Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day of the Dead 12/27/12

Couldn't sleep the day after Xmas. A strange kind of chest congestion from being sick nasally 3 weeks ago. Run, exercise, everything as per normal, just a chest cough (no mucus) that keeps one awake. 3 in the morning, I can't sleep.

I decide, "Hell, I might as well got to work." Pull in the parking lot the day after Blizzardthon 2012 at 4:40am. There is 12" of snow drifted in front of the door. Hmmm, how to unlock and get in before alarm goes off with all that snow? Squeeze. The door and I get really intimate.

The two Ener-Coffees I drank wear off gradually, not until a flurry of activity finishes this week's orders and time to fish gets closer. I'm a strange combination of fishing pre-excitement and Zombie.

Who needs sleep? Get to the water at 1PM. Clear and dropped since the Blizzard froze everything up. First spot, I luck into a solitary dink after accidentally floating over rough fish school in the 'sweet' spot. Siltation has filled in a ledge that used to attract the bass there. Was always good for a few in the past, but now they seem to spread out in the pool. Darn. Maybe I need to test at higher water level to make sure. Nothing on a float and fly, but I get lucky while freelining the hair jig, a dink comes to hand. The little jig was picked up after a long pause on one of the drops. This clues me in the bite might be painfully patient one like the last time out. I move on.

I fish the bottom of a plunge pool, it normally only rarely produces in Winter. Usually dinks. I'm freelining along the slow part of the current seam. I stop the jig for a while. Kind of a 'tick', kind of a 'thunk', not quite either. Soft. Some nice bend fights. This 14-15" gorgeous bass comes to hand.


As I go through the riffle, there's a small eddy on my left, then a wide shallow pool. The only possible Wintering spot for hundreds of yards. I turn the yak and flip the tiny jig into the sweet spot. Quietly anchor, bemoaning the fact I come to a halt further upstream than intended. Another tick/thunk happens, surprisingly bulky and feisty. The big yellow bass gets out into the current, slashing like an F-16. The fish provides an exciting moment, as it tries to wrap around the front of the kayak. I hoist a hefty 17.5" smallmouth bass on board. Beauty. The cold and the colors are stunning. Pretty sure that fish got pushed into the eddy by recent high water and cold.



Nothing happens at all in the hog/numbers part of the stretch. Like they're on to me completely. Crap. Part of the problem, keeping the small jig down, then not hanging up. Still there should have been a few dumb fish there.

I drag and paddle back up to the starting pool. Spying a hill close to the river. I try my hand at sledding the kayak minus rods and fishing gear. Short ride, but it does work.

A sand bar at the end of a 400 yard pool stops current middle river. Again, I've caught a fish or two there on occasion, but usually less than a 50/50 shot of a single bass. Rewarded with another tick/thunk and then a nice fight, 16"er to hand. I try more but it is not to be. Got the overall mind voice telling me they fed yesterday during the storm. Still not bad to pick 4 bass in post front near freezing conditions with a couple nice ones. Bite was just too slow for the amount of territory.

4 SMB 17.5", 16", 14", dink

Evidently, the fishing was an anticlimax. Caffeine wore off and I dozed at the wheel twice. Pulled over and chugged a Dew. Not a fan of that. No sir.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winter is Here! 12/22/12

Took my kayak to quick float some spots. Visibility was 12-14". Water was up higher than it has been in 6 months. Algae flushed onto all the dead willows, but seemingly off the bottom. Nice.

Wasted the first spot, either they weren't there yet, or not eating. There was a huge ice form on the eddie that I rammed my kayak into and pushed off to sea on the way out.

Took a while at the next spot. Float dunked within 30 seconds of landing, indicating the fish was attracted to the drop (or was right there). Big fish, maybe a carp? Just don't let it head shake free. Heavy on the noodle. Finally to hand. A big smile popped out when I saw the yellow fish. Another 20" smallie. The third lately measuring on the money at 20". I accidentaly snapped this pic, after which my camera battery depleted, so sadly no more pics. Thought I had charged it. Darn.


