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.

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