did some years ago.
Here's my disclaimer. I'm not a good walleye/sauger fishermen. Don't claim to be, don't want to be. But I did want to know what we were doing wrong and it's always a great feeling to help out a fellow angler and to get a note from them after their fishing trip saying your advice help them out. /end of disclaimer
The river currents are slow this time of year making it a great time for the person that hasn't been on the river much. Couple safety tips that fit the river as well as lakes. Wear a PFD. The inflatables are inexpensive enough and comfortable enough that they can be worn all day without knowing you're wearing one. The whole idea is to stay in the boat, but 40 degree water isn't anything to play with.
Check in at a bait shop for any hazards you need to be aware of. On Pool 4 here, if a bait shop owner tells you where the few hazards are, it's not a big deal. If your lower end tells you were they are it becomes financially annoying!
Fishing overview. You'll be vertical jigging a plastic bait moving down stream at .3 to .5 miles per hour is 25 to 18 feet of water right down the middle of the river. Sounds pretty darn easy huh? The people that come off the river each day fishless might not agree. Hopefully I'll be able to help those folks out below.
First off, locate Everts Fishing Resort on your GPS. Why? Because they have a launch that's open all year round, (yes that means Dec/Jan/Feb/April too) they have the latest tips, river conditions and a fish cleaning house. All that and sometimes meat balls for the launch fee of $7. Once you stop in ask them what colors are working today. Generally speaking it's light colors on bright days and dark colors on overcast days. Once you know the colors, go over to the plastics wall and look for the Super Doo's. This bait has been around a very long time and is perfect for the beginner to catch fish with. Pick out a bag of each suggested color. This last Saturday Catalpa Orange (pictured) work the best for us. Sunday it was Firecracker. Don't ask me why, I leave that up to the fish.
Check with the bait shop again about the size of jig head. The person fishing up front by the trolling motor can use a 1/4 oz jig head. The person in the back might need to go to 5/16ths because of the back of the boat sway. Whatever weight it takes for you to feel the jig head touch the bottom of the river and that's heavy enough to keep your line vertical. Straight down and not angled at all.
Start fishing in no deeper then 25 feet of water. Yes there's fish deeper, but you don't need to fish there and any sauger no matter what size that comes up out of 25+ fow will die according to the MN DNR studies. As you're moving down stream, again between .3 and .5 miles per hour, drop our jig and Super Doo to the bottom then raise it 2 to 4 inches.
Here's the important part. Hold it as still as you can while you count to 20. Then repeat. The bite will come on the hold.
I know, vertical jigging is popping the jig off the bottom and moving it around, well that's what my dad told me anyway. This maybe true for lakes, but this is the river. The river is always moving. While you're counting to twenty, those tentacles of the Super Doo are DOOing there thing giving it the live action. In fact, if your sonar is telling you the depth isn't changing, eliminate the drop to the bottom. The only reason to drop to the bottom is to make sure you're with n the strike range.
"Let the river do the work for you." "Less is more." Are two common quotes I hear in river fishing instruction when it comes to plastics.
A good friend Kerry Harvey of Brownsdale, MN and I went out on Saturday for 2.5 hours and boated 38 fish. Kerry, an accomplished sauger fisherman complained that it was a slow day. I was very happy the day we had, of course good company had a part in this too.
Merry Christmas all!