It took a lot of patience and water reading to get bit. 'Combing' would describe it. A 50 by 10 foot section of strike zone. The first fish came within 3' of shore on a long cast. The rest would be short casts and long drifts. I let the jig bounce and drag to slow the float. Some of the strikes were not dunks, but a slight change in direction indicating a bottom pick up. I also tried freelining hairjigs quite a bit. Not one bite. With the water colder now, I just couldn't keep it as slow as watching a float. Soon a 14"er, then a 15". I lost one on the surface that looked every bit 18"+. Then another 14-15"er. Weird. Looked at my hook to see it was the shape of a 'P' with only a small opening to hook MR. Bass. I had bent it up with forceps removing from the pig. After that fix everything came to hand incl a nice 16". Had burned the spot, so I loaded the yak back up and went to the next one.

This large pool was just how I like it, high. Didn't take too long before I had a thick 18"er to hand. Took forever to find the next about 6' down hailmary shot. 13". Left and tried one more mamouth pool.

Here it took awhile to find the sweet spot. When I did, a 13" and fat 17.5 gave fine tussles. Booked upstream in the yak to hit a couple slow bends. Kept hanging my line in trees on the backswing. Disaster. Probably wasted 20 minutes that way. Floated out. Loaded up in the car and set out again, trying to get the last bass and make double digits.

Managed the only dink of the day at my feet at dusk. I'll take it. 10 feels better than 9 after two lost fish early.

10 SMB 20", 18", 17.5", 16", 15", 2-14"


Monday, December 10, 2012

Nothing too Exciting 12/10/12

Wanted to fish Sunday. We've gotten drizzle for a few days, so I figured it might be worth it to get out. Check that, been sick all week from fishing last Sunday and needed to smell the breeze. Got an early start, but as I pulled up to the destination with kayak inside the prius, I realized I'd left my waders home.

Now once, I put on dress shoes and waded in the Summer when I forgot my boots. Breifly contemplated a float without waders, wet crotch, cold. Forget that. Drove 50 miles home and back to get the waders.

Fishing was....ok. Had to work hard deep with freelined hair jig. Water was still crazy clear. Without much light on the day, I could still see down 5'.

Hit 10 SMB to 16" and a 20" carp.

We really need it to pour for a couple days to scour the algae and leaves up onto the bank, push the fish into predictable (more). Right now bass are in some ridiculous places for this time of year and any mistakes spook fish.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Streaking 20"ers 11-17-12

Was bit 5' down on a ledge. Looked big during the fight, couldn't believe another 20"er to hand. A 4th 20"+ in as many trips, or 5 in 7. Surpasses previous streak of three in a row.

The 12-14" bass were kind of nuts today. Water was ultra clear. Didn't get another large bass bite after I broke the hook on the secret weapon. When you are on a good streak, look for every reason why it might be happening. Can't help small part of me looking at things like lure color. Last two pigs were the same. probably a coincidence. Never mattered before.


Pretty good action. The yak again allowed me to get to fish I never would have caught on foot because the water was too deep, too many snags to cast into, etc.

Lost four fish fighting them upstream. Couldn't be helped as I'd rear anchored to avoid spooking small potential holes.

Smallmouth haven't completely evacuated some of the smaller holes. Most of these are hard to get anything out of when the water comes up and it gets cold. Maybe the bass do stay in them. The possibility that they don't carry many bass (or large ones) leads me to think skipping them may be best bet- At least later. For now, it's nice to snag a fish or two from them. I'm not sure they're good high water Winter holes.

19 SMB (20", 15")


Friday, November 16, 2012

A Revenge 20" Smallmouth Bass 11/14/12

Since Zack is snarfing all the nice fish out of my spots, I figured I'd get him back by catching his fish. Been planning this. Never caught any cold water fish this way so, it'd be a challenge. Water was up 50%, visibility down a foot at least (though the lack of light made it hard to tell). Float about a mile and a half fish deep bends hard, paddle back up. On the way, one very large pool could hold a nice treat or 6.

