Fishing Report

Mid March Report,  2017

Walleye and sauger fishing on Pool Four of the Mississippi River near Red Wing, MN.

The river is seeing no influx of new water and the level is dropping, plus the weather had chilled and the water temp rise we saw weeks ago has slowed.  This mid March stage will hang around until the weather warms.

Eaters
We boated over 2 limits of eater saugers most where these chunky 16″ fish.  Johnny had the hot hand in the afternoon.  Saugers eaten from 38 degree water are outstanding!

We found over two limits of keeper saugers today caught all on Rapala original minnows. Most fish were 15 to 16″. The bites were incredibly light and really just a “tick.”

It was absolutely necessary to hold the fishing rod vs. rod holders to help catch and trigger fish.

Not a lot big ones yet, looking forward to a nice walleye and sumo sauger bite just around the corner.

Jigging techniques have and will be good again, The Rapalas excel when the fish spread out  as the flow drops.

Charlie “Turk” Gierke

19 Year Professional Guiding experience on St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers

USCG licensed OUPV Captain

5x Beanie River Rat Tournament winner, 3x Paul Koval St. Croix Classic tournament winner

2001 World Walleye Association Championship winner, 2009 Full Throttle Big Water Series Team of the Year

Follow Jesus to life giving water!

March 1, 2017

Walleye and sauger fishing on Pool Four of the Mississippi River.  Today out best luck was with minnows.

It is true, walleye love fathead minnows. When cold fronts come minnows are often best. Catch and release.
It is true, walleye love fathead minnows. When cold fronts come minnows are often best. Catch and release.

My boat and trailer was covered with snirt (snow and dirt) when I reached Everts Resort this morning.  A couple inches of snow on the road quickly covers your boat like sprayed stucco on a house the further you drive the thicker it piles on the boat.  I will say this nobody and I mean nobody was on the river today. Jeff and I were the only ones dumb enough to fish, but it wasn’t that cold at all. Especially when the fish bite!

Jeff with a 19" sauger caught on a jig and plastic, looks like a firecracker paddle tail and popular bait to use. Second most popular bait behind the ringworm.
Jeff with a 19″ sauger caught on a jig and plastic, looks like a firecracker paddle tail a popular soft plastic bait to use – the second most popular bait behind the ringworm. C & R.

Jeff said “I will take some wind and cold and NO boats any day, especially when we are getting fish!”

Jeff with another nice one on a fathead. This fish was just under 20" Catch and release.
Jeff with another nice one on a fathead. This fish was just under 20″ Catch and release.

The weather soon will be downright great! 50 degree high and the river will be packed with boats all looking for a tug on the line.  Over all our best action was on minnows as a cold front hit us this week.  We did get some on plastics.

We released four bigger fish today and kept these 6. We had many other small fish as well. Not a bad total for a 7 hour trip.
We released four bigger fish today than these pictured and kept these 6 for the fryer. We had numerous small fish as well. Not a bad total for a 7 hour trip.

 

February 16,  2017 —

Catching walleye and sauger on Pool Four of the Mississippi River.  Today our best luck was using ringworm soft plastic baits.

Here is Paul Earney with a nice chunk of a walleye that hit a ringworm. Paul said the bite was very light. This fish fought well in the current.
Here is Paul with a nice chunk of a walleye that hit a ringworm. Paul said the bite was very light. This fish fought well in the current.

This time of year it is often necessary to tempt the walleye and sauger with minnows, though the plastic baits work well too.  Hard to generalize but often bigger fish come on plastics.

The wonder of Pool Fouir is the encyclopedia of techniques that catch fish. The venerable old man the jig and minnow vertical caught this eye. Nothing big but an example go the good healthy eaters in the river.
The wonder of Pool Four is the encyclopedia of techniques that catch fish. The venerable old man the jig and minnow presented vertically caught this eye. Nothing big but an example the good healthy eaters in the river.

THUMP!

