Anglers Have a Hot Time in the Cold at Clarksville

By Renken, Tim | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 5, 1995 | Go to article overview

Anglers Have a Hot Time in the Cold at Clarksville


Renken, Tim, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Great rafts of broken ice floated by, waves causing the pieces bumping together to tinkle like tiny bells. A cold sound.

Everything was cold. As the men fished, ice on their lines clogged the guides in their rods. Dipping the rods' tips in the water made the ice clogs worse. That's how cold the water was.

A frigid north wind gusted over Clarksville Dam, rushed across the raceway and the rafts of chunk ice and smacked into the two anglers in a bass boat. Eyes watered. Hands without gloves became useless in less than a minute.

Suffering? No, they were loving it. Fishing was great. The weather was great, even though the temperature in bright sunlight was in the 20s.

The Mississippi River, always beautiful, was spectacular in winter garb. Under a blanket opf snow, picturesque little Clarksville looked like a Currier & Ives painting. The bluffs behind the town gleamed white with a fringe of black trees.

The river's water was an icy blue, cocktail ice whirling along on the current. Chunk ice was rafted up in the backwaters. Boulder ice was piled up on the wingdams.

Dozens of bald eagles, maybe hundreds, congregated at the raceway, sitting in trees, soaring overhead and occasionally diving to pick up dead or stunned fish. Sometimes the big birds would land on the wingdams or on floating chunks of ice.

It took the two men, working with a pike pole and shovel, 15 minutes of hard work to break up the glacier which blocked the foot of the Clarksville Boat Club launch ramp. When they backed the rig down, truck and trailer slid the last few feet.

Late January and February are good times to be on the river. Fishing is good for the coveted walleye and sauger which gather below the navigation dams in preparation for their early-spring spawning runs.

"Heck, just missed one," said Larry Woodward, of Troy, a guide who fishes the river whenever it's in fishing shape. "They're hitting light today. Might be little sauger."

He hardly misses a day of fishing, with clients or without, this time of the year, because "This is usually when the sauger and walleye are most concentrated and most aggressive. …

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