Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Funky Fishing 5/27/09

Starting at the same job again tomorrow. Mehh. Pay increase. Can't be all bad. Since today was my last day of freedom, I set out to the same stream (different stretch) MC and I hammered 5 18"+ on Monday. Similar conditions.

The stream had dramatically changed for the better since last year. Deeper and more scoured out in places. Many log jams were moved. No fish anywhere. Take that back, a 15-16" smallmouth was chasing a shad all around me as I stood in 3.5' of water. An hour later, I saw minnows getting chased in the shallows. Hooked up on Sammy, but lost the fish. Had a couple half hearted tube grabs, either nest guarders or one of the few active dinks.

Was ready to pack it in when I hit a narrow, shallow riffle. I threw my white chatterbait behind some small grass clumps and slow let her flutter in. Thunk. Ufff...that would be another good one. She was long and thin with no signs of eggs or spawning. A perfect piece of confusing information.

Oh, well. At least no skunk. 4 hours 1 SMB-19"

Been a great year so far, hitting a smallmouth bass 17" or better every 3.4 hours fished. Almost 1.5 hours better than last year at this time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Post Spawn Hogs 5/25/09

I found some smallmouth in the rocks with a white chatterbait after we tried all the usual flavors. Conditions seemed perfect: cloudy, warm water, good water visibility with some stain.

Mike hit this 19" in a featureless area of riffle on a spinnerbait:

He continued to pick up decent 13-15" SMB and I mostly 10-11" dinks until I nailed this nice 18" smallie above a riffle. Went airborne a bunch.

The chatter/spinnerbait bite seemed to die around midday. I threw a tube in current and got thumped by a huge smallmouth, fought it ashore where I had it laying on it's side, beaten in the shallows. Then it did one of those martial arts moves where the guy jumps back up from laying down and swam through my hands. It was huge in the 21-22" range I'd guess. Sadly, no pic. Then it rained for a while.

We hit a large wide pool with a limestone bedrock bottom. Along the slow inside bend we picked active fish chasing our baits in a post spawn hunger. Bam, 18.5" for me:

Then Mike nailed an 18" a cast or two later.

I got this 17"er. It was followed in by a slightly larger fish.

We thought we had found a pattern, so kept wading well beyond what was sane. We must have walked close to 8 miles round trip. Picked up a few more fish here and there, but couldn't locate more hawgs in the larger pools.

Most caught on white chatterbait for me except the biggest one on tube. Mike caught his all on a chartreuse spinnerbait. We almost turned and went home three times, but the adventure was saved by a big bass each time so we continued. The bass all looked spawned out. They didn't have damaged fins. Maybe because there was no loose gravel friction where they spawned? I did see a 11" smallie that appeared to be guarding a 'spot' on the bedrock.

I was ready to pack it in on Memorial day due to the poor fishing (post spawn funk?) I experienced on Friday (1 17"er in 5 hours) and Saturday (2 streams 3 dink bass and some panfish in 6 hours). An hour with no bites for either of us and I was thinking of going home. I just happened to snap on the right bait at the right time (Chatterbait).

Our brains nearly talked us into going home again midday when we hadn't been bit for like 2 hours. I threw a tube in the right spot and was rewarded by the huge SMB.

If I had listened to the voices in my head. I would be crying today about how bad the late May fishing is.

BT 15 SMB (20"+, 18.5", 18",17", 16.25") 4 Rock bass
MC 13 SMB ( 19", 18", 15.75") 1 Rock Bass

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Thing

Not the comic book hero, not the Kurt Russell Movie , but the spillkas vomited forth by a smallmouth bass Nate caught today.

WARNING: Click pics at your own risk:

I'm actually proud of the little guy turning the tables on the parasitic lamprey. I've found them attached to bass several times. Last week, I spotted 2 larger lampreys attached to large carp.

Yes, there was some fishing. Summed up by a lot of throwing tubes in tight places to get a few bites, lots of lost fish, a pig swimming partially onto shore to try to take my tube bait. I whiffed. Twice in two casts at big fish. Not going to say how big I thought this fish was. Caught my first fish on topwater (popper).

16 SMB (18, 17, 15.75, 3-14) 2 Rock Bass
Nate caught a few too.

I fished like 10 hours

Monday, May 18, 2009

All her fault

My wife and I went to Shed aquarium in Chicago back in 2003. All the fish in tanks re awoke a passion I had for fishing.

