Mississippi River

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Fishing in Mississippi River

With thousands of miles to explore and hundreds of fish to target, the vast and bountiful Mississippi River is a must-see destination for freshwater anglers. If you’re coming to this impressive body of water for the first time, book a trip with one of many Mississippi River fishing guides to make sure you find the best bite.
 

Top Catches and Where to Find Them

The Mississippi River is a border between 10 different states, from its source in Minnesota all the way to Louisiana. With over 2,300 miles and endless fishing spots to check out, the “Father of Waters” is a never-ending source of solid freshwater fishing.
 
There are well over 100 species swimming in these murky waters, and depending on where you decide to cast your line, you could catch a wide array of them. Walleye, Sauger, Bass, Northern Pike, Bluegill, and Crappie are the most common catches in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.
 
Missouri, Tennessee and further south, Arkansas and Mississippi, is where Catfish take center stage, and the lower Mississippi River is where you go to target monster Mudcats. Blue, Channel, and Flathead Catfish are the most popular on the menu, and they come in trophy sizes, especially if you’re looking for a new personal record and you’ve got an experienced guide by your side.
 

What to Expect on a Mississippi River Fishing Trip

All along the river, there are thousands of local guides who have spent most of their lives fishing the mighty Mississippi, and they know what they’re doing. When you book a trip with them, be it from the shore or from a boat, they’ll do their best to find some good fish for you. Whether you’re looking to fill your cooler with delicious fish or hook something brag-worthy, there’s a guide on the river that can make it happen.
 
There’s usually a variety of trips on offer, and half day and full day expeditions are by far the most popular. This means that you can come with your family and spend 4–5 hours on the water catching your lunch. Book an eight-hour trip if you’re aiming to come face-to-gills with something formidable, such as a monster Mudcat. 
 

What to Bring

Because the Mississippi River is so big, preparing for your trip depends heavily on where you plan to launch. It’s always a good idea to talk to your guide beforehand so you can confirm what you need to bring.
 
More often than not, you’ll need to buy a state fishing license before coming aboard (be sure you have a license that’s valid in whichever state waters you’re fishing). Mississippi River fishing guides usually provide all the necessary fishing gear and a boat, and sometimes provide pickup service. If you’re going on longer trips, don’t forget your favorite drinks and food, and be sure to dress properly for the time of the year.
 
Go fishing on the “Old Man River,” find out more about its incredible history, and get a taste of the superb fishing this impressive watershed has to offer!
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Mississippi River Fishing Seasons

If you want to explore ice fishing opportunities on the Mississippi River, then the beginning of the year is the best time to head out. The Upper Mississippi has a healthy population of Walleye, Bluegill, and Yellow Perch.

It’s still quite cold on the northern section of the river, which means you can catch sizeable Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, Sauger, and Walleye, as long as you know where to go to find them.

As the weather improves, the fish are becoming more active all along the river. Anglers are hitting the water to chase different species of Catfish, which lurk in deep holes and channels.

Come mid-April, Walleye are starting to spawn and you can find them around areas with a rocky bottom. Northern Pike prefer warm waters for spawning, and you’ll find Smallmouth Bass in current breaks.

Catfish love warm weather and warm water, and the Lower Mississippi is the place to hook a lunker. If you’re a passionate Bass angler, there’s a Bass tournament in Alma Marina, Wisconsin mid-May.
Be it Channel, Flathead, or Blue Catfish, summer is the time to test your luck on the lower Mississippi River. Bass are amassing around underwater structures, while Northern Pike are hiding in deeper waters.

July is one of the best months to go to Tennessee and hunt your biggest Catfish yet. Smallmouth Bass usually congregate in spots where food is abundant, and Pike are still avoiding the heat.

Wherever you are in the 10 states that Mississippi runs through, it’s probably hot on the water. The Lower Mississippi is a haven for Catfish anglers, where Cats are always abundant and hungry.

If you’re in the mood to hook a massive Blue Catfish, head to Arkansas and cast your line around deep holes, bends, and submerged trees. There are plenty of White Bass, Crappie, and Catfish in the middle section of Mississippi.

As the weather is turning, Walleye and Northern Pike are coming back to shallower waters in the upper Mississippi, and Catfish are still biting left and right. This is the golden month of fishing!

The Catfish bite is still more than solid anywhere from Arkansas to Louisiana, and depending on where you fish, up to five species of Cats are in the game. Up north, the ice fishing season is fast approaching.

While Catfishing will be coming to a lull in December, the upper Mississippi River is teeming with both anglers and fish. Think Yellow Perch, Walleye, Bluegill, and Sauger and be sure to dust off your ice fishing gear!

Mississippi River Fishing Calendar

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Top Fishing Techniques in Mississippi River

  1. Ice Fishing

Top Targeted Species in Mississippi River

Bass (Largemouth)

Bass (Largemouth)

Catfish

Catfish

Walleye

Walleye

Pike (Northern)

Pike (Northern)

Crappie

Crappie

Bass (Smallmouth)

Bass (Smallmouth)