DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

MISSISSIPPI RIVER PREVIEW

Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 06/19/2013

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Dave Rush and Matt Pangrac

La Crosse, WI – The Mississippi River marks the sixth stop of the season for the Bassmaster Elite Series and the second stop of the 2013 season on a major river system.  

It has been exactly one year since Todd Faircloth won on the Mississippi out of La Crosse, Wisconsin with a total weight of 62-4.  Keying on a primary area, Faircloth utilized a combinations of baits including a frog, swim jig, and creature bait to edge out 2nd place finisher, Cliff Pace, by just over a pound.  
 
While the time of the year is exactly the same in 2013 as it was when the Elites visited in 2012, the playing field has some noticeable differences.  Due to a late winter, the vegetation isn’t nearly as thick as it was last year.   “I think that you’ll have to do a little bit of everything this year because of the lack of grass,” said Dean Rojas, who finished in 8th place in 2012. “I don’t think that this tournament will be won off a single spot like it was last year.” 

The water level on the Mississippi is also slowly dropping on a daily basis. When practice began, it was virtually at the same level as it was on the final day last year.  “The water is falling, so that’s probably going to change things more than anything,” explained Kevin VanDam, who is looking to make his first top 12 cut since March of 2012.  

In the Toyota Angler Of the Year race, Edwin Evers (430 points) enters the Mississippi River tournament with a 25 point lead over California’s Skeet Reese.  Kevin VanDam is in 3rd with 393 points, and Ish Monroe and Alton Jones round out the top five with 386 points and 380 points, respectively.

The Preview Facts for the Alabama River: 
Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series (June 20-23)
Location:  Mississippi River, La Crosse, Wisconsin  
Field Size: 99 anglers 
Previous Winner: Todd Faircloth (62-4)  – 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series 
Day One Conditions: 84 degrees for the high with isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon

Kevin VanDam
What is the X-factor going to be this week on the Mississippi River?
“Angling pressure.  The river is going to fish really small this week.” 

How much of a factor is overall experience on the Mississippi River going to play this week? 
“I think that experience will play a little bit.  It can be a benefit, but it can also hurt you because things are a lot different from last year.”

What has been the most challenging or surprising part or your practice so far?
“Just the difference from last year to this year weather wise.  The vegetation is a lot further behind than it was a year ago.  There’s a lot less habitat for the fish to live in, and the conditions were a lot better last year with the water high and dirty.  You could access more areas and it put a lot of the fish in catchable spots.  There will be a lot of fish caught, but it just won’t be the same.”
 
Will this event be won in a particular area or will an angler have to move around to have success?
“This is typically a fishery where the fish group up, so it’s not going to be a run and gun deal.”

What conditions will play the biggest factor this week? 
“I think that the water is going to be stable and we aren’t going to have anything drastic.  The water is falling, so that’s probably going to change things more than anything.”

Dean Rojas
What is the X-factor going to be this week on the Mississippi River?
“The X-factor is definitely going to be finding the 3 ½ to 4 pounders.  It’s not as good as it was last year as far as the size of the fish that I’ve been catching.”

How much of a factor is overall experience on the Mississippi River going to play this week? 
“I think that it’s going to play into a lot of the guys’ hands.  After fishing the river last year, they saw where the water level started at and where it finished up. Right now, the water level is right where it was on the final day last year.” 

What has been the most challenging or surprising part or your practice so far?
“Dealing with the conditions.  After finishing where I did last year, the river has changed a little bit since then.  There was a really late winter, so a lot of the vegetation is not up to where it was when we here the same time last year.” 

Will this event be won in a particular area or will an angler have to move around to have success?
“I think that you’ll have to do a little bit of everything because of the lack of grass.  You’re going to have to use a lot of different techniques and fish different structure.  I don’t think that this tournament will be won off of a single spot like it was last year.” 

What conditions will play the biggest factor this week? 
“The overall pressure will probably play a factor.  A lot of anglers will be fishing around each other this week, and it will be interesting to see how the fishing holds up with the lack of grass.”  

