Early Season Frog Fishing

I was at the tackle shop over the winter and saw Lunkerhunt’s Pocket Frog for the first time. I had zero hesitation purchasing it; I had been searching for a good small frog for quite a while. This frog had my favorite features: Moving legs, a small profile and double hooks.

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The reason I love small frogs like this is that it gives me the ability to fish them on monofilament line and still have a fairly decent hook up ratio. Since I don’t have any intentions of fishing a small frog on pads or heavy weeds I can get away with using a smaller and lighter line.

The temperatures finally warmed up to the mid 60’s for a few consecutive days and the bass have moved back into the shallows. The lake I planned to fish this in is heavily pressured, so the popular crankbaits and soft plastics are usually a bust. Top water is usually a safe bet in early spring, but the large number of fallen trees make it difficult to fish anything with exposed hooks. I tied on the Pocket Frog and started working the shallows, and it didn’t take more than a minute to have my first strike. I had set my drag too loose and the hook didn’t stick, so I adjusted my drag and kept working around the lake. The bite was consistent after that, reeling in one fish after another. I even managed to tempt fish up out of 10 ft deep pocket. It was clear that the fish had never seen this lure before and had zero hesitation striking at.

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In southern Indiana most people claim that frog season doesn’t start until late May or early June, but they ignore a simple fact: if you can hear frogs croaking, it is already frog season. Most people disregard frogs as a good tactic to fish weedless water, but they are missing a fantastic, underutilized bait. Most fish haven’t had this lure thrown at them, and lures that have very natural action like these entice the most aggressive bites in the spring.

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An average hour session fishing this lake with all the other lures in my tackle bag produces 6 fish, as you can see by the pictures I had no trouble surpassing that number with this lure. This is a new tactic for me, and it is one I will undoubtedly be using much more during the early spring.

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I encourage you to give this a try on pressured lakes, I was amazed with the results it produced for me.

As always, tight lines

-Isaac

Windy Day Feeding Frenzy

The more I talk to fisherman, the more ridiculous things I  hear them claim about fishing. Today’s claim was a doozy, “it is too windy for you to be able to catch anything.”  Don’t get me wrong, high winds can make it harder to fish, but it by no means makes it impossible to catch fish.

My solution to the high winds was simple: position myself so that I was casting with the wind into a shallow cove. This means I’m casting into the wind blown side of the lake right against a beaver dam, the combination of these two makes this spot a fish magnet. The water was slightly stained, but that didn’t stop the fish from being in a complete feeding frenzy. After working through a few lures it was clear that the fish were hitting best on inline spinners and wacky worms.  Once I figured out the pattern it was one fish after another, in total I caught 36 fish today (yes I did actually count them). At this point it was just a matter of weeding through the little fish to find an elusive big one. Below are the best of today’s catches

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After weeding my way through a lot of small fish I connected with a few solid fish, the highlight being this 22 inch 6 pound 6 ounce largemouth bass. So the moral of the story, wind isn’t a good reason to skip a fishing trip. As long as you are smart about where you set up you will catch fish and even have a better chance at some big fish.

Tight lines,

-Isaac

Spring Has Sprung: Shallow Fish

It has been all sorts of busy since I’ve last update you all last. Spring has sprung and the fish are shallow and hungry. I can easily say this has been the most productive start to spring I have ever had.  Since the last update, I caught this monster of 5 lb 9oz largemouth bass. This may not be huge in most parts of the country, but for southern Indiana that is a respectable fish. Oddly enough I caught him while crappie jigging, he bit on a gulp alive white minnow.big bass

Another exciting thing that has happened is that the fish have started to bite topwater lures. I’ve perfected some small foam poppers and the little bass have just been tearing them up.

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The crappie have also started staging on shelves transitioning from deep to shallow water. My search for them has resulted in some nice crappie and I even managed to pull a few largemouth and striped bass out of the mix (I actually couldn’t decided if they were striped bass or white bass, any ideas?).

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I’ve also been playing around with my ultra light rod a lot more lately, mostly I’ve been using small jigs and inline spinners with it. I will freely admit that I am a huge sucker for inline spinners, during early spring and summer they can catch a ridiculous number of fish. Granted these fish tend to be smaller, but I can usually justify it by the short wait between catches. A week ago I fished a spinner in a small public pond and managed to catch 34 bass in an hour. They were all caught with in 5 feet of the bank directly off rip rap.

