Springtime river fishing means two things: big walleyes and a strong current. It means the former of the two, provided you can figure out the latter of the two.
In high water, and a strong current in tournament situations, you need to know about the flow if you want to end up in the dough. This is true at least according to Turk Gierke, a guide/tournament angler/rod maker who’s won his fair share of walleye tournaments on the St. Croix River.
In the spring, Gierke places paramount importance on current speed.
“I search for productive current seams because that’s where walleyes are going to be congregated,” he says. “In high water situations, the vast majority of the river may well be moving too fast for walleyes.
“You can search through backwaters and flooded timber and find walleyes, I don’t doubt, but it’s hard to know where to start searching – they could be anywhere in there. That’s why I try to concentrate on the main river channel and find slight current breaks from the primary flowage.”
A large point provides a significant current break, for example. Directly behind the island, the water moves slowly. The current whips around the side of the point, and at a certain distance downstream the current resumes its normal speed. Gierke looks for that exact spot where the slow water, protected by the point, meets the fast water.
To find the exact spot, he experiments moving his boat farther from the shore and upriver, closer to the point. Then he gradually sneaks closer to the bank, farther down from the point. He pays less attention to water depth, and more attention to current speed.