Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2009 Indiana Fishing Licenses

As of April 1st, your 2008 Indiana license is no longer usefull. Only 17$ for all this fun??? Highway robbery! Buy your 2009 Indiana Fishing License Online here:

2009 Indiana Fishing Licenses

I suggest printing out several, one for your boat, your glove box, your wife's glove box, each of your fishing buddie's glove boxes, and ziplock bag the one you carry.

Now, while you're at it, why not join the Indiana Smallmouth Alliance's efforts to help educate, protect, and preserve Indiana's Smallmouth fisheries?

With all the recent flood damage, your efforts are appreciated. INSA is closing in on the 100 member mark for the first time.

You can join the Indiana Smallmouth Alliance (via Paypal or snail mail) here:


Monday, March 30, 2009

Couple of reports 3/27 3/28

Got out for a wade with Jim on Friday. We ended up hitting a trib and the main river. The trib has a huge pool he likes to call 'ultra hole'. The fishing was good right off the bat. I nailed 6 SMB on jerks and crankbaits in no time. Lost a good one at the ledge at the front of the pool. Missed a few more. I began to suspect dull hooks. I lost about a half dozen good fish that day. Jim was Goog smuggling. Waded downstream and hit a few more we both got one about 16"+ and I lost another that size all on tubes. Spooked a pod of 16-20" smallmouth on the other side of Ultra Hole. Was pretty upset with myself.

We left and headed to the main river. Picked up a fish here or there right in the current of a fast riffle. Winter holes were empty.

BT 11 (16.25") 3 Rockbass
JF 9 (16.25") 8 Rockbass

On Saturday, Mike called wanting to fish. We set out to hit more riffles. I took too much time wading down to winter holes and we were beat to the first riffle by a whole family. Guy said they got 10 on a tiny crankbait. I had three at this point. We went to a second riffle and I hit the above 17.25" on a Crank. We walked on and on. Picking up fish in current, almost nothing in between. It rained but we were prepared.

BT 8 (17.25,16.5)
MC 3

6-7 hours each day.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quick Hotspot part II

Hit another quick local hotspot, took 45 minutes to walk to. I got two fish in about an hour on RC 2.25" orange/black crank. The above was 19". Strange, I don't know if they were actually back on the cranks. The first fish, a 13"er, hit when I left the bait sit on splashdown, just as I started to slowly crank it down.

The big boy hit when I had a tremendous bow in my line from wind. Never felt it hit the bait. Did it hit the crank on the rise?

20th Smallie 18" or more so far this year. 37 17" or more.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

3/24/09 Quest for River Bass

6 SMB (18",15")1 16" walleye-surprise!

Spotty fluke bite, spotty crankbait bite, spinnerbait in spill water got the big bass. No sniff on tubes. Walked way too far on two different streams. First visits this year. Good night.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A New Sport? River Jumping Tourney

No, it's not jumping naked into rivers from overpasses. Contemplating how to make a sport out of catching smallies but keeping the conservation end of things kosher.

I'm thinking something like tiathalon type event. Like the Amazing Race plus smallmouth fishing.

Start at a certain time with the objective of catching (and releasing) at least one 12" Smallmouth Bass out of as many running bodies of water as possible in a given time frame (8 hours).

I like this idea, as it challenges the mapping skills, sense of direction, and encourages anglers to leave their comfort zones. I imagine to score upwards of 10 points, one might have to be in pretty good shape!

1 point per river/creek, 2 points for largest average size bass. Fish would need to be photographed with time stamped shot clearly indicating length.

Just to return your mind to something pleasant after that horrible first image...

What do you think?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pretty, Pretty...

Mike and I recently did a float. The air temp was around 55f. We hit a new stretch of river. It was beautiful. High cliffs, bends, riffles, chunk rock the entire length, gradient, and deep holes.

When I say deep holes, there is no telling how deep. Guessed one at 14-15'. I am out of my depth fishing a river that deep and that sexy this early in the year. My crankbait pattern disappeared for me- or floated harmlessly over their heads.

Mike picked up a couple on a crank as we admired the scenery. The river seemed empty. At one point, I saw a large smallmouth bass about 3-4' down behind a boulder. Right after I floated over him.

We got into a lot of flat bedrock areas where the gradient was pumping and it turned a frustrating day of fishing into a good time. We finally entered a very large pool and knew enough to get out of the boats first. There was a drop off ledge where current trickled through on one half and blasted through on our half. It opened up into a pool 50 yards wide and 75 yards long. Mike threw a jerkbait into the slower current and got bit three times, with a couple of 14"ers, then this fat 18".

