Monday, May 31, 2010

May 2010- Made some adjustments

May 2010 was one of the top 4 months I've ever had. 11 fishing trips (10 wades- 1 float) in 31 days. I averaged 5.64 hours fished resulting in 259 smallmouth bass and 21 'other' fish. That's 4.18 smallmouth per hour, rivaling my best month  fishing smallies in Indiana (September 2007 - 5.19 per hour-444 smallies). The month included 8 different rivers and streams. Landed 32 smallmouth bass over 16", which is 5th best overall.

All in all a great May. I had an absolute blast. I credit thinking differently about where and when to fish, trying new places, changing up fishing style, finally not pounding round nails into square holes.

Where and when- I tried to fish shallow streams with water up slightly to mask my coming. When possible, I avoided sunnier days. On sunnier days, targetting streams covered with shade. I worked these streams slow and deliberate with wide wobbling baits.

New places- 4/8 streams in May were new to less than two visits. None of the stretches had been fished by me previously.

No secret, I love fishing topwaters most of the time in Indiana once the bass take to it. Topwater fishing is effecient, draws out big fish, and topwater bassing is fun! A friend of mine suggested, on some days a bait that can dive slightly below the surface can be the trigger. Wake baits and jointed swimbaits have been the stars in May for me. It has really been the wide wobble slightly below the surface to 18" down that has been my ticket. The water has been clearer, allowing me to see the strike most of the time anyway. Very fun to watch bass come up and look at a slowly wobbling, crippled minnow before deciding to inhale!

I have a theory on the big drop off fish populations in some larger streams due to huge floods in Indiana in 2008.  The study (obsession) of 1.5 years has too many coincedences. I stopped going to 'name' rivers that are supposed to produce. The catch rate went up even if I caught less monsters overall. Action is important.

Getting out and spending the time to observe water levels and what it takes to muddy a stream, have been another key to success. Some streams are surprisingly resiliant when we've had a lot of rain. Each of the last few years, I've gotten better at figuring there is somewhere within an hour and a half to catch brown bass.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hot in Two Ways- 5/29/2010 Wade

I wanted to return for another stretch of last weekend's wade only solo. The flow was high on the gauge. Wife and I drove over some streams in the area, and they did not look great. I don't like fishing new water with too much stain. Spend time in the wrong places.

I headed to another part of the state and got fishing early, maybe 8:45am. Stream has terrific canopy and rockier than hell. A real ankle buster. Water was stained from last week's high water with visibility to 18". Flow was decent. Probably a bad combination of moderately fast current, sunny skies, and stained water. At least to narrow presentations to mostly subsurface lures.

Got it going early on the 3" V-Wake R2C. 16"er, then lost a beast that seemed 17"+ on a jump. The fish was right in the deep side of a riffle hole in bedrock. Exploded is an understatement.  Bite on this bait slowed when sun became more prevalent.

I went to a 4.5" off white grub and white willow leaf 3/8 spinnerbait to get down and polish rocks based on Mr.Bass' reluctance to come up. Things got crazy! I was  slow rolling the SB in riffles, letting it bump rocks and a steady retrieve. The grub hoovered up dinks and the odd good fish, the spinnerbait picked up the nicer fish in deeper holes.

Saw several smallmouth on beds and actual act of spawning. I left these horney fish alone to do the thing.

Several times today a big 17-18" bass tried to steal away the bait from a fish while I was fighting it. Strange size class day; biggest smallies were bass 7 16"-16.5", nothing bigger out of 57 smallmouth. I know they are in there.

So I get home and Roy Halladay has thrown a perfect game for the Phillies. Nice!

57 Smallmouth Bass ( 16.5", 6- 16", 1-15") 1-Green Sunfish, 1-Rock Bass in about 9 hours in the heat today.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

81 Smallmouth Bass Wade - 5/22/2010

Mike and I headed back in time to the year 2000 BC on Saturday. Lots of the state being under water, we drove over some bridges for fun. Awesome thing happens when you go and look; sometimes the river is better than you'd think.

