Monday, August 31, 2009

INSA 2009 Camp and Fish Outing August 28-30th

Friday: Waded with Mike. It rained off and on. I don't care much about weather of any sort. I'll go through just about any discomfort to catch good smallmouth. Cold, wet, rain, below freezing. Doesn't matter. Mild showers. No biggie. We waded a few miles and found 4" grub to be the ticket.

I had 19 Mike 10. Biggest only 16.75".


Fished with hangover and Zack. Bigger fish active with buzzbaits early with Zack nailing this sweet 17.5" early on and discovering the pattern. I nailed this 17" shortly after.

Zack picked up bass on a 4.5" swimbait after I had combed the water about 3 or 4 times.

We found a spot where a creek came in and the slaughter was on. I picked up three more nice fish on the LC Waketail 1.5

BT 23 (18, 17.9, 17.25, 17, 15)
ZP 24 (17.5, 17, 2-3 15-15.5")

Saturday: Took Jason out for some wading instruction, waded downstream, which turned out to be the perfect demonstration as we caught a couple on the way down working painfully slow. On the way back up, I was ripping the bass up on tubes and baby flukes, picking up 12 more in the hour walk back. Biggest 15.75" and 15". Jason tripled his lifetime smallie catch over the weekend.

Didn't fish dusk on any of the days so prime fishing could have been missed. Quit around 4, 5:30, and 3 pm. The camping, drinking, and eating were a lot of fun too.

So the weekend totals were 57 SMB with 5 over 16". Altogether, I fell 86 bass short of my 200 fish goal. Ah well. Still was great fun!

Monday, August 24, 2009

8/23-8/25 Summer Goodness

Saturday AM hit the water by daybreak. Caught a 16" on Sammy 100. I had maybe 10 strikes at the Sammy and landed 4 fish all 12-16".

3" fluke violenty jerked then allowed to sink triggered most strikes. Spent too much time in the penalty box this AM. Finally hit a nice sycamore with boulders just downstream. Nailed 6 bass and a Goggle eye. The bass all fought like mad. The largest came from the front of the sycamore when the fluke drifted down in the water column.

What a fight. It ran and ran, almost swam full speed through my legs, went airborne 4 times and caused me to fall down during the fight. Looked thick, I confess I was surprised in only measured 18.5". Absolute riot.

Carp were rutting in push water above, Pulled a 14"er from their wake on fluke jr.

I had to be back in town early, so I headed back after 5.5 hours. I had 20 bass (18.5",2 -16", 2-3 15, 2-3 14") 2 Googs and a Green sunfish. Lost a few good ones on jumps and runs. Could have been a huge numbers day, just didn't have the time.

On Sunday, I got out to a small stream I've been saving all year by 7am. Characterized by riffle pool after riffle pool. Maybe 25-30 in a 3.3 mile wade. Water was clear to at least 2', but the lack of light made it hard to see anything deeper. Weren't many deep spots. Bass were found laying in deeper pools around sycamore rootwads. The stream 90% covered in shade, so even if it was sunny out the water runs cool. Most bass were chunky like lake fish, even the dinks. Tried to take a picture of a couple of these rascals but they wouldn't hold still.

The fights were unreal. 13-14" fish that fight like 16"'s in other creeks. All this with very little current.

The challenge was to stay stealthy. Water typcially was less than a foot deep. Walking on creek bottom was like grinding coffee.

3" fluke junior again the way to go. Baitfish seemed small in this stream. Nailed a skinny 17" at a choke point on a Sammy 100 and a couple fish on dead sticked tubes, but it was the fluke they wanted. Later another 17 off a sycamore. At first violent jerks, then killing it worked- mostly for dinks.

As the air temperature warmed up a bit, just letting the fluke sink got it bit. A few Sycamore root wads held 4-5 bass each. Didn't catch much off laydowns.

