Fall Upper Mississippi Smallmouth Report

Water Body

Well I’d like to apologize for this very late report, but I figured late was better than never. I’m coming off the busiest guide season I’ve had, thanks in part to everyone here at IDO. Couple that with a 9 month old baby girl that wants to see Dadda and that hasn’t left me much time for posting reports. As you can see I’m posting this at 1:00am. Anyhow here’s my report and I’ll also be posting a current walleye report shortly. ********************************************

In the month of September there is plenty of good fishing to be had, but there’s no place I’d rather be than fishing smallmouth bass. September is the month when these fish feed like no other time of the year. They will eat all day, every day, whether they are hungry or not. They have no choice, that’s the way they’re programmed. As the days get shorter, and the water temps drop into the 50’s, these fish know it’s time to get ready for winter.

This year with water levels nearly two to three feet low, many of my favorite shallow rock spots were unfishable. When Mother Nature throws you a curve like this, keep in mind all you have to do is locate the bait, and the fish won’t be far behind. I like to scan structure like rocks, brush and shoreline breaks with my sonar looking for bait or fish.

Once you locate a spot with fish activity it’s as simple as picking a few of your favorite techniques and seeing which one they prefer that particular day. There were many lures this year that caught fish. One day they’d love top water lures, and the next it had to be a subsurface lure like a Rattle crank bait bounced off the rocks. Really any large minnow or minnow style bait produced fish at some point all month long.

The smallmouth not only came in large numbers, but the size was once again outstanding. On most day trips we’d have 50+ fish with some near or at trophy caliber. As we do every year, there were also a couple days where the fishing was so good that trophy fish were frequent! No matter what size smallmouth you catch one thing is for certain: they will always be pound for pound the best fighting fish in Minnesota waters.

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I bought my first boat when I was 13 and I've spent about every day since on the water or ice. I do most of my guiding on MilleLacs and in the Alexandria Lakes area.


  1. Here’s a pic of a Buffalo Head we snagged. Needless to say the line on this rod was shot after the 45min of blistering runs.

  2. Wow, amazing pictures.

    They are indeed the hardest fighting fish pound for pound in our state.

  3. Great fish Joe. Never did make it to the upper Mississippi this year due to neglect of my Jon boat. Finely got it put back together about 3 weeks ago. Should be all set to go next year.

  4. Quote:

    Thanks Joe. Great report and awesome pictures. What camera are you using?

    Thanks! I’m using an old Olympus camera,(Olympus C740)
    I feel like I should get something new but this one still keeps working.

  5. Thanks everyone!

    Mike W, it was a great 4 weeks of fishing. Every year’s a little different, but one thing is always the same, lots of hungry smallmouth. This season we boated over 1,200 smallies. You’ll have to make it up next year

  6. 1200 small mouth? Thats a lot of fish. Spent a lot of my time on the upper miss around Aitkin. It was nothing to catch 50 smallies a day while trying for walleyes. Think the average size of fish down you way might be a little bigger. Been a couple of years now since fishing the upper river.

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