Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Higher Water- Slower Fishing

I really enjoyed fishing the high water this March. Squeeking out a nice fish here or there.I looked at last March 2009 . At this point last year, I had three times as many smallmouth to hand. What's different? The air temps are down over last year. The biggest difference? Flows I've fished are on average 5-10 times what they were last year in March.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Smallie Vacation Day 7- She-mouth II: The Return.

No fishing or fish Saturday. Naturally, today we get rain. Dreams of highwater hog in my head, I set out to patrol the muck for another big she-mouth.

Drove over the river, mud and high.

Feeders- depended on whether they were in the city or near agriculture. From muddy milk to decent.

Drove over my objective to see a stream in two colors! One half brown, the other half brown-green. Quick mental inventory of which pig hole would be upstream of the brown and therefore green- brown water.

Walked up and then across the stream, knowing I wouldn't have a lot of time
to fish the better water. If it came up too fast, it would be a long walk up to the next bridge then back to the car.

Black tube in tow my first cast had a fish on, and I missed after fighting it a ways. Didn't feel great. The pool is a big eddy at the riffle. Massive eddy with quite a big winding swirl. Found the fish facing downstream in the return eddy behind several boulders.

Just like the other day, it took a swing and a miss first. Couple of casts later I hooked into a second beast in the spot in as many trips. Thinner, but wearing an egg belly. Went 20.5":

After that, I couldn't get bit again. That's been the pattern this spring. One maybe two fish at each spot. Left after 15-20 minutes fully satisfied. Drove home. Misson accomplished.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Smallmouth Vacation Days 4 and 5 3/25 and 3/26/2010

Thursday looked like rain, I had promised my Golden retriever she would get some fun this week. We headed over to a local creek that was blazing high. It has some nice levies for a dog to run around on. Easy entertainment.

Brought along a rod and hit a slight bend nearby. Didn't find any toothy fish, but got this 18"+ skinny smallie on a 5" white grub.

That's all in about 15-30 minutes. That night it rained quite a bit across Indiana. Everything blown out.

KF has been wanting some brown fish bad the spring. The White has been high as usual since we divert all the water in there so quickly these days.

I took him out to high brown creek. When we got there it was muddy. 1-3 inches of visibility. K wanted a spinnerbait bite, but it didn't happen. Shortly at the second spot, I got a 17.5" smallmouth on a black tube from riprap. Right on the bank. Then later two more 12-14"ers the same way in a micro eddy at my feet. Tried one more quick spot upstream, but the flow was roaring in between the high banks. Basically, unfishable. Visibility was a couple inches. We fished maybe a couple hours.

I should go out today and try for another big fish. Water should be clearing up enough... Cleaned the carpet. Dogs bring in a lot of dirt. My buddy wants to go toss frisbee. Got to go.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vacation Day 3: She-mouth Lives! 3/24/2010

Got out with Jim A. today. Water was up and clearing slightly, visibilty to 12" maybe 14" by the end of the day. Aimed for a couple pools that produce few fish, but big smallies when they do produce.

We worked close to shore with the river up. I had one fish take a tube and rush out into current. Came up empty.

We crossed to the front of one pool to work an eddy I tried a Rick Clunn LC Crank 1.5 in Chartreuse Shad. Slow and deliberate retrieve. On one cast, I was was shocked to see a large smallie follow it nearly to my feet. It looked 17-18". On the next throw, a fish was just there and quickly came up to surface. I got him in quick before she had a chance to get going. I knew when the head poked up it was big. Hair short of 21". Tail wear or she would have made it. Jim took some shots. This was the best one(Click for biggie size):

We went on to fish other areas, the smallmouth weren't having it. We got a ride on the walk back by a nice guy (Ron) with a nice looking wimeraner.

Just one fish for both of us in 4+ hours. It was a great day to be out with warm air and nice breeze.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vacation: Day One 3/22 What the...?

Got off to start a vacation this week. I don't need to go to Bermuda or something like that. Rained. Water was clear too probably 4'.

Fish came off boulders in slackwater in winter holes. Started with a tube, thought I saw some movement below which wasn't a good sign- they didn't want the tube.

Went with Fnf- braid-snap- mono loop-leader-fly jig. Sucked to cast. Fly drifted past a big boulder and sunk. Great fight zig-zagging everywhere. 17".

Later, off another drift and boulder, a 15"SMB. Then a 12"

Hopscotched spots and got a real workout chugging to hit as many as I could. Water was clear and lower than I liked for smallies to be in some of the spots. Caught a chunky 13"er at one.

