Friday, December 24, 2010

2010- Indiana Smallmouth Catch Recap.

2010 went out with a wimper; an icy ending. I did get on the board in December, only just, with 11 bass back on December 5th! I landed smallmouth bass  in 22 different streams in Indiana  in 2010.

 I have a string of smallmouth every month  going on 5 years now. January could be tough if we don't get some open water.

Warning: there be statistics and numbers below. Turn away now, if that's not your bag.

2010. Overall, a good year when I think about the feel of it. Numbers were up. I ended with 1,483 bass (98% smallmouth bass) and 147 'other' fish in 431.35 hours in 87 trips. My best ever yearly rate at 3.44 SMB per hour fished (3.78 fish per hour of all types while SMB fishing).

I fished less, but caught more bass in less time. I was on the water 140 hours less in 2010 than 2009

 Some great numbers days; I had 7 days 20-29 SMB, 8 days 30-39 SMB, 6 days 40-49 SMB, 2 days 50-59 SMB, 1 day 60-69 SMB, and 2 days 70-79 SMB.

Lots of action from May onwards.Very slow before then.

I landed 146 Smallmouth Bass 16" or better. 89 were 17" or better. The percentage of larger fish in 2010 was way down from 13.93% in 2009 to 9.84% in 2010 (lowest since I've kept track).

The larger 18"+ group shrunk from 59 in 2009 to 32 in 2010. 2009 was my best year for big fish and worst for numbers. So now we have a near reversal. (2007 was my best year for numbers 1,876 and 16" + = 235)

I did fish some smaller feeders that probably limited the upper size smallmouth as well as inflating numbers of 11-14" smb. However, it didn't change when I got back out in the big rivers. There it were lots of dinks m(under12") and one nice fish (17"+) a trip, maybe two. On several streams, it was clear  a fine year class of 8-11" bass was just getting to catchable size. A nice sign for future Indiana smallie populations.

In 2010, it took me about 2.95 hours to land a 16"+ smallmouth bass, 13.48 hours to land a 18"+ smallmouth bass, and 53.9 hours per 20"+ smallmouth bass.

In 2009, it took me about 3.4 hours to land a 16"+ smallmouth bass, 9.68 hours to land a 18"+ smallmouth bass, and 51.9 hours to land a 20"+ smallmouth bass.

It would suggest a 18-19" size class may have had a hard time, though 8 fish over 20" would indicate the cupboard is not dry. Smaller streams could have changed this somewhat, as there seemed to be more 16-17" bass, and not many 18"+ fish as year's passed.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Goin' Out West- Tom Waits

Goin' Out West from Anti Records on Vimeo.

Well I'm goin' out west
Where the wind blows tall
'Cause Tony Franciosa
Used to date my ma
They got some money out there
They're giving it away
I'm gonna do what I want
And I'm gonna get paid
Do what I want
And I'm gonna get paid

Little brown sausages
Lying in the sand
I ain't no extra baby
I'm a leading man
Well, my parole officer
Will be proud of me
With my Olds 88
And the devil on a leash

I know karate, Voodoo too
I'm gonna make myself available to you
I don't need no make up
I got real scars
I got hair on my chest
I look good without a shirt
Well I don't lose my composure
In a high speed chase
Well my friends think I'm ugly
I got a masculine face
I got some dragstrip courage
I can really drive a bed
I'm gonna change my name to Hannibal
Or maybe just Rex
I know karate, Voodoo too
I'm gonna make myself available to you
I don't need no make up
I got real scars
I got hair on my chest
I look good without a shirt

I'm gonna drive all night
Take some speed
I'm gonna wait for the sun
To shine down on me
I cut a hole in my roof
The shape of a heart
And I'm goin' out west
Where they'll appreciate me
Goin' out west
Goin' out west

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Email Campaign: Indiana Smallmouth Bass limit to Change to 14"?

Next Wednesday, the Indiana DNR Advisory Council is going to consider a recommendation for a statewide Indiana 14” smallmouth bass size limit. This would increase the size limit to 14” in rivers and streams.

If this is a change you would like to see implemented, email your support for the measure to:

*Removed* THANKS!!!
Time is of the essence on this! Let's let them know how Indiana feels about it's river bass fishing. This is far from a sure thing!

December 14th deadline.

Thank you!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I love a float dunk-Winter Smallirama continues 12/4/2010

Wasn't going to fish this weekend until I saw the forcast.