I threw on a pointer 100, lost a fish 16" right at my feet in current, on the next cast, this 17.25" came to hand:

BAM! BAM! BAM! Then it was over. The highlight of the trip.

This stretch had it all. Early to fish it with our limited knowledge. It was very hard to fish slow with the gradient there. We didn't know when a deep spot was coming up, you'd get one or two casts and then drift by. Anchors rarely held.

We agreed it looked like smallmouth should be everywhere. They weren't. We'll hit it again late summer when the fish are hitting buzzbait to get a better idea where they locate.

This is part of my approach in fishing a new stretch; hit it when water is low and somewhat clear. Polarized glasses give you an idea what lay below. Identify the likely hot spots- hit them on foot when they can be picked apart better. On this float there was always the threat we wouldn't get off the 7.3 mile float in time. Also, we didn't combine the time of year where fish are more active and spread out. In that deep, unfamiliar water, it would be easy to miss spots.

It was Mike's day

MC SMB 6 (18") 1 Rockbass, 1 Chub
BT SMB 1 (17.25") 1 Rockbass

Quick Hotspot. 3/22/09

Waiting for my wife to arrive at airport, so I hit a quick local flow Sunday.

Got one on tube about 12" right below a riffle with some slower deep water offset. I fished it in sandals from across the stream. Wore the tube out without another bite. Switched to a weighted 5" fluke. First cast nabbed a 14" LMB, then the second was a 17" Smallmouth bass:

They tired of swinging on the fluke so I tried the LC Pointer 100 in Misty Shad. After about 10 casts, I stopped the bait in the right spot, it got slammed again. After a sweet fight in current, a nice 18" fish.

Yes, that's the dog behind me.

Sitting in creek:

Not bad for a quick hour of fishing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Indiana Smallmouth Alliance Booth at Gander Mountain Greenwood March 21st 10-2pm

The Indiana Smallmouth Alliance will have a booth in the Gander Mountain store in Greenwood from 10-2pm on March 21st, as well as a special smallmouth conservation and fishing clinic from 12-2. Stop by and see the guys!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Streak buster 3/19/09 float

I did a solitary float. Hit some big water that produces large fish, but not numbers per say.

I got fish on (crank-1-17", white spinnerbait-3-15.75", tube 4-15"). I was fishing a current seam below a riffle with a tube when my line suddenly charged towards me. I set the hook and the fish was quickly in the fast current. The bass rocketed 2' in the air. My tube fell seperately. Looked around 17". "Get that weak shit out." I got the message. "We'll get you BT. One of these days, we'll spit a tube right back off your forehead, or splash you soaking in the face."

Two consecutive trips of 20"+ smallies and my streak ended. I knew this stretch usually sucks or produces hogs. I'll take 8 fish, with one superhero jumping off the moon to get free.

8SMB (17,15.75, 15)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Notes about when to float a smallmouth bass stream in the Spring

Taking in to consideration the goal is catching nice fish and numbers. I am beginning to have a very definite idea when to float Indiana rivers versus when to wade streams for smallmouth bass. This article assumes...
1) Want to catch as many fish as possible
2) Keep chances high for bigger bass.
3) You are hardcore.
4) Springtime

When to kayak or canoe a stream.
1) Water is up. Up, not raged. Know your limits and be safe.
2) Water is green or murkier- not clear
3) Low light
4) Windy- Wind can suck to paddle in, but waves make you harder for Mr.Bass to spot.
5) You have first hand knowledge that the bass don't care.
6) Scouting mission- long float of new water.
7) Big water
8) Non-navigable stream with jerk landowners- the only way to fish without looking over your shoulder.
9) Target is inaccessible to foot.

Clear, low water with sunny skies is the absolute worst for fishing out of a kayak. The fish will be spooky. Every scrape of your hull will send them fleeing away. This can be trouble on a lot of small streams, you are better off wading.
Day CAN be salvaged by hunting deep water where bottom cannot easily be seen. The sun goes down a bit can also turn your day on in a hurry. try and time your float so you hit the best pools when the sun is not directly on the water.

Clear water is OK, possibly great with overcast skies. The fish can see your lure very well but not see you as well. They are a little less paranoid and venture further from cover. Bass seem to have more confidence in lower light.

A couple safe bets. Get out of your kayak before you get to the push water above a riffle. Dragging a canoe or kayak will often spook the hole below. I know it sucks to get up off your duff. You did get out to actually catch fish? Consider every riffle you float through is missed fish.

