Monday, July 26, 2010

Severe Bass Thumb

I don't want to show a picture of it. The bass thumbs. It became so painful, I actually didn't want to catch anymore smallies Saturday evening. Big bass that wouldn't quite give up when thumbed, twitching googs, dinks with their new sharp rows of tiny teeth. Blood started to seep through my tattered thumb pads. It hurts to touch.

691 Smallmouth bass from May 1st to July 26th. 4.38 smallmouth bass per hour fished in that time.

Going to Google "bass thumb solution" and post it if I find one.

July 25th AM Wade

Took Wendy out for some adventure early in the AM. We were going to be out and about most of the day. Dog was to swim, run, climb, and catch until she would be pleasantly worn out.

Creek was just the right amount of water to bunch bass up. Stained with maybe 14" visibility I threw a new R2C wake crankbait. Looks a lot like the Lucky Craft version without a feather tail/jointed closer to the head. Bought it because it hase a couple of metal ball bearing knockers. First cast, I nailed this 17"er:

The bait worked well. Was the only lure I could get to work. Later another 16".

Got 10 in 2.5 hours (17", 16") With a bunch of fish that flew off the new bait. Hooks are rather small.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 24th Mega Wade

Set out to hit one of my favorite flows, taking a break from the micro flows in the AM. Got on the water fishing by 8AM. Water was pumping through at a nice clip, high enough to put fish in the water willows. The way I like it. Visibility was 18"+ with a stain to it.

Baitfish were clearly being chased. I often catch these bass by throwing a topwater directly into the area. In this case, a Rick Clunn 1.5 wakecrank scored the first smallmouth. Shortly, I caught a couple on a 5" weighted pink fluke. Again, nice ones in the 12-14" range.

I was wading this stretch on a hunt. A couple of weeks ago I had a beast of a smallmouth nearly to hand when one last jump, left me heartbroken. I thought I had lost a huge bass. By sight, the fish looked in the 19-21" range. The pool is not really a hole but a more of a run, a collection of boulders downstream from an bedrock shelf, riffle, gradient, gravel, and rock providing plenty of habitat and places to hide, despite being less than 3' deep. I often fish this run perpendicular casting across, dragging a wakecrank, buzzbait, or fluke across the current.

Picked up a couple on WC. The pool seemed played out. The retraining micro flows have given me is to keep casting from all angles until you pull something out. Often a change in presentation can make the difference.

In this case, the gradient drop cause quite a bit of ambient riffle noise. I thought I'd try a Rico popper just to see if there was anything to it. Rod Yoder ( had told us about his favorite topwater technique walking the dog with a spitting popper. I'd tried it a bit in the past with little success. This time it was on! I started getting the hang of the cadence the smallmouth wanted. The noise was really attracting bass in the stained water with slightly higher level. Making lots of natural noise in the turbulent run was the ticket. A bunch of nice fish came to hand. Then this happened:
The bass was thick, big headed, and strong jawed. Under its chin was a slight wound as if it had been hooked. Probably my quarry for previous outing! I measured the fish at 18.75" with a chunk of tail missing and a smaller than normal tail in general. I've noticed it is harder for me to accurately guess length on fatter fish. Just not used to seeing thick creek bass.
The bite died as the day started. The sun had come up. Target was more similar riffles for active fish.

Finally found one. A shallow bedrock flat placed behind some willow islands. The rico was nailing dinks. I must have caught 8-10 smallies there. I had found the pattern fleeing and walking the Rico. It was an effective technique and efficient. Bass who struck were hooked and landed. In 3.5 hours, I got 28 to hand.

Met up with Nate shortly after noon. We were doing a mega wade on a micro flow. Fishing started out slower overall than that morning. But soon I had discovered a Wakecrank bite, which segwayed into a tube bite.

Nate picked up this nice smallmouth bass (16.75") off that rootwad behind him as the bass took the tube on the drop.
Later we found a waterfall in the hot weather. Like sitting in a cool sauna. The pool right above was loaded with smallies. We caught a few and the rest spooked.

