Pool 4 & Monster walleyes after a 5 month absence

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Earlier this week I was fortunate to get back in a boat on pool 4 for the first time in over 5 months! That might not sound like a long time away for some but to a guy that used to fish that body of water 150 – 200 days a year for nearly a decade… I felt like I’d been away for years. I knew it had been far too long when the truck started down the hill at Everts and I got my first glimpse of the river at the bottom of the hill. My heart rate picked up and I felt this electric excitement hit me that reminded me what a special place the big river holds in my heart.

But I wasn’t the only guy in need of a river walleye fix. Dean "The Cookie Monster" Marshall had been buried behind the counter in the bait shop at Everts for 14 hours a day since the warmer weather brought the crowds out of winter hibernation. A couple of quick back and forth phone calls earlier in the week firmed up details for our planned outing… we were going to fish wednesday and hit the water as soon as there was enough light to navigate.

The day started off at sunrise and the temps were hovering right at 30 degrees. The river was is great shape with no visible floating ice to impede navigation and clarity was still excellent. David Lofgren, sales rep for St. Croix rods, was making a call down to the resort and made time to hop in the boat for the day. The three of us decided to head out with the goal of landing a big fish or two instead of spending our time at the dam jigging up saugers.

Our primary target this time of year is sand bars and sand flats with a little current rolling through the area. Big mama walleyes like to hunker down in the depressions in the sand and wait for a shad to make the mistake of swimming just a little too close.

Unfortunately our day started out slow. Dead slow. We hit 3 or 4 of our favorite big fish spots and after 4 hours of whipping the water to a froth we had nothing but a couple of encounters with a pair of big carp to show for our efforts.

So what’s a guy to do when he’s thrown everything at the fish, including the kitchen sink, and came up empty?

Lunch! The Harbor Bar in Red Wing has docks that allow a group to tie off the boat and walk up for a burger and a basket of fries… and that’s exactly what we did. It gave us a chance to regroup and formulate a new plan for the second half of the day. Unfortunately David received a call that he needed to cut his day short to go pick up his daughter after school. I think it was Dean that uttered the all to prophetic statement "David, you know what’s going to happen! As soon as you go home the fish are going to turn on!"

And that’s exactly what happened.

Our change in game plan included a relocation up near the dam and a switch away from sand to targeting rip rap. We planned to drag jigs in 15′ of water along a current seam and that decision paid off in a huge way with the 30" x 21" walleye I’m shown holding in the first photo. This big girl weighed in a 13.8 lbs on Dean’s digital scale and was my first walleye from the river in over 5 months. What a way to get back on the water.

We were fishing DARK colored ringies in electric blue, plum and pro blue on 3/32 & 1/8 ounce jigs. My best combo was an electric blue ringie and a 1/8 oz. pyrokeet precision head. Earlier in the day Dean had stated that the glow eyes seemed to be making a huge difference in the catch rates during low light periods of the day for the guys dragging jig the past week. Dean gives out the best advice on the river so when he made that suggestion earlier in the day I filed it away for use later on… and it paid off in a huge way.

Starting about an hour before sunset the fish really started to turn on and Dean and I took turns landing and netting fish. Dean had a couple of nice walleyes in the 22" range and a super fat sauger to get the ball rolling. Once the flood gates opened the fishing was really quite fast paced which was a welcomed change to the slow bite earlier in the day.

The second, third and fourth photos are some nice cathes from earlier in the week. Dean’s been so swamped at the resort that he hasn’t had much time to put these out on the web so I volunteered to add them to my report.

Jim Bealieu has been having an exceptional week fishing blades on sand and is shown in pics 2 and 4 with a couple tankers he caught on the 12th of March. The big fish are definitely on the chew this spring… and the best is yet to come!

But the bite isn’t limited to a small number of big fish. Guys up at the dam are getting some nice limits of saugers and walleyes on hair jigs and minnows, livebait rigs and paddletails. The key is to fish very slow once the sun is up over the trees as the fish have definitely been most active early and late in the day. That will change though as the runoff continues to pour into the rivers. Once we get a little colors to the water expect that midday bite to remain strong and for more aggressive techniques to really start to dominate the bite.

The best is yet to come! With the walleye spawn about 3 weeks away the next few weeks is your best shot at a monster ‘eye!

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James Holst

James began his fishing career as a fulltime fishing guide, spending more than 250 days a year on the water, coaching clients how to catch walleyes on the Upper Mississippi River and Minnesota‚Äôs Lake Mille Lacs. In 2000, he launched Full Bio ›

0 Comments

  1. A full sized shot of that 13 lb walleye. I’ve guided guys to larger fish including a 14.1 but this 13.8 # walleye is my personal best to date.

  2. That is a tank right there…Jim congrats as well you have been on some sumos as of late as well Congrats on a new PB as well Holst

  3. Great report James. The next 3 weeks is going to seem like an eternity after yours and Dustins latest reports. I’m looking foward to fishing pool 4 3 weeks from today. I better check my Precision Jig and BfishN Tackle Plastics inventory. I know I’m well stocked on blades. Man I can’t wait!

