11/08/13 Currently the lower St. Croix River level is at 675.51 feet above sea level. This mark is recorded in Stillwater,Minnesota. The St. Croix River water level is controlled by the Mississippi Rivers’ Red Wing (Minnesota) Lock and Dam #3 (LD#3). If LD#3 did not exist the Croix would be approximately ten feet less. There are pictures showing the river in this pre dam state, and people who remember old timers that knew the river level prior to the lock and dams being constructed. 675.5 is as low as the Corps of Engineers will allow the river to go, they also refer to this foot mark as “normal pool elevation.”
11/04/13 I like the cold weather, but I do not like to be cold. I always seem to dress heavier than my clients, I guess I know a little better how cold the weather is on the water in November. A little wind can strip poker you down to nothing faster than a card shark. I will say this though that if you dress warm enough the weather is not bad, unless the wind is heavy, or rain then what’s the point. If we go fishing this November dress just as if you think you will be warm enough, then bring another larger coat to fit over everything and have another outer pant/bib layer. Do this and you’ll be fine.
I talked a little about this in my report, but the last trip ever on the Croix, ever meaning calendar date was December 8th. With mid 40 degree water temps I hope to be fishing the St. Croix until Thanksgiving.
10/24/13 Sometimes I forget the way the river acts, and other times I can not remember if I ever knew them. This is my thought presently about a recent “Fall Turnover” of the deep basin of the St. Croix River. I wrote a paragraph about this turnover in the recent Oct. 23rd report. Trouble is I do not recall a turnover before, and yet I slightly do remember a time where I did have water temp reading that was warmer despite the obvious cold weather and what should have been a colder temp gage reading. I know I am making myself look a card short of a full deck here, but I really think it would make a bigger impression on me. The more I think about this the more I think I saw this before but quickly dismissed it as a bad temperature sensor. I did put a message into the Minnesota DNR and I will get the straight info from them on this topic.
As listed in the river ramble below, the fall is a special time for me, maybe it is just the boat barrenness of the river by the harsh cold and wind, the seclusion and resulting serenity. I do know this, that the cold water makes jigging productive. As a guide there is not an easier way to fish than jigging. You have no line tangles between anglers, and you only have to tie one knot, the knot from the main line to the jig. Simple. Even better is that walleye love jigs in the fall.Then there are the choices between plastics, minnows, buck tail or hair jigs. Then colors come into play, choices are fun for guides, where you can notice discernible bite rates on one color or type versus another. Not much different than a jig for angling presentation purposes is a blade bait, anglers love to use blades too, and know a days the choices and types are broader than ever before.
River Ramble - The heat will be gone, October cool nights come. Clear sky and and bright stars. The winds blow and the sun screened by gray clouds. The river is quiet. A faint urge encompasses me to go as the geese do high and flying in formation, but the place I am pulled to is a familiar sand point with baitfish below piled ten feet high from the bottom. On top all cruiser boats gone, the vultures glide south away in their distinct silhouette of torn and tattered black feathers. Below the water line, pudgy powerful white bass with needle sharp fins strike any object they detect as weak or wounded. Walleyes streak into the school of shad in squads of ten, all from the same class, they move in an imagined unison, corral and fool, and feast at will.
The leaves still colored yellow, puff, tumble, float and fall, some into the water others form into piles at the base of scrub river trees. Low water showing the nondescript rocks colored tan, gray, and off white all rounded and nestled into the sand, and ready to house again another smallmouth bass nest when lilacs bloom. Sand blankets the shore, high water marks on tree trunks show signs of change. Change from high water in the spring when the fishing season was young and the hopes high from shiny lures still in their colorful boxes . No sun, cheeks dry and chapped, a leak from the tip of the nose, melancholy mood settles in and a contemplative quiet of a monastery is the river.
The whine of an outboard motor coming from back downwind suddenly is in earshot and the moment changes. ”How they biting?” said loud and clear to overcome the smoking engine. The face under the hat, the gray beard, the quilted plaid shirt under the front snap jacket, are all familiar. A pleasant conversation and a caught fish ends the sojourn in the contemplative world.