Mississippi River Fall Fishing Tips

by Bob Jensen

100_3423The stretch of the Mississippi River where it provides a border for Minnesota/Wisconsin and Wisconsin/Iowa is one of the most productive fisheries in the world.  The variety of fish and the quality of fish is amazing.  I was on the Mississippi last week with some friends.  We fished the stretch from Lansing, Iowa downstream to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.  Even though weather conditions were constantly changing, we did really well.  Here’s how you can get in on this action right now.

The first day I fished with Jim Hunt and Doug Veldhuizen.  Jim works at the Cabela’s store in Prairie du Chien, Doug is based at Cabela’s in Sidney Nebraska.  Both are outstanding anglers.  Jim really knows the quirks of the walleyes in the river.

We started and ended throwing crankbaits to wingdams.  This pattern will hold up for several more weeks.  We threw several types and colors of crankbaits to see what the fish wanted.  The best colors were baits that were mostly purple or chartreuse.  #7 Flicker Shad in the chartreuse/pearl color were very productive.

We fished mostly the upstream side of the wingdams.  The most active fish will usually be on the upstream side, and they will also usually be on the end of the wingdam that’s closest to deep water this time of year.  In the spring when the water is high the walleyes will usually be on the wingdam close to shore, but in the fall, when the water is usually low, they’ll be out near the tip.  However, fish the entire length of the wingdam, and upstream and downstream of it until you determine the pattern.

We caught a good bunch of two to three pound walleyes and six other species of fish.  Crankbaits on wingdams lend themselves to a variety of fish species.

The next morning Terry Fitzpatrick joined Doug and me.  Terry can catch all species of fish, but is particularly adept at bass.  He also works at Cabela’s in Prairie du Chien and has fished bass tournaments at the highest level.

We fished points that had vegetation and current.  The action was outstanding.  Terry and Doug threw quarter ounce swim-jigs tipped with four inch PowerBait Split Belly Swimbaits.  The jigs were mostly white, as were the trailers.  They wanted their baits to resemble shad, which is what the bass were feeding on.  Doug chose a Jungle Jig for his swim-jig and did very well with it.

I threw a spinnerbait because I was fishing behind Terry and Doug.  These guys are fish vacuums, so I wanted to throw something that looked different to the fish.  The bass that didn’t hit the swim-jig were willing to hit the spinnerbait.  The spinnerbait needed to be worked slowly, so I chose a half ounce Pro-Model Reed-Runner spinnerbait.  This bait has high-quality hardware, so the blade turns even at the slowest speeds.  I didn’t catch as many bass as Terry and Doug, but I do think mine averaged a little larger in size.  We caught largemouth and smallmouth: The smallmouth came from areas where the current was a little heavier.

This fishing opportunity is easily accessible to lots of anglers across the Midwest in a variety of waters.  The action will only get better as we get farther into fall.  The fish will bunch up and get even hungrier.  If you get the opportunity, be sure to give this action a try.  If the opportunity doesn’t present itself, do what you can to make it present itself.

Mississippi River Fall Fishing Tips