Mississippi River Still High

I don’t like fishing the tailwaters but with this high water there isn’t much else this time of year. Now we got more rain so it may rise again or slow the receding levels. The flow is at 70,000 fps at fulton, it should be about 35,000. Wingdams are possible but you’d have to run a kicker motor and use heavy weights. Not my type of fishing. So I have been hitting the rock quite a bit for something to do. Fishing hasn’t been good, they really need to stock that lower pool, but it’s something to do. I heard they are biting at dixon dam but expect crowds. It’s been a terrible Fall for photos and fishing. I may have to do some ice fishing this year to make up for the lost Fall fishing.

Here is some rock river photos from this week:

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Best Walleye fishing Rock River

They do stock some pools on the Rock River, like the pool below Dixon, and pools above it. Contrary to fish stories put out by some unreliable sources, the best fishing on the pool below Sterling is around Phrophetsown. That’s where the best Flathead fishing is as well. The further down river you go, the better the fishing for Crappie, Bass and Walleye. Some Walleye to migrate to the dam in the spring but most get caught and kept so they don’t spawn or return the next year.

The best Bass fishing is also around P-town. Here is what the DNR says:

“Walleye are stocked each year into the Rock River to provide a quality sport fishery for this species. Fishing is generally good below the dams and at the mouths of the tributaries. Walleye ranging in size up to and over the state record weight have been caught in recent years in the upper Rock River and the Pecatonica River, a tributary of the Rock near Rockford. A survey conducted in the fall of 2014 near Dixon found a catch rate of 1 fish/ minute with a total of 101 fish of all sizes collected in one hour, well over the target rate for stocking success. The largest collected was just over 3 pounds. Anglers regularly report catching memorable-size walleye from Sterling up through Rockford. Best fishing for walleye is in the upper Rock River, north of Rockford, however anglers sometimes report good fishing near Dixon and at Prophetstown State Park. Regulation: Walleye, Sauger, or Hybrid Walleye – Wisconsin state line downstream to the Sears and Steel dams at Milan: 6 either singly or in combination; 14” minimum length limit. Walleye, Sauger, or Hybrid Walleye — Sears and Steel dams downstream to confluence with Mississippi River, State of Illinois (Rock Island County): 6 fish daily creel with no more than 1 walleye greater than 27” in total length; 15” minimum length limit with a 20-27” protected Slot Length Limit.”

“Smallmouth bass are common and abundant in the Rock River. A survey conducted in the summer of 2014 found very large numbers of young fish, indicating an excellent spawn. The catch rate was low for the larger fish though, (> 7”) with a rate of 0.6 fish/minute, but the catch rate of 1.2 fish/minute for all sizes was within the target rate. The overall number of adult fish (>11”) collected was a little low, with only 28% of the population in this size range, but this rate has increased slightly as compared to the survey of 2013. Prophetstown had the best number of larger fish with 44% of the adult smallmouth collected in this area > 11”! With the strong year classes produced in 2012, 2013, and again in 2014, the number of larger fish should improve significantly in the near future. Best fishing areas are in South Beloit, below the dam in Dixon, and downstream of Prophetstown State Park. Regulation: 6 black bass, singly or in combination, with no more than 3 smallmouth bass in the daily creel; 14” minimum length limit for smallmouths. Note: There is a closed season on smallmouth bass. All smallmouth bass caught between April 1 and June 15 must be immediately released alive and in good condition back into the waters from which they came.”

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Fishing Tournament Weigh-ins are Misleading

When guys hear about someone weighing weighing in a heavy stringer or fish, they think they must have a great spot full of big fish and everyone tries to figure out where that spot is. It can be maddening, I know, it’s happened to me and I did good in a lot of tournaments and knew better. You picture 2 guys going to a spot and pulling in big fish all day, but 99% of the time that isn’t the case. Instead you have 2 guys standing up working hard all day waiting for 6 bites, and most times that’s all it takes, 6 bites, 6 fish and win the tournament. Of course it’s usually more than that, but they just need the 6 good bites to win. Most times they don’t get them in one spot, no, they catch a fish here and there. When 2 guys are working hard all day it would be hard not to catch 6 fish. But things happen, muddy high water, fishing pressure, tournament pressure, fish moving, people fishing your best spots, a lot of things can go wrong.

People think that since I used to fish tournaments and do well, and guided out, that I always catch fish and know where the fish are, but I don’t. If I catch a couple, I’m fine with that, I just enjoy getting out. I don’t chase the hot bite like so many others do. The fish do a lot of moving and it is hard work to keep up with them. I don’t want to work, I want to have fun, get away from it all and watch and enjoy nature.

