Sunday, August 9, 2015

Long, Hot Wade Through Sand and Rock- Perfect 8/8/15

So next week is the INSA Camp and Fish near Lafayette, IN. Been getting back into fishing shape. Thankfully, been a finesse bite and not run and gun topwater. I've stayed on smaller streams to keep in the shade so I don't wilt.

On Saturday, I headed in the direction of a cluster of medium to small streams, sort of late in the morning so I thought I'd take my chances. On the drive, I decided to hop a few streams, The first stream I had long ago written off as sand filled ecological disaster. But last time there I pushed past the one good hole I knew and found if I was willing to walk a long way on shallow water, deep sand (exhausting) I would arrive at some holes filled with hungry smallmouth. It was this event that convinced me to get out much further upstream  on a public highway and try to fish.

Brand new water to me. This is always very exciting. I looked downstream and saw rocky cliffs, rocky riffles, and smallmouth under the bridge. HA. I did what I almost never do, I waded downstream, keeping in the shade and bedrock and I probed any depth with a 3" fat tube. The creek was very shallow. And I mean VERY. Rarely more than shin deep, but always some shade. I passed some wild turkeys which scattered off at the sight of me.

At the first riffle, I started catching smallmouth  bass on the tube, it only let up all day, when a hole had given up her goods. In the strange twilight, I could silently get pretty close if I stayed low while the fish were in shade. Longear sunfish constantly harried my lure. Peck, peck, peck, peck, drop, repeat.

Lots of nice fighting 12-14" bass. I was missing out the larger fish until I headed back upstream and fished straight up the creek on the scour side. This produced a 17.75" bass that fought like a demon on my loosened drag.

Because of the unique shade conditions and bright sunlight, the fish didn't spook very easily, if they were in the shade. I could nab one after another. And did. I had 29 smallies by 1pm (started at 11). I had caught 17" fish in this creek before, but in several tries had seen nothing bigger. When I fish a creek, in my head I'm ranking the upper limit on size of the larger bass based on what I see swimming around and what I hoover up on long wades.
Judgement was this creek would be lucky to see an 18"er. The growth rates regionally are very good. Holes aren't very stable(or deep) and there seem to be lots of bass. Also Suckers were on the small side for Indiana. This could be an indicator of a catastrophic flood, or slow growth because of overpopulation.

I was catching fish on tubes, tubes, tubes. A 16" here or there until hit an expanse of straight, silty,sun lit run. I caught a couple bass and spied a shallow combination of sycamore tree scour holes and shad from those trees. All day those proved the ticket. They provide a house to hide under for bigger fish and hold most of the depth. I did find a couple of 5' deep log piles, but these holes would be lucky to go 2' deep. They have shade and shelter.

So fishing this shady are with tube I start banging nice fish in the 14-15" range which put up incredible fights. Then Big Bertha hits, she's chased by three other bass, one a largemouth. I hope that she's hooked well. She looks really fat. I beach her in some shallow sand, grip and she's hefty enough, but alas, under 18"!

This is basically my dream, find a new stretch of creek or river, every bend and hole a mystery, unfished. The anticipation powers me on past where most people would quit.

After landing this fish, on the next cast the water erupts and I'm afraid I have got my 18" smallmouth bass! This quickly changes as I see immediate death rolls and realize its a big catfish. It's funny. I 've caught channel catfish all my life and sometimes I still balk at handling them. This one was nearly 2' long from 2' feet of water. I didn't want to get slimed or poked so I let her go without a picture.

I'm up over 52 Smallmouth and 20 other fishes, out of water and about exhausted a quick creek bath, lowers my body temperature. 7 hours of constant walking in the sand and rock has taken its toll. I clip on a Lucky Craft Wake Crank and begin the long walk back down the stream, using my sense of direction to cut much of the distance through the bean fields, which a farmer has managed to mow around the lush crops. Allows me to cut off an hour of walking. The bass are more active at 6 on the way back I land 7 more smallmouth including another 15" and 16".
Just awesome to have all day, all the time action, from these noble, hard fighting fish.

