Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Camp and Fish Cancelled Day Three 8/23/14...Whoa.

After day two's pigs, and personally being on a roll with 18-19" smallmouth (6 in the last three trips, good for Indiana). I had to fish day three. Turns out the others had gone west to look for clean water on Friday and not all packed it in. Most of the guys did get 2 days in. I decided to add a third different stream to the mix. Three streams, three days. Water was stained more than I would have expected. I started out throwing tube and a chartreuese 1.5 square billed crankbait. I was rewarded by several nice fish and a bruiser 17.75"er I picked off a log. Love it when fish are right there on a log like they are supposed to be. Great fight and thick bass.
Not ten minutes later, this thick 18" inhales the same crankbait at the niddle of a rocky pool below a riffle.

Caught some decent spotted bass as well. The water had cleared up throughout the day and I started throwing a Sammy 100 for the distance casting ability in the clearer water. Several 16" bass later it was turning out to be a crazy day for medium sized smallmouth bass, with 15" and 16"ers at every pool I fished.

Finally hit one amazing spot in the bedrock. First cast with the Sammy got eaten and no less than 8-10 other large smallmouth bass followed it back. When I noticed all those bass and some larger ones in the pack, I shook lose the 16"er on the hook while it was till 20' away. Sat down and had a water. Idea here to get them set back up, so I could pick them off, one by one. This worked. The next bas to hand, a 17.25" bass, then after another rest, this 18' smallmouth bass. All on Walk the Dog lures.

There was a storm brewing, fishing got ridiculous at this point, lots of misses due to needing replacement hooks. I added a bunch of 15"s. The rain started to pour. Whenever it rains, I give up the topwater. I feel the main advantage of topwaters is the noise element they produce. This gets drowned out be the noise of rain.
It was quickly becoming stained. I made my way back to the previous multi pig hole and nailed another 17.25" and 16" on the crankbait.

7.5 hours wading 34 bass 6 KY Spotted Bass28SMB (2-18"-18.25", 3-17.25"-17.75", 5-16"-16.5", 6-15") 4 rock bass and 3 Shiners dumb enough to end on a hook.

Crazy wet from the storm. Got kind of cold, but so worth it. Nice

Camp and Fish 2014 Day 2 8/22/14

When I woke up the next morning after the cancellation of the Camp and Fish. I felt like one measly day of fishingh when four were scheduled, just would not do at all. South of Indianapolis, we didn't get much rain. I headed out around 11:30 am for a quick wade. Mainly threw a Sammy 100.

First fish was a whale of a 19.25" 4lbs smallmouth, super thick for Indiana stream.

Fifth bass hit the Sammy right before I pulled it up, maybe 6' from me in 8" of water. 18"

Missed a few due to somewhat rusty hooks. Bloomington certainly is far more humid than I'm used to. I guess my old drying techniques of leaving my hardbait boxes open in the garage don't work very well here. Lesson learned and it lost me some good fish. Last, landed a 17.5"

So 7 smallies in 3.5 hours, but (19.25", 18", 17.5") 3 Rock bass, 2 suicidal shiners

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

INSA CAMP and Fish 2014 Report Part 1

The Indiana Smallmouth Alliance gets together to camp and fish once a year the weekend before Labor Day at the end of August. It's a chance to blow off steam and meet up with other like minded river smallmouth bass fishermen. I created this event back in 2009 as a take off of Eastern Smallmouth "Rodeos". It's been a giant ball of fun each year. Camp, fish, float, wade, BBQ, beer, Kubb Spiel, hang out.

This year, we returned to Lafayette, IN area. My plan was to float the Tippecanoe with the Commander 120 and Zack. Standing and fishing were I may. The Tippecanoe is one of the few large rivers in Indiana with great smallmouth bass fishing. Plan was to float beneath the Oakdale Dam down to State Highway 18 takeout. Both Zack and I got caught in rain and bad traffic on the way up. We weren't ready to fish until after 11am. 3 other guys hit the Tipp, so we left it to them and did a local wade.

This used to be a great stretch on a small, bending creek with nice gradient, abundant water willows, lots of riffle pools. As with most of Indiana's sod bank lined streams floods have changed the streams a lot as of the last few years. This hasn't improved the fishing any. When Zack and I arrived we had 12" of visibility, but we gave it a go anyway. Fishing was decent early as I threw an over sized 2.5 square bill chartreuse crankbait. By midday, the sun had come and the fishing was not good. We were bemoaning the lack of pigs on a pig laden creek in the past. I picked a 16.5" bass on a tube in a shallow nothing pool. It gave us some hope. I tubed a fish here or there, but mostly we'd catch one fish on any lure we tried but were unable to pattern or rely on typical smallmouth behaviour. At the end of the wade, I had 21 and Zack 11. We decided to go above our take out bridge and make a few more casts. I threw over by a sycamore root wad. My tube never did manage to hit bottom in 3' of water. I did not feel a strike. My rod bent double.

The bass looked huge down in the water. I was thinking 20"+. I guess lulled by dinks, bass only went 18.5". I was saved!