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My final location I have been focusing on has been Bluegrass FWA. For some reason this location has a reputation for being one of the hardest places to fish in the area. I find this statement to be absurd. It has been too windy to take the kayak out, so I have been focusing on improving my bank fishing. This property has numerous lakes that all offer different conditions to fish, I’ve started catching crappie and largemouth from the bank with great consistency. The crappie are still a little deeper, but are still with in the far reach of casting distance. I’ve discovered Bobby Garland crappie soft plastics and I can honestly say I have been incredibly impressed. I’ve been close to limiting out on numerous occasions this season already. The rest of my time has been spent on bass fishing, jigs and worms have been the most effective method so far. Another great lure I’ve discovered is the Walleye Angler Ring Worm made by Bass Pro in the Hot Orange/Chartreuse Belly color. This has become my go to lure for muddy/stained water.

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I hope march is treating you all well, tight lines

-Isaac

Slow Winter Fishing

The Indiana DNR has been making an effort to make trout a more available species for anglers. This has resulted in a large number of lakes being stocked all over the state. Sadly, the majority of these occur in central and northern Indiana. Luckily, three counties are stocked in southern Indiana: Vanderburgh, Clark and Jefferson. The southern most lake is here in Vanderburgh, the pond at Garvin Park was stocked with 850 Rainbow Trout. However, Garvin Park is too shallow to hold trout year round, during late spring the water temperature will rise too quickly and these fish will not survive. For anyone with a trout stamp, this scenario is perfect for the dinner plate.

I’ve fished this pond more times than I can count, but I have never caught a trout out of it. I was fortunate to get a tip from a fellow fisherman, he claimed to have caught a few trout this week on yellow and orange inline spinners. I made a quick run after work and fished in the cold with a yellow and black rooster tail. I focused my attention on the small coves and had many hits right off the bat. I landed 3 largemouth and had one hit that felt very different, I can only assume it was a trout (but that is mostly wishful thinking).

Winter fishing is hard enough to start, and failing at catching a new species has been a little demoralizing, so on my other fishing trips I’ve been focusing on a more predictable fish. The last two fishing adventures I’ve been targeting bluegill around structure. Even when the water temperature drops in the 40’s panfish will often go shallow if there is a consistent food source. The trick with these urban lakes is to find where people are feeding the ducks, that is where most of the bluegill will be schooled. Fishing these locations with worms or crappie nibbles has been proving very productive.stupidly cold bluegill fishingbaby bluegill on crappie magic
None of these fish have been big, but I will happily take every fish I can catch before the lakes ice over. I will be trying Garvin Park again tomorrow with worms, powerbait and spinners with big dreams of trout. Hopefully the curse of the Rainbow Trout will pass soon!

Last Fishing Trip of 2015

The year is winding to an end and the temperatures are ever slowly dropping. This is typically the time of year where my fishing companions stop going out with me and my fishing adventures tend to get shorter and shorter. Luckily the weather hasn’t really dipped under freezing yet, keeping the fish very active and easy to catch.

With half an hour to spare, I set out on my last fishing trip of the year, the temperature was sitting right at 40 degrees and wind was only blowing at 2 MPH making conditions fairly enjoyable. I set out to fish Evansville State Hospital Park to fish my favorite holes in hopes of catching as many species as I could. I only had a half hour to spend, so I focused on the spots that have historically been the most productive for me: the drainage ditch pipe between the two lakes and the rocks around the edge of the dock.

I started out at the drainage ditch, and as expected, there was a nice bass sitting in it. These bass see a good amount of pressure so I stuck with a natural bluegill pattern and since the drainage ditch is so shallow I fished a squarebill crankbait. On the first cast, this beauty engulfed the lure.

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Sadly, this appeared to be the only fish sitting in the pipe so I moved over to the dock. The water isn’t too deep and there are a large amount of rocks surrounding the dock so I kept fishing the squarebill. With the temperatures being higher than usual I expected the crappie to be suspended in the water column still. This lake has a notoriously small crappie population, so anytime I catch one it is a special day. But this was one of those special days where the crappie were biting, landing me this little guy on a squarebill.