59 SMB (2-17.75", 4-16"-16.5", 4-15") 24" channel catfish, 2 green sunfish, 16 rock bass. All that, an hour away from Bloomington. Next, Camp and Fish and the return to big water and kayaks. I've got a new Wilderness systems boat to show you all I bought this Spring.

Opening Up a Can...7/25/15

Hello everyone. Been a pretty good year when I've gotten to the place to fish. The enormous amount of rain we've seen and long drive times have kept me closer to home. This is good because I discovered two new smallmouth creeks which are productive closer to home. Hitting about a 17"er an hour this year, which is pretty ridiculous. Lots of rain has made the choices slim, but there have still been some if one looks hard and goes before the next deluge. Been looking forward to piecing together a long wade. Fishing has very much been old school which is a delight after years of low water. This Saturday, I got up at 6:30am and drove an hour and forty five. At the bridge, my first wake crank cast brought a 17"er quickly to hand  :) :

It would be the only fish on the day on that bait, as the tube bite was really good.

I've been tossing a more compact tube on a light jig head, the idea being the slow drop requires patience to be allowed to sink, which has paid off in bites. I nabbed 5 more smallmouth very quickly with a 16.99"er and 17.25" fish before a 15 minutes was up. The smaller tube had a nice hook up rate. Was nailing lots of big googs too.

Fish were in the holes at the back of pools in ambush positions or near cover.

Soon hit this fat 18"er on a tube, smallies were pulling hard in the current. As you can see, the gnats and mosquitos were thick. I used a buff to keep them out of my ears, but they still got under the bill of my hat.

At the back of another pool I started hitting nice fish again, 16" 14"13", etc, not many dinks all day.

Then I a big fish hits the tube and goes nuts, in one of those, nothing big in there spots. But the stained higher water had the bass out and about. Another 17"er.

I was taking a leisurely pace and the number started to pile up. It looked like I could keep catching nice smallies as long as I could keep my body going.

They came in bunches 3-6 fish in 10 minute spurts. Conditions were perfect for me to work slow, unnoticed from close. Man they can fight. Picked a 16" on a Sammy a few 14-15"ers on tubes. Always tubes. Would have had so many fewer without the finesse game.

Tried tickling this rootwad with a spinnerbait. Thunk! Game on! Big fish and what a fight in that current. Finally got her to hand at 18.5".

Now that I had a spinnerbait fish, I had to try it some more. At the next fast rootwad, I got it spinning then let the bait roll into the bottom then as it was about to be pulled over a diagonal log another beast, in the fastest current this time. Pulled off 20' of drag downstream in no time. By the time I pulled the fish in some willows, the third 18" of the day.

Kept catching as I hit 40-30, then 50-40. It was 3:30, but I was at least 4 miles walk back to the car. Confess my body was done without the practice this year.

51 SMB (3-18-18.5", 3-17-17.25", 3-16-16.99", 4-5 15") 40 Googs and a handful of chubs who took the small tube

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Dogs and Coworkers 8/1/15

Meet Charlie, she's my 8 month old golden retriever. She, uh is really smart, which is great. She's also filled with moxxie, which is sometimes great.

Here's Charle demonstrating her frisbee prowess:
Here's Charlie showing us, we need to bring one fishing rod on wades with her, not two:

Took William the Coworker fishing with me because he had a rough week. He hung in there all right, even caught some nice fish. Being left handed will help him wading streams. Seems like I'm always walking up the right side. Maybe something to do with streams generally flowing south.

I think I ended up with 19 SMB 17.25" 8 rock bass and Will 10 or so, with a three over 16". His 16.5" was a "five pounder". HAHA. Was roughly half the speed I would fish.  I would have loved to have tried for a repeat of last Saturday on a different stream. Sometimes it isn't about the results, but the journey.