- Mississippi River pools offer multiple species
- Fall weather excites fish toward binge feeding
- Autumn colors provide an extra measure of goodness for visitors
By Forrest Fisher
Near La Crosse, Wisconsin, the Upper Mississippi River spreads well beyond its main channel, a bonus for anglers. Hundreds of tiny islands, channels, and deep pools offer a new home for many species of fish, perhaps more than any other temperate-climate river in the world. It’s a fishing paradise.
Walleye is king in these waters, but you can catch just about anything here, including sauger, northern pike, shovelhead sturgeon, largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch, sunfish, bluegill, crappie, gar, channel catfish and blue catfish, just to name a few.
Interested in giant catfish? Click here: Here’s a great article about catfish in the area
The La Crosse River and Black River join the Mississippi near La Crosse and create a home to many of the same species. A few miles north of La Crosse, the Mississippi opens into the 8,000+ acre waterway named Lake Onalaska that features 7 boat landings and is chock-full of panfish, northern, and bass, and the area also offers myriad cold-water streams rife with brown, rainbow, and brook trout.
Another popular lake fishery is Lake Neshonoc located in West Salem. It has a maximum depth of 11 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from public boat landings and a public beach. Fish include panfish, largemouth bass, northern pike and catfish. Check out the DNR’s Trout Stream Map for La Crosse County.
The La Crose area features several boat landings, marinas, and beaches, as well as fishing floats and piers, guides, and numerous outfitters. The Upper Mississippi USFW Refuge (United States Fish & Wildlife) has put together some fantastic maps of Pools 7 and 8 of the Mississippi River, with boat landings, walk-in access points and more.
Fall and Winter Action is Just Ahead
The cooling temperatures of fall bring wonderful color to the woodlands and bluffs. Fall also provides hungry fish and some of the best fishing of the year. Walleye begin to move again in the fall and while the fall walleye run tends to be less lively than in the spring, the fall run tends to provide steady action right up until freeze-over.
For a summary report on Mississippi River Pool 8 walleye sampling efforts that identify fish density and methods of assessment, visit this link provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – LaCrosse: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/documents/reports/LaCrosseMississippiRPool8_2018_2019WeSaAdultsSpring.pdf.
The first areas to catch the attention of ice anglers are the area’s many backwaters. As ice creeps out from the shores of Lake Onalaska, so do intrepid ice anglers looking for some of the best panfish catching of the year. As ice covers a wider area, ice anglers begin moving further out to deeper water in search of walleye, yellow perch, and northern pike.
You can find information regarding licensing, rules, and regulations at Wisconsin fishing regulations at the Department of Natural Resources website.