My uncle had introduced me to dunking worms on the Maumee river when I was a kid. I fished hard until about High School when girls, hobbies, and sports took over. I began to browse the Internets for more information on Indiana fishing. I transplanted to Indy originally from Toledo, Ohio by way of Charlotte, Baltimore, Toronto, New York City, Hartford, and Buffalo. I did not fish in any of those places. So now the last 5 years I have fished 100+ days a year. Almost exclusively for river smallmouth bass. Meeting and learning from a lot of great people.

I tend to absorb information about my hobbies like a sponge. I guess what I like about river smallmouth fishing is the mystery of each trip, cast, the anticipation. In a way, a quest for perfection for a perfectionist. I want to know what goes on in Indiana's streams, because I live here now.

Sure, there are bigger fish in some other states. I have very little desire to fish out of the state or even fish in state lakes. I don't want those experiences to ruin the magic I feel every time I hit a new piece of stream. I love hiking my ass off to catch smallies. Charting each stream in my mind is part of the allure. That's just my strange way.

All this is Sarah's fault. I have to admit she's damned cool about it. Hope all the readers out there have someone who makes them as happy.

Big Fish of the Internet III

Look what dropped off the back of the chinese delivery van!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wading the Clear, Sunny Day for Stream Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass are a spooky fish a lot of the time. In my last report, the waters were pretty clear. Thankfully, I had a lot of overhead shade to hide in. Baitfish and suckers were very spooky, which usually means avoid spooking any fish to maximize the opportunities at catching bass.

It took me a while to figure out how spooky the bass were, what they would bite, and what types of areas they were keying on. It was a battle to stay patient on an exciting new stream, avoid running and gunning too fast on what was obviously a finesse bite day. Each new eager riffle begged a couple more shuffle steps. Counter productive of course. I constantly jockeyed for better vision down in the water, hoping to spot the clue to unlock this new puzzle I was standing in.

I saw some footprints on my wade. Appeared a couple days old. Standing too close to hole now and then. Probably throwing too light of a lure from too close. The bass were already scattered by the time they got there.

It reminded how hard it can be to target smallies in an open stream with clear water on a sunny day. The biggest mistake people make is to walk up on a hole and make short casts without absolute stealth.

It's important to note the direction of the suns rays, just as a hunter worries if he's downwind from his prey. Wear neutral colors for shirts, hats, and pants. Blend. Keep your profile below the horizon, make few sudden movements. Watch where and on what you step.

You can make long casts, hoping to out throw the noise you make. A fish's lateral line will sense the noises you make from further away than most people think. The quieter cat catches bigger mice here.

We all lose fish every time out on the stream making too much noise walking, climbing, and casting.

We all lose fish when our shadows fall.

We all lose fish by not fishing wood hard on these days.

The short game works when you can get up near some log jams and lay downs. Smallies always like laydowns and logjams. On bright sun/clear water days, they are probably packed thick under there. You can get surprisingly close when wood is concerned. Deeper water helps too. Use heavier weights on your jigs to get them down to the bass under logs and roots.

Throw baits beyond the target, up on shore, bounced of lay downs, skipped in softly, or feathered in lightly to avoid spooking bass on splashdown. Use polarized sunglasses always to help for visual clues as to the Mr.Smallmouth's mood.

Were the smallmouth bass really not biting? Were you not stealthy enough? Combine this approach with rotating of different water column presentations at different speeds until you find the answer.

Be patient, be undetected, and be rewarded.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A New Jewel 5/13/09

1st time on this stream, was pretty sweet:

This 16.5" smallie had a mouth like a flathead catfish. It was followed in by another bass its size.

This would prove to be true all day. I'd hook one fish in the clear water and several would follow it. I remember this pre spawn schooling happening last year around this time. Catch one, spook the whole group. At one point, I had 6 or 7 14-16" smallmouth following a hooked fish to my feet. Of course, they wouldn't bite after. The way they were biting I could have had many more smallies today. The bass weren't trying to take the bait like they sometimes do in summer. Just following. Maybe sticking together since spawn is near/in progress?

Here's an 18"er:

It hit under the log pile north of the laydown. Very surprised I got the fish out, as it pulled off quite a bit of line under the logjam.

Long casts were in order. Splash had to be under control or it spooked the bass. Another 16" filled with eggs:

Saw some huge carp, 2 had lampreys attached to the back of their heads or necks. The lampreys were about 12" long each. I've seen misshapen carp before. My theory when you see a misshapen fish, they had a lamprey attached at some point, effecting their growth. When you see odd disc shaped scars, uneven growth like humpacks, wasting away, etc...

