Mississippi River Smallies – St. Cloud

Water Body

Normally all my attention gets focused on Ole Marble Eyes, but come this time each year I put some time aside to hit the Mississippi for the start of one of the best small mouth bites in the state. During this time period, as the days get shorter and the water temp starts to drop, the smallies feel the urge to put on some weight. This aggressive bite lasts for almost the entire month of September and realistically just gets better and better as the month goes on.

We hit the river at around 11:00am Saturday and the fish were waiting for us. We worked everything from plastics to top water baits with great success. These fish pound for pound are simply amazing. They hit as hard as a freight train, rip off line at will and jump as to show off their beautiful bronze color. We caught fish in as shallow as one foot to as deep as 20 feet. We boated well over 60 smallmouth that afternoon, with the average size being about 14"-16". We also caught a number of larger fish in the 18"-20" range. These fish were well fed but nothing like they’ll be in another couple weeks. They will soon start to take on the football look and more and more of the bigger fish will also start to show up. Then fish in the 18"-22" range will be much more common.

As we progress through the days of September, I begin to use larger and larger lures. Some of my best success has come on baits as large or larger than 10”. During this time the saying “big baits = big fish” rings very true.

Even though the day belonged to the smallies, we decided to switch gears for a bit and try to get some walleye for supper. On our second spot we hit a nice school of aggressive eyes. We were pitching small shiners on a 1/4oz jig up current and working them back slowly. As soon as we hit the edge of a sunken island it was fish on. We managed a limit in a short order and decided to call it a day.

Thinking back, not only was the fishing picture perfect the weather was as well. That cool air will become more brisk with each passing day and to think the bite will only get better and better! Come on Fall fishing!

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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. BK, ya we do. We don’t seem to break the 10-12 pound range very often, but you can catch as many as you could possibly want. I’ve fished em only a few times after dark and we got a hit about every 5-10min. It was non stop action if you like that sort of thing .

  2. Thanks for the report Joe! I figured the bite would be starting into full swing with the cooler summer and your report confirmed it.

  3. Thats some great smallie fishing Joe!! Congrats on the Pile-O-Smallies. And then just throw in a limit of walleyes too NICE!!

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