Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Return to White River Cleanup site

Returned to the White near where INSA had helped with a river cleanup a few weeks back. I was out that way to complete some hires, so hit the river after work.

First, I waded upstream and found a topwater and fluke bite. Unfortunately, the river was small and featureless not far above my put in, so I turned around after a half mile of ankle deep water. As it grew near dark, the intensity picked up even if the accuracy was off. I had many hits that failed to strike home. The lack of current and collecting leaves made it hard to throw many baits, so it was mainly the 3/8oz single spin Buzzbait I stuck too.

I hit a 16" on the way wading down at an obvious laydown below riffle area, then another 16.5" on the way back up. At the bottom I must have had ten strikes without a fish!

Ended with 10 in a few hours. Could have been quite a few more with a little current to sweep the leaves away and allow trebled topwaters (16.5,16, 14")

Monday, September 29, 2008

Little Sammy saves the day.

On Sunday I went out for a wade on one of my favorite streams. The same stretch I had caught a 21.5"er a couple months back. There was a car at the put in and it turned out a couple guys had waded up ahead of me. I caught one dink on the way up.

Ran into the guys as they were pulling fish out of the first good hole. They had waded all the way up to the bend, about a mile total. Said they were 'smoking' them. I took my time and nothing was going on. One tiny dink that didn't have enough sense to be spooked I guess.

When I got the bend were they stopped I threw on a Sammy 65. I bought the lure as a joke. Seeing as how I hade absolutely no game, I tried the lure out a bit. Small fish wanted it bad. In the next hour, I caught 13 fish from 4" to 10". I had 2 to 3 times as many strikes. I am not one to fish for dinks, but here I suspected the larger fish were down buried deep in cover and it proved true. I had several decent fish try to connect tight on cover, only to lose them as the Sammy 65's hooks were too small to penetrate very deep. I swapped them up to a 6.

By now it was about 5, so I figure the larger fish would come out of their hiding spots. I had a giant fish make a rush at the Sammy 100 and totally wiff. Then found a fluke bite, catching a 12", a 14" LMB, 12", 13", 16" before moving up into a long deep pool that I am certain holds many large fish. At a creek mouth, I hooked a large fish on fluke and fought him most of the way in when a quick change of direction got him off- at least 17" if not 18". Oldest trick in the book! That hurt. Not 5 casts later I had another huge fish swipe near the surface and miss the fluke! UGGGH! I suck.

I threw on Rick Clunn's wakebait and landed a nice 15" from downstream. Later a 16" and 13" would fall to the fluke. It was hard to slow down and fish the fluke right in that large pool. Fish seemed to want something dying.

Wasn't my day on the big fish, which I'm normally very effecient with.

5.5 hours 24 bass (2-16" 2-15)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How Kent Tekulve Helped Me Learn Cast.

Kent Tekulve is a former right-handed relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who played from 1974 to 1989 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds.

He was known as a workhorse relief pitcher who led the major leagues in games pitched four times, appearing in 90 or more games three times. He holds the National League record for career innings pitched in relief (1,436⅔), and formerly held the major league record for career relief appearances; his 1,050 career games, all in relief, ranked second in major league history to Hoyt Wilhelm's 1,070 when he retired. Baseball Prospectus Profile

So what's that got to do with smallmouth bass fishing? Bear with me.

Tekulve had this submarine almost underhanded way he would hurl the ball towards home plate. I widely immitated him growing up in the late 70's and early 80's on the sandlot playing ball all day every day. Sorry Steve Carlton. Kent would drop his right shoulder way down and hurl so that the ball was almost rising on a batter. His arm angle was so low, there was no telling what the ball would do. It was unconventional and many batters weren't prepared for such a departure from the norm.

When wading creeks and rivers, there are many challenges that prevent getting at the bass. The bass don't make it easy, they often lay in the thick of laydowns under the shade of low hanging branches. Often an angler will give up on the spot because the branches hang so low to the water's surface.

The first solution would be to skip a plastic under the limbs. That's a great solution, unless they aren't biting finesse presentations. I can't skip a buzzbait. As my casting got better I tried more and more to zing into the most impossible places with the wrong lure to see if I could work it out, present in the right way, then catch a fish. Often the nicer bass are in such places!

Channeling Tekulve, I would drop my right shoulder, hold the lure inches above the water, swing it in a clockwise circle to load the rod, and fling the bait under the limbs with an early release and upward flip of the rod. No swinging the rod as much as using the forgrips as a fulcrim point. Right wrist foward, left wrist pulls back. The bait would start low and arc upward like a softball pitch. The trajectory would give me plenty of time to feather the 'brake' with my off hand, or crank before impact with a buzzbait. Other times the target would be deep and low- thus requiring a Tekulve fastball low and hard. Being prepared to feather the line quick really helps here.

