The Ultimate Guide to Fishing on the Mississippi River

Studying Time: 11 minutes

The Ol’ Man River, The Outdated Blue, The Large Muddy, Father of the Waters, The Gathering of Waters, The Nice River… There are various names for the mighty Mississippi River and possibly extra love for this physique of water than every other in america. And, to not a lot shock, unbeatable fishing on the Mississippi River is likely one of the predominant explanation why this 2,300-mile watershed is so beloved.

Showing virtually just like the backbone of the continent, America’s biggest river passes by 10 states: Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Naturally, it has extra fishing spots than you could possibly depend, and is dwelling to effectively over 100 fish species.

The principle channel of the river and its quite a few tailwaters, levees, and backwater lakes flip fishing right into a treasure hunt. The Mississippi has a fickle mood and is commonly thought-about the last word problem for seasoned freshwater fishermen. On the similar time, there are many spots which might be glorious for novice anglers to hone their abilities. Briefly, no matter you’d wish to strive within the freshwater realm, it’s doable to do it right here.

Prime Catches on the Mississippi River

There’s no restrict to what you may catch on the Mississippi, so long as it’s a freshwater species. Each state has their favourite catch, so relying on what you’d like to focus on, there are totally different areas to go to.

The one restrict to your Mississippi fishing escapade is your angling urge for food, and when you aren’t positive what to focus on, we’ve acquired your again!

The Almighty Catfish

There’s no catch in these waters extra iconic than a giant feisty Catfish. This species is so in style that the official mascot of the Mississippi Nationwide River and Recreation Space is Freddie, the Flathead Catfish.

You may hook three totally different Catfish species within the huge Mississippi River – Channel, Flathead, and Blue Catfish. Flatheads and Blues are often the most important of the three. They will simply attain 30+ inches and weigh anyplace from 20–100 or extra kilos. Channel Cats are often within the 20-inch and 30-pound ballpark. Although all three species are fairly resilient and may dwell in every kind of circumstances, clear and well-oxygenated waters are their excellent dwelling.

The decrease part of the river is teeming with sizeable Cats, and every of them requires a special tactic. It is because they every have a most well-liked surroundings and, although Catfish are typically gluttonous eaters, some finesse is required to draw the species you’re after.

Channel Catfish aren’t notably choosy about what they eat. Yow will discover them within the deeper sections of the river with slower present, particularly within the aspect channels.

Flatheads like to congregate round sunken logs and underwater buildings. If you wish to get their consideration, it’s a good suggestion to make use of dwell bait.

Lastly, Blue Cats, the tastiest of the three, love stronger currents and flows of the river’s predominant channel. They received’t find a way to withstand nightcrawlers. Native anglers will at all times have examined strategies and forms of bait that work finest on their a part of the river. For this reason it’s a good suggestion to have a information take you to your trophy Catfish.

Yow will discover Catfish within the Decrease Mississippi River all year long, however the most effective time to go after them is in the course of the hotter months, often from late Might–September. That is the time when the Large Muddy is most considerable and you’ll land one thing actually brag-worthy.

The Walleye-Sauger Fever

Whereas the Decrease Mississippi River has an exceptional Catfish inhabitants, the higher part of the river provides unbelievable Walleye and Sauger alternatives. Minnesota, specifically, is so happy with its Walleye that it was named their official state fish again in 1965.

Thousands and thousands of scrumptious and hard-fighting Walleye are caught annually throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois. Sauger numbers comply with shut behind. Walleye vary from 15–30 inches, whereas Sauger are smaller and often develop as much as 20 inches.

Top-of-the-line issues about Walleye fishing on the Mississippi is that you could get pleasure from all of it 12 months. Nonetheless, this doesn’t imply you must anticipate the identical motion any time you forged your line. The most effective instances to focus on Walleye are daybreak and nightfall, in addition to cloudy days, when decrease gentle circumstances make it more durable for these fish to see. That is additionally the explanation why ice fishing for Walleye is such a giant deal on the Higher Mississippi.

In summer time, it’s a special story, as these fish head to the deeper, cooler waters. Attempt to change your location commonly (transfer when you don’t get a hookup after half-hour) to seek out the chunk. Keep in mind that these fish transfer in colleges and when you discover one, there can be others close by.

All About That Bass

Mississippi River Bass fishing is a type of issues folks don’t speak about almost as a lot as they need to. Smallmouth, Largemouth, and White Bass are considerable within the Higher and Center Mississippi River, although yow will discover some within the south as effectively.

Bass are ferocious fighters and, on a great day, you may catch dozens on the Mississippi on one journey. Smallmouth are the preferred catch, particularly in chilly clear waters. Largemouth love to hang around round any kind of underwater construction. White Bass are one other highly regarded goal of “bassing,” particularly within the clear open waters and close to jetties.

Locals are virtually spiritual about altering their setups each season to catch the Bass’ curiosity. From spinnerbaits within the early spring to crankbaits within the fall, there’s an assortment of lures and bait that you need to use to get Bass to chunk.