8.25 hours: 31 SMB (2-17", 4 15", 5 14") 3 goggle eyes, and 2 creek chubs

Dropped by a creek tonight for a quick wet of the hook. Fishing was slow except for this 18.25" fish on Sammy 100 and another large fish that rubbed my popper off on a log. Last 10 minutes before dark the bass went nuts for buzzbaits violently attacking the bait. Missing.

4 SMB (18.25")1 rock bass in 3 hours.

With the INSA rodeo coming up this weekend, I am setting a goal of 200 smallies for the week. Not a bad start.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Abducted by Aliens 8/16/09

Wanted to make a departure from the usual rotation. Results have become somewhat predictable. Mike and I waded one of the prettier small streams in Indiana. Flowing deep in sandstone cliffs, covered in shade; 4 miles of it fishable. Water was crystal clear. We started out on the big river and headed upstream. The bottom stretch of the creek being siltier, filled with wood to fish, and a trickle. I picked up a 14" bass on a tube at the first hole. We caught smallies and spots here and there off scour holes in front of laydowns. Tubes.

I just missed my target and had my tube over a dead branch above the water when a 14-15" smallmouth came out of the water (yes, that's airborne) and hit the dangling tube, had it in its mouth, but flopped off. One of the cooler things we had seen in a while. I got a couple more 14-15" then a 16.25"er off a laydown. Mike was matching me with Spots and dinks.

Action was pretty good. This was how stream bassing was supposed to be. I couldn't help feeling it had something to do with the lack of runoff entering this stream. We picked up fish here or there and lost fish here or there. Not a lot of deep holes so, we'd do some walking to get bit, but it was predictable. Lots of fish picked up flossing boulders or throwing under ledges.

I had a green pumpkin tube with bright chartreuse tail. I could see the bait exceptionally well. Instead of just working it for feel, walking the dog, flossing rocks, etc. I could jet it past boulders to draw fish out before I killed it. Could actually see the bait climb over logs and drop. Very neat.

Here's a 17.25" that fell to a tube:

We each caught a 16"er on tubes. I got a 15.5"er on a crankbait, then a couple on a grub. It was about noon and we had 28 bass. There was a nice breeze that kept things humane. The water was pleasantly cold. The second half was Mike pulling even a little bit. We walked up on some bedrock shallows around 4.3 miles in and turned back at 4:30. Mike caught a chunky 14.5"er. I started getting action on the Wake crank with a stop and go retrieve. Fish went crazy. Looked like rain. I lost a couple good fish on the way back and we both started slamming bass on top as a storm came in quick

By the time a storm rolled up, we were nearly back to the truck. The walk back had taken 4 hours!!!! No way. Lost time for sure. It was a great day of fishing and being in nature. I can't help think a spaceship was involved.

BT 33 32 SMB (17.25" 2 16"+, 3-4 15", 4-5 14"), 1 Spot (13"). 3 Googs and a River Chub.
MC 23 bass incl. handful of Spots and a LMB (16", 3-4 15", some 14"'s). 1 Creek Chub

Spotted Bass

Friday, August 14, 2009

Still think smallmouth eat small?

Got a chance to help USGS biologists electrofish recently. Learned a lot of cool things:

This 17-18" bass was shocked up from a rootwad. It had a 9-10" northern hogsucker half swallowed.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Death March II

MattD had a get-out-of-jail free card for Saturday. Since noone had taken the bait for a Clusterfrick, we decided to deathmarch a long wade in extreme forcasted heat. Sounds great, eh?? We waded a 5 mile stretch of river.

We must have just missed a mammoth river party, because we counted about a case+ of beer cans, three deflated rafts/tubes, a lawn chair and plenty of other recently discarded trash as we waded throughout the day. The creek itself was shallower the first 3 miles. It had been more a numbers stretch in the past, where the second half numbers and size. In 2007, a near 22" came out of the wade.

Weather was queer indeed. Started windy and partly cloudy, you'd figure the fish would love that. I couldn't get anything going topwater or bouncing a tube. Matt had downsized his fluke and was nailing the dinks. Hard, laborious fishing. Matt works each rock expertly with that little fluke. Zigzagging it just right to draw neutral fish out of their lairs. Still, action was pretty weak. We figured 11am we'd revaluate.