BT 23 (18.5", 16.5") rock bass
ZP 11
When we got back to camp, it started to downpour. My gear and clothes got soaked inside Matt's tent. I went home that night as others packed it in on the event. We never had rain before!
Southern Indiana hadn't been hit by the storms very hard, so I was on my way home(for some more fishing).Little did I know what adventure it held. (continued in part two)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

If River Smallmouth Bass are Starting to Understand Me, What Next? 8/12/2014

I had to go fishing. HAD TO. Spent all week combing the job market, trying to remotely fill IT positions on the east coast. (Know any Senior Network Engineers in Arlington,VA with Public Trust or better clearance?) Stuck. In. The. House. All. Week. Sandy's been great. I need to be around people or fishing.

So it was that I drove nearly two hours to fish on Tuesday. Mental Health day. It had just rained all weekend, surprisingly the river was only stained and of all things, low. Too low to kayak, so I took out the studded Sims boots and got going. The skies were gray, but I don't care about that. Give me a river and I'll find the bass under any situation. Rain, or Hurricanes.

Things start slow. I intended to head downstream to some really great places Mike and I had found euphoria on last Fall. I went upstream for awhile, intending to head back down. I never did. Two giant wide pools later and my wade was looking like a bust. One crappy slap at a Sammy, nothing doing on crankbaits in very likely water. The sets the mind to wander. Had I driven out here on the wrong day? Were all these 70 degree days in August and July shutting them down?

I had a 14" grab my crankbait. The kind where the fish had to have followed it a ways and finally the bait does something it likes, the bass commits. 4' from me. Not exactly the start of a pattern, but I knew they would chase. Water seemed warmer than the air 70's vs upper 60's.

I'm throwing a Lucky Craft Jointed Wake Crank in 1.5 and some white shad pattern. Off to the side. A 16"er slams it and I bring it to hand with a nice fight. Then a dink. Side slot, down from mountain drain valley. I try the Little Tube at the rootwad. Bunk. Nice fish. Another 16"er. This was looking up.

Heading upstream I spot another,"side pocket" below a riffle, below a large pool. Long cast with a wake crank. Some disturbance and then a fierce strike! Looks like a good one, then overpowers and down into the fast water. I see the fish is barely hooked. One of the three rear trebles only. Keep it tight, I finally take the fish into some water willows for a landing. By the way, this is a kind and safe way to land smallmouth bass. One, the willows serve as a kind of net, preventing that hook in hand we all hate. Two, it is far better than rock and sand that rub off the bass's slime layer. 19" and some change.

3 fish over 16" already out of 5 bass. Pattern was the third larger fish in side pockets. I kept going a fish here or there on the wake crank. If I burned it and paused it, they would eat it. I added some decent bass here and there. Finally hit another side pocket. Whoosh! Big fish and hell of a fight, pulling drag after getting in current. This bass was missing almost all of the rear fin and still measured 18.5".

I catch a 14"er next in that side pocket. Move up and pull a 16" from some fast water, literally ripping the WC as fast as I could. next cast has a bigger fish swipe and miss. Again, big fish eating below the large pools. I hit a huge C shaped pool and have another giant swipe and miss at the tail end of a pool. The fish had been sitting in the current break caused by a buried log.

3-4 bass from this large pool, including a couple emphatically on buzzbaits. Nail a 17.5" off a log on the Wake Crank again. An eagle perched above in a 100' sycamore, is jealous.

Grab a couple, or three dinks. Long dry spell for an hour on good water makes me think they are done. On the walk back to C pool. I start catching in the same places. 7 more bass with the highlight this 18.5" smallmouth bass. So satisfying. I made the perfect cast deep under low hanging branches and still got it within 1' of the bank. Fish immediately exploded on the lure and took drag everywhere. Thought it was huge, but turns out was foul hooked. I had just replaced the belly hook on the WC with a fresh Gammakatsu treble. A great reminder to replace hooks often. The only reason this bass came to hand was that insane replacement hook. I fully believe on rotating trebles out with lots of action. Less misses, more catches. This fish was proof.

So, the smallmouth understood I needed a big fish day didn't they? Right when I needed it? I thank them. Always thank them by letting them swim free.

Fished 6 hours and finished with 30 smallies (19", 2-18.5", 17.5", 3-16")

Saturday, August 2, 2014

94 Fish a Failure?

You know you're having a hard time mentally when you catch 94 fish and still feel like you lost out when the largest of the day pops off mid fight. Been a tough year for me, I relocated everything in my life. Fishing continues to provide a nice escape but the drive times can be killer on the production. I'm well short on the pigs this year. At work, things got so slow, half the company is laid off. So, I put my boots on now, knowing I should be in the thick of the job hunt. One thing I hate the most in the world is looking for that next source of income. Fishing certainly takes away some of the stress. The micro science, the fiddling with nature coming up with one's own theories...

Caveat: I was using Confidence Baits "Little Tubes", a two inch tube rigged with an exposed hook for many of these fish and they were often small. However, there were some good ones too. Only other lure was the River2Sea wake bait, nailed me a nice 17" and lost another about that size.

Small creek, well away from people and civilization. Filled with bass. Certainly looks like nothing at the bridges which helps it. Absolute stealth or the bass scatter.

On the wade back down the creek to the car, I toss the little tube over by a rootwad, "Tick" I set the hook. Doubles the rod. Nice fight, headshaking and small hook. Off. 18"+ and thick. Deflated a bit. The constant action kept me entertained, but I couldn't get another pig.
Should have had 4-17"-18"+, lost two. Ugh.