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.


  1. BT,

    Good report and happy holidays.

    Norm M. and I fish the same river. 5 years ago angling was much better than now because of flooding and silting. Seems to be a problem that is becoming more widespread throughout the county.

    I have had great success as late the week before Thanksgiving in years past. Numbers of bass and quality, either throwing plastics or on the rare occasion, topwaters in low 40 degree water.

    Bass Pro is carrying more and more finesse plastics and weighted hooks. I stumbled upon this this technique about 6 years ago.

    You made, which I find interesting, a comment in another post about catching fewer 19" bass, which in turn, may be a sign of fewer 20" in the future.

    Do you think all those 19"s will eventually reach 20"?

    Do you think, as an example, all 17"s reach 18"?


  2. Likewise-

    All 19" reach 20"? No, but all 20" were 19".

    I fish too many different streams to say for sure if it is a size class crash. My sample size has proven a lier before, but not generally on #'s of big smallies. That has dropped since mid 2008 floods.

    I fished a lot of feeders this year for great numbers, but not always bigger fish. So that reason alone would lessen 19" bass. The 18"+ mark seems to be the average top out size on many streams.

    There are many more smallmouth that we don't see and never catch. What we throw, or when we go could effect what we catch as well. Being in the wrong places for 19" fish could be most of the problem, or throwing a bait they don't like at a speed they don't prefer, etc...

  3. I have looked elsewhere to replace poor fishing from a number of normal standouts. The populations will rebound eventually. I decided not to keep hitting my head against that hammer.