Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Golden Smallmouth- INSA Gold Challenge Trophy


Keep in mind it is not a fish catching contest per say, but a having fun while fishing contest, to encourage camraderie and resource stewardship while making ours an awesome website. March 6th was the start of the contest this year and will run until INSA Stravaganza 2011 where the GOLDEN SMALLIE will be awarded.

1. Catch a smallmouth bass 17" or better. +10 points only one fish nominated for the year.
2. Catch a smallmouth bass 18" or better. +10 points - only one fish nominated for the year.
3. Catch Indiana Bass Grand Slam of any 4 of the following in one day: 10 points Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, KY Spotted Bass, White Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, Striped Bass, or Rock bass. Bonus Points for each extra species past 4:+5, +10, +15. Trust ya on the smallie, LMB, rock bass; get a pic of the spot, white bass, striper, or wiper. For identifications purposes. Only score once on this-take the highest total.
4. Catch a smallmouth bass in each month of the year with 1 point for each month +8 bonus for all 12.
5. Catch two smallmouth bass or more on one line: +10 points +1 for each additional time after the first.
6. Participate in INSA stream cleanup: +15 points per event
7. 1 point for each Indiana stream you catch a smallmouth bass out of (no maximum).
8. 1 point for fishing with each different INSA member. (no max)
9. 10 points for getting someone to join INSA. (no max)
10. Random tagteam clusterfrick deathmatch. Teams fish with total inches over 16" combined counted. Penalty if a team member blanks on 16"+ of -5". Win 10 points, lose 5 points. 1st event counted total no matter how many events held.
11. 2 Points per full garbage bag of trash collected. (No max)
12. Catch a double with a partner: 5 points. Bonus +10 if one catches a double during the double. +20 bonus if you both get a double/double, etc...
13. Reverse cliff dive. Catch a smallie from a high bank with your feet 6' or more above the water. +10 (Once)
14. Catch a smallmouth on a fly rod if you chuck gear, catch a smallmouth on a spinning rod if you are a fly fisherman. +10 (Once)
15. Catch a smallmouth in 5 bodies of flowing water in one day. +20 +2 for each additional stream with smallie caught during same day. (Once)
16. Take kid fishing, have kid catch a fish +10, smallie +5 points +1 each new kid taken fishing.
17. Catch a smallmouth on a lure you find on your outing +10 points (Once) +1 each day after.
18. Catch a smallmouth bass with the reel handle on the wrong side. +10 points (Once)
19. Random tagteam clusterfrick deathmatch. Teams fish with total inches over 16" combined counted. Penalty if a team member blanks on 16"+ of -5". River fished are picked by your opponents. +10 win, +5 lose
You could throw whatever rules in you like. Pick as a team determined randomly ahead of time. Rivers would have to be picked from a list of candidates. No sending someone to Blue river! Course you could also send them to Blue river! LOL.
20. Catch a fishing lure, ON A FISHING LURE. +20 points (Once)
21.Pics of wildlife posted to site (you have to take them: Badger 10, Skink/salamander 9, River Otter 9, Bald Eagle 8, Owl 7, Mink 7, Coyote 7, Red Tail Hawk 5,Deer 3+.25 per point, Beaver3, Muskrat 2 , Water snake 3, misc turtle 3. 1 submittal? (Once each, bonus points for rare duplicates)
22. Pretty shot of smallmouth being released or swimming off: +10 (Once)
23. Catch heeps of smallies and Morrels. IN THE SAME DAY! 10 of each. +10 points (Once)
24. Volunteer at the State Fair kids fishing pond. +10 points
25. Volunteer to run the INSA booth at a show. +10 points
26. Super human report of some strange feat with rod like catching a lure on a lure you found then landing a 17"er on the lure you caught on your found lure . Or some other such crazy happening as to entertain your INSA members. (heck, I give 20 points for the lure on a found lure caught on a lure that catches a fish- hell, just hand over the trophy!) Eyewitnesses or pics please! Catch a fish with a rod and reel you found in the stream that day (call it the "Franko special"). Catch two smallies on the same single hook. +10 points or more as needed)
27. Catch a fish on a lure you made from scratch. Ie...tie a fly, carve a crankbait, pour your own plastics. Sorry, jigheads don't count. +10 (Once)
28. Catch a smallie at night, it must be dark for it to be night. No sunlight or sunnset or dusk. DARK. +5 points (Once)
29. "Call Your Shot Challenge". You have to be with a witness. Declare you will catch a fish, on your next cast, you catch a smallmouth. +7pts. Fail -5pts.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Some 19 F Smallmouth Success 1/13/12 1/14/12

Fished briefly Friday. Slippery slopes. As ground, still very warm, made for some hard stepping. I'm a pretty agile person, but I ended up butt down on the grounds sliding nearly into the river. Twice.