Water was chalky at the first bridge, but green. Visibility was maybe 12-14". You couldn't see down very far in the AM; the sun was not out. Mike got first bass in a decent eddy on a tube. I got two on mini chatter. We headed upstream to scout more. Nothing happened. No action. Walked back to the car, deciding to try for a different spot.

We drove around for maybe 45 minutes. Water clarity was much better at this spot downstream, improving as the day wore on. Finally arriving on a bridge and in the water by 11 am. Mike got one bass on the wake crank, then I flipped a tube near a foamy lay down and quickly pulled a nice 17.5" smallie out after it had wrapped then unwrapped on a branch. Exciting. River looked great. Habitat was excellent on our first attempt at this stretch.

We really started getting into the olive bass, dinks, 15"'s hitting wake cranks on the dead rip. Mike lost one about 16" on a jump, then I lost one that size on a jump. In between, feasting on dinks, who greedily snared our rapidly wobbling offerings. Mike was working his WC fast across current when a big shape shot out and destroyed it, then rode the zigzag all over the creek. When it came to hand, the fish measured 18"!

We were now officially pumped. But there is more. Much more....

We then tubed a bunch more fish on 4" tubes of many colors. I landed a hunk funky rock bass, then a longear- or some other similar sunfish that had a much bigger mouth...maybe a warmouth? The fish held my tube all the way back to me before it finally fell off the tentacles. Many times during the day, we'd turn head or be about to pull a bait from the water, when a fish would be on.

We hit a bedrock pool; the pool seemingly gave up 10-15 dinks on tube and WC's. A 15.5"er for me in some push water on the WC. Push water or the end of large pools seemed pretty good today . Another about 15" near an out bridge. More pools, more dinks. Mike commented that is seemed like they stopped biting. That was insane; his last 2 fish were 5 minutes ago! How quickly we spoil.

We got above a bridge and the action went good for better size smallies again. Two smalljaw competed all the way back to my feet for the WC. A nice 15" won the battle. Mike hit this 17" as I pulled in another 15".

Action at the back pushwater of most every pool. I pulled Sammy 100 out and caught a fish on it, put it away. Went to a tube again for an awesome looking, deep pool. Pulled a nice 16" from deep there.

We were pretty even into the #20's the lead bouncing back and forth. I joked to Mike that I'd win by wearing him out and gain the lead by wading too far. We had only brought two water bottles each, which was pretty dumb in retrospect. Didn't expect to wade two bridges... "Unlucky thinking" says Sarah say the Chinese.

I got bored with chuck and burn WC action and was a little curious to see if the same action slightly deeper might do better in the second half of the day. 3" R2C in clown started pulling in fish. This 17" was the first nice victim:

Flowers and plants growing out of moss on a rock:

Mike nabbed a 15" on WC, and then proceeded to nail another pulling a tube through the bottom of the hole.

Not long later, my rod was bent by this 17.75" SMB that fell victim to 4" tube of random hue. Yanked deep from Davey Jones's locker.

We both started to 'Rain Man' the R2C and it produced in spades. Mike got his first fish on the shallow swim bait, a 14"er, followed by a 16.5" skinny fish in nothing water next to fast, shallow current.

More dinks and more excellent pools. Things changed up with some log jams, creating different channels and lots of opportunity to toss a 4" tube (of variable color) in for a score. A quick 12, 13, 16"er for BT. The fish shot downstream in heavy current like they were shot out of a cannon.

As you can imagine, we were hamming it up, talk started of a 100 bass day. Mike pulled ahead on tiebreaker fish with a couple of sunnies and a chub to lead there 3-2 in case of a tie on bass. We hit dead water with good habitat and the afternoon burned a little, still catching smallmouth here or there, but the hours were short and we were miles from Mike's truck. Mike got ahead to a right angle bend with some water willow riffles, pulled one last good fish that he saw wake and slam his R2C. Another bruiser just shy of 18":

This was at 7:45 PM. Dark at 9:30 or so. 3-4 mile walk back required. We were just shy of 80 at that point, so I caught three more dinks and we finished at 81 smallmouth, 5 misc. fishes.