Throwing in tight with several different levels of possible obstuction is part of what makes smallmouth fishing fun. It is a challenge to make that cast. Feels great when I'm able to pull it off. The experience is gravey on toast when I catch a nice fish on a difficult cast.

Funny thing is, so often smallmouth are in nearly impossible places. So until you get daring, you'll miss out on a lot of fish.

I took a total newb out on a local creek and was really struck how hard smallmouth can be to catch. All the areas where I caught fish were guarded by close limbs. Poor Jason was terrified to throw that buzzbait anywhere close to the smallies! Think he's hooked- sadly by watching me catch. Better lead by example guide I guess.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Timing makes a difference 9/21/08

On Sunday I met up with William C. from ISA for the guided trip I had donated last January at Illinois Smallmouth Alliance's Bronzeback Blowout: http://illinoissmallmouthalliance.com/html/blowout.html. Bill is 65 and still playing hockey, full of piss and vinegar, and mad about smallmouth bass. It was a pleasure to take him out on a wade. Bill had mentioned how congested and crowded Chicagoland streams can be. I picked a creek that would be scenic and close enough for Bill to return should he so desire. This also added number 27 to my list of Indiana Streams fished in 2008.

The stream I picked would be Big Pine Creek in NW Indiana. Now this goes against my long policy of mentioning stream names on the internet. After fishing Pine a couple times now, anyone reading this is in for some average fishing at best for smallmouth bass. I think it's simply an issue of food. Bill and I both witnessed countless tiny, tiny minnows. Ranging from .5" to about an inch.

Certainly the Smallmouth weren't getting big off those minnows! They would waste away spending energy for small return. We started at sunlight. I threw topwaters and tubes with no luck until about 830am. I caught a couple Ky Spots and dink smallies. By my 8th fish I finally broke 12", with a 14.5"er on a LC Splashtail 90. Bill picked up a fish here and there dinks- as well.

If nothing else, Pine is beautiful and should be visited for that alone. Large carved limestone cliffs. Stream bottom varies from silted sections to carved limestone and lunchbox sized round rock stacked upon each other. There was plenty of gradient throughout the stream.

We were fishing another awesome looking riffle pool when Bill was telling a story. I stopped working Sammy 100 to listen and the bait got slammed by the first decent fish of the day, a 15.75" SMB. We discovered a pretty consistent buzzbait bite. I picked up a couple fish at every likely spot most 8-10". We were mounting the numbers, but couldn't manage any decent fish. I got another 15.75"er at a the end of a long pool, we moved up and caught more dinks on buzzbaits. We made it to the bridge and decided to wade further upstream instead of going to another stream. Fateful decision. We headed above the bridge.

Bill stayed slightly behind to fish a large pool. Arrived at the top riffle of what can only be described as a limestone smallie funpark. Various ruts and tubes of water shot everywhere causing confusion about which slot would hold a bass. There was an obvious choke point. A larger fish came agressively out of the water missing the bait. Followed up with a tube and missed again. Bill was busy catching three more dinks below me on a plastic.

We moved up through the bedrock flats with little to cast to. Finally arrived at a large deep pool carved out of limestone. Bill caught another one and I two and a 16" LMB on LC RC wake crankbait. We caught more dinks as we walked upstream, before heading back. On the return at the spiderweb chokepoint, I nabbed a 16.5"er that had tried for my buzzbait before. It fell to the LC splashtail 90. Last fish. 39 for me. Bill had close to 20 0r so. Not bad except for the entire lack of size. I made hundreds of casts for those few good bass.

After I dropped Bill off and we said our sad goodbyes there were three turkeys going for a stroll down the road. I gunned it a little and they fled on foot looking every bit the part of an avian group of Forrest Gumps.Hope William had a good time, probably more walking than he is used to. Sometimes your workout pays off, other times the reward is seeing something new.

Drove to McDonald's to load up on McCrap. Hit the second stream down in some limestone caverns. Pretty little stream. Water was crystal clear and fish were skittish. I walked a half mile with one dink and many fleeing fish to show. Decided to throw a softer, quieter buzzbait based on a previous experience. I thought maybe this wouldn't spook the bass as much. Whether by oncoming dusk, walking into better spots, or throwing that particular presentation- it started.

A 13" on the first cast, followed quickly by a battling yellow 17.5" bass!

