Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Floating the Sweet Creek 7/26/14

Wait, you did what? Bob and I floated a stretch of stream I knew to be a canoe route. An unforgivable sin? Stupidity? When I arrived at the meeting place a couple minutes after 8 on Saturday. We were in the middle of a torrential downpour. When we got to the take out to place a vehicle, a feeder was dumping mud into the creek.

Two things, first, we could try to fish in between the feeders to find clearer water. Second, a rainy day would surely deter canoers, so this opened up more stretches to us. Right? Right?

WRONG. At the new put in, the canoers piled up. I forgot my tackle backpack, so had to make due with some spare hardbaits and a buzzbait from my trunk. Always carry spares in your trunk people, for just such an emergency. I was without forceps and terminal gear, but at leat I could fish.

We headed upstream for a short wade above the bridge. Upstream, dragging our kayaks behind, Bob lagged behind as I topwatered a few quick fish (15") on a Sammy 100. We dragged and waded upstream a long way through shallow stuff. Picked a fish here and there. Bob fluked a nice 16" and I knew something was up, topwater bite off? We just couldn't see the holes that well after the rain. A brown stain. I had a fish eat a still Sammy right in front of my and another pop a gunfish off a boulder. Flukes mostly.But then the clouds came out!

Now we turned around and got in our kayaks. I would show Bob the benefit of fishing a buzzbait in a kayak. Easy. Drift downstream, rip it loud and don't stop casting. The more casts, the more fish. I quickly had 5, including a 15". Couple more nice ones then a 16.5" right behind Bob's boat. My counter rotating buzz was louder than his single blade and was paying off.

Canoers, so many canoers. The buzzbait bite was insane for me until we ran into them. We tried to wait them out, but they kept coming. We helped a couple right their canoe and ate lunch. The promise of an insane buzzbait bite was ruined by people! I was wrong. The bad weather hadn't deterred the masses. At all.

We were passed by three fly fishermen in canoes. Later I caught up, while they fished an eddy on one side, I floated down midstream and launched a long cast to the complete opposite side, sheltered by some wood cover where I surmised the SMB might have been pushed to by canoe noise. True enough, working the bait parallel to the bank not far from shore,I was rewarded with a hefty 17". I imagined dirty looks from the fly guys, tough. We were on the water first, and I had kindly avoided where they were fishing.. In four more casts I caught 4 more smallies, after a couple they got up and left. I felt bad for them because all the ruckus caused by the canoers was going to make their creeping style fishing difficult.

We finally hit the best spot and a half hour after we saw the last person. Bob nails this really nice fish on a buzzbait, then a 16" on River2Sea wake bait.  Was a great day. Here's Bob's pig just under 19".

Some tubers had been taking their time behind us. A heavy drunk woman got close enough to ask how far from the bridge we were. She said their three year old was cold. It made us both feel bad, but also a little angry that you'd bring a three year old out tubing a 5 mile+ trip, on a rainy day, and that you'd guzzle beer the whole way. It was only a mile, but it looked like a storm. neither Bob  or I had the room to carry 4 drunk people and a child. It poured hail and holy hell after that. I mean, holy hell. I was getting mad at myself for not knowing what to do. Even more mad at the stupidity of people and my poor choice in taking Bob on this stretch this time of year.

Feel like we should have tried another stretch, Bob nailing that good one was excellent. Lesson learned on what could have been a better day if not for the constant interruptions and spooked fish behaving unnaturally. My new Commander 120 was a joy to fish out of once again. Next time out, I'm taking the seat out and standing. Promise.

BT 33 SMB (17", 2-16.5", 2-15")
BC 11 (18.75" 2-16")

Fly Versus Guy? 7-19-2014 Float

Went for a long kayak float with Gregg, who is a fly fisherman. His first time fishing out of a kayak, but he does own a drift boat. Not a complete novice to floating and fishing smallmouth. I put him in a small, easy to maneuver kayak. I like to do this with most newbs. Easy to get out of danger and back upstream to remove your hangups. Fishing started out slow, but the water looked good. Medium sized river for the state, spring fed, water temps 63F. Day would be sunny.

Soon I found a chunky 14.5" bass on a tube next to a undercut bank. Didn't notice this pattern until later. Bigger fish close to the bank right on roots. Smallmouth were playing it tight, so topwaters were a non factor. Couldn't get them to chase either. I picked fish here and there on the tube. Gregg's fly was having a problem getting down beneath all that wood and fast current. We were on Indiana's fastest river. Characterized by clear water, gravel and scour holes found around wood piles.

After catching a few dinks, My Commander 120 drifted a long a undercut bank and I noticed 2 nice 15-16" smallmouth bass emerge from under the bank. Of course! I was fishing out in no man's land and needed to go slow and low in the slack. Next I spotted a 16" under a log I had floated too close to. It was made up, in my mind, the bass were in shade and close to wood. I quick pitched a tube under some brush and was rewarded by a thump and head shake. Unfortunately the fish cam unbuttoned. Not before I could see it was in the 17" range. 

I told Gregg the river widened soon and his fly would have a better chance without the fast choke points. Look for shade at cast to it with kind of a deadstick presentation. For his part, he was putting the flies on the money. Just a different ballgame out there. If you can't get in the scour holes, you aren't getting bit.

At the bottom of this larger pool, the river split into two tails that would come back together at a log pile at the bottom. I fished 4 14-14.75" chunks, who were almost grotesque by Indiana river standards. Then a couple dinks. I was at 20+ SMB without Gregg bringing one to hand. I sent him down to the log pile first, as I thought there would still be some nice ones for him to pick out of the wood piles.