In the event you’re a passionate Bass angler trying to check your skills on the Mississippi, your finest wager is hitting the water in spring and fall. The motion throughout fall is very quick and livid as a result of Bass are ravenous and can gulp down absolutely anything. And for any Bass fisherman on the market, that is pretty much as good as information can get.

Let’s Not Overlook About Crappie

White and Black Crappie are highly regarded catches within the Mississippi, particularly as a result of they make for glorious desk fare. The Decrease Mississippi, specifically, provides some nice motion.

The most effective spots to focus on Crappie are often in oxbow lakes. These little lakes are affected by modifications in the principle channel of the river with out turning into too turbulent. You’ll discover Black Crappie in clear(er) waters, whereas White Crappie are extra resilient and don’t thoughts turbid waters as a lot.

Crappie are energetic on the river all year long, and the best time to go after them is in spring. That is their spawning interval, once they transfer to skinny waters and cling round underwater vegetation. Whereas spawning will start in the principle channel as early as March or April, it begins later in oxbow lakes, often in the beginning of Might.

The Finest Fishing Spots on the Mississippi River

Now, this can be a subject that must be lined in an encyclopedia. Seeing that the Mississippi River runs down the entire size of the US, it’s protected to say that you could possibly spend a number of lifetimes exploring all of the treasure troves on this 10-state space. Right here’s a brief run-through of all of the states that will help you discover the most effective chunk close to you.


Whether or not you’d wish to go ice fishing or simply discover the north finish of the Mississippi River, you may be part of many Minnesotans who spend their free time doing the identical. This is likely one of the few states the place ice fishing on the river is definitely doable and productive.

In the event you’d slightly stick to traditional fishing, then top-of-the-line spots within the state is certainly Lock and Dam Quantity Two (very near St. Paul and Hastings). Anglers from everywhere in the nation come right here to expertise the excellent Walleye and Sauger chunk. It is a catch-and-release fishery, which permits for some actual lunkers that would simply discover their strategy to your line.

In the event you’re within the temper for some first-class Smallmouth Bass fishing, then hit the waters round Coon Rapids Dam. You received’t be disillusioned.

A few of the finest spots for Walleye fishing embrace shallow waters, in addition to underwater buildings like flooded tree trunks and particles, the place they’ll cover and spawn. Present breaks are one other potential gold mine, particularly when Walleye make their spring journey to the spawning grounds. Walleye fishing round dams may be very productive, however it might additionally get crowded, so seek the advice of an area earlier than you go.


Wisconsin is one other state the place ice fishing is severe enterprise. It is because there are such a lot of sizzling spots to get your fill of fishing motion, even on the coldest days of the 12 months. One of many well-known ice fishing spots is Mississippi River Pool 8, the place you may hook a pleasant Walleye, Crappie, or Perch, simply to call a number of. Not solely is the world productive, however the surroundings is beautiful.

Fishermen preferring hotter components of the 12 months can hit Mississippi River Pool 10, wedged between Iowa and Wisconsin. In these backwaters, you’ll discover loads of Bass, Sauger, Northern Pike, and naturally, Walleye.

If you wish to strive one thing fully totally different, head out to one of many fishing floats on the river. These floating platforms are conveniently anchored in a number of the best spots on the river, and make it doable to achieve them with out a boat. Yow will discover floats in a number of cities, together with Alma, Trempealeau, and Genoa. There’s a small every day charge you’ll have to pay to fish there, and also you’ll have to deliver your individual gear, however the enjoyable is value it.


About 300 miles of the Mississippi runs by Iowa, making the riverbanks of this state a really engaging fishing vacation spot. You’ll discover the most effective Walleye and Sauger motion close to Dubuque, particularly in the course of the winter months. Paddlefish, Carp, and Bluegill are additionally widespread catches close to dams, the place the water runs slower.

You may fish the numerous sloughs and aspect channels each from shore and from a ship. Nonetheless, deep holes round underwater buildings are your finest shot at securing a hookup or two, or far more.


An extended stretch of the Mississippi River (virtually 600 miles) additionally makes up the western Illinois border and boasts glorious fishing alternatives. You may hook the likes of Channel Catfish, Walleye, Northern Pike, and Bass on the river all year long. Whether or not you’re on the principle channel or backwater, discovering a great fishing spot is sort of straightforward.

A few of the hottest Illinois fishing spots on the Mississippi River embrace the world round Fort Kaskaskia, the place you may get pleasure from each lovely nature and good fishing. The Two Rivers Nationwide Wildlife Refuge is one other gold mine the place the Mississippi and Illinois rivers meet. Right here, you and you’ll fish for something from Bass and Crappie to Catfish, and it’s each enjoyable and productive!


We’re slowly entering into Catfish territory, and there are various fishing holes in Missouri the place yow will discover all three species – Flathead, Channel, and Blue Catfish. Some of the in style spots to chase jumbo Catfish is Sulphur Springs. This prolific fishing spot is only a quick 30-minute trip from downtown St. Louis.