At the first go to spot, I had trouble locating any smallies. After about an hour (waaay too long for this spot) my orange float dunked. A nice fight and a thankful first fish to hand. Further out into the current than I'd expected.

So a one mile plus journey in the yak follows. No fishing. I'm finally fishing a terrific set of laydowns and scoured roots. Can't see down in the water too good and my fly hangs up twice. Now I only tied three at Dave's a couple of weekends ago, so this wouldn't stand. I went in after it. Retrieved a float and one of the flies, by removing the float and pushing the jig off the wood 4' below. Now I had a fly jig with no float and started freelining it into the downstream wood. Thunk. Another fish. Lightbulb. :!::idea::?::!:

Thought I had another. Maybe some downstream work in the slow deep current? Pull it up river from just above the dropoff, see what results.

Knew there was a dropoff and deep outside bend on the north side, so I floated, then rear anchored to prevent souring the hole. On the second cast, letting the fly sink, darting it, letting it sink, etc repeat. Another bass. Man, were they fighting! Spirits turned completely around from potential dispair. There's nothing more exciting than discovering a new Winter area for me. You just never know what you're going to get. Next cast. Thunk. Again. Headshaking against current I lose one. Manage 3 smallies to 15.5" before they stop hitting and I seek to go around the hot zone and fish up it.

Fishing upstream works too. Only better. Now freelining has its limitations. You can't cast far (reanchoring required near fish schools is bad). Fast current will have you bewildered where your bait is on a 1/16th oz hair jig. None of these were a problem with low light. I'm fishing 5 to 6 feet down letting the bait tick, then jet it a bit, then let it pendulum down. Swimming and dropping seemed to get them going. Careful to keep it down in the zone. These fish would be within a foot of bottom.

Again and again the small jig got bit, producing amazing fights. Added 3- 15.5-16.5" bass. Was starting to wonder where the big, big girls were. (And little worry, the 12-16''s were puting a deep bend in push current and 5' down on the noodle rod). Finally, 'IT' happens. The little jig is about to tick the rock or wood I've dragged over 10 times before. Heaviness, sideways line movement. I know what that is, and the feel is way different. Thar she blows! Barely move the fish that's down there. Heart races. The whale zigged and zagged and made plays to go in wood and also to launch down the riffle. My anchored yak pulled 10'. The fish tried to surface several frickin' times. I let the light jig go slack. There was little weight to throw, so why tear a hole bigger?

Sick, just sick. One of the top 4 fights of the year. At one point, I saw it streak past the yak at speed, tiger stripes rippling. Exciting. It was Zack's fish that he lost at the C&F. Tension as I really struggled to land this hulkster in some push water on the noodle rod. Yeah, it was a big fish and you want to land it, but to make Zman taste the mustard? I had to have it. :D






Ended with 15 (20", 2-16"'+s, 2-15"'s) even a couple dinks.

4th 20"+ in 6 trips, 3 in a row. Gonna try real hard to extend the streak.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Another 20" Smallmouth and Some Suprise Guests 11/10/12

With the lack of huge smallmouth this year for me I've been trying something different recently. Getting away from pressured bass and hitting bigger water. I floated down to a couple a good wide pools some 2 miles into the stretch. I knew them to be full of fish from my first time there in late October. The warmup worried me. How would the fish react? Under the best of times the fish can be scarce out here, but it is made up for by the 21.25"er the first shot.

Not much going on accept for one gentle FnF bite at the back of a pool. Pulled it away from him. Got to the first of the large Winter pools. Was throwing a twin spin, when to my surprise, it got belted along the shore line in shallows. Nice fight. Seemed like a really good fish ripped off drag. To my surprise it measured 20.5".

3/5 last trips with a 20"+ smallie.