When to wade
1) Target hole is close to parking spot.
2) Abundance of steep or eroded banks to fish next to current. Fish from up high. This is a passerby in a kayak and a shame.
3) Low clear sunny days- head for the wood piles and boulder gardens. Sight fish with a tube or other finesse. Climb up on stuff with your felt studded boots like Spiderman. Wear polarized sun glasses.
4) Low water
5)High water- actually bank stomping is in order here. Be very careful and know your stream if you have to wade to cross. Often riffles are the best spots.
6)Lots of good consecutive holes.
7) On smaller streams the only advantage of a kayak is covering ground. Larger streams and river have plenty of wiggle room. You can paddle around likely bass holding spots easier.

Spring can see a lot of empty water the earlier you venture out. Don't be afraid to skip shallow sections. Try and fish around theoretical and known wintering holes. If you are smart about which you choose, you can see your fishing results improve nicely.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

3/17/09 More Spring Smallmouth Pigs, Float, + Topwater Begins

We did a 6.5 mile float today. Mike talked me into this stream. We hit it for the first time this year. I decided a float would be in order with so much empty water.

Highlights were: Wonderful sunny days were not good for fishing with really clear water. Find deeper water, fish bit. Exactly the problem, there was so little of it on this float. I kept up my luck with RC LC 1.5 2.25" crankbait, occasionally stopping to pitch some tube time.

This 19" fish blasted my copper perch crank at 12:30. Half hour into the float. That was it for another mile...

I got a three more in a large deeper pool. Fish were in shade or deep. Mike got on the board.

We floated a long way, nothing happening. Mike hooked up with a dink who hit his crank on the surface. He switched to a popper. I thought he was crazy...

About 6pm, we finally made our way down a steep riffle to a pretty excellent pool. I made a downstream cast and got bit landed a 16.25" smallie. I told Mike to drop anchors- "We found them!" Mike ended in the penalty box for a moment. I made a more adventurous cast down and across stream. It pretty quickly got thunked hard. The battle was on as a very large bass went 'airborne' several times. Well, fatty tried too. It was tough pulling the fish upstream in current, I finally did land the 21 1/4" Smallmouth bass at the side of my kayak. Mike was not happy I had stumbled upon a bite in the middle of his wind knot.

21.25"! You can see Mike's feet or kayak in the two pics.Fish were caught over my left shoulder.

I kindly waited for Mike to untie. His next cast with the G-Splash got nailed. Mike brought the bass to hand. We traded fish for at about 3 apiece from dink to 16"+. His popper was getting destroyed as fish hit atop the cold, heavy water. My bait got slammed one more time, I couldn't budge the fish, worse my kayak started being pulled downstream into the hot hole. I couldn't move the fish, it stayed deep. Finally hefted it up. A channel catfish in the neighborhood of 2'. It had lots of nasty wounds. I set it loose without handling it. The hole was spooked out, with 2 hours until dark we decided to hit another area instead of wait the bass out.

The rest of the float we saw how much damage had been inflicted by floods, it was horrendous, pools were filled in, trees were in the creek everywhere. More trees were ready to fall in.

Mike managed to catch 4 good smallmouth bass on that popper on March 17th. Wow. Admittedly, they were super active in that spot

BT 10 SMB (21 1/4", 19", 16 1/4", 3-14") 24"Channel Catfish.
MC 6 SMB (16"+, 14.5)

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Story of split personalities of a River 3/16/09-

One of my favorite places to fish in Indiana is a smaller rocky river with abundant life. I have fished a 15-20 mile section of it for 4 years now. Maybe 10 times a year. I'm getting to know it pretty well. When to hit it, when to stay home. It produces both numbers and a good amount of mid size smallmouth bass 15-18". My largest there until today had been a solitary 19"er caught in the siltier stretches where there don't seem to be as many fish. You know the type ample wood cover, eroding banks, trees in the water everywhere, some pretty straight deep pools. Except one thing, still plenty of gradient, and thus ample rocky bottom.

Today I waded a totally new stretch of this stream. The water was clear, but due to the cloud cover, I could see down 2' without much detail. Air temp rose into the high 50's. This river has been spared much rain this spring, so stability is the word. I got away from the smaller bedrock pools and up into a windy section with large deeper pools and lots of bends. Always a good thing to find lots of bends on a stream when fishing for smallmouth bass.