The other fish hit light... Paul said this one crushed it. The whole jig and plastic worm deep in the mouth.
The other fish hit light… Paul said this one crushed it. The whole jig and plastic worm deep in the mouth. Nice job Paul!

The weather should warm, look for more good fishing soon.  Actually mid 30’s is great when you dress right, the wind well not so fun, but when the fish hit, the weather doesn’t matter.

A 16" walleye a perfect fish. Close up on baits that work.
A 16″ walleye a perfect fish. Close up on baits that work.

 

January 24, 2017

I am hearing good reports on the St. Croix River Bayport area fishery this season.  One of the surprising and often reported catches are nice sized saugers.

The St. Croix ice bite is one where the majority of the anglers are targeting the very nice sized crappies on the Croix.  Saugers and walleyes are a lucky bonus catch.  I have heard that the saugers in the two pound range are showing up. Not in huge numbers but a couple here and there – enough to add to the enjoyment for sure. Fish with fatheads under a bobber just off of the bottom.

January 17, 2017 —

Ice thickness is 10-14 inches on the St. Croix River’s Bayport area trucks have been driving on the ice lately.  Most anglers target crappies using crappie minnows and bobbers.

Here’s some info from the old days I remember an angler named “Tom” from River Falls, had a home made three hole shelter.  All  holes were inline and about seven feet in length from hole one to three.  Anyway he chain smoked these cherry cigarillo’s with his three holes in front of him and he hammered fish.  He fished all the time out there and did better than anyone.  He always fished all three of his legally allowed lines using bobbers staggered in certain depths off of the bottom. He set up and stayed put—moved from trip to trip but not much on a given day.

January 2, 2017 —

St. Croix River ice thickness is 5-6 inches as of New Years Day. The St. Croix sees most anglers fishing for crappies in the Bayport area. Here it is a deepwater basin bite. Fish can suspended easily 12 feet off of the bottom. The crappies roam the entire area. Dead stick minnows is often best versus active jigging.

Crappies can be found across the whole basin and are caught best on a crappie minnow. Many of these fish are suspended up to 12 feet off the bottom and can be hard to decipher at times from the abundant shad baitfish.

BE CAREFUL! There are multiple areas of openwater on the St. Croix – only fish where safe, and driving automobiles on the ice is not safe yet.

 

2017.King.Plant.2

Tip of the Week

Mid March

One key to river fishing is to know when the fish are concentrated and when the are spread out.  Even a “minor” water level change of 1.5 feet will move the fish.  Normally lower and slower flow spreads out the fish.

When fishing Rapala’s in the dirty river water I find the red painted bill is a good fish attractor.

note the red bill.
Note  – the red bill I like these in spring time river water.

March 1, 2017

Walleye and sauger move deeper when cold fronts happen.  When cold fronts happen especially in slower and deep rivers (like the St. Croix) fish will hit lightly.  If I am jig fishing and I want the bulk of the jig to trigger bites I put a stinger hook on the jig.

Here is a pic of a Northland Fireball jig that still has the stinger in the fishes mouth. This is exactly how the fish hit and was caught. No stinger no fish.
Here is a pic of a Northland Fireball jig that still has the stinger in the 17″ saugers mouth. This is exactly how the fish hit and was caught. No stinger no fish. The trick is you don’t always need a stinger. Let the fish tell u.

February 16, 2017

Hard to believe but trolling in cold and I mean cold water ice cold water does work to catch fish.  As you would guess the fish, trolling speeds need to be adjusted for the cold water. Today with 36 degree water on the river we boated a good sauger trolling a Rapala stickbait.  The key was a slow steady pace into the current. Give crankbaits a try in the winter.

January 2, 2017 —

For ice fishing panfish 2-3 pound line is a must.  It is very fine and hard to work with. Colored line really helps. I like the orange line, the dark blue line is also good.