Looks like things will be down into the 20's and teens at night. With low rivers, the eddies where winter smallies dwell would be freezing over soon.

 I took Wendy for an easy one. Didn't even get the waders on. Holes are both 75-100 yards from the car

4 bass to 13" in 6 casts right off the bat. We moved up to a larger pool, Float sunk. I set the hook too hard and saw a large fish coming in upside down, hook popped out. Set hook way too hard and lost a couple more. Then caught 3 with soft rod lift.

Went back to hole one. The dog was loving the snowy weather. Contemplated chasing a couple of deer. When I got back to the hole, the first drift dunked a, 13"er. Then the next resulted in this 17"+ smallmouth that has multiple black melanosis patches.

Caught a couple like that today. Then a dink. Then nothing. We walked back up to the second hole. Dunk, fish pulled free! Dunk. Bigger one, fighting it, hook popped out! Looked 15-17" range. I did land a dink. Good day for sure. Lots of action, if a bit dissapointed in losing the bigger bass. Need to gear up correct and get the hook to hand near 100%.

Funny how if I left and came back smallies would be back eating in the hole. All strikes once again came on a dead drift. There was a sweet spot in both eddies that seemed packed with bass. No straggler locations despite trying for quite while.

What was the cause:

1) after a 2-3 fish fighting the rest spooked.

2) The fly jiggling too much spooked the bass.

3) Our profile got noticed?

4) Fish swimming the circuit-but only bit in the 'sweet' spot

11 SMB in 17 float dunks (which is a poor % for FnF). (17") in 3.5 hours

Wish I would have switched back to mono as air temps were 31-28F

Monday, November 29, 2010

Need baitcaster advice

I am looking to pick up a baitcaster (combo) this winter as a new toy to mess around with next year.

So far, I have my eye on a Shimano Curado.

I think I want a faster reel (7.0.1) rather than slower (5's). But maybe I am missing something here. Do I need more power? Slower certainly could be better deep cranking, pulling in vibrating chatterbaits and heavy spinnerbaits, swimbaits, etc. More subtlety in the retrieve might be a good thing.

I like faster retrieves on a spinning reel to catch up with downstream charging fish, to crank in buzzbaits without wearing an arm off on those 1000 cast days.. I am wrong in wanting this in a baitcaster?


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fun with Bobbers 11/28/2010

Today was a good day for Float and Fly technique. I fished several large pools. Water looked great. Visibility was 18"+ with great light penetration. Air temps in the high 30's to mid 40's.

Smallies were pretty active, saw one chasing a rock bass out of the water and they both jumped. Zeroed in on that spot and started pulling them in.

Nothing big, but it was a great day for action. 17 fish in 21 float dunks most 12-14.5" couple rock bass.

Not sure if hopping the float was helping, all the bites seemed to come on the drift.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Could Have Been 11/22/2010

 I hit an easy to project confluence with near 70F temps and high winds. Under a bridge, throwing a clown pointer 78, fish on right away. Then off, then several flashes from small fish, nailing the bait where the hooks weren't.

Finally, an 8" smallmouth on the jerkbait. Good sign, but would the massive warm up and incoming winter front have all the dinks eating, or would the big boys come out too? Rare indeed to catch an 8" fish in late November.  Moved downstream in an attempt to time the above confluence just right for peak activity.

 Trying the kitchen sink, 4.5"swimbait got pulled off the screwlock. Interesting.

Pulled a 12" bass off a laydown shortly after splashdown on a jerkbait shortly thereafter. Carp were sunning and feeding heavy in the shallow water. Nothing from the deeper water, in two common holes. Were they at the confluence?

In short, the confluence was a mess of non-flushed algae and leaves a couple feet thick, taking up over half the water column. Bottom was out. Tried the swimbait again, getting nipped and chased by several fish to no avail. The hook was just too tight on the bait for dinks to pull down on anything short of a miracle. Sure, I 'd seen a 6" smallie choke down a 5" fluke like a frat member at a keg party, but you can't expect that to happen.

The darn bass ignored a much smaller grub swimming at the same cadence and speed. I waded upstream getting hit again and again by bass up to maybe 12-13" on the large side.

I arrived at Muskrat hole. One of the former legendary stretches of river that seemed to always have a couple 18"+ bass on the first cast off an old laydown parallel to the current.