Was planning on hitting the mother load at this next spot. I was working the spot within the spot when the float moved. I set hook lightly and an enormous head poked up. Crap! this was going to spook out the best hole. Worst, I was up some high bank. The carp looked enormous, but I had basically kept it from getting in the current. I had to get around the sycamore and to the low ground below. While keeping pressure on the stupid fish, I handed myself the rod around the first trunk of the tree. I climbed up and down the middle onto the roots and into the water. Hook was clearly in that flab tissue called a mouth. I beached the fish as it fought like a sack of potatoes. Heaved it up on the bank for a photo... and 'recessitate' it . 30"+ :shock:

Thought I could have fisted this mouth, but I don't like touching them:

Got a great cardio workout walking to and fro various winter holes. Either bass were spread out, or catching one in clear water spooked the others. It was pretty much one and done at most spots.

Got this nice 16", which appeared to be female and fought like crazy. Out performed the carp, that's for sure.

6 SMB (17",16",15",2-13", 12") 1 Massive creek carp all on float and fly.

Posted without comment

Thursday, March 18, 2010

So Hard to Say Goodbye...

Well, Spring truly is on us. As I plan for next week's fish orgy, I can't help but think I'm going to miss the cold water. No, not the snow. Not the ice. Not the 15 degree days. Learning something new about Smallmouth bass during cold water, catching another giant icy bass is always very rewarding and a long process of trial and error.

I just don't get that line of clues showing me the way to the eventual motherload in warmer water. That makes Winter river smallies intellectually challenging.

Time to remember it is fun to cast, fish much fight harder, a wider variety of lures may work on any given day, time to try new waters.

Last Spring was excellent. I usually hammer some big big smallies from now until the second week of April. Fish are more off and on and spreading out to boot. It takes a lot of searching sometimes. Care should still be given to not waste too much time in the in between areas. Last year, we found fish in deep eddies off riffles, but nowhere else. By putting together this pattern, we literally drove to deep eddies at riffles and did well.

Lots of people are going to be out this weekend. Get there first, good luck!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rigging a tube texposed with insert heads

Hope this is easy to understand:

By varying the give of the plastic, the tube becomes less weedless, but sticks more fish. Always test the stiffness of your tube and think of it as your weed guard.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Good Timing 3/13/2010

Set out to fish a creek at about 1400 cfs today before it blew out. Forecast was for rain all day. Tried a new spot hoping to find a new winter area near a creek confluence. Creek was pumping in brownish water, but not muddy. Things would stay good if the rain would hold off. Ground was kind of hard from lack of rains. I made a few casts, but couldn't find fish were I thought they would be. When I got above the feeder the water was pretty clear (14-18"), despite being high. I started to think about hitting a sure thing, so I left and went to a go to spot.

First spot where I nailed a bunch of good fish two Tuesdays ago held nothing. A couple light taps.

Went upstream after crossing. First fish, a 13"er came off a root wad. I was working a 4" black tube against the current and repeatedly dropping it in front of the root wad when the bait got struck.

At the front of the eddy, I threw Float and Fly off a log and another root wad (within 1' of bank, but with depth). The fly immediately got hit on the drop! Hell broke loose as I fought a large fish to hand. Commendable effort. It went 19" and had a hook scar from where I caught it last December. When everything is wet and it is raining, it is hard to keep the lens dry. Got another dink on FnF and left for another spot.

Mike and I had found a new winter hole with last week's warm up. Luckily, it was right down the road, so I hit it again today. Above this wide pool is shallow bedrock, so despite being right near the road, the fish stack up in there good. Both sides of this wide deeper pool have some good looking eddies. At the current flow level, I found smallmouth on the southern bank, which just happens to be lined with limestone chunk rock the size of ottomans. Working the tube slowly and letting it drop down behind each square or rectangle boulder, I lost two good fish pulling the tube upstream. The first was about 14" and I pulled/jumped the fish 2' in the air. The next got to the surface, but was never hooked. Sometimes with thicker walled tubes this can be a problem were the plastic bunches up on the hook point. First 5 minutes 0/2.

Decided to go to the downstream end of the limestone 'rip rap' and work my way up to set hook from the opposite direction. Kirbed my tube jig with a forceps to help in hookups. Tube fishing is all about minor adjustments sometimes.

A few casts later the tube got thumped and the fight was on! Nice fish who did powerful runs as well as surface head shaking. Finally to hand measured 17"+. I had taken to hanging my camera down inside my fleece. This seemed to clear the lens up enough to get better pics in the rain.

A few parallel casts later a nice fish thumped right at my feet, fell just short of 17". Looks to be a female and squeezing off a number 2:

Flipped out where the last fish had come from and immediately got bit. 12" smallmouth bass. The key on all the bites today was working shoreline cover, parallel to the bank. Water had to be much slower and also have either rock or root wad cover.

I moved back up the bank, on one particular cast, the tube dragged slowly under a boulder. I felt a good thump from another fish up close to shore, short fight. Decent size. Badly damaged fish. Measured 18". Hope it survives. Seen more than one thin fish late winter 2010.

It started to be cold as the rain was soaking through winter coat, fleece, and shirt- (cotton!) Happened to glance back and saw two state troopers over my shoulder. They had seen my car and wondered what I was doing.