Wake crank/ tube day on the micro flow. Numbers started mounting up. Lots of dink to 14"ers, occasional 15". lack of size, though I know they get to 17" in there.

We had three or four doubles. We each caught a bass on tube in this case.

I was out ahead of Nate because he kept throwing a Sammy to disinterested fish and interested trees.

As the day burned, I was worn out and the fishing got mechanical. I needed some calories. Nate started to catch up. Which is good on him as he was starting to 'get it'. He caught some nice bass. Another short of 17". I got a 16" I went through a stretch where nothing stayed hooked. My thumbs were shredded. It was painful to unhook bass. I was done. Funny thing is, that can change quick when you catch something.

We hit another larger pool and I nailed a couple 14-15" SMB dragging tube and this MOTHER OF ALL CREEK GOOGS:

The pic didn't turn out it was beautiful and so fat. I'm guessing 10" close to a pound.

Feet ready to fall off, we finally got to my car around 9:20PM. A 12 hour day of fishing.

Finished with 70 SMB (42 in second wade) (18.75", 16, 3-15") 3 Rock bass.
Nate caught 33 SMB (2-16.75", bunch of 15"'s) 2 rock bass in 8.5 hours

Monday, July 19, 2010

Of heated head and another stellar Indiana smallmouth wade 7/16/2010

Wade 1: Mike and Nate. 5 bridges. 4.26 miles over uneven ground. Dropped them off, parked Mike's truck at their last bridge and waded up to my car 4.06 miles upstream.

We arrived on the water after 11:30am. Plenty of time for a good numbers day. Only the creek had come down close to a foot! It never does have a lot of water in it. This was as skeleton as I have fished and summer low water yet to come. The sun was intense as I got out of the truck. Forgot my hat, so I grabbed Mike's Gortex OP hat and got moving.

Initially, the bass were lethargic. Only found active fish in the shallow riffle seeking food. Got a 15"er on splashdown with a spook jr. Hard fishing for 3 hours picking up a couple on R2C, 3" yum dinger casting to boulders, and 5" fluke worked hard. Started to think about bagging the day and calling the other guys when I hit a deep hole where a bridge is out. Smallies looking at me everywhere. Spooked. But the ones upstream...

Threw a R2C upstream towards a deepwater ambush point. The bait got ambushed by a chubby 17"er! The fish was beautiful and thick and squirmed free while I was setting up the camera. I decided to throw a buzzbait. Sunfish and dinks were slapping it. Pulled in one longear who took a trailer hook in the eye. Threw him over towards where I saw some smallies waiting in ambush but spooked. Boosh! Sunny was gone, chomped down by a 15" smallmouth with a mean streak.

So things were looking up despite the intense sun. Bugs were much reduced. Throughout the day I just couldn't stop my face from sweating. Drenched. Wow. It is hot.

Above the bridge, I hit a long straight pool below a bend. Wood and some depth to one side where the bedrock shelved deeper. I threw over to a rootwad where a 13" bass responded. The fish was followed in by 4 more like it. This was one of those moments where you spot some structure after passing it up. To the left the shade was blanketing the root strewn bank.

I threw over under the tree with the very next cast: RATATATATATATATAT...BA-Boosh! Big one! The large smallie tried to manuver to jump, the water was so clear I could counter his each move with corresponding rod movement, when I wouldn't let him jump, the fish tried peeling drag. Kept him peeling in one direction, then into some willows for landing. Stunning bass. Set up a flat rock on top of the grass for a camera table. Fish hadn't given up. Shaked out of my hand. Gone. Darn that was two!

The very next cast, I again threw over and under the tree limbs as far back as I could line drive and still control presentation. RATATATATATATATATA...BOOSH! Another large fish. I could see it trying to back up with headshakes to get an angle to jump. No sir. Then it ran for some limbs. Nope. Peeled drag until it was also laying in the willows for landing. 17.25"

On the 4th cast, again under the tree...RATATAATATAATA...BOOSH! Another + smallmouth. Another drag peeling fight. 17.75".