Water was up. I like higher water in colder months for a couple of reasons. First, it pushes fish in close and makes them bunched up for easier searching. Second, Higher water tends to be clearer in colder months than warm months (water clear of algae stain). Best of both worlds: Smallmouth are packed in tight out of the faster current and can see! We know as fishermen fish are cold blooded creatures.

So it was 19 F and a little windy. Visibility was about 12". Once my descent towards watery depths stopped on a root, I just sat there and fished. A 13" golden smallie was followed by a larger 16" fish. Both came from less than 10' from where I sat.

Another thick 18" beautiful fish came to hand. The float barely moved. nailed him. Later another 17" fish.

Saturday Bill B was down from South Bend and wanted a shot at a fish so we hit the same spot. Water had dropped significantly due to extreme cold. It was 19 again, but the creek had started to ice on all eddies. Ours was iced over. I pushed about 50' of ice off into the current and we left for a couple hours. When we came back it took a while to zero in.

Finally my float went under water a little and I nailed a nice 17.75" smallie. Soon Bill also had his float dunk. Immediately on the surface and larger still. He kind of horsed it too much and the tiny ice fishing jig popped out of its mouth! AHHHH.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Indiana on the Fly

Thanks for everyone who came out to the Indiana Smallmouth Alliance booth on Saturday at the Indiana on the Fly show in Indianapolis, IN. It was great talking to you all. Lots of enthusiasm, craft, and complete nutters including me!

Definately a cure for the wintertime doldrums (which haven't set in this year!).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Numbers in Smallmouth Bass 2011

2011 was a great year for me personally fishing in Indiana.

The numbers: 475 hours fished=1601 smallmouth bass and 154 'other' fish. Up from 1486 smallmouth bass and 147 other fish in 2010.

29 different rivers were fished on 95 occasions.

204 smallmouth bass were over 16", up from 146 in 2010.

57 smallmouth bass  were over 18", up from 32 in 2010.

24 smallmouth of which were over 19", up from 12 in 2010

8 of which were 20"-21"tied with 8 in 2010. Less than highs of 11 in 2009 and 2007.

Throughout 2011, I caught smallmouth at a higher rate than previous years, though the heavy November and December fishing bumped the bass per hour rate down below last year. 2010 December was mostly locked up rivers and creeks preventing fishing.

I finished at 3.37 smallmouth per hour (down from 3.44 last year). I think the huge increase in larger fish made up for it, though considering 2010 didn't have much Winter fishing, I came out  ahead.

It took 2.33 hours in 2011 to land a 16"+ smallmouth, 2.95 hours in 2010, 3.4 hours in 2009, 2.78 hours to catch a 16" or larger smallmouth bass in 2008.

It took 8.33 hours to catch a 18' or larger smallmouth bass on average, improved from 13.48 in 2010, 8.28 hours per 18"+ in 2009, 13.71 in 2008.

Comparing 2011 to 2009 as best big fish year, the higher overall bass catch rate of 2011 3.37 per hour vs 2.11 per hour!

2011 wins!

So what was I doing different? Not living on memories of the past. 2007 was a year of 1876 bass, 234 over 16", days of 10 or more 16" fish, fish everywhere.

Floods of 2008 changed things, smallies are no longer in many of the same places as habitat was ripped away and continued to decay. I've cherry picked the best stretches over 5 years of research. I've honed in on the best wintering holes for better Winter fishing.

What does all this numbering crunching do? I can see my improvement as a fisherman, what areas produce better #'s, size, see population improvements or declines.

I'm starting to form a very clear picture in my head, the type of stream habitat that allows continued solid fish populations.

One of the gravest threats to smallmouth populations, is the loss of their 'homes'. Homes are places they shelter from severe conditions- undercut banks, sycamore roots, rocky rip-rap points, lay downs, wide flats during floods vs high banks. Once these are gone or non existent, a small piece of log or rocks could have been all that made a spot a hog home. Once removed and filled in....

The above has become a pattern for me across Indiana. These once awesome stretches have lost significant fish populations. The answer? Wide pools where fish can easily slip into and out of the woods with high water. Easy access to feeder creeks. Lots of in stream jagged rock structure unfilled by silt. Respite.

Across the midwest, the complaint has gone up that many rivers have lost populations. Anything from river otters to people harvesting fish. My own studies say river otters are on a couple rivers and does not explain the exact same decreased populations across the state(s). In almost every case, you have these smallmouth 'homes' destroyed or filled in.

Good news for these less bountiful stretches is we had a couple of good spawns recently it really does seem like a nice crop of 8-11" fish are coming up.

Indiana on the Fly this Saturday 1/7/11 9-5pm

See you all at the Indiana Smallmouth Alliance booth Saturday 9-5!