BT: Whoa! You guys scared the shit out of me!
Trooper 1: We saw your car and wondered what you were doing.
BT: Fishing.
Trooper 1: Bet your not doing very well.
BT: Actually, I've done all right 4 bass over 16". Water is up, pushes bass to the banks making it easier to find the good ones. Gestured at water.
Trooper 2: Smiling
Trooper 1: Well, you have more dedication than I do. What's your name?
BT: They call me the Lone Ranger.
Trooper 1: Really?
BT: Not really. Name's Brenden.
Troopers: Ok, just checking.
BT: Stay dry fellas!

Guess my soaked outfit did seem kind of silly. Never got above 45 today.

Got 7 to hand (19", 18", 17", 16.75") in 4 hours.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Post Stravaganza Hole Hop 3/7/2010

Mike C and I hit some spots today. First one was below a bridge we were suiting up and and decided to work a bank. I nailed a 14"er on a black tube right off the bank in 2.5' of water along some nice chunky rocks. Fought like a devil.

We got suited up and drove to the next spot. Mike nailed another 14" fish on a tube. Then I got a dink and 16.5"er on Float and Fly. Moved up to the next spot crossing the stream at a normally shallow area.

Nailed another just short of 16" on the fly jig then 7 more with Mike and I catching doubles and 4 in 4 casts on float and fly. Fish were swimming the circuit and many were caught facing downstream off the bank within feet of shore. One was caught on a [i]slow[/i] 4" grub. Maybe a foot from the bank.

We moved on and drove to honey hole, an hour in after a 30 minute drive and walk to the spot I finally landed a 16.25" smallie on a tube.

Walked back to the car and drove to another spot. Was working some rip rap when my tube approached the slackest area in the eddy which was literally at my feet. Another solid tube strike! This fish turned out to be a nice 17"er that went largest of the day.

Got in the truck and drove to the next spot. This one put us on a high bank with plenty of green pricker vines and branches that made it hard to work the bank line. We got a few slaps from smaller fish and finally I landed bass #13 a 12"er.

Lots of walking to and fro the car to get to the next holes. Though Mike only got a couple, he's on the board for 2010!

BT 13 (17", 16.75, 16.25", 15.99", 15", 3 14"'s)
MC 2

Friday, March 5, 2010

2nd annual Indiana Smallmouth Alliance- Smallmouth Bass Stravaganza March 6th at 4pm in Zionsville, IN

Is the snow really getting your outdoor goat? Are your spare moments at work filled with dreams of bronze bass breaking the water? Have you cleaned your equipment for the 70th time this winter?

We can't make the snow go away, but we can bring Indiana's river, stream, and lake smallmouth bass angler's in one place. INSA members enthuisiasm for our favorite fish is infectious, you'll be pushing off ice flows in search of a bite after the event. Whether you are new or a grizzled Smallmouth veteran, there are plenty of trips to plan, techniques to learn, great people to meet at this event!

The Stravaganza is INSA's yearly fundraiser where all proceeds go to smallmouth bass conservation in Indiana. This highly entertaining event is headlined by flyfishing guide Chad Miller, who has fished the Tippecanoe river for 20+ years! Kevin Hardie of Friends of the White River will be there to talk about everyone's favorite central Indiana smallmouth fishery.

There will be auction items available from INSA members and sponors: hand made tackle, guided trips, rods, gear, a 50/50 raffle, and much more.

Dinner will be catered by Squealer's NW's sides premiere BBQ joint. Drinks are available at the Legion Hall's bar.

Tickets are 20$ can be purchased by Paypal at this link here. The event is open to the public. Don't miss it!

Click and print map for location and phone.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Blatantly Stolen from Eric-Warm Water Discharge Fishing

What smallmouth anglers will do to get their winter fish on:

Go see Eric at: fishthefox.com

Learning a little something about your river as Winter comes to a close

Ok, so we all want spring to be here. Not so fast. This first warmup coming off a solid cold winter should have big smallmouth eating like crazy. If...

If you can find them. Still in wintering holes. But...

The slow meltoff has the water a nice green color with about 18" visibility. The rivers are up, the fish can see. Even better, Mr.Smallmouth is hugging bank and hungry.

There might not be a more important time of year to get out and float a string of theoretical wintering holes. With 50F+ promised on Sunday, a crankbait or jerkbait ought to reveal quickly what locations hold fish. Those hungry bronze will reveal themselves quick.

If you fancy yourself a winter smallmouth chaser. This weekend is the perfect time to discover some holes for next winter.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March fun with Smallies

Got 8 more and lost one good one. About 50/50 FnF/tube in about 3.5 hours. The first 4 went 17.5, 16", 19", 17.25". Water clarity is cloudy green and has fish in close to the banks. Dang those fish are yellow. All chunky too.