4 Smallmouth in 4 casts with the last three going 18.5", 17.25", and 17.75". Storms heard off in the distance seemed to coincide with the more aggressive bite. They threatened, but only drizzled on me.

Buzzbait bite was cool, but I often couldn't cast it far enough to get deep into cover. Finally tested the LC Wake Crank again and there was a definite bite waking it across the surface. Got on a dink to 14"er bite as all sizes were represented.

Man was it hot. Oh wait, that's my simmering head. The F hat was retaining heat like crazy. I couldn't recover by resting. 2 apples, 4 waters, couple of food bars. Should be plenty of hydration. That darned F hat. Wore me out, and I didn't know it was the cause.

I fished on, nailed another 18" on the WC this time. Closed in on 50, couldn't seal the deal, had to get cooled down. Head was seriously hot. You can see it in this crazy-arse pic.

Went and checked on Mike and Nate. There was a run over dog in the middle of the road. Nope. Just waiting for master to come home. As luck would have it, Mike and Nate got off the water about the same time around 7:30PM. I'll let them tell their tale.

48 Bass 47 SMB, 1KY Spot (18.5", 18", 17.75", 17.25", 17", 3-15")11 misc fishes green sunfish, longear, shiner- buzzbaits.

Feel much better today.
Now Mike and Nate did pretty well downstream of me. When I met up with them, Mike remarked I was better off not wearing a hat than to wear his winter hat. Uggh.
They got 41 bass and half dozen misc fishes. 3 17" or better. Nate's largest was around 18-18.5"!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Weekend Smallmouth Bass Indiana Observations

Couple things I noticed this last weekend on a couple favorite southeastern Indiana streams. 1/8th" black fry in the shallows. Awesome. The water has been very high all spring and early summer. To see these little black bass floating around meekly made me happy. The water on this river looked great; deep holes were an aqua marine turqouise with visibility to 3' with a fairly fast flow to it. Saw fish in the push water areas. The usual abundant life on the stream bed and banks was still there. Frogs of all types and sizes crawfish everywhere from 1/4" to 4". Lots of anglers out after very few normal days this year to fish.

I suppose that's why when I tried it for an hour on Sunday for the first time since early March, the fishing was off. One dink and a nice thick 14"er was all I had to show.

The smaller stream I had fished earlier in the AM with nowhere near the flow, I also spied newly hatched black fry in the 1/8-1/4" range. No surprise here. This little stream is barely a trickle in summer, yet has excellent habitat and some deep pools. Every year is a banner spawn. It gives up some awesome all day action covered in shade. I am learning why some areas seem to be dead and others house decent fish as the water comes down to a more normal flow.

Great numbers stream, with occasional 16-18.5" bass. If ever there was a 100 bass Indiana stream this one is it. Have to get a bike to ditch at a bridge and do an all dayer sometime. As the water comes down, I am seeing which are actually pools that can support big fish. They are there if you can cover enough ground. Then unlocking those giant deep pools become a challenge once you get in riffle hopping mode.

Other than the grand habitat, I think this stream is doing so well because it becomes are raging torrent for very short periods of time come big rains. I would encourage those seeking better action in their smallmouth fishing to seek these types of flows

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Single Hook Afternoon 7/11/2010

Got on a small Indiana stream about 1:30 PM today. Fishing was good. Superflukes and buzzbaits.

I much prefer to catch smallmouth on single hook lures. It is easier to keep the hook tight and land the fish and you have no chance of hooking yourself.