Gary Klein
What is the X-factor going to be this week on the Mississippi River?
“This is a river system where you can lock up or you can lock down, so decision making is the X-factor this week.  You can either put together a pattern that you run through a certain section of the river system, or you find an area or spot that has the fish.  So far, I haven’t found either, but it’s all going to come down to making the right decision.”

How much of a factor is overall experience on the Mississippi River going to play this week
“I really can’t think of anyone who is the local favorite.  VanDam lives about six hours from here, but I don’t think that he fishes it that much.  Usually, fish on river systems where there is current are pretty easy to figure out.  I enjoy fishing this way, but I can’t say if it’s going to fish big or fish small this week. 

What has been the most challenging or surprising part or your practice so far?
“I’m struggling with commitment right now as far as whether I want to lock up, lock down, or stay in this pool.  I’m fishing really well, but this is going to be different from last year.  The river still has fish in it, but I haven’t seen the numbers or the size.”

Will this event be won in a particular area or will an angler have to move around to have success?
“That’s a hard question.  If the fishing is tough, it could be won off a single spot.  I found one area during practice where I could catch fish on every cast, but they were all non-keepers.  I probably caught 30 fish before I caught a 2 ½ pounder.”

Cliff Crochet
What is the X-factor going to be this week on the Mississippi River?
“It’s going to be a big random bite.  A 6 pounder will really separate you here.  People have talked about smallmouth, but I guess they don’t live in six inches of water because I haven’t seen one yet.  The brown fish could be an X-factor, but right now for me, the X-factor is a 6 pound bite.” 

How much of a factor is overall experience on the Mississippi River going to play this week? 
“I would say that experience will help a lot.  A lot of the grass is missing or gone, so I’m sure that someone who knows a stretch that has been good for a long time will do well.” 

What has been the most challenging or surprising part or your practice so far?
“This place has a lot of sandbars and it’s hard to move around.  I took my 25 pitch prop down to a 19.  Moving around has been a lot harder than it was last year, and I’ve also had some trouble finding those little rascals.  When you’re not around the fish, it’s like the Dead Sea.”

Will this event be won in a particular area or will an angler have to move around to have success?
“I don’t think that this will be a run and gun tournament, but I also don’t think that it will be won out of a single area.  If I had to guess, I’d say that the winner will have two or three areas.” 

What conditions will play the biggest factor this week? 
“The water level will be very important.  I think that it’s steadily dropping, and that could ruin somebody who is fishing really shallow.  It’s not like the fish will just move out the next drop because a lot of the areas are huge sandbars or flats.”  

Bill Lowen
What is the X-factor going to be this week on the Mississippi River?
“The biggest factor that’s playing this week is the dropping water.  I saw things yesterday that I had no idea was there.  On the first day of practice, I was running over the top of giant rocks that I didn’t even know existed.  Yesterday, there were boulders sticking out of the water.  I idled out of one spot and was about to get up on pad and got stuck on an unmarked rock levy.”

How much of a factor is overall experience on the Mississippi River going to play this week? 
“A lot.  I’ve been here three or four times now and it typically fishes to my strengths and this week is no exception to that.  I need to turn the year around a little bit and have a good one this week. I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to get it done.” 

What has been the most challenging or surprising part or your practice so far?
“I guess the most challenging thing is trying to find the right sized fish.  The river is full of 2 pounders, but it’s going to come down to finding the 3 to 4 pounders that gets you to 15 pounds a day.”

Will this event be won in a particular area or will an angler have to move around to have success?
“I think that the ‘sit in one spot’ places have kind of been exposed.  I didn’t even go in the area where Todd (Faircloth) won last year, but when I drove past it, I saw like 10 of our guys and six or seven local boats in there.  When things like that are happening, it’s hard to find that little gem.  I’m a run and gun type of fisherman and this river sets up perfectly for that, so that’s what I’m going to do.”