ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER – Wednesday was cold. At times the sun shone in a blue sky. But the wind was bitter and the water temperature was only 34 degrees. This was our first open-water trip of the year, Dick “Griz” Grzywinski and me, and we were jigging for walleyes, with gloves on.
We had jumped the gun a bit. Typically we break out the boat battery and rods and reels closer to April 1, when walleyes and sauger are going in Pool 4, near Red Wing.
Oftentimes until then there’s enough ice on area lakes to support the pursuit of Complete Story on Startribune.com and crappies, however intense or casual. Not this year. With alternatives few, the big river beckoned, and we bought in.
“Let’s try Pool 2,” Griz said.
Extending from the Ford Dam to Hastings, and winding through downtown St. Paul, Pool 2 in summer is a barge and push-boat thoroughfare. Captains of these vessels seem not to mind the smattering of fishing craft that gather upstream or downstream of wingdams, or sometimes on the backsides of eddies or in the current seams that angle from bridge abutments. Viewed from above by one of the many eagles that circle these waters, such comings and goings must seem curious indeed — real busybodies, these Americans at work.
“It don’t seem right,” Griz was saying as he idled down his outboard. “But these things” — he was holding a 2-inch-long lump of extruded plastic — “have produced better than minnows.”