The fluke I was using was actually a pink floating fluke from Strike King 3X ElazTech . I had a weighted hook to get the bait down in the zone. On the bottom, the tail would wiggle in current like a shakey worm. The bait doesn't sink well like a Superfluke, it's designed to float- BUT, the major breakthrough here is the ultra soft (squishy) plastic, that just refuses to tear! Eureka! The major factor to the detriment of most fluke baits is they often rip on a single or a few fish. Try as you might, the bait just won't run right after a piece of the head is torn. It often has to be rigged perfectly to get that 'glide' the bass love. Well the geniuses at Strike King have found a plastic that is hard to tear. I caught 15-20 fish on one. The fluke would slide over my snap and up the braid without tearing again and again. I thought something was wrong when I had difficulty getting the hook throught the head of the bait. The plastic is just that elastic.

Another nice thing about the Strike King Floating Fluke, if you crank it fast, the bait swims like a swimbait. Smallies have been loving a stop and go retreive lately. Flee it fast, drop it to get bit, repeat.  Looks like a sinking version will have to get ordered for a test.

Here's the biggest fish of the day, that fell to pink fluke (18.5"):

30 SMB (18.5", 2-15") 7 assorted creek fish, rock bass, green sunfish, shiner in 4.5 hours

2010 Indiana Smallmouth Fishing

Encouraging news about Indiana smallmouth streams: Some of the great spawns of 2004, 2005, 2007  etc are starting to reach catchable size (8-10"). I don't try to catch these fish, but they are so aggressive. Minnow populations appear to be recovering as well. Water conditions also seem like a major improvement over last year's algae events. All hope is not lost for some of our streams that have been producing mediocre fishing for a year, year and a half.

I've mostly stepped away to try new creeks and rivers in 2010 and have found some new favorites. Numbers of fish caught per hour are way up. May, June, and July averaged 4.19 Smallmouth per hour (4.58 overall). Certain this is my best three month average. Not many 18-20"ers in there. Probably a factor of stream size, and large smallie populations somewhat slowing growth...

For now, I love the action and it seems the bigger flows aren't in terrible shape either!

Get out and fish!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Early Morning Indiana Smallmouth Wade 7/10/10

Hit the water this AM by 7am, which is really pretty early for me anymore. 

Went 1 for 2 on +size smallies. One hit the Spook Jr. and rubbed me out on a rock. Didn't see it, from the pull, it felt like it was safely in the 16-18" range.

Got two hours in mostly throwing the Spook Jr at first. The loud knocking seemed to get their attention in the dim AM light. My least favorite part of the fishing day is when an AM topwater bite dies off. My favorite is when it continues on in the heat of the day! Alas, I had to adjust after just 45 minutes of action.

When the sun peeped out a bit,  I got a few on the walk back to the car throwing a chart shad R2C, which they had been hesitant to comitt on just an hour earlier.

9SMB (17.25") in 2 hours. Nice mix of dink to 14"ers on the rest.

Then hit the Wabash Riverfest in West Lafayette, IN.

Calm Before the Storm 7/8/10

I haven't been hitting many larger flows this year. I figured given half day off and a bored dog to take a look see. We arrived on stream at 1:15 PM to a clear flowing stream with 3' visibility and about perfect flow not too fast, not too slow. Everything on the table.

Wendy was awesome. She just mostly kept by my side. She's come a long way from the first few times I've taken her fishing. She used to run out ahead and swim over into holes. Now she listens very well.

It being brightly sunny, I feared the fishing would suck. Mainly set out to give the dog some good exercise.

But the Smallmouth were supercharged with an incoming thunderstorm I had failed to reckon with. Several times off the bait a bass was on and in the air before I could apply pressure. Couple fell to R2C, then a couple 12-13"ers on a tube. I had the RC LC Wake Crank working perpendicular to flow when a gigantic bass surfaced and nailed the bait. This seemed like deja vu. I had hook an enormous fish iin almost the same spot a few years back. Line had snapped and I left a 3/8 oz buzzbait in its face. Well this time, I kept the fish low and it peeled drag. I walked over to beach the fish. Now seeing it to be in the huge range 20-22". 6' from shore the crank was in the right side of its face. For a second I yelled at the dog to get out of my path. The bass jumped. The crank pulled free. The air escaped my lungs. Damn.

