Monday, October 27, 2008

2006 Updates

Adding in some old fishing reports and photos for 2005-2006. Check 'em out.

10/26/08 Late Season River Smallmouth Wade

Grand predictions didn't work this time. See last blog post. I watched the news last night and the weatherman described a high wind weather front that would come through our state Sunday night.

I decided to head out earlier Sunday on account that the high temp would be near 64, and the overnight temp was a higher than normal temp. Arrived at the river by 12:30. The water was ultra clear, slow and leaves were everywhere. I set about checking to see if the recent pattern held up. It didn't at first, as I didn't have a fish or a legit bite until around 3pm. At one point, I layed down in the sun and nearly went off to sleeep waiting for around 4 Pm or so when the fish would start to turn on.

Thing is, I wasn't even seeing fish in the clear water. Like empty. I knew from winter fishing experience the fish were at the bottom of deeper holes out of my sight or even under unreachable undercut banks and rootwads.

I tried a LC Pointer 100 in 'Misty Shad'. Since I could see down a good three feet, my spot on a high bank enabled me to really get a feel for the lure. I started erratically walking the dog with the bait underwater and pausing after every second wag. I soon had my first smallmouth out of the back of one of these deep pools. A 12" fish. The lure worked great in the leaves- very surprising.

Turned and headed back upstream, doubling back over the area I had hit when the fish were off. I started to get bit on the RC wake crank. Second time through this excellent deep pool, I got bit by a nice fish who fought very hard. It came to hand at 17.5". It had slurped the Waketail right off the surface. I wonder where it was when I came by before? Hint- look in the background...

A few casts later another nice fish hit the RC wake, fought hard and came to hand, it went 16".

I stopped at another deeper pool and threw the jerk again, landing another about 12" and having another fish taking drag without being hooked. Throw a dink and a 10.5" crappie on the pointer 100 and that was it.

It was a beautiful day with all the action between 4-6pm. I should have heeded my own advice and skipped the early afternoon fishing as it was a complete waste of time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Quick update

Yep, fish are still hitting topwaters at 51 F. Mike and I did a 3:30 to 7pm wade. Covering a lot of ground. We caught fish on tube, swimbait, but mostly Rick Clunn's Lucky Craft Waketail crank 1.5.

I got 7 from 11-16" and Mike had 4 with the biggest fish from under a cross stream laydown that made three plays for the bait. Just like what happened to me on my last wade only 15 degrees colder and Mike's fish finally connected! It went 18" and was all pig fat.

Going to try again tommorrow as the temps will be warmer then dropping as a cold front comes in towards dusk. Should be windy. I'd bet the bass will have feedbag strapped on.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Couple of Late Fall Smallmouth Bass Stream Reports Here and There

Last Saturday, Mike got freed up from weekend work at the last second and we scouted several new micro creeks. The first one looked pretty dried up, so we moved on to the second which looked great for one, not big enough for two to fish. We hit the third and it looked fantastic, but small. The creek was filled with nice bedrock with clefts in it we waded downsttream a bit in the crystal clear water and spotted fish piled up in a deeper hole. A dozen smallies 8-14" swam out. We also spotted a nice school of 4-5" shad.

Wading downstream we crunched rock and spooked everything. Fish were stacked more in the slower deeper pools. Finally, we ended up in the Tippecanoe River and on the second or third cast I caught a 17.25" Smallie on a buzzanator. Surprised me from out behind a rock. For a second, we thought about fishing the Tippey because the water had less clarity and the current was blasting. It would help concentrate bass in predictable spots. Decided not to because we really needed kayaks to fish effectively.

The perspective is really off on that pic, I look huge and the 17.25" SMB looks like a 15"er. Dissapointing pic. Oh well, just a decent fish anyway.

Waded back up the micro flow. It looked really great but turned out to be again too small for two. We got kicked out by land owner that suggested it would be ok if we asked. We were ready to fish something inbetween and knew right where to go. Finally arrived at our destination some time after 2pm. Just above the bridge I spotted hundreds of fish in a deep pool in the ultra clear water. I spooked a 20"+ smb and saw a pod of 15-18" smallies swimming by. No bites. The habitat was incredible pool after riffle pool. We were bugged by coon dogs barking and scurried past several very fishy spots. Mike and I got on some dinks with mini sammies, then switched to Rapala Surface Walk and Super Spook JR. Both had nice ceramic knocking noise that drew strikes. Mostly from dinks, but as the day burned towards twighlight bigger fish started to appear. I had a large fish blow up, then later caught a 16" on the spook after I let it sit. Mike and I found a big wintering hole, and I missed two good fish aggressively popping and dropping a tube bait along a deep rock ledge. We ended up with about 20 fish between us for the day after about 5-6 hours of fishing.

