The St Croix River for me has always been the metaphorical Elephant in the Room so to speak, so close to home yet for many years I’ve chose to ignore it. I’ve launched my little boat north at the boomsite and let the dog swim while tossing a jig over the side, but nothing serious. In all fairness, it’s not the rivers fault but my own for being addicted to chasing swamp walleyes over on Pool-2. And while the Mississippi River offers some fantastic walleye fishing, I was singing the late summer blues in need of a change in pace and scenery – so I decided I’ll give the Croix’ a shot.
Where to start? Good question – I didn’t even know where to launch a boat short of paying the big bucks in Bayport or the quick to fill Boomsite launch. A quick message to IDO’s Jesse Krook to see where he launches and how he’s been doing out there gave me a lot more confidence than I had before – heck it’s worth trying right?
Still not really knowing what I’m doing out there, I figured I’d pull lead and cover ground. It took us a few trips to get something dialed in with any amount of consistency, but the results were very promising with quite a few fish over 20inches and half a dozen fish over 25inches. I’d be lying if I said there was a single depth or lure that was catching our fish – every trip out was different. Sometimes we were getting fish with our lures banging bottom in 18FOW and and the next trip it’s 25FOW – heck my last trip out we got a nice 26.5” suspended fish using an OffShore planer board and snap weights. Baits have ranged from #5 Rapala Shad Raps to large Rapala Minnow Raps. Constantly reeling up and cycling through baits has been very important as it seems to vary from trip to trip.
I’ve really gained an appreciation for the small subtleties in presentation that I don’t necessary see on the Mississippi. For example, I had a #7 shad colored Rapala Shad Rap catching fish and put a #7 ‘Mousy’ Flicker Shad on another rod. While these baits are so similar, they’re obvious very different as the shad rap still exclusively got bit over the Flicker Shad – something that doesn’t make quite as much difference on the muddy Mississippi.
In all I took 9 trips to the Croix in the last 6 weeks and really learned a lot. I still don’t claim to understand the Croix but am excited to spend more time out there next year. If nothing else, gaining more respect for the beautiful scenery and the fish that roam there – especially on a body of water so close to home. With the cool weather coming and a highly anticipated drop in water temperature, I probably won’t be out there any more this year, primarily focusing my time chasing wingdam whitetips on Pool-2. To those getting out – Good Luck!