In Indiana, high steep banks leading to flowing water tend to mean depth and wintering areas for smallmouth. One january day in 2008, I pulled 32 smallies in 4 hours out of this stretch on float and fly. The last year and a half after 2008 floods, the bass populations are a fraction of what  they were. 1.5 mile wades with upwards of 70 fish between two people have turned into 5 or 6 bass.

Quickly, Muskrat hole gave up a nice 13" off a huge boulder near push water, finally hooking something on the swimbait. After two more smaller fish failed to inhale the bait. I threw a #6 Gammie treble on there, attaching via surgical tubing. A slow, steady retrieve got the bait bit 11 times off these laydowns in Muskrat hole. I landed 7 bass, all in the 12-13" range. 2 more in the pool above. Headed home.

Since hunters could be about, I walked back to the bridge in the stream throwing long tosses with the simbait. In one location where a small fish had struck before and nice bass slammed the big bait and went skywards three times before I landed the fish. 17".  It felt good to have some unexpected non- finesse bassing.

I ended with 13 Smallmouth bass (17"). Could have been quite a few more, if I had attached the treble earlier.

Looking at my results, had I picked a better stretch, the results on that bait could have been awesome. Drats! Sometimes you get the bear...

As I write, the state is at long last getting bombed by rain! Maybe some cold water action fishing current seams and eddies again soon! Maybe this weekend! Maybe tomorrow! Fingers crossed. I wanna catch a bunch on the fly jig.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

11/21 Multi Stream Hop

Rolled out early on Sunday, on the road by 11am. Fishing by about noon. Overnight temps were in the 50's, I thought there would be a good chance of a hot bite.

Lack of water continues to be a problem. Hit  three different holes and one very large pool. Almost no flow on the first stream, but at least leaves were on bottom for the most part.

Hit a 13"er on flashminnow 95 shallow jerk on the walk downstream. When I got to the large hole, I hooked and lost a largemouth bass on the lure. Wanting to fish the deep stuff I threw a clown colored Pointer 78. Was rewarded by a heavy fish that was soon off the hook. A few casts later, duplicated the task from off the deep barely visibile boulders on the pause. Got the fish almost in range when it too, popped off the hook. Looked in the 16"17" range. I had planned to fish float and fly so again I was throwing 8lbs mono. The hooks were too dull, but I also lose all sense of how much pressure when I switch to mono.

Picked a 14" on the jerk out of a cloud of suckers. Just letting it sit worked.

Left and hit the nearby bigger flow. Lots of walking on bedrock to my hole. Turned out to be about .75 mile further than I thought it was, when the massive hole in the bedrock opened up, it didn't dissapoint.

First a 14" on a 4.5" swimbait, then I threw on a 4" thin floating worm on a shakey head jig. I've never had luck with these. An lately, there has been no flow. But in this spot the current spilled through and over bedrock creating some current. A spot to work finesse!

I was shaking and hopping and deadsticking the worm when an unmistakable 'thunk', reared back and the fish was heavy and supercharged. Nice fight, nice fish. Saved my day of ineptitude. 18.25"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

11/6 and 11/7 Jerkbite

Low water? Shallow Water? Spooky fish? Flashminnow 95. Shallow diving jerkbait (1-2') that casts like a bullet.

Some pics of this weekend 13/15 bass were caught on jerk, the other two on tubes. Also snagged a bunch of suckers and quilbacks. Sharp hooks.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Indiana 2010 20" Smallmouth Bass Collection

Cutting back on the fishing this Fall. Just not in to the effort required to find a biting bass and pull it from a leaf pile. So these 8 bass may be it for 2010. Naw. Just need a reason to post them all in one post for posterity's sake. I usually forget to bring the camera when 1 or 2 of these get caught, or I drop the fish before the photo. So I went 8/8 this year. Enjoy!

1) February 28th, 2010. Dragging a tube through a huge eddy. Sensed pursuit. Miss, then got 'em. Lots of head shaking. Barely hooked. Tense and exciting. Patience and tolerance to cold paid off here with leaking waders and no float and fly bite.

2) March 24th, 2010. The water was way up the perfect time to get the pigs up out of the depth in this pool. Missed one on a tube, then these thick bass was on there. Jim A there to snap a pic of the fish. One of the better pics of me with a bass. Thanks, Jim. 21"

3) March 28th, 2010. Water was even further up. Returned to the same spot. Again only one fish and it was a dandy 20.5"er. Again on a tube.

