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badgerboyng

Need help locating bass on tidal rivers

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I live in central Wisconsin, and I'm planning on fishing the Wisconsin River a lot this summer. I've heard that it's a great place to find big smallmouth. I've tried fishing the river in the past, but with no luck. However, when I was fishing it once, I leaned an extra rod against a rock wall near the water. After wading for about half an hour, I went to pick up the rod that had been sitting there, and the water line had risen to be just below the reel. I was amazed that the water raised nearly one full foot in half an hour. This is when I realized how big of an impact the dams on the river have on the fishing conditions. 

 

Upon doing some research, I learned that rivers that have many large dams, like the WI River, behave similarly to tidal rivers. I'm going to be doing a tournament on the river in late April and then fishing it a lot in summer. Do you guys have any info/wisdom about how largemouth and smallmouth bass behave in tidal rivers? I am also willing to read a book on this if anyone has any suggestions. I understand basic river tactics, such as fishing current breaks, wingdams, etc, but am looking for information on how highly fluctuating water levels impact river bass and their location. 

 

Thanks for the help!

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Start reading the USGS water level gauges near where you plan on fishing. You will see if the release schedule is consistent or not. If you are fishing tournaments, are you fishing the flowages above the dams in boats, or are they kayak tournaments?  

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23 minutes ago, Scott F said:

If you are fishing tournaments, are you fishing the flowages above the dams in boats, or are they kayak tournaments?  

I'm fishing a tournament from a boat at Lake Wisconsin, which is just upstream of a major dam. 

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Don't concern yourself with "tides" in that section. The water levels won't change drastically. Above the dams, there really isn't even a lot of current to deal with.

In other reservoirs, like on the Tennesee River, fishing below the dams, you need to fish around the water release schedules as the fish feed more heavily while water is being released.

 

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9 minutes ago, Scott F said:

Don't concern yourself with "tides" in that section. The water levels won't change drastically. Above the dams, there really isn't even a lot of current to deal with.

In other reservoirs, like on the Tennesee River, fishing below the dams, you need to fish around the water release schedules as the fish feed more heavily while water is being released.

 

That makes sense. Although in the summer I'm planning on fishing the stretch of the river near the Dells, which is just downstream of a major dam. So in that area I should expect the fish to get more active when the water is being released?

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Drastic water fluctuations don't generally happen on a daily basis there. There is always water coming through the dam. If there was a big rain they might release more, but it usually doesn't change much. If you are going to fish the river or rivers, you need to keep an eye on the water levels. Experience will tell you how or when to approach the river or even if you should stay home. Here is the USGS gauge for the Wisconsin at the Dells

https://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/uv?site_no=05404000 

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22 minutes ago, Scott F said:

Drastic water fluctuations don't generally happen on a daily basis there. There is always water coming through the dam. If there was a big rain they might release more, but it usually doesn't change much. If you are going to fish the river or rivers, you need to keep an eye on the water levels. Experience will tell you how or when to approach the river or even if you should stay home. Here is the USGS gauge for the Wisconsin at the Dells

https://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/uv?site_no=05404000 

Thanks, Scott. I won't worry about the dams too much then.

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