It took a while to get warmed up, but I stuck mostly to throwing the Rick Clunn Lucky craft 1.5 2.25" crankbait. Caught a couple dinks then three more around 13-14" off a point caused by an irrigation ditch. I walked a long way looking for the kind of water I knew would hold fish. Not many riffles. I tossed the crank over into some push water above a riffle and it got slammed hard by a large smallmouth bass. It was thick. By weight easily the heaviest fish I'd caught here. The fish had nearly swallowed the crankbait. I measured it a hair shy of 19". Very healthy

Worked a clay underwater shelf of a eroded bank with the crank as it ran parallel standing above on the bank. A flash and a 15" Smallie came to hand. By now, I had waded stomped a 2-3 miles. It was 4pm. Gets dark at 8 now. Hehehehe.

Picked up a few more on current seams and push water. I was pitching the crank to an inside bend from on top the outside bend's high bank. Had to hold my rod by the end to get the bait to dive. As I did this, my rod nearly jolted from my hand! Another bruiser! Kept it out of the wood and hefted it up the 4' bank like Icconelli:(. 18 1/4".

I love fishing high banks in the spring. No foliage to interfere, I can get a great vantage with my polarized glasses. Pitching down a tube, chatterbait, or crankbait has help me catch some nice smallmouth bass in this way. During Spring, I can almost pitch from anywhere on a river or creek. Just have to be willing to get scraped, cut, and occasionaly fall. A long rod is important to get a crank diving deepest with rod tip down due to casters height above the water, and casting under limbs below helps a ton.

Another bend. Some rip rap had been made into a peninsula which juts 15' from the right hand bank above a riffle. The fastest current hit the edge of the point. Dust had gathered on the nearly still eddy waters. Overhead branches lay obstructing my cast angle. Managed to feather one in there nicely,then crank it down, wobble it slow, stop it once in a while, speed up. Along the seam- thunk! Splash! Crash! Tail walking time!

By this time, I was impressed. I called Mike to let the obvious honey hole warm again. Unfortunately, the signal was bad. Fortunately, the hole warmed.

The fish tried to jump and looked like a 15"er as it did. When I got ready to land the smallmouth bass, I couldn't believe the grotesque that lay before me. The 15"er was just the tail of the fish! Maybe the heaviest river smallmouth bass I've seen in person. It measured 20.5", my first out of the river. Starting a new theory on the other sections I fish. This part of the river felt like it had the less bass density- maybe helping them grow faster?

In this last picture, you can see the rip rap point behind me. It is 3 miles in the middle of nowhere. Good luck finding it. Wintering spot, food trough, and spawning ground, 20 yards from a riffle.

14 SMB (20 1/2", 18 3/4", 18 1/4", 17", 15") in 6.5-7 hours. Not fishing much in between.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More river smallmouth bass on Crankbaits 3/10/09

Today we were forcasted to get 1-2" of rain. I grabbed a rod and headed for the river, hoping to get a couple hours in before the rains came maybe see if they would bite in the rain. The rain never happened. I ended up wading close to 3 miles of river.

Started finding dinks in push water on a RCLC crankbait. Red, green, and blue colored Crawdads were everywhere in the rocks. Frogs jumped all over and turtles plunged off logs.

After working most of the hole over, I threw on a chartreuse rebel craw and it got thumped by of all things a 19 1/4" green fish.

I found fish closer in the current in bedrock areas behind boulders and under rocks. Some fell to cranks and a couple bit a tube.
This fish was right in the riffle feeding hanging on a bedrock ledge.

The weather was warm and I was overdressed. Fish had moved up into more aggressive feeding positions. Starting to move out of winter areas. I didn't get 6 at a time like last Friday. Smallmouth were more spread out.

This nice 17.5" smallie fell to 0-4' diver on a current seem. I had just missed another large fish a few minutes before.

6 hour wade

21 SMB (17.5, 17, 4 15") 1 LMB (19.25") 1 Rock Bass

Friday, March 6, 2009

Smallmouth season has begun! 3/6/09 float

Zack and I got out for a float with our kayaks somewhere in Indiana: We discovered the Crankbait bite- mine was bigger. Slow, steady retrieve worked best in deep slow water areas near current.

5.5 hour float. Paused at one big pool to use float and fly and nabbed 2 smallies and 2 rock bass. The rest were on Rick Clunn 1.5 Lucky Craft Crankbaits, a fat wide wobbling 2" crank. Chartreuse and copper perch worked for me.

BT 27 smallmouth bass (4 17", 5 15-15.75") 4 Rock Bass
ZP 15 smallmouth bass (17")

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Illinois Smallmouth Alliance Bronzeback Blowout

Going to be at the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance Bronzeback Blowout this Saturday starting around 3. If you are a smallmouth fisherman, this is a great event. Wildlife artist Al Agnew featured speaker.