  4. James,

    Great way to come back to the river. I’m heading that way this week end and this really helped firing me up to get after them. Great report!
    Jeff

  5. James:

    Nice to see you get back on the horse!!! Also nice to see you fishing and reporting as well. Love to see the television shows, but really love the input here!!!

    Mark

  6. holy pig wally!! that is an awesome looking fish and congrats on the PB. That is awesome!! As usual a good read as well. The best thing about all those pigs on those pics is they are all back swimming after photo time.

  7. Quote:


    Nice fish James!!!!!

    What is the story behind the 3/12th blade????? Is that about the same as a 1/4??


    LOL That was the date the fish were caught.

  8. If I recall correctly,the phrase, “we suck” was being used to descrbe our efforts at catching fish for the most part of the day.After reminding ourselves that they are always biting somewhere on something,it is easy to forget the frustrations of catching in just a short amount of time.You just never know what just one more cast or pass can produce for a successfull pattern here on Pool 4.Although it was certainly an honor to net your personal best eye, it was even better to just spend some time in the boat again with a fishing buddy. Been way too long

  9. Quote:


    If I recall correctly,the phrase, “we suck” was being used to descrbe our efforts at catching fish for the most part of the day.


    Actually I believe the phrase was a bit more colorful but you summarized it very well. The first half of the day was HORRIBLE.

    Quote:


    it was even better to just spend some time in the boat again with a fishing buddy. Been way too long


    It was a great day. And then we started catching fish. Just hanging out and taking the time to share a boat with a friend definitely was what I needed.

    What you doing next wednesday?

  10. Quote:


    it was certainly an honor to net your personal best eye


    You were just returning the favor. I scooped the one in your avatar two springs back.

  11. James, If Dean can’t make I CAN!!!

    Congrats What a fish!!!!! I can only dream.
    I keep saying the next cast & then the next cast
    Maybe I should stick to muskies

  12. That’s one nice fish you got there James.And she looks like she has room to add a few more ounce’s to that belly in the next couple weeks. Hat’s off to Jim B.that guy can catch fish.

  13. anyone know were would be the best spot to put in? ive never been down there befor. it could really help me out. thanks

  14. Quote:


    anyone know were would be the best spot to put in? ive never been down there befor. it could really help me out. thanks


    Launch out of Everts Resort on the Wisconsin side. Here’s their website >>> http://www.evertsfishingresort.com

    Here’s the driving directions >>> http://www.evertsfishingresort.com/contact.html

    I’d suggest giving them a call to get the latest info before coming down since this is your first trip to pool 4. They’re SUPER friendly and will take the time to answer any questions you might have about the fishery.

    Good luck!

  15. James, great way to have a home coming. I wonder how many of this big girls will be caught a put on the wall this spring.

  16. Quote:


    James, great way to have a home coming. I wonder how many of this big girls will be caught a put on the wall this spring.


    I hope many are caught and NONE of these monster pre-spawn fish go on the wall as a skin mount. Replicas, replicas, replicas!

  17. WOW nice fish. I knew we should have stayed by you and Dean and sat there till dark for a big one. It was nice to see you on the water. I want a big one like that so bad. Unreal. Nice fish again.

  18. Quote:


    Quote:


    James, great way to have a home coming. I wonder how many of this big girls will be caught a put on the wall this spring.


    I hope many are caught and NONE of these monster pre-spawn fish go on the wall as a skin mount. Replicas, replicas, replicas!


    I like that James!!! Let em go…Let em GROW!!!

    besides Replicas last forever!

  19. thanks alot!!!!!! i think im going to head down that way soon!! good job with that pig!!!thanks again!!

  20. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL walleye James!

    When I was down Friday we were commenting on how flawless that fish looks. A “perfect 10”, or should I say a perfect 13.8! For a guy whose given so many other people their own personal bests over the years it’s nice to see you saved one for yourself!
    Chris

  21. I think that is what Gillespi would call a “SLOBASOROUS!” and then promplty fall over in the boat reaching for another PABST

    Great fish James.

  22. Quote:


    WOW SHES A GIANT

    What is a ringie? I have seen people talk about them a lot on here.


    Yeah, that’s really my staple bait for walleyes on the river. I’ll mix in a blade bait and a hair jig but the majority of my fish will be caught on a ringworm, day in, day out.

  23. What does a 1/8 oz. pyrokeet precision head look like. Does it have a unique shape? Will a ball head jig do as well?

  24. Quote:


    What does a 1/8 oz. pyrokeet precision head look like. Does it have a unique shape? Will a ball head jig do as well?


    The design is very unique. It is streamlined for fishing in current, it has a plastics keeper that works very well… and the hook size is perfect for fishing ringies.

    I’d fish a ball head jig if I didn’t have anything else. But that would be the ONLY reason I would fish a ball head with plastics.

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