Mike caught the largest and the smallest:

BT 45 Bass- 44 SMB, 1LMB (17.75", 17.5", 17", 3-16, 4-15") 1 Goog, 1 mysterious sunfish

MC 36 SMB (18", 17.9", 17", 16.5", several 15"ers) shiner, 2 random river sunfish.

 Headed back through the woods at 8, over the hills, across the brook, then over the fence, up some hillsides across even more uneven ground until we were ready to fall over. A local, who I can only describe as looking and sounding like farmer Lye in Napoleon Dynamite gave us a ride back to the truck.

I didn't understand a word that came out of his mouth, but sure was extra grateful! Mike somehow understood the garbled speech, he grew up in eastern Indiana. Something about a "Shawshonee arrowhead from over in the creekbed"? Then "did he want to trade his truck?" for 4 wheeled Go-Kart?


Friday, May 21, 2010

5/17- After work Wet Wade

Hit the first stream- it was ice cold. I've noticed this temp craziness before on this one. It is usually great in summer. Saw one bed, caught a couple micro dinks and a chubby 14" KY spot which exploded on a popper. All signs the spawn hadn't taken place here. Nothing much going on, headed to second stream.

Water was almost 10 F warmer, like night and day to the fish. Messed 'em up.

In 2 hours, I hit 14 SMB- 2-17", 16", 4-15"-15.99"ers. 3" R2C for the most part. One on a spinnerbait, popper, tube.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Green Beer Bottles-Suck

But not if they are fully hidden from sunlight in a nice fully enclosed  box. Got a 12 of Spaten Optimator, Spaten lager, and Franzikaner Weisse Bier that was terrific, all three were excellent. I had all but written off Spaten as green bottle skunk water, but excellent on tap. Problem solved. Hope they keep selling this, or switch to brown bottles. Oddly enough, wheat beers don't seem to be affected by the green bottle thing.

BTW, if you just read any of that, get a hormone injection!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

5/15/2010 Another World

My target flow, a central eastern Indiana creek was still was up and had too much stain when I arrived early Saturday morning. As sunlight shined through the tree leaves, I knew effort would be more productive in clearer waters. Drove to the other side of the state and got it some skinny water  around 10-10:30am. Totally new stretch of creek. Went upstream to start. Things looked good habitatwise. I just had to walk up on some cover or good hole and test it out. Far downstream I knew it held smallmouth from a previous trip. Water was clear all the way down.

Plenty of canopy from hill and tree. I think this is key for a shallow stream to hold good bass. Shade to hide in and keep the water temps cooler. Unfortunately, man has removed much of the shade and tree cover along Indiana streams. It can be really hit and miss.

Saw a couple Rock bass goggling about at the bridge. Shallow. A long walk until I found any depth. I really should have turned around, but the substrate was interesting combo of round rock, gravel, and wood. Kept going, spotting a couple empty beds.

I heard a strange baying sound ahead: "Noun", "Noun", "Noun":

Finally, I found a deepish hole (for this creek) formed under a stack of wood debris. Threw a tube in. Line moved. Nice 15"er. Promising. More beds. No visible smallmouth fry, plenty of tadpoles.A small snapping turtle was lined up at that buffet.

Couldn't find any pattern- didn't see many fish or minnows, which was concerning. I came to an electric fence across the creek. Went around, it looked good up ahead. However, hoof prints, cowpies and stink, changed my mind. Turned around to go back and hopped the electric fence. My pants must have brushed it, as I felt a jolt. Oops.

When I got back to the bridge, downstream looked better. Boy, was it. I kept going and going. Riffle pool after riffle pool. Shallow, but plenty of canopy and rock to hide in. I spooked several nice bass in shallow water. Tried to not kick up too much silt wading downstream. Didn't work really well, so I got out and walked around holes and fished upstream.

Soon a chunky 16.75" snarfed the 3" R2C swimbait. It was covered in black spot parasites. This would be the theme of the day. Lots of bass, all with the black spots everywhere. I fished the stream before and it was don't uncommon closer to the main flow. The smallmouth has the body of an 18", the tail of a 14". :? Someone sprinkled black pepper all over it.

