Bomber Tactics From An Old River Rat

By Ted Peck - April 1, 2013
My first real nice Mississippi River walleye started out as about an eight pounder. She hit one of the original Bombers long-line trolled behind a little aluminum boat above a wingdam on Pool 13 back in 1967.

The old red-and-white Bombers was one of about six or eight lures in a rusty Old Pal tackle box. She really made the rod tip of my fiberglass rod thump. Especially when chunking against the rocks.

We didn't catch and release big female walleyes back then. We didn't have livewells, either. My treasured catch was impaled through the lips on a long cord stringer And dragged behind the boat as I used Dad's 5 ½ horse green Johnson to maneuver along the upstream face of the wingdam looking for more fish.

No further strikes were forthcoming, so my buddy and I decided to move. Something-either a great white shark or the sputtering green Johnson had cut my prized walleye right in half!

My buddy laughed 'til he cried. River rats don't cry. I tried cursing but the words didn't come out right. My buddy laughed even harder. This incident, of course, scarred me for life.

Thousands of walleyes and over 40 years later the Bomber is still my lure of choice for every gamefish that swims in the Mississippi. The old red-and-white bait which really looked like something a plane would drop was retired years ago. Nowadays, my weapon of choice is a Bomber 6A in bream, rootbeer float or dark green craw pattern.

In the spring I might throw the next size smaller bait, in the fall a size larger. The craw pattern has an edge before the first little bluegills appear in the River, then its bream pattern all the way.

I fish a little further upstream now, working as a full-time guide on Pool 9. A crankbait is still one of the deadliest ways to catch fish here and I have yet to see a lure which will beat the Bomber A.

I usually don't fish when guiding. But if clients insist I may pick up a rod and throw a few casts. Little tricks like pulsing the retrieve or varying speed often produce a strike.

My favorite trick comes when a client hangs up on a rock and can't free the lure.

Opening the bail and allowing the current to create a great bow of slack in the line often does the trick. About one time in 10 a fish is waiting to garwoofle the Bomber on the first wiggle after the bail is engaged.

When Mississippi River fish are on a crankbait rip and I'm guiding, some other lure besides the Bomber is clipped on the snap of my line. Some clients thrive on bragging that they 'outfished the guide'. This sometimes results in a bigger tip at the end of the trip.

The mighty Mississippi tends to humble those who get a little prideful with self-perceived angling ability. When folks start talking smart, you know they're having a good day on the River.

Sometimes they forget who is holding the boat along the eight foot contour above the wingdam and spending just a little more time so clients can cast to prime "sweet spots" along the rocky face like rock piles and low spots which create a natural funnel.

When they also forget that it was the guide who tied on that Bomber A in the deadliest color scheme and told them where to throw it may be time for some gentle River Rat education.

If talk starts flying about a "friendly little wager" its awful hard not to smile.

In my boat the Bomber A does the talking when its time for counting coup.

It's not that I'm that good at fishing. But when you know the River and have faith in the bait nature usually takes its course. Maybe this is why the local boys call me The Bomber Man.

Author Ted Peck
Ted Peck
Cap'n Ted Peck has over 30 yrs. guiding experience, specializing in multi-species fishing on Pool 9-10 of the Mississippi from Genoa, Wi. to Prairie du Chien. Cap'n Ted is a pro staffer for Lund, Northland Tackle, MinnKota, Bill Lewis Lures, Evinrude, Uncle Josh, HT Enterprises and Custom Jigs & Spins. When not guiding Cap'n Ted communicates the outdoors experience via newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and through seminars. This work has taken him all over the midwest, Canada and beyond... but he always returns to the upper Mississippi which he considers the most diverse fishery in North America. Click here for more info on Ted's guide service. Cap'n Ted's new book Mississippi Musings with the Old Guide is a personal account of his long career as a professional fishing guide on Old Man River.