The part between the McKinley Bridge and the Chain of Rocks Canal has a great inhabitants of White Bass and Catfish. In the event you’d like a blended bag, then head right here – whether or not you’re casting your line from shore or aboard a ship, likelihood is, you’ll achieve success.


We’re formally within the center part of the Mississippi. The fish obtainable to you’ll change at this level, however the high quality of motion is stable. In Kentucky, Carp, Crappie, Bass, and Catfish are all within the playing cards. Carp, specifically, has been gaining recognition in recent times, particularly amongst fly fishermen.

Fly fishing may be very in style in Kentucky, particularly as a result of focusing on Carp on a fly has grow to be considerably of a development. Carp are relentless fighters and focusing on them on a fly takes the fishing battles to an entire new degree.

You’re welcome to fish wherever there’s public land near the river in Kentucky, as long as you’ve acquired a fishing license. Columbus-Belmont State Park and Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Web site are each glorious fishing places, and you’ll even discover the river fishing alternatives from a kayak. Briefly, there’s a little bit of one thing for everybody.


Within the Volunteer State, it’s all about Catfishing! Wherever you forged your line on this 167-mile stretch of the Mississippi, a Catfish will discover its strategy to it.

Right here, you may truly go after 5 various kinds of fish – Spoonbill (often known as Paddlefish), in addition to Channel, Flathead, and Bullhead Catfish, and the preferred of all of them, Blue Catfish. Blues can get large in Tennessee, they usually’re the explanation why Catfishing in these components has acquired such a great repute.

Yow will discover Catfish nearly anyplace, however the Memphis space often sports activities top-notch motion, particularly when you hit the water anytime from July–November.


On Arkansas’ portion of the Mississippi, Catfish nonetheless reign supreme, although White Bass and Crappie are following shut behind. In the event you’re chasing trophy Catfish, your finest wager is fishing the spot the place the Arkansas River flows into the Mississippi. It is a recognized hangout of huge Blue and Flathead Catfish.

In the event you’re on the lookout for White Bass right here, be on the water in spring, once they’re on their strategy to the river’s tributaries. The Crappie chunk is sweet in early spring within the slower shifting sections of the principle channel. In the event you’re trying to fish for a little bit of all the pieces, the confluences of the Mississippi with the Arkansas and St. Francis rivers are a great place to begin.


The namesake of the revered river, Mississippi has loads to supply on the subject of river fishing. Going after Catfish is the highest factor to do right here, each as a result of it’s enjoyable and since there’s loads of fish to catch.

Yow will discover guides specializing in on the lookout for large Catfish within the opaque Mississippi waters, particularly in deep waters. Tunica Lake is an oxbow of the Mississippi River, the place yow will discover a great Catfish and Crappie chunk.


That is the southernmost a part of the Mississippi River, and may be very in style with avid Catfish anglers. Blue and Channel Catfish are all of the craze right here and you’ll goal them wherever you go on the river. It’s widespread information that when you’d like to seek out mammoth Catfish, you come to the Louisiana part of the Mississippi.

A few of the extra in style treasure troves embrace the confluence of the Purple River with the Mississippi, in addition to the world round St. Francisville. In the event you don’t need to go away New Orleans to go fishing, you don’t should. The portion of the river across the Crescent Metropolis Connection is the playground of sizeable Catfish they usually’re at all times there for the taking.

Mississippi River Fishing Laws

Because the Mississippi flows by 10 states, it’s protected to say that fishing legal guidelines change as usually as state borders. Completely different sections of the river have totally different weight and size limits on the identical species, so what you could know vastly depends upon which state you’re fishing in. What’s extra, laws are ceaselessly up to date because of the river’s ever-changing ecosystem, making it essential to remain within the know.

One of the best ways to cope with that is to rent an area information. They’ll preserve you within the loop about what you may and may’t do whereas on the water. This manner, you’ll keep away from breaking any legal guidelines unwittingly, whereas nonetheless having a blast.

All (Fishing) Roads Result in the Mississippi

It needs to be mentioned – there’s no river on the continent just like the mighty Mississippi. From Lake Itasca within the north all the way in which to the marshes of Louisiana, and at last to the Gulf of Mexico, this marvelous (albeit murky) physique of water is a dream come true for any freshwater angler.

Whether or not it’s Walleye or Bass, Crappie or Catfish, ice fishing or prowling the wetlands, the Mississippi has all of it. There’s no want for an introduction, promoting factors, or persuasion – the Father of Waters has greater than sufficient fishing alternatives, beautiful surroundings, and historical past to maintain you coming again time after time.

What are your fishing experiences on the mighty Mississippi River? Do you’ve got a favourite fishing spot? Do you’ve got any particular tips to get that fish to chunk? Share your ideas within the feedback, it’s at all times nice to listen to from you.

Leave a Comment