Here's another 18" which looks like it has been on the spawn. Came off a rootwad. On the walk back I picked up a 16" in the same spot.

23 SMB (2-18", 4 16-16.5", 8 14-15") 9 plump eater size rock bass in 6 hours

All caught on 4" tubes. Bass didn't want anything else as effectively as the 3/16th's tube. Nothing fancy. Drag it, drop it, hop it, swim it. Spotted a few beds as well.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Week of Panfish

I managed to hit a couple of creeks Tuesday through Saturday for a few hours:

Threw a 2-3" grub on a 1/8 oz jighead. 5.5' ultralite rod. Managed around 100 fish each day except thursday when the creek had risen close to a foot from rain. If you haven't fished white bass on light tackle, it's an absolute blast. They are powerful swimmers for their size.

Couple of surprises:

The biggest surprise was the habitat in the creek should mean it's filled with smallies. Where were they? By mistake, we should have caught a couple. Very few small largemouth bass were caught. Yet, no smallmouth.

The massive influx of white bass, yellow bass, and crappie has to be destructive to the smallmouth population. The smallie spawning time coincides with massive arrival of thousands of hungry panfish.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mike gets after 'em

Got the big MC on the water tossing some ultralite action. Braiding up the pannies on grubs like its 1999.

We waded a bit and found some slower, but consistent action.

Mike made the right choice to seek creekmouth, we got into a bunch of hard fighting 12-14" slabs.

Saw a bald eagle flying overhead and briefly contemplated the eagle attacking some canadian geese in a cage match.

Gonna have to go to the 8/1 braid for this kind of fishing.

I had fished for 3 hours in the AM rain. Totals were better today on the bigger white bass with many 12-14"ers.

33 crappie, 44 White bass, 11 yellow bass and 6 largemouth bass. About 6.5 hours

Mike had close to 30 fish in the 3 hours we fished.

We had a blast. Fishing for smallies definately good training for river run panfish in cover.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Something Completely Different

Grabbed the old school ultralight, some 4lbs test and my early smallmouth lures, the jig and grub. I stalked pre spawn white bass on a small creek. At one rocky riffle area I started getting bit on the 2.5" grub with 1/8 oz head. Crappies!

In about an hour, I got 29 crappies from that spot. None too fat. The one above the largest with most going 7-8". Also caught my first ever yellow bass (above), it wouldn't be the last.

I bankwalked and pitched into holes looking for larger white bass, the dog had a great time barking at deer. The stream had plentiful shad, yellow bass 5-7" everywhere, then finally some white bass. Then fun really began.

It took a while to get the casting down with the ultralight, as I did get better I began to get fish all over the place.

55 crappie (11", 7-9"), 25 yellow bass (5-7"), 20 white bass (9-12"), 8 largemouth bass (to 12") even saw a smallie at one point near a riffle.

108 fish in 5 hours. Quite different from chucking bigger baits for smallmouth, though I'd guess I could come close to that many if the dink smallmouth wanted a grub in summer.

The yellows and whites are a riot on the ultralight.

Went hunting, ended up fishing.

Jim is officially nuts about Morels. Dude took the week off to hunt them. Since rivers didn't seem very fishable, I went out 'shrooming' with the Shroom doctor himself. He wanted to head north as the season was getting good according to Jim. We picked a particularly wooded stretch along a stream I frequent:

We decided to hunt mushrooms the first half of the day and let the creek clear up. After 5-6 hours of mushroom hunting we had a total of 8 large Morels, and had found at least that many dried out.
We went fishing. The creek was up about 4", it dramatically cleared in the last few hours from 8" to 18". The fast current put fish in more predictable spots. At normal flow, this stream is packed with Smallmouth bass despite being very shallow throughout its length. It does drain fast however.

We both caught fish right off the bat and it continued as we found holes, until Jim started hunting mushrooms again. He got a couple 16"'s. The bass were threatening to break or lines they were fighting so hard.

I had about 8 fish from dink to 14.5" on crankbaits and spinnerbaits.
Heading back upstream I started nailing fish like crazy. This 17"er was caught on a spinnerbait on a current seam where two channels came together:

I skipped a tube under one of those big rocks the creek is famous for, got immediately slammed, then slammed again. Picked 8 smallmouth off that rock from 13-16.75". They fought like lions in the current. I was impressed.

I headed back to meet up with Jim, who had found a couple dozen Morels not in the woods, but just off the road we drove in on.

22 SMB in 4.5 hours(17", 16.75,16, 15, 3-14)1 Rock Bass

The 17"er looked like a spawned out female.