I like looking around. If I see boats, I go the other way. That is why I get so angry when they follow me. I am not catching a lot of fish, I am trying to get away from people. I like looking around for new spots, spots where no one else fishes. There isn’t fish in those places, but if they look promising I keep going back and checking on them. I do have go to spots where I can catch a couple to make it worth my while, and yes I get angry when people spy on me and try to clean those spots out. But then it isn’t worth going back and I will just go somewhere else and look around. Then when people follow me there too, it isn’t any easier to take.

The guys who chase fish stories are sitting on fish and just not catching any, so they worry about everyone else. well most times the fish just aren’t biting. If fish were always biting there wouldn’t be any more fish. I would recommend people not be so greedy, and be happy to catch a couple. If you want a lot of fish, stick with bluegill or catfish.

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Wildlife and Nature Prints for Sale

As I mentioned I bought a new Canon printer that prints up to 13×19″, and the print quality is outstanding! I just bought some shipping tubes. I am printing out 8x10s to check print quality and make adjustments if needed, so I plan on showing these on my website along with the digital copy, so people will know what they are getting. The prints will be on high quality printing paper.

The prints in ebay and at walmart are cheap paper and will wrinkle. Comparable prints online are really expensive. Right now I will sell prints for $10-$30 with free shipping. Most of the photos were taken with professional cameras in this area, either the Rock or Mississippi Rivers.

So far I have printed 150 8x10s and I have many more to go. Please help support a local business and buy my prints. The only place I sell them is be on my website.

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Walleye By Big Slough

All those house and cabins along big slough, and some on the Iowa side, the ones who watch other fisherman with spy glasses, then race to the spot after they leave, seem to struggle to catch Walleye, so this is for them. The walleye are there in all those wingdams you’re fishing but they are hard to catch. The rest of us struggle too. Sometimes catch 2 fish is a good day, some times we get skunked, sometimes when they’re biting we might get a limit. I have watched Iowa DNR shock those wingdams just outside of the main cut to the main river on the north end of big slough and dozens of big walleyes surface. Just look at their website and see all the 27-28″ walleye they hold up for photos. Sometimes they put tracking devices in them. But here’s the secret, they don’t always bite or there wouldn’t be anymore fish.

When the water is high, which seems to be the norm any more, the fish hang out in big slough, sometimes in the slough feeding, most of the time in the stumps and weed beds.

I like to fish that area by cooks island up to Savanna but it’s just too far for me being a on retirement budget. That is where most of the big fish are. If I could fish it everyday I would be looking for new spots besides wingdams. There are many side sloughs that are deep with decent current and full of bait fish. From lower lake all the way to Bulger hollow it has been dredged out for the rail road tracks. There is so many place for fish to hang out and no one fishes there, because no one looks for fish in those spots. All along Subula is a magnet for bait fish and walleye, but again, no one fishes there. All those wingdams around the railroad bridge, hardly anyone fishes. All you have to do is figure out the secrets to the spots. Those secrets could be where fish move through, or where they sit all the time. Most of the wingdams above savana never get hit, it’s a no man’s zone because it’s too far for everyone.

I mostly take photos anymore, I don’t catch many fish, I just like to get away from everyone and look for photo opportunities. I also like to look for new spots, which is what fishing is all about and I don’t like it when people follow me around. I figure they can do their own work and consider it stealing. I lose any desire to look around if people are just going to steal everything I find. If you think it’s harmless to fish where you saw me, well other people see you and then they fish there. Pretty soon I can’t even fish in spots I found on my own. It makes fishing not worth the trouble, and why I am getting away from fishing and getting more and more into photography.

The other day I was watching 2 eagles, hoping they would catch a fish in front of me and there was mink around I was watching. Then someone saw me, changed course, cut me off and scared everything away. This is so irritating and it happens all the time. There are plenty of places where fish where no one fishes, waiting for you to find. I have spots so secret I don’t even fish them unless I’m sure there are no boats on the river and people run right by them all the time without trying. They just run “to the spot” where they saw someone, heard someone was fishing or where they caught fish once before where they saw someone fishing. People think they aren’t good enough to find fish. Well there is no better satisfaction than finding fish and figuring out how to catch them. We are all amateurs doing that. I also do a lot of bass fishing just to get off the beaten path and fish where I might see some wildlife because walleye fishing is so tough for me. I can’t afford nor do I want to chase fish. Like I know the best place top fish right now is mid pool, but I stay away to save money.

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