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The River Rat Side of Ice Fishing Pro, Dave Genz

Dave Genz is not only an ice fishing guru, he also knows a great deal about river fishing./Catfish are common in the Mississippi. This one was aggressive and feisty!
Jerry Carlson

When it comes to ice fishing, Dave Genz is probably the most recognizable name in the industry. There isn’t too much he hasn’t accomplished in the hard water world. However, what most anglers don’t realize about Genz is that he knows as much about river fishing as he does ice angling.

My latest river adventure with Genz started at his house on the Mississippi near St. Cloud, Minnesota. Once my fishing gear was stored away in the specialized River Pro jet boat he uses, we headed upstream to begin a day of chasing smallmouth.

As we pulled into our first spot and anchored above an eddy created by a couple of big trees on the river bank, Genz began my education on what we were going to be doing. The first thing we talked about was where to fish around the eddy.

As we baited up our nine foot poles with chubs, Genz instructed me to work the current just outside the eddy and not cast into the quiet water. He went on to explain that the quiet water held suckers, carp and possibly catfish. The smallies we were after liked to be close to eddies but preferred being in the moving water on the edge of the eddy.

As I flipped my chub a short distance behind the boat, we talked about the need for the long rods. The river bottom is full of debris and rocks that love to eat tackle. By using long rods and fishing close to the boat, we were able to lift the sinker and hook up off of the bottom and didn’t have to drag the gear through snags.

Genz was quite fussy about the line he used. He stated that he had tried lots of different brands but ten-pound-test Trilene XT was the only one he found tough enough to survive the rocks and clutter found on the bottom.

Although Genz is adept at catching smallies on artificials, he has learned that to put up big numbers during a day, a person needs to fish with live bait. His preference is chubs he catches himself and crawlers.

The number two hook he uses may seem large to most, but the smallmouth certainly didn’t mind. The weights he uses are pinch on style weights that he places 14 inches above the hook. Smallies feed close to the bottom where there is less current so shorter leaders are better than long ones.

It took just a few minutes for things to settle down after we had anchored, but soon the smallies moved back into their feeding ground close to the eddy. The fish were not fussy about what kind of bait they chewed on. They hit the crawlers as readily as the minnows.

Once a smallmouth was hooked, they utilized the current to do their best to get free. Most of the fish we caught were good sized and powerful. However, even the smaller 14 inchers put up an amazing fight.

In three hours time, we fished a half dozen spots on the Mississippi and never saw another boat. Much of our fishing was done within the city limits of St. Cloud.

When we finally moored the boat in front of his house, we had a total of 37 fish on the counter. Not a bad afternoon considering I was with an ice fishing pro!

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