Monday, April 13, 2009

High water? No problem. 4/12/09 2 stream wade

Here's a confluence of the mighty Wabash river and a smaller tributary:

Literally, no visibility in the Wabash. After 3" of rain in the last 7 days, most of the state was blown out mud water.

I looked for streams with small drainage areas in square miles, high gradients, and plenty of elevation. Guessing the water would be clear enough to fish. The first creek is seen above. Visibility was close to 3'! Day was sunny. The stream was full of rock and boulder. Once we got away from the Wabash, there wasn't any silt. Even runoff into the creek came filtered through a swamp! There was very little in the way of slow current anywhere on the stream. We picked up a fish here and there, almost entirely on crankbaits. One per hole. All were 12-16.5" and chunky. The smallies fought like devils in the current. I promise to get pics as I'll be heading back Tuesday.

We fished 3 hours and headed out to a new small favorite from last year that produced multiple 19" smallmouth bass. Mike wanted to get back there.

The fish in this stream didn't want anything to do with crankbaits. We finally hit a large pool and slammed crazed smallies left and right around 8pm on 5" flukes. These fish also fought like mad in the strong current.

Neither Mike nor I had any idea those streams would be in that great of shape. It makes sense. No man made drains sending all the water off parking lots into the creeks. No farm tiles up against the streams. Too much elevation and therefore wooded buffer strips to protect against erosion. Clear water. Good fishing. Imagine how good the fishing could be if our rivers and creeks didn't ever muddy up!

We only fished about 5.25 hours in total. Lots of driving and walking between bass holding spots. I've now found a couple places to go catch smallmouth when all the gauged streams are blown out. Truly a light bulb moment.

Stream 2 never got 3' deep. The fish adapt. These large rocks you see are cover and hiding places. I nailed a bunch of good ones by drifting a 5" fluke under them in the current.

BT 18 (16.5, 5- 15" 5-14")
MC 7


  1. BT - this is one of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog. A LOT of people are way too worried about letting everyone else know what great fishing gear they can afford and get too worried about that. You, on the other hand talk more about HOW to fish - seems to be a lost point in many conversations today.

    Can't tell you how many fly fishing sites and blogs I read that talk all about the writer's great new Sage (or other premium brand) flyrod and how they tied a bunch of flies using only the finest materials - but very few talk about "reading the water" which I would argue is a heck of a lot more important.
    Thanks for another great post. JD

  2. JD, thanks for the compliment. If people enjoy the blog, it helps me focus on answering the question: Where do they go? Rather than fishing just to fish.

    Hopefully, I can show people what an awesome time they can have out there in their own state. Maybe they'll get involved and be active in fishermen's issues.

    Diminishing returns on the gear. I want to catch fish, then lots of fish, then big fish, then lots of big fish.

    Will this premium brand thingy make the key difference or just give some creature comfort that makes zero difference? Will wearing said thingy prevent me from wanting to get it dirty/tear it while getting in close for the big pigs?

  3. Your analysis of the situation is dead on. It's scary to think what our streams looked like before we cut down all the damn trees and filled in the wetlands. We're fortunate that a lot of restoration and protection work is being done.

    On the subject of confluences, here's a pic of Sugar entering the Wabash after a heavy rain.

    It's the opposite side of the situation you described--where your clear stream joined the muddy Wabash, Sugar turns a muddy mess.

    There's a huge forested bloc on the lower end, including protected property in the Mossy Point Preserve, Gehlhausen Parcel, Allee Woods, Turkey Run, Shades, Pine Hills. But for the last ten or so miles of Sugar, farming goes straight to the edge, leading to significant erosion and runoff issues.


  4. That's a tragedy indeed, Nate. Should be clear water feeding the Wabash out of Sugar becasue of greater bank integrity. To see the opposite....

    That pic needs to go up where people will see it. Or maybe we try and start a series of pics on the INSA site as a documentation for people to see. They wonder why they can't fish because of the rain.

    They used to be able to fish the rivers after heavy rains because the bass could see the food in the Wabash and others ran clean. 40-50' of woods in most cases left standing.

  5. Good illustration photo Nate.

    I consider myself a bird hunter but honestly haven't been more than a couple of times in the last 2 years due to school, family, etc.

    Bird hunters face a lot of the same issues oddly enough. When I was a kid we had "ditches" all over the place and of course fencerows/treelined borders etc.

    When I retired from the Air Force and moved back home in 2001 I couldn't believe driving county roads in Hendricks, Putnam, and Clay counties and seeing so many fields that literally were planted right up to the edge of the road with the ditch having been filled it.

    I doubt that's good for fish - and I know it's not good for quail (which are pretty much "extinct" in Indiana)


  6. Hmm, wonder how much money they make from the extra few feet? Is it worth losing all that topsoil every year.

    There are some farms I have seen that lost 6+' of topsoil bank since last year.

    I've heard about the loss of quail from Mike before. Forgot what he said the reason was. I've yet to see one in Indiana. See turkeys often and occasionally a pheasant.

    We need to farm food. But often the conservation practices that would keep streams intact are beneficial to the farmers. What gives? Who failed to educate who here?

    Rivers change and luckily these things can be fixed.