Quad Cities & Beyond


Spring fishing is usually held hostage by the flood season. So far this year, flooding has been minimal to moderate in most areas and the fishing has been good. Locally, our rivers and small lakes have warmed earlier than usual and some species are even spawning a couple of weeks early. The transition from cold-water baits to warm-water feeding is well underway in sloughs, backwaters and shallows. Ideal fishing weather is here and the fish are in, so it’s time to grab that pole.

Carbon Cliff
The early summer run for catfish in the Hennepin at Colona began in April and should continue until the hot days of late July or early August. Early on, they will take red worms, but later in the season they’ll bite on almost everything—worms, shrimp (frozen or canned), shad and shad gut, chicken livers and all kinds of stink bait. That stretch of the canal is always good for bluegills. The crappies and bass are also coming on. On the Mississippi at Hampton and up the Slough in Moline, the drum and stripes will be moving in. The northerns that were taken earlier in the year near Hampton are now gone. There have been a lot of crappies in the backwaters near Andalusia and in Snake Den Hollow.

Minnow-tipped jigs are still the best baits for walleyes and saugers below the dams. The increased numbers and sizes of saugers have held through the spring. Smallmouths are slowing, but there is an increase in the crappie bite. Small minnows are best for these and the occasional striper. There is still more than a month on the special regulations for smallmouth, so be sure you know which fish must be returned immediately to the water. True to form, the catfish bite is good and getting better every day. All of the usual baits will take fish, but worms are especially good.

Walleyes and saugers are biting below the rollers at Davenport, along the wall as close to the rollers as you can get, up Sylvan Slough and also off the wing dams. On some days, the boats circling the mouth of Rock River will take a lot of nice walleyes using trolling lures like jointed Rapalas. In backwaters and the Hennepin just west of Milan, largemouths are hitting mid-sized lures.

At Banner and Clinton lakes, larger crappies are becoming more aggressive. They’re hitting best on minnows or Charlie Brewers. On the Illinois, both walleyes and saugers are hanging off structure, in dams or in faster water. The best baits have been minnows, swimbaits and soft plastics.

Rock Island
Near Port Byron, the sloughs, backwaters and ponds have bass hitting on noisy summer lures. On the Mississippi there are walleyes and saugers biting in Sylvan Slough below the rollers, off the wing dams and off the Davenport wall. If you have a boat, the dams off Credit Island and just upstream and downstream from the I-280 Bridge should be especially good as we move into the warm-weather months.

The walleye bite usually begins to slow in May, but those feeding will hit minnows or Mepps rigs as long as they hold. Stripers should move in by the middle of this month and take either minnows or worms the first few weeks. Crappies will stay aggressive through the middle of June unless the weather and water gets really warm. Small minnows are your best bet.

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By late May, the saugers and white bass/stripies are well off spawn, but they never stop hitting jigs and Shad Raps. The traditional three-way Wolfe River Rig with 1 ounce and a minnow on a floater has been effective. Later in the year when the striper run begins below the dam and off Plum Island, worms, minnows and small lures or plastics will be good baits, but minnows will be the best.

At both LeClaire and Davenport, the walleyes are abundant, especially on overcast days. These will bite on either ‘crawlers or minnows in the tailwaters. From the middle of this month through June they’ll transition into hitting jigs with plastics. In all backwaters there has been a good and growing crappie bite this year. They are hitting almost exclusively on small crappie minnows. At West Lake, there’s a strong amount of trout along with bluegills that bite early in the morning or in the evening. Worms, shrimp and bits of liver are all good during the spring run.

Walleyes have continued to bite below the rollers and in Sylvan Slough. Most are taken on trolled Rapalas or on minnow- tipped jigs.

The walleye spawn should be over, but those fish that hang below the dam will hit minnow-tipped jigs, trolling lures and some plastics. An especially good trolling lure has been double-Rapalas on a three-way with one Rapala on a slightly shorter leader than the other. If you haven’t tried this technique, experiment a little with your line length so you have the spread that’s large enough to prevent tangles. Just be sure to take wider turns on the troll. The northerns are about gone from O’Leary’s, but an occasional can be taken. The troll needs to be fast, though, and the lures big.

The crappies are on or just off the beds, and these are taking small minnows. The best bite has been below a bobber or a small spoon using cast-and-retrieve fishing.