There were only 5 or 6 deep holes in the entire stretch which I measured out at 4.4 miles. True to form, each produced 5-6 smallmouth and rock bass. Here's a pic of one looking upstream:

There was often quite a distance between deep spots, but generally there would be a couple smallmouth above and below to be caught off rootwads or shade. The weather turned overcast, this helped, as the fish weren't very spooky. I saw most of the strikes on the jointed swimbait. This was amazing. The aggressive chasing smallmouth bass smashed it with violence every time. Really fun to entice bites each time. A slower, often stop and go retrieve worked great. Over deeper pools, slow, painful retrieves worked best.

Got a 16"er, chunky 17"; I really had that swimbait working. Lost an absolute pig which I saw accelerate at amazing speed to overtake the swimbait and swim upstream at me. It went airborne twice. Both times impossibly big, the second time it threw the bait in the air about 15' from me. First lost pig of the year I can remember. It was a blast watching the smallmouth come up and hit that bait.

I could hardly stop wading downstream, wanting to see the next pool. Just awesome. No people. Love being on a new stream when the next bend might be 'the one' to produce something amazing. Really was nirvana.

Got off the water about 8pm fully satisfied. It had been on hell of a forced march over uneven ground at 7.3 miles. I can see this one being a mega wade with another stretch, eliminating the need to walk back. A car at each bridge or a bike in the woods would be the kicker.

Constant action when there was enough water to hold bass. Can't wait to try another. I'll be back to this one in a month or so when they've finished spawning.

44 Smallmouth Bass (17",16.75",16", 4-15") 8 Rockies- Almost everything on 3" R2C swimbait (threw in 90%), 1 13" on Sammy in about 10 casts, one 15"er on tube.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

5/9/10 Eggs and Fry

Went for a wade on another micro flow. Water was low and clear. So clear, the first stretch up to dam was devoid of any fish. I mostly walked out and was thinking of somewhere else to go when I spotted a nest with newly hatched smallie fry in it. They were about a micron long. Flipped the underwater camera mode on and kept my fingers crossed.

I don't believe I've ever seen how big smallmouth eggs are. Spotted a few more nests being guarded and left them alone. Walked up the the center of the stream and spotted a nest behind a bolder. The 12" male spooked off when he saw me. It was a good spot for a nest because there were no other fish nearby.

I looked closely and saw eggs, snapping this picture:

You go, guys! Little cutties.

Now I've been throwing a new bait recently. The River2Sea 3" jointed V wake bait. It really runs about 8-18" under the surface. The bait works great and totally replaces those riggy plastic swimbaits. I used the clown color today. Finish is great, runs great, doesn't foul much at all, catches fish. Does somethings the WC can't do, a little deeper, same great lively wobble. 3" 3/8th oz- $7.50!

Was about to turn around when a 15" fish nailed the R2C, then a bigger one smacked it and missed at the next eddy. I threw on the 2" chatter bait and got him dragging it across the current and down to the bottom. Saw the fish follow across the stream to nail it. Went 18"!

Not too long after a 16.5" shot from under some shade and nailed the bait, fought like a lion spawned out. Could see it all from a distance. The R2C really lands softly and allows for subtle casting in small confines.

The more I worked the bait the better it got, with 3 more 15"ers and some dinks before hitting another nice 17.25" smallie:

Lots of chasers and bass summoned from the depths. Also saw a few good ones guarding beds and couldn't get anything going on tubes down in the rootwads.

15 SMB (18", 17.25", 16.5", 4-15"ers) 1 Goog in about 4.5 hours

Friday, May 7, 2010

Quite a day 5/5

36 SMB (18.25", 2-17.5", 2-17", 16", 10- 15") Goog and a chub

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

River2Sea 3" V-Joint Min Wake- New Smallie Joy Toys?

