Gone Fishing: Fishing on the Upper Mississippi River
There’s nothing more relaxing than communing with nature in a fishing boat on the backwaters of the Mississippi River. Growing up, we could rarely afford a vacation out of the state, so most of our vacations were spent up in NE Iowa along the banks of the Mississippi River. I always loved going up there to fish. My dad taught us how to put on our own hooks and sinkers, to bait up our hooks and to take the fish off the hook. These were requirements or we couldn’t fish. You have to be careful and not get poked by the fins. When they swallow the hook it is a real challenge, but Dad taught me how to go in through the gills and get the hook loose and then it pulls out easily without much damage to the fish. Mom loves to fish too. They always keep some of the fish to eat; I would just catch and release if I was fishing alone.
I’m not a fancy fisherwoman. I put on a night crawler and see what I get. I can catch bluegills and sunfish, bass, crappies, perch, catfish, sheephead, walleyes, carp, and even the ugly dogfish, mooneyes and redhorses. There are over 200 species of fish in the Mississippi. That’s what I love about it. You never know what you’ve hooked into until it breaks the surface of the water.
Even when the fish aren’t biting I still love to be out in the boat; so many interesting animals to watch and beautiful scenery to gaze at. The upper Mississippi River is home to so many species of birds including the majestic bald eagle, the amazingly graceful blue heron and the pure white egret. I also see white pelicans. They are white with black tips on the wings and when they are soaring in formation in the air it is absolutely mesmerizing. The herons and egrets are always along the banks feeding on fish. If one gets too close to another one’s territory, it chases it away with the most awful sound. I have watched an eagle swoop down and bring out a fish.
Occasionally, I've seen river otters, muskrats and beavers swimming in the river. I’ve seen deer swim across the river from one island to the other. Riding down the river you see turtles sunning themselves on logs sticking up out of the water. If you get too close they plop down into the river. And sometimes a water snake will slither past your line or you will see one enjoying the sun on a log. There are hundreds of water lilies that bloom in mid-summer. There are both yellow and white varieties. It’s also fun to watch the barges in the main channel slowing making their way up or down the river. At night you hear all the frogs croaking back and forth.
The Mississippi River is an integral part of my life and I still make as many trips to my parents' place on the river as I can manage every summer. It is my way to de-stress, and I come back ready to take on life’s challenges again.
A Fishing Story
- India Goes Fishing: A Black Lab Story
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