Not long after, I spotted a flathead down motionless in the water. Parked my twin spin in front of him and he ate it! The fish was 6-7" longer than my 23" mark on my rod.



I left and floated to down to the real target. Couldn't get anything going. Float sunk and a fiesty 15" smallie came to hand.

Dragged back up to the pig pool. Fish up the current seam at some boulders with a tube. Big thunk, drag pulling everywhere. Got to be a big smallie. Awesome. It's not swiiming to fast. Another Flathead. WTF? This one is a crazy fight and I'm a little scared standing waste deep so I bring him finally over to shore and grab that jaw. This one went 28" or so.



Crazyness. After that, I pulled the yak back up and went home.

2 SMB 20.5", 15" 2 Flathead catfish 30", 28"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Esoteric Response to Deep Loin Pisciverous Cravings 11/3

Man's been fishing for a long time.

Before man, fish fished for fish.

When I catch bass with a bobber, have I shamed him?
now. fish. porn.






Double digits on a cloudy day 38 degrees

10 SMB (20", 18.5",17.25", 15.5")

Friday, September 28, 2012

No One Eat(s) Smallmouth Bass!

I am going make a video game analogy. Bear with me.  Madden NFL series of games, as real as they are in simulating professional football, the results end up a cartoon mockery that seldom mimics an actual NFL game.

Basically, most players play it so much they become pretty adept at the game, then it fails to be a simulation. Instead it is an arcade button presser with  less strategy dependent more on reaction time and rehearsal.

There's no question we want the arcade version in our river and stream fishing. Gimme action over simulation in my fishing, baby. Thing is, smallmouth bass grow very slowly and have fairly short life spans. A smallmouth bass may take between 4-6 years to reach the 12" mark in Indiana. A fish reaching 12-13 years is a rare specimen. High, muddy water can wipe out entire year classes of fry. The quality of your river fishing hangs in the balance.

Habitat that allows overwintering, survival during flood, spawning ground can be totally destroyed by nature and man. Very few states do anything to fix the smallmouth bass populations so the fishing is good.  Now if by some miracle a fisherman does catch a nice smallmouth, no thought to harvest should be taken.

I think we all want to catch 50 18" bass a day on topwaters, right? The only factor we can directly contribute to is quick release of smallmouth bass we do catch. A big smallmouth is just too valuable to fillet and eat. Spread the word.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

9/25/12 And A Pig.

Pretty Good Fall Day: 41 bass (21.25", 17.99", 2-17", 5-16", 6-15")

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall's Surprise

Flowing water dribs and drabs through round rocks ancient
Dropping, shifting, chilling my lower limbs close to discomfort's edge
Fall's sun pleasantly and lightly bakes my neck
A cacophony of wonderful competing sensations
This outdoor euphoria sets my mind adrift

All else - matters not

Can I just stay in this place?

Jolted awake by a splash, dried grasses fighting
Time's recovering flux brings slowly... reality
What's this?

A wet, yellow dog slaps playfully at Mr.Toad
Dozens of nature's presents lining her previously golden fur
A smile cracks

-Perfect moment.

Monday, September 3, 2012

That Rocked! Why am I Disappointed? 9/3/12

Insane day when it finally rains. Perhaps my best ever.
Water was a little stained to start. Lots of floating algae made it hard to fish anything but a single hook. Chatterbaits and flukes.

Landed 77 total. 9 from 17-18.75" 14 over 16", close to 25 over 15".

Lack of really big fish has it feeling all too samey.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Camp and Fish 8/23-8/26

Couple of basses Matt and I landed on route to eventual 110 or so on Friday.


Popped a flat tire after everyone left camp. So I was stuck on Friday and didn't fish.
Zack and I fished on Saturday. Lots of big fish wiffing at our offerings. frustrating. Think I had upper 40's and Zack had 30 or so. We both had one closer to 19 than 18" but we had shots at more bigguns.
Fishing was pretty crazy on the trip. The 12 of us landed and released like 700 bass, but the large fish seemed to be eating late. The really large fish made a couple minor appearances. Matt B got one at 19.5" as largest, but  there were other opportunities. Matt D lost a huge fish far to the north, that "didn't belong".

