Multi-Species Adventure

Last week, I had one of those rare days where I didn’t have classes, work or homework to deal with.  Naturally, I decided to go fishing. I thought it would be fun to stay close to home and see how many different species of fish I could catch at different public spots in town.

I started the day off at the State Hospital Park, tossing around a Roostertail on my ultralight rod. It didn’t take long to hook into some feisty little Largemouth Bass.

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I actually came to this park hoping to catch some carp, but my favorite carp spot was taken so I abandoned that idea and focused on a second species. This particular lake had been heavily stocked with Yellow Bullhead by the DNR so I figured it would be pretty easy to hook into one. This pond is special because it is split between two sides of a road and is connected by two large pipes that flow under it. For some odd reason, the little bullheads love the shade and cool water that is inside of the pipes. So I cast a nightcrawler up into the pipe and waited. My bait had only been in the water for about a minute when the rod tip bounced. I set the hook and reeled up this little guy.

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I then packed up my stuff and switched to Diamond Valley Park Pond in hopes of finding a couple of Redear Sunfish. My usual tactic for these guys is a small 64th oz jig tipped with a little piece of nightcrawler, but they just weren’t playing my game. But on the bright side, I hooked into a good number of Bluegill while I was searching.

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After landing more Bluegill than I could count, I finally hooked into a tank of a Redear Sunfish. But he seemed to be alone today, I couldn’t find another one for the life of me.

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I continued casting my jig as I worked around the pond, and hoped I’d be able to find a few Green Sunfish. My search for these guys was significantly more successful.

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I even managed a surprise species while I was working my way around the lake: a Channel Catfish. I planned to target these fellows on the Ohio River later in the day, but I checked this one off my list early.

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After a nice break for lunch, I meandered over to the banks of the Ohio River to try to catch the evening bite. It didn’t take long before I hooked into my first fish, a lovely little Largemouth Bass. I usually only catch Spotted Bass at this spot, so I was pleasantly surprised when I landed this guy.

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The spot I was fishing at here had a large school of shiners and shad, so I knew there had to be more predatory fish hanging around. I continued working that spot and managed another species: a little White Bass.

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Soon after that, I set the hook into another fish, and this one felt significantly larger. After a few drag-screaming runs, I knew there was only one thing I could have hooked into: a Striped Bass. I was especially surprised when I saw that it wasn’t a hybrid, the true Striped Bass aren’t as common to catch here.

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I had caught a couple of Freshwater Drum by now, but I realized that I still hadn’t taken a picture of one. So I cast out a nightcrawler on a circle hook and waited. It didn’t take very long until this little drum found my bait.

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I still wanted to catch one last fish before going home for the night, so I decided to move a little further down river and try a deeper spot. I sat there for about an hour, snagging up most of the rigs on the rocky bottom. I was starting to get frustrated and considering calling it for the day when one of my rod tips finally bounced. I set the hook immediately and was surprised when whatever was on the other side of my line started peeling drag. It took off in a crazy run downriver to the point where it took half the line off my reel before I could turn the fish. As soon as I got it moving back up toward me, it made a run upstream and again took half the line off my reel. I finally worked the fish near the bank and managed to get it up to the surface. I could see that it was a gar, easily the biggest Longnose Gar I had ever hooked. I put a little bit more pressure on the fish, knowing it was hooked well, and got down to the bank before it could cut through my line. Luckily, I had a tape measure in my backpack and took a quick length measurement on this beauty: 43 inches long. A quick photo session later, I released this lovely gar back into the Ohio River to fight another day.

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This final fish exhausted my supply of bait, so I decided to call it a night. I managed to land ten different species of fish before the end of the day, which is a pretty good number for me (considering I didn’t target any of the ‘micro’ species). I had a great time chasing all of the different fish around town, and with a new personal best, I couldn’t be happier with how my day went.

Tight lines,

-Isaac

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Exploring Yellowwood State Forest

This trip occurred on August 5th, 2016

Lately, I have been on the hunt for new places to fish. This led me to Yellowwood State Forest. My online research indicated that the famous Bluegill lake there had been destroyed by logging, but I wanted to see for myself. Old surveys suggested that this lake used to have Yellow Perch (a species I’ve always wanted to catch), so the 2-hour drive was pretty justifiable to me. I was also particularly curious about this lake because I couldn’t find any real information about it dated after 2011, so I figured it was time for someone to do a write up about how the fishing is. So on August 5th I got up way too early and drove my way up to the campground.

I started out fishing at the Jackson Creek trailhead and fished off the boat launch there. I quickly found some small Largemouth Bass sitting right off of an isolated grass patch.

 

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I then switched over to try to catch some panfish. It quickly became evident that all of the panfish close to the boat launch were very small, but the diversity in the species raised my hopes that I could find a Yellow Perch.

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I wasn’t catching anything new, so I drove over to the spillway on the south end of the lake to see what kind of fish inhabited that area. There were hundreds of small Bluegill in the spillway, so there were a few decent Largemouth Bass enjoying the easy prey.

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I could see a few other species in this area that I wanted to try to catch. The water was so clear I could see Black Crappie, Smallmouth Buffalo, Northern Hog Sucker and Common Carp. I was quickly able to tempt a crappie, but I couldn’t keep any bait in the water long enough to tempt any other species before the Bluegill would eat it.

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It was starting to get late, so I headed back to the campground to make sure everything was set up before it got dark. After I was all set up, I walked down to the lake to see if I could find any other fish. I ended up tempting a few small Largemouth Bass right off the weed line.

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Stocking reports said that this lake had a large population of Channel Catfish, so I cast out a few baits and waited as the sun went down. It didn’t take long before a catfish hit, but I couldn’t seem to find any of the bigger fish.

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But after the sun went down, a few of the bigger Shellcrackers went shallow and were biting right on the edge of the weed line.

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With that last fish, I decided to call it a night. But first thing in the morning, I started exploring the coves on the lake and found some Bluegill still on beds. It took some time, but I was finally able to tempt the biggest one to bite.

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I rented a jon boat so that I could paddle my way up the lake to where Jackson Creek flows in. There, I found a log jam that looked like it could hold some decent fish. I started by tossing a finesse worm, and immediately hooked into a large Redear Sunfish.

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I quickly caught a decent-sized Warmouth and a small Largemouth Bass.

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It became clear that this lake’s reputation of having big panfish was still pretty accurate. So I tied on a small jig and tipped it with small pieces of worms… and had an absolute blast catching these fish.

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After catching some nice Redear Sunfish, I realized how foolish I was for not bringing a cooler to keep a few. But then I got distracted by a couple of beautiful Longear Sunfish and started targeting them instead.

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I kept seeing a fish move around on the edge of the log jam, so I tossed a jig to it and a greedy Warmouth quickly gobbled it up.

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After a while, the wind started picking up so I paddled back to shore and found some more small Largemouth Bass sitting on any irregularities in the weed line.

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I also did a little bit of micro fishing before leaving. I was able to find what I think are Freckled Madtoms (or possibly a juvenile Yellow Bullhead) and some larger Blackstripe Topminnows.

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My final impressions of Yellowwood State Forest: there are still some nice panfish that can be found, but as far as I could see, there is no longer a population of Yellow Perch. I also wasn’t able to find any decent size bass, but this might have been more because I’m not a very confident deep water angler. The lake seems to have a decent number of catfish, but again I wasn’t able to find any decent size fish. Regardless, I had an absolute blast fishing this lake and I highly suggest giving it a try for yourself!

Tight lines,

-Isaac

 

 

Fishing Adventures in Los Angeles

My work schedule finally freed up and I got the chance to fly out to Los Angeles to visit my girlfriend. This trip, we made sure that we made a little bit of time to go fishing. The first stop that we made was to explore Malibu Creek State Park. We had a lot of trouble finding information on whether or not they allowed fishing in the park, but after asking a park ranger, we quickly learned that the creek was off limits but fishing was allowed at a little lake in the park called Century Lake.IMG_4819

We hiked a little over a mile through some beautiful landscapes to discover this gorgeous little lake (which was actually deceptively deep).

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There wasn’t much shore access on the lake, but I found a little rock to fish off of and hooked my first fish (which promptly came unhooked just as I was trying to land it).

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But I continued tossing around my little jig and was happily rewarded with a lovely little bluegill.

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I worked my way down the bank and enjoyed the lovely scenery.

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I even found a second little bluegill right off of some submerged branches.

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Right as we were getting ready to leave, I saw a new target: some bigger bluegill starting to bed in the shallows.

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I danced jigs around their beds, and they would nibble but not fully take the lure. So I switched tactics. Instead of jigging the lure, I would set the jig right in the center of the bed and just let it sit there. The bluegill would swim over, stare at it, go nose down on it, nibble it, then get frustrated and actually bite the lure.