Got out for an afternoon wade on Wednesday. Water was crystal clear as most of the algae has died off. Right off the bat I had dinks swatting at Surface Walk. Hard to believe with the water feeling ice cold. Huge schools of fish were piled up in the deeper holes as it seems they are transitioning to winter mode. Saw smallmouth here and there. Got one about 14" on a long cast with a fluke- ended up being my only bite on this lure.

When I got to another large pool, the wood on the right had leaves collecting at the front. I tested out my new favorite toy, a Rick Clunn Lucky Craft Jointed Wake crank in shad pattern. Dragging it under the leaves at speed, it got mashed and missed. The second cast got mashed again by a 14" fish that was followed back to me by another a similair size. The fish watched me unhook his friend, drop the lure back in the water, then made a play for the bait until he realized I was alive and sped off :D . I wasted the next ten casts or so in there as some of the leaves were partially submerged and I could not get the bait under them. Finally I got one under and two large fish 16-18" followed it out of the scruffy limbed laydowns. There wasn't more than 18" of water over there. A few casts later a huge bass tried to nip in the feather of the bait, saw me then sped off upstream.
The leaves were too plentiful too accurately run the lure, but when it was free, it got chased and hit by several Smallies. I hit 5 more on the lure up a creek branch. It seemed like the smaller fish were keying in on that wagging, wobbling feather. I'd pick up a fish here and there. Once again the after 5pm bite was key. I hit a bend in shade with a popped and dropped tube and picked up a 16.5 and a dink. I started picking fish off wood dragging the wakecrank over like a buzzbait they seemed to key on the wake and wobble. Saw bass streaking all over the place to hit it, a 15, 15, 14, 12, 16 in short period of time.

The 16" hooked the number 5 treble right through my left thumb, in the meat, burried to the bend. Fish still hooked on the other treble. Ouch. Wasted about a half hour of prime bite figuring out what to do after the fish was off and released. Finally poked it through the front of my thumb and cut off the hook below the barb, backed it out. Put a new treble on and started catching fish again. 12, 13, 15 on the way back.

Ended up with 28 Smallmouth total, lots in the 12-16" range.Very surprised by how aggressive they were!


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Big Fish or more knowledge?

Been struggling a little bit with a question. What's more important, catching more 20"+ Smallmouth or increasing my overall Indiana Stream knowledge?

This bizare year of stream fishing for Smallmouth Bass has led me to seek out new areas to fish. Because of plentiful rain in the spring and early summer, Mike and I often drove far and wide in search of clearer water so Mike could catch his 'topwater fish'. In the process, the 'what's down there syndrom awoke and I set this goal for 30 Indiana streams this year. I only counted streams where we caught a Smallmouth bass.

I know a couple or three stretches where 20" fish are plentiful enough that if I just pounded them every time out, by the end of the year, I could get 10-20 or even more.

Though I want to catch massive smallies, exploring a new stretch, and pitting my observation skills to the test are very, very enjoyable. So while I still would like to catch plenty of 20"'s. I'll take my chances and hope to come across them in microflows and dinky streams across Indiana.

People, I've discovered some amazing new places to fish for smallmouth bass. No, I won't tell you.

BTW, #30 fell today. We scouted 3 new micro flows. Two had limited water, the third was great, but our downstream wade upset the SMB quite a bit in the clear water. Finally, the creek bottomed out into the Tippecanoe river where my second cast with a buzzbait yielded a 17.25" Smallmouth Bass. 30, but not the stream I intended. Unfortunately we did not bring our kayaks and they are needed to fish the fast, sometimes deep Tippecanoe River. We got booted off the creek by a land owner.

We hit another large nearby creek and found one of the fishiest looking riffle-pool, riffle-pool, etc creeks ever. Fishing was slow, everything came topwater, but mostly it was only dinks playing I ended up with 11 and Mike 8. Did nab the lone 16"er on a Super Spook JR.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2-0 NLCS

When the Cubs got knocked out, I was fairly certain it would be relatively smooth sailing through the Brewers and Dodgers. Phils are up 2-0 in the NLCS. Appear to be clearly the better team. They'll win 1 or 2 in LA. Can the Sports Media get off manny Rameriez already? The Phillies won 8 more games than the Dodgers are actually the hotter team and dominated against NL teams.