16-Jan7.Turk.bluegill.2247

 

Turk’s Column

Every now and then I have a customer who knows both -a lot about the river, and has fished it for a long time.  Last Fall I had the privilege to Guide a guy like that – Steve Frankosky. Steve and his brother had all these great stories from the Croix I asked Steve to put them down for all of us to enjoy! Thanks Steve!…

 

Steve Frankosky (right). Steve has great stories from the Croix, he put some of them down on paper for all of us to enjoy.
Steve Frankosky (right). Steve has great stories from the Croix, he put some of them down on paper for all of us to enjoy.

Turk asked me for a brief history of fishing the St Croix, I started fishing the Croix back in 1966 or so, I was 15, my dad bought a boat from the Afton Chris Craft marina, now the Afton marina next to Windmill Marina. We got a hand me down 12’ Alumacraft boat and used a 5HP green Johnson SeaHorse moter with a built in small gas tank, my brother Greg and my dad and myself would fish out of it, usually anchor fishing . In 1967 my dad bought a bigger boat, a 38’ used Chris Craft, and we actually started to troll the St Croix using that and with three way wolfe river rigs, that we still use a lot today. This is the era when Russ Lind, a mechanic at the marina, would fish out of his 15’ wooden boat , anchoring at his favorite spot and still fishing with minnows or crawlers. My brother and I would try to beat him out there but no matter what time and what conditions he would always be there, nod his head and give us a wave, many times in the fall he would appear to us out of the fog already anchored up. In the cold, he would have a insulated metal bucket with charcoal in it to keep him warm. He would use two poles, one always in his hand and one dead stick, reminded me of the old man and the sea…
In 1974 we bought a 15’ Alumacraft, I think a F-11 and a 9.9 Evenrude, going big time, it helped us cover a bit more river, up to Hudson and clear down to the Kinni! We usually trolled in the fall, but used lindy rigs with crawlers and some blade baits as well. In 1976 we bought a 25HP Evinrude and used the 9.9 as a kicker, our depthfinder was the old Lowrance green box, still have it! We used that set up, got a 6hp when the 9.9 wore out, till 2009 when I got a 1725 Lund Pro Guide with a 75HP tiller.
We usually launch out of Windmill Marina, it used to be called Windmill Bill’s, my dad moved his cruiser over to that marina in about 1990 from the Afton marina to be closer to friends. We have launched out of Beanies as well.
Beanie used to run a tourney that ran from opener to November in different catagories, walleye, sauger, catfish.., My brother Greg won the sauger and we placed in the walleye, but each year it was fun to watch the board leader weights go up.
Fishing has changed a bit on the Croix, in the 60-70’s the opener was busy with 20-30 boats at catfish, many anchored, silvers were thick and big…in the fall about the same as now but now more trollers and slipfishing with jigs. Best year ever was in the fall of 1968, the water was high, similar to most of this year, Wally McCarthy and his buds would troll near every day back then and starting in mid October walleye limits of 7LB average were happening, the DNR came down and said that schools of Mississippi walleyes, big ones had moved up the Croix and were stacked up on some of the points above the Kinni, not many boats were fishing as it was a cold fall but it was like in the old pictures of big stringers. We follow a lot more catch and release now, with all the big girls going back in to the water, in 2015 my 10 year old great nephew came down to fish the Croix for the first time and nailed a true 30” walleye, he was excited!, we were stunned it was our biggest walleye of the year! I thought that the fall of 2016 was one of the best and most consistent we have had for a few years, my brother nailed a 31”, key is time on the water but fish were active. The Croix is such a great fishery and environment with clean water and sand bottom, just a treasure so close to the cities yet not really overfished, hope it stays that way. From Steve Frankosky.

December, 2016 —

With water temps hovering around 40 degrees, I fished the first week of December from the boat before winter hit. Often the last bite before winter crashes into fall is some good fishing. This was the case again this year. We had a great time catching fish on soft plastics, minnows, and jigging Rapalas.  Not all but some of the bites were thunderous.

When fishing artificial versus live bait the strongest strikes are on artificial.  Its very common to have the jig and  plastic bait struck and shallowed with the entire bait in the mouth.  Then the live minnows are often a light and faint bump.  Not sure why, but walleye crush artificial lures during this cold water bite.