At 11, Matt had 7 fish and I had 1. We figured going back would kill too much time, so we kept ahead. I finally started working the baby fluke and it started paying off in dinks, until I snagged a zombie eyed 15.5" in the cheek. I went on a run until Matt almost stepped on this fish, who legitimately took the bait in its mouth. Hope was born that we could get some decent bass after all.

Clouds came on and a topwater bite happened for a few. Fish were chasing my wake crank...until it got hot.

Again, only baby fluke was consistent. I saw a bronze shape appear under my fluke as I was jerking it. It was right at that magical visibility line, that with weather conditions like we had (sunny), it wasn't crossing any higher in the water column. That fish was interested. I had to wait too long to get the fluke down in the zone and any action would bring the bait up away from the strike zone. Matt had a lone tiny split shot on his, so I told him to cast in near it and he landed a nice 17"er straight away.

Later in the day, I was thinking about the Sammy 100 gently dropped in near wood, then left to sit, bob it, sideslip it one way, sit it, bob it- might draw some bigger fish out. Right above the middle bridge my Sammy got destroyed performing this maneuver close in to a lay down. The bass taped 17.75". Matt pulled a couple more from that spot. We moved up and things looked promising


I had a giant blowup on Sammytime, the fish wouldn't connect, nor would the follow up fluke.

We waded to a sort of Indian burial ground for white trash smallie lures. Warding us away from a sacred smallie ground? Not one, but two lines dangling from a tree, both with fresh lures tied on, both in nut deep water. Matt wanted them to add to his collection of found things, thinking one might be a rooster tail. Only slightly upstream was a nice lay down for Sammy. I tossed in and repeated the magic, then suddenly without a splash a big bass was on the lure. It jumped and looked huge. Landed the fish. The Sammy had hooked a gill plate and made the head look enormous during the fight. It measured 18.25". Looks like the smallest fish we took a picture of. Perspective ?

18.25" T-Rex hands:

With pig landed and released, we were free to retrieve our tree bounty. One was this tube rigged with a 1/16oz crappie jig and size 4 hook:

The second was a Matzuo style swimbait, with a crappie spinner attached with the blade replaced by a full on spinner bait willow blade. Matt declared he was going to catch fish on each lure. While trying to do so with crappietube, he snagged a wee craw crankbait off a laydown.

[quote]Nature of the Challenge: Catch one fish on each found lure. Swimbait, crappietube, and wee craw.[/quote]

Then he...ah, like, did it. A 12-13" on crappietube, then a 15" at some push water on the swim bait, finally for the million wee craw nabs nice a 17"+ from a very cool riffle channel. Lord knows what would have happened if he had found another couple lures. Here's a pic of the 17".

$1,000,000 Bonus fish...oops.

I was completely spent. The last two miles of knee busters had taken its toll along with the inability to get bit on tube. I had some insane swats at Sammytime as the evening burned. Each increasingly far from hitting the bait.

The thing about Matt, he nails the dinks. Not a back slap. The dude channels dinks. He'll pull 4 dinks off a rock with that fluke you just stepped on. He has an amazing, perverse ability to land a high percentage of them. While mortals get bit and swing and miss on a lot of those 7-11"ers. Prowler nails like 75%+ of 'em. Do not try to catch more fish than him. If you do shut up and move on.

Anyways, we were a good team, neither spoiling water for the other behind. Can't say that about many.

MD 27 SMB (3 17-17.5", 15)
BT 16 SMB (18.25", 17.75", 15) Nothing else reaching 12"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Preparation Part I - Spooling a Spinning Reel

Not being prepared on the water is almost as bad as not finding fish. Eliminating wasted time and mistakes will help you catch more fish anywhere.

One of the biggest problems when fishing a spinning reel is line twist with monofilament lines. Youtube can show you in real time.

This gentleman very ably describes the concept behind spooling on line- the right way.