Answering a reader’s questions about prime smallmouth bass locations
It is always a source of pride when something I’ve written generates a written response from somebody I’ve never had the privilege of meeting. When I was the editor of my college newspaper, many of my editorials generated letters to the editor and I ran every single one whether supportive, insulting, or just plain ridiculous. So long as it wasn’t libelous, I welcomed the discourse.
Most of the writing I do these days is not the sort of thing that generates letters to the editor, but I do receive nice letters now and then from people looking for more details or who want to chat more in-depth. Here’s just such correspondence I received last week about a blog piece I wrote earlier this summer. https://www.outdoornews.com/2016/07/28/prime-unfished-bass-water-the-mississippi-river-in-central-minnesota/
Good afternoon Ron,
My family lives near Monticello, Minn. I have heard this stretch of river is fantastic for smallmouth bass. I am an avid smallmouth angler, but have never pursued them on this stretch of river. I have a large Ranger boat, but don’t really want to risk using it on this stretch of river. Do shore fishing opportunities exist for smallies? If so, where is the best place to try shore fishing? I appreciate any help or information. Thank you!
B.B. of Monticello
Dear B.B. of Monti,
Shorefishing along the Mississippi River definitely exists, but I’d advise you to wear a lifejacket at all times if you do since the current can be pretty swift in parts (deceivingly swift even). Any place there is a boat landing you can publicly access the water and there are several city/regional parks with lots of shoreline to walk. Here’s a good place to start finding some locations: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/areas/fisheries/saukrapids/miss_river_access.html
I would never hit the river with a nice Ranger like that! I first fished the upper Mississippi River with a guy who had a nice Skeeter he brought up from Arkansas. We put in at Monticello and fished our way down to Elk River and his boat took a few lumps in the many shallow stretches. There are probably bits of paint on a few rocks still today!
That said, you could easily get around the St. Cloud area where most of the water is deep. I’ve brought a 17-foot deep-V boat into there and didn’t have one ding at all. You can get to the section just above the dam, and then upstream to where it gets into skinny water. The stretch between the bridges and past the city center are some of the best though, and quite deep….so no need to even get near that skinny stuff (some big rocks and shallow spots up there but they hold fish).
I’ve also canoed the skinny stretches around Elk River and Ramsey and found some good smallmouth waters along the banks. People shorefish on either side of the Highway 169/101 bridge right there and tend to do pretty well. Just be really careful walking along the river these days. With all those rains we’ve had over the past few weeks, it’s running a bit swifter than usual for August and September.
Thanks for the note!
Thank you Ron.
I appreciate the information. Are there any other bodies of water worth pursuing smallmouth in central Minnesota you would suggest? Obviously there is Mille Lacs, which I have done well at. And Green Lake by Spicer, which is personally one of my favorites. Thank you for taking time out of your day to share information with a fellow angler!
B.B. of Monti
Dear B.B. of Monti,
Head east into Wisconsin and fish Lake Winnebago. Check out this video! https://youtu.be/qqC-mo9f-ns
See you on the water!