Now this was getting good! Felt a momentary pang that Bill was not along. The next pool produced a couple decent fish. Then another had three swats before I moved up. Out of habit threw to fast water below a riffle, where two sizeable smallmouth wrestled each other for the bait. They had been sitting behind a tiny ledge. They were invisible there until the gurgling provoked them. A quick muscling and I had beached a 19.5" behemoth out of this 25' wide creek!Notice the fin damage, this guy spends alot of time under a rock!!!

After a few pics I threw back to the 12' wide chokepoint and got slammed by the other fish. It went 16"!

Now I had the fever. It was getting dark fast. I put it in overdrive and got to another excellent bend, it produced another 16"er that fought like crazy. They were destroying that single spin 3/8oz buzzbait. My sense of urgency kicked in as I knew from experience 1 or 2 casts to each pool would reveal the bass. Another large blow up missed target. Up another pool a 15"er connected. It was dark. I was closing in on a mile and a half from the bridge, I turned and headed back. Owls hooted and small eyes peered at me from the grasses. Nervously power walked with my tiny light. Sore today but was so worth it! Dusk/dark it is!

11 hours 49 bass: 2LMB (16"), 4KY, 43 SMB (19.5, 17.5,16.5, 3 16) 1 Goggle eye.

All on topwater- Buzzbaits, Propbait, Sammy, Wakebait.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Morning Wade 9/20

Went for a wade this morning on a new stretch of one of my favorite Indiana rivers. Threw topwaters at first with the above 18" Smallmouth falling to a Sammy 100 worked very slow. I had come upon lots of wide river with deeper water and plenty of wood. Ill equipped to fish it I headed back upstream and was again stopped by deep water and thick woods on the way under a major interstate.
On the way up I caught about a 14 dinks and a couple 14"'s. Got bored with the quick action from small fish and went home.

4 hours 20 Smallmouth bass (18") 1 rock bass and a chub. Mostly on tubes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Spot or Not? How to tell the difference between Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass

There seems to be a lot of confusion when trying to ID Largemouth and Kentucky Spotted Bass. Granted, they DO look A LOT alike. Take a closer look at the artist renderings.


Kentucky Spotted Bass, Spot, KY

Largemouth Bass

First, the art of the spot is a little more gray and less green than usual, but Spots are almost always more olive gray on top while Largemouth are almost always green.

Spots have a more pronounced bright white lower half and belly, where Largemouths are pale shiny whitish green.

Largemouth have much larger mouths with the jaw extending past the eye.

Spotted bass have a rough tooth patch right on top the tongue.

Spotted Bass's top dorsals are connected, LMB's are not.

Spots have rows of spots. LMB sometimes have them too.

Both are fun to catch. In Indiana, Kentucky Spotted Bass can populate your slower, siltier creeks, the seem to love wood piles. They grow slow and fat and reach spawning age at a relatively small size. Spotted bass fight well, nearly as entertaining as smallmouth. Problem is, a 15" Spot would be a 17-18" Smallmouth. They grow slow and die young. Competing with Smallmouth in marginal habitat and often out eating and producing the smallies.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

4 Creek Wade During Remnants of Hurricane Ike 9/14/08

Headed out for a day of new streams on my quest to hit 30 Indiana streams this year. I went south of Indianapolis for once. 24, 25,and 26 would fall today as Ike roared into the state.

Started on a silty, wooden stream that feeds the East Fork of the White river. Caught a few tiny spotted bass on various lures before landing a 14" smallmouth bass on a buzzbait. The banks and bottom were almost entirely sand. Made it difficult and tiring to walk very far. I turned around after 3/4 mile and headed back. I started catching larger Kentucky Spotted bass and Smallmouth on the Sammy 100 worked slow. There were a lot of tiny dink bass in the creek. I decided it was a mess, so I bailed after 3 hours. 9 bass of no real quality.

Heading far south, I jumped in on a winding river I knew next to nothing about. The river was about 50' across and had obsidian shale shelves. Looked great except for the stained almost muddy water. Must have rained. I fished for 15 minutes and headed back to the car. At the first riffle, my tube got slammed by a decent fish that turned out to be a 17" freshwater drum or sheaphead. I knew there would be clear water elsewhere.

Drove to the next creek. It was a wide shallow rocky creek with a road along side it. Probably too much. The fish were on the topwater just like the first stream, but they were small and holes were a hundred yards between. I moved fast and eventually hit a 15 and 14.5" off a log on buzzbait. Then 5 more fish 12-14" in another pool as the wind started going nuts. Leaves were landing on the water and branches began to fly about. I kept going because the bass were turning on. A very large tree ahead fell in the creek. I eventually hit a wide deep pool and turned around right at a town. 16 Smallmouth bass, couple really active sunfish. Headed to a new stretch of an old favorite...

