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River Road Smallmouth

September 15, 2013

Back in the days before it became the University of St. Thomas, I was a student at the College of St. Thomas where I was blessed with the opportunity to play hockey for the Tommies.  While preparing for my junior season (’88-’89) I added a new regiment to my training.  I don’t know how I stumbled across it but I discovered a trail along East River Road that led down to the Mississippi River.  It was a bit treacherous in that it had a steep slope strewn with boulders, fallen limbs, drops, and roots.  Going down was relatively easy, if you took your time. Going up was another thing, especially if you ran.  And that it is what I did. I’d walk/jog down to the river and then sprint up to the top, hurdling the limbs, lunging from boulder to boulder and leaping over roots on my way to the top.  It was a bit crazy at the time but it sure beat doing sprints on a track and was good training exercise.

Clambering up a similar path on the Minneapolis side of the river after a recent foray for smallmouth bass, I was reminded of those days.  I’ve heard that the stretch of the Mississippi River between downtown Minneapolis and  the Ford dam held a good population of smallmouth bass.  The problem is one of access in that it is reachable primarily by boat either through the Mill City or Ford Dams.  Bank access to the rocky stretches is downright difficult unless like me, you are crazy enough to hike down what appeared to be a former walking path given the rotted out, broken and washed away timbers.

Slow and steady, I made my way down the bank, slip sliding in more than a couple places.  I was happy to see rock along the bank once I made it down to the river.  Working my way amongst the trees I started casting a Tiny Torpedo parallel to the shore.  It wasn’t long before I had a strike and missed.  A few minutes later I caught this little smallmouth bass ensuring that my efforts weren’t totally wasted.  About a 7″ fish it made a few leaps before I released it back into the river.

IMG_0043

I caught another similar sized fish on the Tiny Torpedo before switching to a pink jig head and white Mister Twister tail that resulted in the below fish on the very first cast.  Four others followed and I was bit off by a northern pike that thumped it really hard.

IMG_0044

While a very difficult hike, I may give it another shot.  Next time though I will bring my waders as that would open up a larger area of water to fish.  I was restricted to about a 30-40 yard span, as I couldn’t work my way around the brush at certain points.  No giants this time but I can envision there being larger fish.

– Hats

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