ON THE ST. CROIX RIVER -- Typically now in almost mid-summer, this and other rivers call to anglers who love gentle currents and the warm-water species that lurk within, bass especially.
But recent evenings on this scenic waterway suggest peak river fishing times might be some days or perhaps weeks distant, not only for this river but the Mississippi, the Rum, the Zumbro, the Knife and others.
The problem: high water.
Which illustrates a conundrum of sorts, because in spring, high and even flooding water at times can yield first-rate fishing, particularly for walleyes, on some of the rivers just mentioned.
But mid-summer flooding of the kind the St. Croix is experiencing, and the Mississippi, throws a wrench in the works.
Case in point: Where typically I catch multiples of smallmouth and even largemouth bass on the St. Croix beginning about this time of summer, action so far has been fairly elusive -- particularly with top-water baits.
There's mystery involved here that might be solved on any given day, so long as the clear, hot weather we're having continues.
If it does, the farther up in the watershed a person fishes, the better the action, sooner -- probably. Meaning, on the St. Croix, better to fish upriver from Grantsburg, Wis., in the coming week or so than in and around Stillwater.
And the Mighty Miss? If you make a river trip sooner than later, consider the Brainerd and Royalton stretches first, and Monticello-to-Elk River, second.
But both of these rivers carry far more water than they typically do at this time of year, so caution is advised.
In addition to the Rum and the Zumbro, another great river to try for smallies and walleyes and northerns is the Snake. Upriver from its junction with the St. Croix can provide excellent action, and I've had great smallmouth fishing while wading a mile or two at a time much farther upriver than that.
Armament for these outings should include small floating Rapalas or other crankbaits, various (small) Mepp's Spinners, Gapen Ugly Bugs (tiped with 'crawlers), some top-water baits and/or a wacky worm rig.
Dennis Anderson • firstname.lastname@example.org