Threw back out, nailing a nice 15" smallie. Action was hot if not always connecting.

The storm happened. 40+MPH winds, raining buckets. We were soaked in a minute. A mile/mile and ahalf from car I decided it would eventually stop. Our family dog, normally terrified of electical storms was loving being out in this one. She tromped with glee.

We made our way to the end of  a large bedrock pool. A couple bass, crazed, jumped off hook. Next cast into the push water hooked something good on a tube. 17"+ The bass wouldn't quit. Went airborne 4 times in a 30' fight. This is wet:

Another 4 or 5 on the R2C including another chunky 15".

Water started staining up. The waking that seemed to attract attention before the storm was ignored in this downpour. I kept to the shallow diving R2C. Picked up another 17"+ SMB once the rained slowed:

Water had come up about 4" in a very short time. The water clarity had reduced to 18" and bites were less frequent, but still willing.

This 16.5"  bass tried to swim between my legs and hide under the dog for cover.

We got to a bridge around 5PM and decided to head out.

22 SMB (17.5, 17.25, 16.5" 3-15") 1 Giant Rock Bass 4 hours

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Another Summer Smallmouth Wade 7/5/2010

Small flow. Water clarity got worse in the second half of our wade inexplicably. 4" tubes and R2C (stop and go). Nothing on grubs or flukes and one fish on spinnerbait.

Mike with 17.5" Smallie caught on 3" River2Sea V wake:

Consecutive casts off midstream boulder: (17.5", 16.75"):

BT 23 SMB (17.5", 2-15.75") 2 Googs, half human chub

MC 13 SMB ( 17.5", 16.75") 2 Googs, Chub

5-5.5 hours

Monday, July 5, 2010

Grand Slam Wade 7/3/10

For Saturday I decided to do something completely different and not fish at all. BSZZZZT!!! Just kidding. MC couldn't make it. First stream was a new stretch after one I had done in 2008. Siltier since then. Water visibility was near 5' and flow wasn't much.

Disappointing. Had some follows by decent fish that seemed reluctant in the early AM. Then got on some dinks who wanted a Superfluke. Looked down to notice I only had one! Don't use the pockets in your quickdry pants while wading! Ended with 6 (including 2 spots) from dink to 12". Couldn't figure out whether it was the time of day or the habitat. At the end of my wade I saw some awesome deep pools that must surely house a 20"er or 10. Walked back and got in to scout some different forks and feeders.

Found one with a nature trail that turned out all right. First cast in this micro resulted in a 15"er on a tube. From there it widened out and became Green Bass creek. not much current, infrequent riffles. I got 9 LMB 12-14" and chunky on 5" grub a couple dink SMB,in an hour hour and a half. So when I saw some others wading upstream, I left and went back to the first flow for another stretch.

I had hit this stretch at double the height on the gage and with maybe 8" of clarity. How things change! Hit another 23 SMB on Wakecrank and 5"grub in 4 hours. Largest were 16.5 and 15".

Was stopped by an unimaginably large, rock strewn pool that would put ultra hole to shame. Nearly 100 yards across and I don't know how deep. Hard to believe I was still on the same creek. Ill equipped to fish that.

41 Bass 2 KY Spot, 9 LMB, 30 SMB (16.5", 2-15") 2 Green sunfish, 3 Googs, longear sunfish

Grand Slam of the three Indiana Black Bass plus Rock Bass.

Going to have to float this creek sometime.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Action over Size

Recently taken  to hunting down consistent action over just a few fish with a big one in there from time to time. The creeks I have been fishing have bass up to 18.5" ( maybe more), but you have to catch a lot of fish before you get some good ones. It will now get harder to catch these bigger fish as waters drop for summer flow.

Right now I'm going for 30-60 fish days at the expense of targetting flows where I might be in the teens with the opportunity for more larger smallies.

Another driving factor is this is new water for me.