In our state, you have to be able to fish wood. Get down in it, yank bass out. It's often where they hide. Downed trees provide bank protection from erosion, cover, and cause current to scour deeper holes. Smallmouth bass are naturally attracted to them. As I sent Gregg right. I went left, on what I thought was the smaller, more choked side. We left our kayaks behind for each choke point. You don't want to float into the fish and spook them.

So, I'm climbing over limbs and downed trees like a gazelle. (I love to climb on stuff) Suddenly, I spot a nice little scour hole that looks oh, so suspicious! Flip my tube in there and watch the line travel in a direction it shouldn't. Set that hook. I've found a nice one, this time, the fish doesn't shake free. 17.25"

I meet up with Gregg and he hasn't gotten any. We throw a little tube on his fly rod and soon has his first fish.

I pick this nearly 18" smallmouth bass floating next to a huge woodpile. The fish on this river really use the current to fight. Another fat smallmouth. 

Not long after, the bite becomes a buzzbait bite. Almost. I have two mammoth bass jump completely out of the water at my lure without touching it. Frustrating. Both were 18-20"ish. I seem to be stuck in the 17"'s more than usual this year. Gregg connects on a nice one which he brings to hand in the 17"'s. He added a few more as the river opened up and current lessened.

We get to the take out and loaded up at dark. Pitch black. Gregg loses his camera bag and with it all the shots of my standing in my kayak and the fat, fat, fat 14"ers I was catching.

29 SMB (17.99", 17.25", 2-15") 10- 14-14.5" 2 Creek Chubs 10 hour float. Not fantastic. I got some at the end on a buzzbait, but the hooks seemed dull or something was otherwise off.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fishing in the Rain 7/12/14

Looked like rain. So what? Fish are wet, I'd be mostly wet. I needed to fish. 

Got out for the bike shuttle wade and got fishing just in time for the rain to start. With surface disturbed by rain, I went with a wake crank and Confidence Baits tiny tube. Topwaters just aren't that effective with surface disturbed by rain. I'd come back to it once the rain stopped. Wake produced a 15" at the first riffle, then a 13" on tube and half a dozen small dinks. Another 15.5" walking back up to the bridge on WC. Water looked hot downstream so I waded down a quarter mile, before heading up past a platoon of kayakers. There's no water and they're floating (dragging)? Dink trend would continue the whole day. Small dinks in numbers, anything 12" or better kind of rare. 

Rain finally stopped and I went walking the dog with a Sammy 100 for two nice ones just under 18" by a hair. .5" total makes a mediocre day. If they were 18"'s I'd have been happy. Must be like a few hundred fish on this one by now, almost totally white. Finish has flaked off and all that's left are the eyes and some gray on the back.

Anyways, this was like a 5-6 mile wade. Never really warmed up. Travel time is killing me. Fished 6 hours. 1.5 to get there, hour walk bike ride back to the car 1.5 hours home. Got home at 10 with 6 hours of actual fishing.:( 



46 SMB (2-17.99", 5-15") 5 Googs 30 or so dinks.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Not Much Time, Where Should I Go? 7-5-14

Called a buddy to ask, "Where should I fish with only four hours?" I drove, and I dreamt, then I called and negotiated another 2 hours. Nice.

So, I stopped along a sandy creek I'd fished once before. I knew it was an Indiana disaster special. Silt and dirt filling most of it. But there was one REALLY nice hole half mile above the bridge. First cast narrowly avoids a soft shell turtle only to have this nice 17"er snarf up a Duo Realis Pencil bait at 85mm. Managed one  fat 13"er on a crankbait and 8 Rock bass on Confidence bait Little Tubes in Dark Chocolate. Just wasn't much in there. I headed out to a larger creek.

I hit six bass in a row on the Little Tube, including this 18.75" smallmouth bass. Things were looking up during what seemed like a dead wade. Another couple hours of fishing, a bad shortcut and I was back at the car, burnt and bent

Confidence Baits Below: Wutz Its, Swim Baits, Floating Birds, Little Tubes, and Battle Stance Craws. I'll be testing these out over the next month or so. You can get some here:
Fishing was slow and disappointing. Dare I blame continued habitat degradation from 2008 mega floods?
 4.5 hours 11 SMB (18.75", 17")

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wade- Mixed Results Dinks and a Handful of Nice Smallmouth 7-3-14

Got out for a wade by midday. Picked a mediocre stretch of stream characterized by shallow, rocky, flats and few wide pools. I threw a Sammy 100 into shade and perceived depth. Had some early micro dink smallmouth bass. Made me wonder if I hadn't made a poor decision in rehashing this old, previously rejected stretch of creek.

Along one tall, cavernous bank on an inside bend the water showed darker green, I took a 17.25" smallie, performing acrobatics the whole way in. I look for these color changes to reveal depth and hiding spots. Typically, my casts with a Sammy 100 are 30 yards to keep froom spooking bass. Smallies in shallow water are extremely spooky, thus the longer casts.

Nailed a 15"er at the one decent hole on the entire wade.  On the way back, picked this 17.25" smallmouth casting downstream at a rootwad. I think I had 14 bass at this point, 4 of which broke 12"!

I decided to wade downstream with the limited time I had left. I abhor wading downstream because it really fouls the fishing. Wading through a large pool, I managed a chunky 17", a 14", and a 15" before things got really quiet.

Not a bad day with the three good ones, the 25 smallmouth contained a lot of small fish. Surprised by quality, but not a stretch I'd hit again for a long while.

5.5 hours 25 SMB (3-17-17.25", 2-15")