4) May 1st, 2010. Floated the Tippecanoe river. River was high and fast. Citrus Bandit footloose ripped and paused running towards the fast water. Just reached 20".

5) July 31st, 2010. Micro flow wonder. This 20" smallmouth fell victim to a Lucky craft Rick Clunn wakecrank, cranked upstream in about 10" of water where the fish was just off the main current near a riffle. Two fish made a play, the larger scored.

6) September 11th, 2010.  A windy day and a buzzbait bite! The pigs were out in force. The wind at my back aided in long casts in the shallow rocky water. This was at the back of a large pool. Beyond where I could normally cast without wind power. The beast went 20.5" and was thick!
7) September 12th, 2010. Had to try again the next day.  Wading downstream, chucking the same buzzbait, the water erupted and the fight was on. Another 20"+ smallie.

8) September 18th, 2010. Not 6 days later another beast. Perhaps the best of 2010. Rick Clunn wakecrank in 10" of nothing water. Incredible. So big. 21.25+". Monster.

So there they are. Pretty happy with the effort in less time on the water this year and many hours on even smaller streams. I have some ideas for some winter Float and Fly pigs, so maybe I'll approach last year's 11. Time will tell.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mike Hits a Nice Tippy Bass

MC and I did a float of the Tippecanoe river on Saturday. Started out awesome with MC hitting a thug 20.5" smallie:
Then, not so awesome. Our 9+ mile float was 50%+ wind coming upstream as we floated downstream. Those are upstream waves in the picture! Oh, did I mention we forgot our anchors and people were leaf blowing straight in the river?
Best I could do was 3 13"ers and 3 dinks and a Drum. Mike got 4 and a drum. Brutal. Sometimes you take your lumps. It certainly was worth it for the one nice bass. It happened very early, so there was a lot of paddling and not really effectively touching most of the fishable water on the float. Boat position was a big problem.

I can officially say I hate fishing out of a kayak. I like to be on my feet so much better. Most of my worst times fishing have been in the seat of a kayak. Sure there have been some great times. Drifting mostly sucks.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Transition is here!

Looks like run and gun summer fun is over. The colder overnight temps to go with the low volume of water in most rivers and creeks is leading to a late bite. Leaves in the water column rotting and floating, making only a few presentations presentable and many creeks are looking like a clear coffee. So, in combination with the streams that have no water. We now have those completely choked with leaves. Options being to drive an hour + to a larger flowing river to find it ice cold have me out in the cold.

Funny how stream fishing is, if we had any water to hold some of the heat in, the daytime temps are more than enough for some solid action.

Rain has been more regular recently. It would take a deluge to catch back up.

Like soup without much broth. More broth the bits and pieces move around some.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Crawfish color in Indiana

I always wondered about crawfish color. It seems we see a lot of orange clawed craws in fish gullets, regurgitated during a fight with a smallmouth bass. Fish attempts to regurgitate hook in its mouth by emptying contents of its stomach.

I have never seen an orange crawfish in the water in Indiana. Craws come in many colors. 

 I got to thinking how shrimp turn orange after you cook them. They are typically gray and then change color. A nice doneness test when cooking! Could it be fish's stomach acid 'cooking' the craws like we do in our pots?

Which crawdad species have you seen?

Sloan's Crawfish

Devil Crawfish
Digger Crawfish
Calico Crawfish
Ghost Crawfish
Northern Clearwater Crawfish
Rusty Crawfish
White River Crawfish
Prarie Crawfish

Red Swamp Crawfish

Virile Crawfish
Indiana Crawfish

Monday, October 11, 2010

Beautiful Fall Day Fishing in Indiana

Pulverizing slow drifted flukes in the AM.
15" Kentucky Spotted Bass
Spotted bass jaw doesn't extend past the eye like Largemouth Bass

Spotted Bass tooth patch (absent in LMB)
Spotted Bass have connected dorsals (LMB do not)
Spotted Bass 'Spots'

Lots of Chunky 14-15.5" bass today.

17.75" Walleye on 3.5 white grub
Watch that rock doesn't snap you!
Chunky fish who jumped through my topwater 18" in the air with bait in mouth!

9 Hours 30 Bass- 22 SMB, 8 KYB (15 - 14-15.5") 1 Walleye. Lots of ground covered. Bike shuttle worked like a charm. As water warmed up, bite changed from slow flukes in shallow water near current to grubs and buzzbaits/Kelly J prop (fast with sputters and pauses to draw attention).