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quite a Weekend

Saturday, got out with MH for his INSA guided trip with me. Beautiful day, cool, sun, breeze.


We caught a lot of fish 60+, mostly on tubes in about 6 hours. Good time. Glad fish cooperated. I didn't get Mark any monsters, but we tried. Pulled a couple nice ones from Davey Jones, mostly hanging back... Can't get over the pull on these guys.

One of the more bizarre things I've seen from the river:





Sunday Mike and I got on a different flow. Drastic difference. We WC and Fatbustered them early, until it just became a wake bite. Simply crank and wind. Closer you came to roots the better. Again over 60 bass. I hit two 18.5"-18.75" ers, a 17.25" which came with a dink attached. Lost another acrobat that was in the 17"-18" range. MC was having a rough day casting like I haven't seen him before, probably kept his pig count down, but he managed 26 basses.

Some arial acrobatics from this fish:


No pic of the other 18.5"

BT 37 (2-18.5"-18.75", 17.25" 3-15-15.5")
MC 26
Not too bad, 72 bass sharing the water and taking a backseat, still scoring.

Monday, August 13, 2012

8/4/12 Ripping Shin

Strange day. Threatened rain all day, but never did until the bike shuttle after dark. Got started around 11:30.

Brought a LC Fat Blaster that paid dividends late around rootwads. Same basic idea, just can be let to sink for added depth. Rip, pause,Rip to remove fish from cover.

Early a couple fish to hand on swim bait and couple on a Sammy- that wouldn't hold. Turned out to be a tube day again. Bites were incredibly light. Terrible time hooking and landing fish. Must have been barely sucking them in. Lost two really intense drag pulls which would have been big ones I'm afraid. It began to be a comedy of errors when a wind kicked up and they just quit.

Later, it picked up again with this and that scoring action. As the storm moved in it got dark. Camera said 4:30 and then 6:30 some 34 fish later. Tube bite got intentional and sick, pronounced thumps, though most big fish came on Sammy or FB.

I wasn't going to make it to the bike with any light. Fortunately, thunder storm came up and provided light (without rain). Cut across a field and house under construction was my way out across a bean field in darkness. Fell over a low barbed wire fence in the dark and ripped my shins open. GAAAHK! MMMRRRRLLL!

8 hours 48 SMB (3-17-17.25, 16.5", 16.25", 2-15") 11 Misc fishes: hybrid greensunfish/bluegill! shiner, green sunfish, 8 Googs.

Should have been 60+ day. A day like that will make you question yourself, but in all honesty used to be a lot more common when I'd throw tubes 80% of the time.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Deathwade 2012: The Century Mark Falls 7/23/12

Matt D and I have done a few Deathwades in the past. Usually good fishing, if not really good. Today was no exception. Pretty much wade further than most people would dare over rough terrain, starting early, ending late, fish like hell.

Bike shuttle set in place we started slow and on the water at 7am. Started slow, but then stayed consistently very good all day. Tubes for me, Matt was pulling dinks on a tiny buzzbait or various tubes. Lots of impact strikes, lots of ultra dinks biting tubes- leading to swearing all day. Today was a case of getting more out of the water than one fisherman ever could alone. Matt kept the pace slow and topwater was nil, so we worked the wood like champs.


We finished with 112 bass and 8 Googs. 3 or 4 largemouth in the group, the rest smallmouth bass.


We had a shootout, where Matt took the early lead and kept it most of the day until I went ahead at 33-32 with a flurry of pigs. Didn't last long as Matt downsized and started nailing dinks on a small tube.



Some great moments maybe I'll describe in more detail when I'm recovered.



BT 52 (3-18-18.25", 2-17.5", 17", 2-16" 3-15") 4 Googs
Matt 60 (2-18", 17.5") 4 Googs