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Nothing compared to the size crappie you would expect to find in most places, but a welcome sight to see any day. With time running short, I still wanted to try out the ice fishing rod I was given for Christmas so I moved to the end of the dock hoping for a bluegill. I tied on one of my Lazy Man Woolly Bugger Jigs and started jigging away! Luckily it didn’t take long for a hungry fish to grab hold of it. I was rewarded with a little bluegill, and with that fish I called it a day.

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I was happy to say the last trip of the year was a success and for only having a half hour I was happy to have caught 3 species of fish. 2015 had some amazing fishing adventures and I can’t wait to see where 2016 brings. Tight lines and a happy New Year!

Bluegill on Jigs and Crappie Bites

Having a bit of cabin fever led me to tying up some jigs. I bought some small 1/64 oz jigs and got to work. The majority of the jigs I tied are what I call a lazy man’s wollybugger jig. These are super easy because they are made only from marabou and only require the feather that you use for the tail. Then a few winged nymph patterns, though I didn’t actually end up using those today.IMG_0080.JPGIt was a little chilly today, 48 degrees F and wind blowing about 7 mph. I set up on the little dock that people feed ducks from and immediately saw a school of bluegill beneath it. The water was clearer than usual so I tied on a white jig and caught a few little bluegil1201151426After quite a few bluegill this size they started to get a little antsy so I tipped the jigs with crappie bites. Being the cheap person I am I bought a can of Magic Bait Crappie Bites to try them out. This seemed to put the bluegill back on the bite and caught one fish after another.1201151436None of the fish were large, but they were all fun to catch and using small jigs is always a fun adventure. The picture below gives some scale to the average size fish I was catching.1201151430I have not tried using these for crappie yet, but for bluegill these crappie bites work just as well as any other crappie nibblers. The advantage of these is the ‘bites’ are a little smaller than Powerbait, so you lose less each time you lose one, have a very pungent smell and stay on a hook well. The disadvantage is the colors, they only come in 5 color options, however Powerbait has a large (possible overkill) color scheme of options. The price comparison of these is the real kicker: a large can of Magic Bait Crappie Bites only costs me $1.96, while a small can of Powerbait Crappie Nibbles costs $4.99. So as far as I’m concerned Magic Bait Crappie Bites has fairly earned my business and I will with out a doubt be purchasing their product again.

A Secret For Windy Days

Conventionally when people think of bass fishing on very windy days they will say something along the lines that you should fish the down wind side because the wind will push all the shad to that side of the lake. I’m not saying that’s wrong, but there is definitely a time to ignore that notion; and today was one of those days.

The hours I was out fishing the wind was blowing around 15 mph, this high wind level gave me an idea of where to fish. I drove out to Bluegrass FWA and found the wind to be blowing from the South, so I set up on the Northwest end of Loon Pit. The reeds that line the edges of the lake creates about 50 yards of water that are untouched by the gusts of wind. The other advantage to this location is the overflow drain from Bluegrass pit flows into the Northwest end of Loon Pit giving you a favorable current.

I initially set up on an area that still had some aquatic plants, they appeared to be dying off and were all 2-3 feet below the water’s surface. I choose to work a squarebill crankbait in a bluegill pattern above this weed line. I know this is an unconventional choice for a lure, but in a lake as heavily pressured as this is combining a natural looking lure with a large amount of vibration and noise tends to give the best results. This method quickly paid of with a small largemouth that rose out of the weeds and hammered the squarebill.1113151406After I landed this fish the spot I came to fish opened up so moved locations. On the very western edge the overflow pipe flows in, whenever water flows quickly this creates a deep cut in the bottom of the lake bed (making more or less a creek channel in the lake). This makes one of my favorite features to fish, this harsh transition from deep water to shallow margins tends to hold bait fish and a good number of largemouth bass consistently. I choose to attack this feature with a deep diving crankbait in a sexy shad color. The bite was not as fast as I had expected, but I seemed to catch a fish every half hour or so. I caught three more fish out of this spot before calling it a day. The first measuring in at 14 inches, the second at 16 inches and the final bass at 13.5 inches.

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The secret I have found is this cover from wind protects the fish that stay closer to the top from drifting down lake, and the bass know this. Bass cruising this area were causing minnows to scatter all day. The combination of high wind, the bait fish being channeled into this small shallow area and the deep ‘creek channel’ all combine to make the perfect bank fishing location.