I do worry how they will perform against AL teams who they played in their worst stretch of the season. Cross that bridge if you get there.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More of the McSame with Little Sammy 65

I did an after work wade on a far western stream. The mood hit me to return to a part of this stretch where I had a 60+ fish day last year. The water was extremely low, just a trickle. I could also see the immense damage done by the floods since last year. Many areas that held fish in the past were much shallower. Where did all those fish go. Smallies like to play tricks, but there was literally no place to hide.

It seems like the 12-15" fish really suffered from the flooding as I feel like I'm catching far, far less of them this year. Dinks and Pigs. Sadly. Today was more of the McSame. As the water warmed up most of my topwater tricks were a no-show. Tubes- nary a sniff. I put on Lil' Sammy 65 and started with a couple dinks and then a 12-13"er with a fat belly that exploded out from some roots in the shade to hit the bait. Again casting from well back on the gravel bank. Tried my best to stay low, in the shade and not spook the fish. Bright sunlight and clear water made it hard. Bass didn't want anything else. Seemed like Sammy 65 worked because of it's light splash and simlair size to the majority of instream minnows. Another 12"er under the bridge. A 12" hit the bait on impact. Some dinks.

Sun got directly overhead and bite died off. A few times I checked pools that used to be full of fish and found them shallow and empty with no apparent place to hide. After 5pm I hit a double layer of beaver dams and that explained the low water. Finally there was some depth.

This creek is famous for the mini ecosystems enclosed within dug out laydowns. The lare amount of silt in some areas fill in the inbetweens. But when the water is high the creek has good gradient so the rootwads have quite the washouts under them. Often a dropoff of 3' or more. There are almost always a few large bass under the logs and roots. Usually it's tubes and buzzbaits to get them out. Plastic bite has died for me with the lack of current. It's selecting the right noise that gets the strikes lately.

The Creek also has areas that lie within rocky clefts, bedrock bottoms with shale rock and plenty of places for SMB to hide. In it's southern stretches there is rarely any buffer strips as the land is farmed right up to the creek. Then there are areas where idiot rednecks drive their trucks in the creek bed.

Yet it survives- flourishes even. You just halve to walk- a lot.

So I walk up on one of these laydowns midstream. It has bovious depth around the roots as usual. At a bad angle for topwater so I quick snap on a tube and throw far ahead so I can drag it in. Mr.Tube succeeds in drawing a couple 18-20" Smallmouth into my sightline. They don't bite. They don't bite a senko. They don't bite a crank. Probably because of my profile and the kerplunks. I know now the bigger fish are on the table. I need to approach carefully and think about what I'm doing before I do it from here on out.

The creek snakes with a large log jam covering the inside bend one half the width the creek and piled high on the bank. The outside bend has a couple laydowns. In between deep water with big boulders. I don't approach. From the angle of the sun, I surmise a fish may be on the inside bend in the shade and cover of that logpile. I go up the bank and climb over the logpiles (some task). Spot empty clear riffle water and climb down, using the blocked Line of Sight from the log jam, I toss Lil' Sammy high over the logs downstream in close to the wood, completely covered in shade. Shake-a, Shake-a, Shake-a-Shake-a-----BOOOSH!!!!! BIG$%@%@%^ #!!! *Look out for the logs* *Rod tip up* *There he goes* UHHH! GET SOME! Lip. Measure. 18.5" No camera. Left at home. What kind of fricken fishing blog is this? Biggest fish yet on midget Sammy. Hmmm. More food for thought.

More extremely damaged banks and I hit a riffle push area where I land a fiesty 15"er on Lil'S. A couple more solid strikes miss, then a large deeper pool with lots of rough fish and dink that ignore my Russian roulette O' topwaters.

Finally I arrive at the next bridge. I fish the backwards 'S' above it and at the top of the backwards S there is a great little run with bubbly water and a big boulder. Let the 65mm Smallie magnet. Plooh. It hits the water soft. Shake-A, Shake-A, HUUUP! Durn another one! *Biggish* *Keep him off the boulder* * OMG he'll rub it out* ^%#$&^ *Drag over boulder* Oooh, it is a good one! GET SOME! Lip. Measure. 17.5" No camera. Lil' Sammy?!?!?!?

Dink here, dink there. Much improved habitat. High shale walls climb 60' or more above. Bedrock below my feet- so loud, fish flee, must get to next good pool...

Land a 14"er who steals it from a 16"+er.

Dink on SPT 90.

Big pool. Big Pool empty. Getting Late. Buzzbait gets slammed- MISS!