See you all there!

Smallmouth Bass Transition Period 3/5/09

Today felt like maybe we turned the corner towards Spring. With the last month of great fishing, with lots of good fish, I don't know if I want Spring's rains to come.

Temps closing in on 60f and 20mph winds. I started out on float and fly. This thin, shallow water fish measured 19.25". Fell to a black, green, and yellow fly I picked right from under a boulder I knew usually held winter fish.

Hit a few more spots with one producing 8 smallies from dink to 15". On the walk back I threw a chartreuse rebel craw on and cranked it through an eddie I knew held fish but wouldn't hit the fly jig. 3 bass on 4 casts! Swapped out for a Bandit 300 and got a couple more 15" fish before heading home. Cranks were brought in slowly and bounced off stuff, triggering strikes.

Ended up with 15 smallmouth bass in 4.5 hours. The last 5 came on crankbaits near or in wintering holes. (19.25, 3 15")

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More kayak rust removed. 3/3 and 3/4

Tuesday, I got out to hit a large, deep pool at a covered bridge, where it was rumoured a 6 lbs smallie was once the Indiana State record. needed the kayak to fish. After 29 fish the day before, the cold finally was freezing eddies up. The day ended with zero bites and a total skunk. First this winter. Got plenty of exercise in the kayak though.

Today I floated down on another creek and disassembled a large wintering pool. Got this 16.25" smallmouth bass on black,green and yellow fly jig down about 3.5' in the first 15 minutes. Again, one third of the eddie was slushed. It took another hour at least before I located the next fish and then 4 more fell in quick succession before I made my way paddling back up to the car.

Solla Solla Enna Perumai

Thanks again internet:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Kayak out of drydock- smallmouth bass nuts for fly jigs 3-2-09

I have been obsessing about one particular pool on my favorite small river. The pool has a riffle upstream and one side is rock cliff with a residence up top. Now the stream is navigable. However, sometimes I just get the feeling I'm in someones backyard. Last thing I want to do is surprise someone on foot. Being in the boat makes me feel better about this. Plus, the pool is really hard to fish without a boat.

I have never hit this pool in the winter until today. Sunny, 24F with 10-15 mph winds. I could see down 3-4' but could not make out much detail.

I decided to kayak down to the hole and maybe a couple below. The flow was just right to be an easy, safe float. Still brought a change of clothes and heat packs in a dry bag just in case. I would drag/wade back up to the car.

Fly bite was off when I arrived at 12:30. Managed a smallmouth bass dragging the black tube. Left and floated down to the target pool. The pool is 75 yards long by 30-35 yards wide. Riffles above and below. Bedrock bottom and gets down 4-5' deep in spots with plenty of large, round river rock. Current generally flows by the cliff face side. I tried this side first as there were eddies caused by sycamores. Nothing there. Took the opportunity to eye up the bottom along there.

Drifted over to the larger eddied side caused by the rock at the head of the pool pushing the flow up against the cliffs on the left. In the middle of the drift I lobbed a long cast to some slack and the float dunked. Fish. To say they were on, would be an understatement. In the next 2 hours, I caught 21 smallmouth bass and 3 rock bass drifting the fly 3-4' down through slow current. My camera battery crapped out so I didn't photo the nicest fish. The largest was 18.5" with 5 more 16.5-17.5". Bass zigged and zagged everywhere, floats dunked again and again.

It was really cold. I finally gave up and had to leave. The bass had splashed water on my fleece gloves so my hands were cold. My rod guides had been freezing up. Ice was forming on my line. Wind was right in my face the whole time. My anchor line froze to the cam cleat when deployed for a long period of time. The anchor wouldn't stick to the cam cleat once ice formed in the ridges. Smallies made up for all the hassles.

On the drag back, I hit the first spot, catching 2 more smallmouth bass on the fly jig. Then 2 more in the hole above the bridge.

In 4.5 hours, I landed 26 smallmouth bass (18.5, 2 17-17.5", 3 16.5"-16.99", about a dozen from 14-15") 3 rock bass.

Must have looked silly to people with a orange kayak on top my car in 24F temps.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Float and Fly jigs

Here's some 1/16th oz float and fly jigs I tied up over the weekend:

Still looking for a good medium gray craft hair rather than Punisher's weak offering. Hooks are mustad size 2 nickle finish and gold finish.

Sleep Walking dog

Thanks internets: