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.
Looking forward to fishing Pool 4 when the weather warms…
The Silverlight of Autumn
You can see it in summer at times, but the fall is the most frequent time when you will see this rare light. The light, which I talk about I call the “silver light “. It happens on the mornings when there is over cast and a steel grey sky not a thick dark gray but a sky with a tiny hint of blue and stretched out bank of clouds. The sun reaches a certain height at mid morning and though its bright light is completely diffused by the clouds the suns rays brightens the whole sky with this faint silverish hue a glow – it lasts for normally a minute at most.
I think in days gone by when photographers endlessly talked about good lighting, lighting created naturally by the weather it is this “silverlight” that was the apex of conditions to create the best pictures possible. I believe nowadays the digital world can make any picture a near masterpiece.
Another condition of the silverlight to occur is calm of the wind. So with this rare light there is the river water acting as a mirror to the color of the autumn trees and for a brief moment feels like heaven.
If you like it quiet early November finds most sportsmen in the woods. The big white pleasure boats are covered with royal blue plastic and on wooden blocks. Its quiet in November on the St. Croix.
August 2016 thoughts looking back on the season so far…The St. Croix River is both a lake and a river. Two weeks ago we had flow so strong and levels so high it was amazing. The river climbed right up the sand beaches and shorelines 7′ in three days. That is an event I have never seen. This high rising water lifted trees and propelled them down the Croix at 7mph. So for this neck of the woods that is fast – real fast. Not a stray log but dead trees. This variety of conditions made the fishing fun totally new. We found a place to anchor up and cast 3/8 ounce lindy rigs and spinners. The spinners were very short and only 18 to 24″. This set up with crawlers provided some very good fishing. Walleyes, white bass, smallies, saugers, and drum all were biting well. We had one trip were the bite was slower but it was still a dozen walleye trip – though most – were short fish (we call sub legal, below 15 inch walleye – “shorts.”) In 2.5 hours on Monday July 18 we landed 50 fish and more than half were walleye and sauger the other half drum and white bass! 6 eyes were big enough to keep. Really fun fishing – casting and retrieving and setting the hook. Its the good stuff that keeps you coming back.
The reason I say the river is a lake is, there are times the flow is so low that it is barely detectable and an angler is able to use more lake fishing techniques such as bottom bouncing with or without spinners. This got me thinking that the St. Croix is a great training ground for all types of fishing if you are looking to get better. Plus the amount of fish to target from huge cats to saugers there are so many fish to target it is an anglers play ground.
Early June is the busiest time of year for guides the phone calls and emails saying “lets go fishing” abound. When the dandelions bloom and their puff ball seeds blow away and the iris’ and peonies start to bloom truly in fact summer weather is here, and people start thinking about catching some fish. Early June gives many the fishing bug.
When you hear the lawnmowers clipping grass and smell the Kingsford coals from down the street this is right when people get fishing on their mind. As many of you know angling is a year round activity, but right now this is when most idealize fishing.
Everyone is different as they say, to me the first time I have to wear a sweatshirt, light coat and jeans again is my favorite time to be on the water, this is when I idealize fishing. This is when I start to get the river back and it gets quiet once again…
A common question I get is “what is your favorite fishing technique?” I want to answer “whatever is working.” Truth is from trolling Rapala’s for walleye or three way rigging for catfish I do love them all. Lindy rigging for white tips is pretty awesome though, I extremely enjoy having to feed fish line to catch them – then the anticipation sets in… it is absolutely energetic – this excitement of feeding line to a fish leads many customers to get so antsy that they hardly feed two seconds worth of line before they close the bail and try to make a hook set! It’s always a good time when this is happening and we are getting tons of bites, because then if you whiff another fish is just around the corner. A whiff when bites are scarce normally isn’t so funny though to the client and then I won’t joke around, after 18 years guiding you learn a few do’s and don’ts. 🙂
Since I’m talking feeding line, you don’t always have to – sometime you do. If the fish are are swallowing the hook deep into the stomach -then don’t feed them – then you would just drop back the rod tip to the fish and slowly pull away from the fish with a hook set that accelerates.
Catfish. After all what makes a river a river? It’s catfish. With a 80 pound Minnesota state record flathead cat and a 35 pound channel cat record – cats get BIG! I don’t fish for the big flathead cats at night, because on the Croix they bite mostly after dark, and I mean dark, not twilight. This after dark bite makes walleye trips too hard the next day for the guide. I do guide for daytime channel cats when the requests come in. Fishing for channel cats, the bonus 15 pound flathead can be mixed in during the summer. But the big monster mouthes (flats) are normally a midnight time fish. Below is a pic from a previous August
so I dug this pic up and the caption refers to the fact this young man also caught some smallies. I guess that is the beauty of the river the variety. On many trips we can get a mixed bag of eyes, saugers, bass, and cats. Big cats like the one Erik is holding came on cut bait so we did specifically target cats in this regard. The mixed bag cats i am talking about comes often from walleye fishing both livebait and trolling. Yes trolling, we catch many cats this way and some very large.
Be well. The best guide you could ever find goes by the name of Jesus. questions? Contact me. 🙂
The moving water plays on the jig
Hold the lure right off the bottom
Feel the fast waters raise your lure
and the slow water drop it.
Very active fishing in the flow.
Fish to feel the slightest tick. Is it a fish?
Look at the water go, it moves in sheets, and splits and turns
The dark water comes back at you
Turns in a U returning from where it came
Drum beat drum beat downstream downstream
With the wild geese chants the river flows and flows.
03/19/16 C. C. Gierke
My guide service uses these highly specialized river rigs for walleye on the Mississippi:
Vertical jig with bait
Vertical jig with plastics (
such as ringworms, paddle tails, fork tail, etc.
Dubuque rig vertical jigged
This rig is a walleye slayer with both a jig and a long leader to a plain hook, here we use a combo of plastics and bait or both bait or both plastics.
Drag the above three presentations upstream or downstream
Dragging is absolutely deadly and it is one of my best presentations I employ in my guide boat to put customers on fish
Troll floating Rapalas on a 3-way rig
This set up is normally later in late winter early spring such as March. This trolling is best when the current starts to flow fast again and water tmps rise. The fish fight like whales against the flow here and it is a blast to get them the net.
Pitch (cast) Jigs with plastics
Lunker sized fish tactic. 8, 9, and 10+ pound fish are caught this way
Pitch blade baits
Lunker sized fish tactic. 8, 9, and 10+ pound fish are caught this way