Crankbaits and Inline Spinners

It had rained for last few days and the lake levels were up a little and that always seems to make them easier to fish. I had some time to kill so I went to the State Hospital Park again in search of catching a decent number of fish.

Because the water was higher the rocks around the borders of the lake were submerged so I started with a squarebill to try to get a few reaction strikes. Which worked out surprising well, I caught a good number of small fish and one very nice fish (I’m guessing 4-5 pounds, I’m not sure my scale is definitely broken).

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After I caught the bigger bass I decided I was tired of fishing a squarebill and just wanted to catch some fish regardless of size. With the fish so active I thought a inline spinner would be a good choice. I caught a good number of small bass, a bluegill and a crappie. I’m always excited to catch a crappie from this lake, I seem to catch one every year or two. I’ve seen people pulling them out one after another during the crappie spawn, but I have yet to see a crappie over 7 inches out of this lake.

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I was really happy with how the day turned out, ended with three species and one very nice bass for this size lake. The crappie made me want to go out and do some serious crappie fishing. I’m still searching for a decent crappie hole that isn’t out at Bluegrass FWA.

A Rainy Days Fishing

A large storm front was moving through today, leading to 7 hours of rain. Seeing this forecast I though the fishing would be incredible (like any good fisherman any excuse to go fishing is a valid excuse). The rain was supposed to start about noon, so I quickly found a spot to fish at and not be miserable. I ended up at Pigeon Creek for many reasons: Setting up under the Diamond Avenue bridge would give me cover from the rain, the creek is surrounded by woods so there would be a little bit of a wind break and there storm drain outlet there so I thought the fish would be feeding on everything that was getting washed out of it.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this creek and have found 2 lures that tend to catch fish pretty consistently: bucktail jigs and inline spinners. This spot is littered with snags, so I choose to work a little higher in the water column working a small rooster tail. On the third cast I caught a small bass. Shortly after this the rain started and the bite totally stopped. I saw a few small schools of shad swimming in the shallows, but there was not a single sign of any other fish. I didn’t have a single bite on lures, minnows or nightcrawlers so I decided it was time to move on.

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By the time I got to Burdette Park it was raining fairly hard so I bundled up in rain gear and set up my rods on the lower lake. The lake’s water level was significantly lower than I had expected, so I only worked the areas by the lily pads. This was probably the smartest thing I did today, I caught quite a few nice sized bluegill and rock bass. After a while the fish started getting smart and stopped biting, so I relocated the creek that feeds into the pond. I started working this area with minnows and had no interest so I switched to the last of the worms I had with me. I hooked a bluegill, warmouth or rock bass on each cast. The true spectacle that I caught from the creek the bluegill below

1024151535     I was amazed that with a scar that deep that his spine hadn’t been severed. This crane attack survivor was thriving and was the biggest bluegill I caught in the creek. All the fish after him were too small to even warrant a picture. Hopefully this storm front means that the temperatures will drop back down and the big fish start feeding again.

Hard Fishing and Small Fish

These last few days have not been very productive fishing. The temperature here in Evansville went from being being in the mid 50’s during the day to being back in the 80s. This increased water temperature seems to have totally shut down the bite. I went to the State Hospital Park with a lot of confidence that I could catch a few nice bass, and was proved very wrong. I worked my way through my crankbaits, spinners, soft plastics and ended up working a worm and a very small fluke style lure. All the feeding fish seemed to be in the shallow water (6-10 inches) where the bluegill fry were hiding. This resulted in to a large number of small bass and bluegill.

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     The next day I went to Garvin Park to see if the trout had been stocked yet. I didn’t see any signs of trout being stocked yet, and I fished for a while using trout bait and caught a few bluegill on it. Since I was already at the park, I decided to work my way around the lake with the fly rod. I started out with a foam grasshopper pattern with very limited results, so I switched to a nymph and that seemed to be the trick. I’m a little suspicious that they just stocked in a large number of bluegill, because they were hitting everything that was fell into the water. They were mostly hitting brown, so I assume they are still used to be fed pellets and haven’t learned what natural food sources are in this lake. Once again only the small fish seemed to be feeding, but it was great practice with the fly rod.

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