When I finally arrived at the mother stream, it was quickly apparent the bass would be active. Whether the larger fish became active there or were non existent in the other small stream I cannot say. I do know what happened next was pretty incredible. Everything I threw was successful. In the next 2.5-3 hours, I caught fish on Buzzbait, Splashtail 90, Sammy 100, Wakebait, spinnerbait, chatterbait...

The smallmouth got bigger the further I walked. I knew the bite was on bigtime at this point, rushed at a gallop to the better holes. As the 40-50 mph winds of Hurricane Ike blew down trees, leaves and branches everywhere. The surface of the river was covered in flotsom and jetsam. It was hard to get the topwater lure to run right. I landed several 11-12"ers, then a 14", 15", 14".

I hit a larger pool, hell broke loose. A large fish blew up on the Lucky Craft Splashtail 90 dual propbait. I was working it like a jerkbait with pronounced pauses smacking the surface. A fish eventually struck home after several tries. As the large brown yellow bass went airborne I could see it was large! What a fight. As the bass neared, another the same size had followed in. After a quick photo shot and measure the Smallmouth went 17.5":

Next cast same story, after another incredible fight I landed this 18" fish.

Casting the bait back out quickly it got bit by another 14-15"er that was followed in by three more of equal size. This was getting good! I threw on an old single blade 3/8th oz buzzbait thump! Then it got ridiculous; a huge fat fish exploded out of the water 3' in the air and pulled drag all over the place! Finally got it ashore another plump 18" fish!

Caught a couple more from that pool and moved up busting it hard to get to the next good hole. When I got to a bend in the creek I threw on the Rick Clunn Lucky Craft Wake crankbait 1.5. The bait worked like a charm, as it dove just under the leaves. It got slammed again and again as I landed a 16", 15", 17, and then another 16"er.

I kept going through a long deep pool and it seemed the fishing had died off after the misty drizzle. The wind had finally calmed down.

I mixed it up with a white\chart chatterbait and got a 'THUNK' crazy fight from this nice 17.5"er:

Couple more 12-13" on the turn around, then walked out before dark hit. 29 good fish in 2.5 hours!

10 hours fished 53 Bass 47 SMB (2 18", 2 17.5", 17", 2 16" 3 15") 6 KY Spots, 1 17" Freshwater Drum, 1 Goog and a sunfish on Sammy 65.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New (Old) Added Content

I have been adding archived fishing reports from 2007 and earlier 2008. Hope to get them all in one place.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Attack of the Chubs 9/1/08 Indiana Stream Report

Got on Mecca once again and waded up this time. Stream was winding, well shaded, silty, and filled with all kinds of dead wood/sticks. A disappointment. The first fish was a Creek Chub about 8" on a tube, then a creek chub on Lucky Craft Splashtail 90.

I try to start out throwing topwaters to measure the smallmouth bass' aggressiveness each time out. Then I pick apart cover with various casts from a 3/16th oz 4"tube.

One such cast with a splashtail was slapped at by a good fish. I decided to try a white and chartreuse 3/8oz chatterbait. Bam a fat 15.5"er that fought like mad, then a couple casts later an 13" smallmouth bass. I moved on and picked up a few more on the chatterbait. The appearance of many logjams put a stop to my chatterbait tosses. I picked a few more smallmouth bass 12-14" on a tube.

Picked up fish here and there with topwater and tube. Chubs continued to hop on and off my jig.

I moved through silty deeper pools and finally to a choke point with laydowns parallel to the current. Pulling the Splashtail over the logs it get smashed by a large fish who exploded quickly over the laydowns and towards me. A quick, brutal fight followed. I landed the fat beautiful 17.5" smallmouth bass. What are they eating in there? Later I had another similar fish jump over my splashtail and high into the air.

The rest of the day I bank pitched into the wood. About 10 times I had hooked fish dive and pop off. It was a trouble rigging the tube to not snag, but expose enough point to land home. The topwater bite had died by 11am. Creek Chubs kept coming.

Found my bridge and waited for Mike to show, he had his own events wading the stretch below.

2.09 miles waded 20 SMB (17.5", 15.5") 12 Creek Chubs, 3 Rock Bass. Never caught that many chubs fishing with smallmouth lures. Weird things keep happening in 2008. A dozen 8" chubs on 4 " tubes.