Anderson: Walleyes biting on Mississippi as Ol' Griz knows

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 8, 2013 - 11:07 PM

If you want to catch walleyes, there are few state spots better than the Mississippi River between the Ford Dam and Hastings.

hide

Dick “the Griz’’ Grzywinski caught a 5-pound walleye fishing with Dennis Anderson on the Mississippi River downriver from St. Paul.

Photo: DENNIS ANDERSON • Star Tribune,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Thursday morning, Griz and I were on the Mississippi, looking for walleyes but talking water moccasins. We found plenty of the former but none of the latter, though Ol’ Griz knows they’re there, the snakes, hitchhikers, he says, on barges coming upriver from New Orleans.

“I’ve seen ’em,’’ he said. “On hot days, they coil onto logs and sun themselves. People don’t believe me. But I’ll bring one to the dock sometime.’’

As Griz spoke, he impaled a fathead minnow onto an orange jig. The minnow could have been dead or alive. “It doesn’t matter,’’ he said. Nor does jig color, not much.

“What matters is how you present it,’’ he said.

This was about an hour into our trip and already we had caught and released a dozen good walleyes, a couple pushing 5 pounds. Also we couldn’t keep sheepshead off our lines and had picked up a sauger and a sunnie. This was beneath an unsettled gray sky patched with blue that hinted of the warming afternoon to come.

As a fishery, you can’t beat the Mississippi as it flows through the Twin Cities and into Pool 2, between the Ford Dam and Hastings, where Griz and I fished.

The wonder on Thursday, in fact, was that everyone in the metro wasn’t on this stretch of water, pretty as it is, and fruitful. In the far distance, the St. Paul skyline towered, while nearer to us, wilderness gathered on each riverbank, all of it well suited for viewing, and fishing, in a john boat like Griz’s, rigged with a tiller outboard, the entire rig painted camouflage.

A St. Paul-based guide for decades now, Griz — Dick Grzywinski — loves fishing. Hunting, too, except his shoulders’ rotator cuffs are giving him fits these days. So it’s harder and harder for him to shoulder a gun.

“Makes it hard to sleep at night, too,’’ he said. “I keep turning and turning like I’m on a rotisserie.’’

It’s possible that fishing along this piece of the Mississippi might be better than fishing in any Minnesota lake. Or maybe not. But certainly it’s in the top five state destinations for walleyes. Big ones — up to 14 pounds — are here, also small ones. These are pretty fish, also, their sides hued dark green and gold, their flanks bulging and tails thick.

But there are tricks to river fishing.

First is to know where wing dams are; underwater rock levees that project from shore like fingers. Their intent in part is to reduce siltation of channels that barges and tugs need to push upriver and down.

But a wing dam’s unintended consequence can be to shear off the lower unit of an angler’s outboard.

As Griz says, “On a river, just because there’s water, doesn’t mean you can run a boat there.’’

Yet wing dams aren’t all bad. Fish like to hang around them, and dropping a jig alongside one, sometimes in water just a few feet deep, can produce walleyes, saugers, smallmouth bass or any of the weirder finned species: common carp, flathead cats, channel cats, gar and so forth.

“I’ll slide the boat into those logs,’’ Griz said. “Drop your jig alongside the submerged one. The other day, we picked up some good walleyes here.’’

Boat control is critical in fishing, and Griz managed his from the stern with one hand on an electric trolling motor.

Little by little, he maneuvered his john boat into a mess of long-dead tree trunks and limbs forced downriver by spring floods.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close