Another typical rootwad. Good fish slams Lil' Sammy after streaking from 10' away. Dives for front of rootwad- *get him out of there* UGGHHH. Lost. 16-17"er from what I could tell. Walk up and look in the rootwad. Some of the deepest water seen today. Well over 3'. Clearly can see plenty of room underneath the tree between the roots for fish to lay.

Finally get out of the bedrock and onto some shale. I hit a pool on a bend that gets deep. Probably 4-5' in the rainier months. I really have to turn back. I put on a Wolkabuzz for the power walk back. My cross court cast provokes a streaking miss that sounded like this FFFFFWWWWUUUP!!. I thow on a popper to let him know he wounded it. He doesn't care. On goes the Wolkabuzz again. I throw a couple slightly upstream. A large fish streaks in chasing it like mad as I burn it back. In danger of running shallow, I pause to get him to commit then burn even faster. The sow closes the gap and seals the deal. It sounded something like this: SSSHHHFUUP!!! ZZZZ....ZZZZZ....ZZZZ Ughh. Man! Gotcha! Lip. Measure. 18.5" No camera.

Later now. Must go. I walked a couple miles and it is like 6:15. Shortcut through bean field. People in White Jetta give me a ride back to my car. THANKS!!!

18 SMB (2 18.5, 17.5", 15")

Monday, October 6, 2008

Indiana Wade and River Survey

I volunteered to lead an expedition of river survey volunteers this Sunday with an objective of spotting and documenting flood damage from June of this year.

We split up into two groups and headed out for a long wades of 4.8 miles and 3.8 miles respectively. Since I was going with the fly fisherman, we took the shortest of the two. We were looking for heinous logjams, farmfields made unplantable by sand, etc...

The stream was a silty mess, though famous for Smallmouth Bass that grow large. Too many high eroded topsoil banks with farms right up to the creek had taken its toll. Even though the creek was in awful shape, the vegetation that had grown in had made it hard to identify and new damage. We did more fishing than GPSing.

Right off the bat I caught a walleye on a tube. This was my first here and quite a surprise. It took a while for the bass to turn on. The water was very cold, and the habitat very wide and shallow. A total shame. Eventually it warmed up and I caught assorted Spots in the 10-11" range, with an occasional 12" smallmouth and finally a 16"er on baby Sammy. My wade partner was fishing much slower. Not having much success with the flyrod. He didn't have polarized glasses and suffered for it fishing spent pools too long. Good dude, and will make a good smallmouth fisherman.

Predictably, at 530-6pm larger fish got active as the habitat we walked up on got a huge improvement for the better. I hit another 16" on the LC splashtail along with a few others. Had another large fish go airborne for the bait, completely wiffing. At the top of the pool I caught my one and only bass on a tube, a nice 14" fish.

I tossed the Splashtail 90 along a laydown. The stop and go retrieve that had been vital all day worked again. This time it was a very large fish that was hooked up, it jumped, dived, ran and was gone. Didn't feel so good. Don't know what I did wrong. The hooks were still good.

It was nearly dark, so I started my power walk to the bridge where our take out awaited. I live for the "Power March". Until you witness it, you have no idea how effective it can be. Basically, you find the topwater that's working and never stop casting and never stop power walking. Sense of urgency about both making lots of casts, deadly accurate casts, and covering lots of water. You can get away with this because the sun has gone down and the fish are more hungry than they are spooky. The noise the lure makes certainly helps! Sometimes it's a jerk-jerk-retrieve, others burned in works, painfully slow almost noiseless bubbling can be the ticket-you have the previous few hours of observing what worked on the dinks to learn the cadence when the big fish come out from under their cover.

Bubbly water areas are sexy, one such toss got bit pretty quick, resulting in this fish. Delightful. Measured near 19":

Knowing when to switch gears and put it in overdrive, is a huge thing for both catching more fish and bigger ones. Especially in summer. Smallies become quickly spooked with clearer water, hitting more pools stealthily will catch more fish. Many anglers stand right at the creek's edge in full site- I see your foot prints!. By then they've run the risk of spooking the pool. They might get one or two casts before they are wasting time and effort. The only reason I can think for this is they don't like dragging the lure over rocks. I don't dare crunch those rocks so close to the water until I've fished the pool well. I'll cast from 25-30' back on sand bars, keeping my noise further away. remember, it's not just smallmouth down there you have to worry about spooking. Stealth+long casts+Cover lots of ground=success.

25 Bass (19, 2 16) 1 walleye and a sunfish with 8 in the last hour.