Clement’s Fishing Barge Has Hot Spring Angling Action

by Free Speech on April 23, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI
River Currents
by Gary Enberg
©2010 Gary Engberg Outdoors

a huge flathead catfish caught off the Barge

A huge flathead catfish caught off the Barge

This spring, the local fishing has been inconsistent to say the least. The early river fishing on the Wisconsin River was hot and cold with it being one of the least productive springs that I’ve seen in many years. One of the spring keys to successful walleye and sauger fishing is water flow or current. Usually, there is substantial water from the snow melt-down in northern Wisconsin and every stream, creek, or river that flows into the Wisconsin River. This winter there was little snow in the north and by the time that the snow melted and the reservoirs and flowages in central part of Wisconsin were filled, there was little if any water left for southern part of the state. The high water which normally fills the southern rivers never came and there was “high” water for only a few weeks at most of the local rivers and particularly the Wisconsin River.

There were some large female walleyes caught during March at the Wisconsin Dells and the Prairie du Sac Dams, but over-all fishing was not very good. The Wisconsin Dells had better fishing than the Prairie du Sac area, but not much better! Since that initial period when there was some fresh water coming into the Wisconsin River system, fishing has not improved much. Everyone has a reason for the less than normal fishing, but I think that the main culprits included; the low water flow, the loss of one of the major forage species in the gizzard shad which died off a couple of years ago, the inconsistent weather, the cold nights, and the lack of steady and stable weather during the spawning period. This poor fishing has continued with the areas crappie fishing also. Crappies start moving into the calm, back bays once the water temperature hits about the magic mark of 50 degrees. The water temperature on the area waters is in the 50’s and the early crappie bite should have begun by now. But, it hasn’t with a few exceptions. The feeder creeks and marshy areas that feed Lake Mendota and the other lakes in the Madison Chain were very low until the rain came last week. But, this hasn’t even turned the panfish on and what I think is needed is warm and stable nights. The crappies that should be in shallow water are still in water 15 feet deep and more. Things may change this coming week with some warmer temperatures coming, warmer nights, and stable conditions.

The best fishing reports that I’ve received recently have come from Mark Clements, the owner of Clements Fishing Barge on the Mississippi River near Genoa, Wisconsin. The Mississippi River was at or above flood stage for much of March with tough fishing conditions. But once the water receded back to normal, the fishing has improved and seems to be getting better every week.

Clements Fishing Barge and the Mississippi River have been regularly producing good catches of walleyes, saugers, perch, bluegills, sturgeon, and sheepshead from the Barge and also from anglers fishing the river in their boats. Local Captain and Guide Terry Frey (608)-220-6366) has been catching some walleye limits with some big fish mixed in with the “eaters.” I’d recommend Terry to anyone who wants a guide on the “Big River.”

I regularly post fishing reports from Clements on my website, www.garyengbergoutdoors.com . Last week, Mark sent me an email saying that the fishing was “pretty good” all week except for the day when it was windy. They are getting good numbers of walleyes and saugers on hair jigs tipped with a fathead minnow. The best color has been chartreuse or any combination with that color in the mix. Mark said that he has been using floating jigs with a minnow and catching many saugers and now white bass. The perch are still active on worms and a plain hook along the shoreline and also in the deeper water with night crawlers and ice fishing jigs. The water is down two more feet from a week ago and this seems to be helping the Barge fishing.

Twelve plus pound walleye, Mississippi River, Wisconsin

Twelve plus pound walleye, from Clement's Fishing Barge, Mississippi River, Wisconsin

I’ve been busy with seminars the past few weeks in Illinois and one locally at D and S Bait in Madison. The one question that I get regularly is where are there good locations to fish from shore? There are many anglers who don’t have boats and still like to fish. Shore fishing is becoming more popular as anglers get older and don’t want the hassle of putting a boat in, taking it out, and finding friends to fish with. There are locations close to Madison for shoreline fishing, but these areas haven’t turned on yet for one reason or another. Spring is by far the best time for anglers to fish from shore or wade because most fish species are actively searching for warmer water and food which are found in the shallow water this time of year. It’s possible to catch most fish species in water 12 feet deep or less in the spring and before the weeds start growing which makes fishing difficult. Clements is a wonderful place to take the family and or the kids for a memorable day of fishing.

The water on area lakes was low till the recent rain, so this prevented some of the early spring “hotspots” from holding the crappies and bluegills which have a year-long open season. The normal early places like; Cherokee Marsh, Pheasant Branch Creek, County Park, Spring Harbor, Marshall Park, Crystal Lake, and Lake Waubesa have all been “spotty” to say the least. These locations should turn on eventually, but in the mean time why not take a drive to the Mississippi River and Clements Barge for a day or two of good fishing.

The Barge has been a fishing institution on the Mississippi River since 1937. They are the largest fishing float on the river and located in a prime fishing location near Lock and Dam #8 near the town of Genoa, Wisconsin. The most active fish are; walleye, sauger, catfish, northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, white bass, sturgeon, panfish, and sheepshead.

If you don’t have equipment or know what kind of tackle to bring, rental rods and reels are available. If you want to know what to bring send Mark an email and he’ll tell you what to bring. They also will be more than happy to send you a fishing and weather report. All you need is a valid fishing license.

You are picked up on the Wisconsin side of the river, just below the Lock, in a 20 passenger enclosed Coast Guard inspected vessel. Once you cross the river to the Minnesota side, you have your choice of eight floating piers with fishing guides to help you if needed. There are benches, chairs, and shelters for your convenience. The daily fee for fishing and transportation is $16.00 for adults, $5.00 for children under 12 years and free for children under 5 years old. Bait needs to be picked up at Captain Hook’s in Genoa. The Barge opens at 7:00 am and closes at 6:00 pm everyday through the fall. Food, tackle, and accessories are all available on the Fishing Barge with the exception of bait as I mentioned. You may email Mark (clements@mwt.net ) or call him at 1-(800)-903-4903 with any questions that you may have.

Clements has a cabin that they rent at a reasonable cost and there is everything else that you may need in the town of Genoa. Food, lodging, and equipment are readily available. Clements Fishing Barge is located anywhere from 2 to 4 hours away from most Midwestern cities. Check out their website (www.clementsfishingbarge.com) or call Mark with any questions that you may have about fishing the Mississippi River. This is a great time to take advantage of this “fishing institution” where the fishing is very good and you have a chance to catch about every fish species that swims the river. Tell Mark that Gary sent you! This is one of the prime times to fish Clements Fishing Barge. I’m planning on going soon, so why don’t you?

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