Since we're not walking on water at this point during our bout with El Nino my father, brother and myself decided to pack up for a day trip to Red Wing, MN to fish Lock and Dam 3 Pool 4 on the Mississippi River for some walleyes and saugers. Got on the road about noon on Sunday morning for the ride up which from Des Moines is approx. 4 hours town to down. Of course we had to stop at Cabela's to purchase our licenses since I hadn't been in Minnesota since the Eelpout Festival which they do not let you purchase the next years license if you still have one that is valid until Feb 28th from the year before which always kind of bugs me so I was able to purchase a 1 day license for $13 which is fairly reasonable for what we'd be going after. Lots of neat sights and little towns on the way over to the river, the best part of the trip is when you start to descend into the river valley, lots of limestone cliffs and cool rock formations.
We've made a tradition of stopping at Hay Creek Campground's bar on the way into town, the old place used to be a general store in the 1800's and is mostly original except for the kitchen, great food and cheap beer, can't beat it! Got into town about 4:45 and checked into the hotel at AmericInn, which is walking distance from Kelly's Taphouse. Kelly's used to be a real dive but the owner has really made the place nice over the past 10 years, over 61 craft beers on tap and many in bottles, and you can't go wrong with anything on the menu! My personal favorite is the Pork Belly Burger. It happened to be my dad's birthday the next day so I asked the bartender if he had any Jameson, I noticed he did on the bar but he reached in a cabinet and found a bottle of Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel and said he'd give me 3 shots for the price of regular Jameson. Of course I jumped at the chance for that so we cheers to a good trip and a happy birthday. Went back to the hotel and had some great conversation and called it a night. The three of us didn't sleep much between the bed being too hard, the room too hot, and all of us snoring in harmony.
Woke up and grabbed a quick breakfast of donuts and coffee and headed to Evert's Resort on the Wisconsin side of the river and stopped into the baitshop. The place is under new ownership again and they've REALLY pulled things together and will be renovating all of the cabins so they'll all have water year round so this will be the ideal spot for a quick jump on the river for some pig walleyes once they finish it up. We met up with Marty Hahn with Mississippi River Walleyes, my dad had been out with him multiple times but this would be my first time with a guide on the river. Marty's a great guy and a wizard when it comes to staying on the fish. The conditions had NOT been ideal over the weekend with the river level up and the flow rate over 67k over the roller dam but he was ready for challenge that day. The morning was chilly around 30-35 degrees with a high of 48 for the day, forecast was calling for around 7 mph winds but when we got out to the wing dams there was barely a breeze. We started out with 3 way rigs with a jig on the short line and a ringworm and hook on the long line. It wasn't long before we bumped the first fish.
Throughout the day we hit some nice eater sized Saugers and the occasional small walleye mixed in. Most of the fish were caught on the ringworm, and they weren't just hitting it, they were inhaling it. It was about 1 PM when I got a huge smack and I set the hook, the drag spun so I knew I was onto something good, a good 2-3 min fight with some nice big head shacks I pulled this 21" Sauger in.
This particular fish hit the chartreuse and orange jig with a purpose, hooked right in the snoot, not going anywhere but in the boat.
I was very impressed with Marty's determination and willingness to keep checking different combinations of tails and jig colors, it definitely shows he enjoys his job and wants to keep his clients on the bite. A few minutes later my dad got a smack and reeled this pig of a Sauger in.
Marty ended up smacking this that looked like it had been swimming near a ballpark and swallowed a baseball
All of the big Saugers were released to get bigger and keep the genetics swimming in the pool, we caught many more of the nice 16" eaters with some good shoulders, around 4 PM we decided to scoot over to another spot across from the Vermilion River with light getting low to go after some big walleyes to finish out our limit. It wasn't 5 minutes of fishing and Marty hit this hog.
Fish was around 22" inches and just as thick as a small coffee can, he hit another just back upstream around 24" and just as thick, nice big head shakes with both. Got a couple last eaters and got back to the boat ramp, Marty got everything cleaned and we went up to the bar to grab a quick drink while we waited. He was able to get the cheeks off of a bigger one and some wings for me to fry up over Christmas.
Overall a great trip, my brother hadn't been out in over 10 years with us so it was long overdue, got to spend my dad's birthday on the boat making memories, if you'd like to book a trip with Marty look up Mississippi River Walleyes on google and give him a shout, tell him Ross and Dan Loving recommended his services, he'll treat you right and put you in a position to pull in some big fish if you'd like!