Can't wait to give these 3" V-Joint Wakes a try:

They look like just what the doctor ordered for the stream smallmouth fisherman at 3/8oz, not too heavy to throw on ML or M rods. Only 7.50 each and the finishes look great in person. May add rear feathered treble.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

5/1/10 Tippecanoe river float

Wolkabuzz and I got on the Tippecanoe River this morning by 8:30am. It looked a little swift; we figured it would just push the bass close to shore. Visibility was 18" to start, worsening as the day went on and water was released from the dam.

[Bighead carp alert]Throughout the day, I would crank bandit footloose fast through seams and slower water. About 10-15 times, massive fish caused boils and kerplunks near the lure, one would think could only be caused by 20-30 lbs fish, it happened far too much to be Muskie or Pike. I doubt they are afraid of 2" crankbait anyway. Those things are spooky on overcast, drizzle, lower vis, high water near riffles .[/Bighead carp alert]

Ok, it wasn't long before Terry lost a nice midriver fish when it went airborne to spit his spinnerbait. He then picked up the first fish on a spinnerb or crankbait.

I was working the Bandit Footloose in citrus shad crankbait angle, as we would be covering a lot of water. Since there was a lot of wood this one foot or less diver should stay unsnagged, I would rely on a stop and go speed cadence fleeing the bait from whatever small eddies we could find out towards the current. The current carried our yaks to almost a one and done. I couldn't help but try and hug the banks in my yak and make short wrist flips, followed by quick stop and go. It was fun to keep hitting targets and keep the bait in the water as the yak floated along. Thus, the first smallie for me came out of some wood and smacked the Footloose a full 18" from my kayak, then wrapped line around my rod tip. Luckily, the fish wrapped itself, so I was able to scoop it up. Somewhere around 15"-16" and a chunk. Not long later, I got three more, dink, dink, 12"er using the same technique. Terry picked up a couple more. Worked really hard, but couldn't get a strike again for like an hour as vis decreased. Another dink on a shallow crank.

At noon, we decided to paddle out and hit a creek. A resident told us the takeout was only a 15 minute paddle away. Famous last words. We paddled for a while and saw some better water rock jetties and piers from the bank creating current seams and partial riffles in some areas.

I fished a smallie near to hand about 13". When I got to the last jetty, everything lined up perfectly. My boat was 15' from the current seam parallel to shore. The 25' backhand wrist flip landed where I wanted it. Softly, but quickly ripped the footloose down and towards the seam. I knew something was going to happen. It did. BUNK! Big fish! Of course, the boat was going one hundred miles an hour; at least Mr. Smallmouth stayed in the slow water. It tried going downstream in the slack powerfully, bending rod, tugging kayak....

OH WOW. *Drop your anchor* A voice said. I held the rod high to keep tight line if the fish jumped and stop the head down runs; my reel hand slipped down and unloosed the anchor rope from the cam cleat. ZZZZVVVIIIP. Gadunk, dunk. I saw a big head point straight towards the heavens. Seemed to aim for eternity. *Getting ready to jump you sod!* said the voice. Rod up higher to keep the hook tight, tight in the direction same the hook entered open mouth. Reel hand back to home base, turn the fish.

OH NO, NOT A HEADSHAKE!!! *Line tight, idiot!* Voice throttled. HERE COMES ANOTHER ONE. HASHAKKASHAKKA-SPLOOSH. How to land the fish? Lean to the right (secondary stability), surf bass onto the side of the 45 degree tilted kayak switch rod hands and scoop that B up quick style........


The bass had a huge tail and was long. It measured a clean 20". Terry had been paddling. He was nowhere in sight. We were paddling out. But... there...are.... another fish hops on. Wolka gone. This isn't 15 minutes, it's half the float. Pooh.

Phase two: Creek Zed. The first couple casts, I look up to see a nice smallmouth around 16" fly off Terry's hook at his feet. Terry gets revenge crankbaiting a couple fish from under and in front of a bridge. The larger 17-18" has a long white tube hanging out its rear. Egg dispenser or smallmouth poop. We went home after 20-30 minutes of creek.

I ended up with 10 SMB and a Goog (20", 15-16")

Wolka had 6 SMB (I think) (17-18"er)

Long day with maybe 4.5 hours of fishing, mostly driving and then paddling out.