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With this lovely bluegill, we decided it was time to hike back and get some lunch.

 

We then went to Malibu Pier to see if we could catch any fish there. Luckily, there was a little shop at the end of the pier where I bought some 2 oz. lead weights and a package of frozen squid.

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We started on the sunny side of the pier near the deeper water, mostly because that was one of the only places where I had some decent room to play a fish if I caught a larger one. After watching everyone else around me hook a few fish, I finally got a bite and reeled up this little California Scorpionfish.

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We stayed put at that spot for another hour, but I didn’t manage to get another bite. In the last 30 minutes, we decided to move to the deepest (and shaded) part of the pier. Instead of dropping the bait straight down like I had been, I started casting it out as far as my light line would let me. I immediately hooked into my first ever California Lizardfish.

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Look at the chompers on this little guy!

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I continued fishing this spot and hooked into my first ever Barred Sand Bass. The other anglers at this spot kept hooking into Mackerel, but I just couldn’t manage to get one this time.

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The last place we went fishing at was the Santa Monica Pier. Once again, we stopped at a bait shop right at the end of the pier and purchased bait. I was hoping for squid, but the shop only had Anchovies left (which actually worked way better than squid). We set up on the end of the pier and before I was able to hook a fish, a Sea Lion swam up begging for bait.

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After he swam off, I was able to fish without the fear of him eating my catches and dropped my bait down. The first fish to bite on the Anchovies was a little Queenfish.

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This trip, I was determined to catch a Pacific Mackerel and decided that fishing directly on the bottom was not the solution. I quickly discovered that suspending my bait halfway up the water column resulted in the largest number of bites from Mackerel.

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After catching a few of these little guys, I switched back to fishing the bottom to try to get some other species. I found a little deep spot by a pier piling that held a large number of Kelp Bass.

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I even got my girlfriend to catch a fish, her first Barred Sand Bass.

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At this point, I wanted to just catch one last little fish before calling it a day, another little Barred Sand Bass.

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With this last little fish, my trip was coming to an end. It was a great adventure and I was lucky to have great company to spend it with me. I ended the trip with a total of 6 new species for my list and only a mild sunburn.

Tight lines,

-Isaac

Exploring Ferdinand State Forest

I’ve fished Ferdinand State Forest a few times when I was younger with my father, but these trips have always focused on catching Largemouth Bass and I’ve always wanted to know what else lives out in this park. So Friday after work I started packing up all of my fishing and camping gear so that I could leave first thing Saturday morning. When I go on trips like this I always like to set myself a goal to help keep me motivated, this trip I decided that my goal would be to catch 10 different species. Saturday morning I got up with the sun, packed the last of my food and jumped in my suv to start the drive. I got to the park before the ranger at the station did and was able to secure the best camping location in the whole park. After struggling with the tent for a half hour my campsite was set up and I unloaded the rods to do a little fishing.

I started by exploring the overflow creek from the lake and tried to target some of the gar that kept surfacing. After many failed hook sets I gave up on that quest and put on my rubber boots and started microfishing my way down the creek (well as close to microfishing as you can get with a size 22 hook). My efforts were quickly rewarded with a lovely Blackstripe Topminnow.

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At the next pool I was happy to find a large number of creek chubs.

After working through a good number of chubs I found what I think is a Striped Shiner

At this point I switched over to the top lake and took the canoe out to target a few evening largemouth. It didn’t take long to find a Largemouth Bass willing to hit a top water lure.

As sunset approached I set out to find some firewood and get dinner ready. I had hoped to fish for catfish once the sun had set, but after making supper I was surprisingly tired so I went ahead and settled down in my tent for the night.

Once again I woke up as the sun was just starting to come up, I decided to go back to the over flow creek and see if I could find a few more fish species before it got too hot. I started by jigging around the rocks and as I was hoping was able to tempt quite a few Warmouth.

I then started tossing the jig into some shallower water that was at the back end of the pool I was fishing was able to find a few very colorful Green Sunfish

But I had heard rumors of that this overflow was home to some crappie and I just couldn’t seem to tempt them. Then I had the idea to start casting as far up the inflow pipe as I could. Surprisingly I started catching a lot of bluegill from this spot.

After working through a lot of bluegill I was incredibly excited to hook into a small Black Crappie (I may or may not have cheered when I landed this fish).

I tossed out a rod with some cutbait with hopes of a gar again, but this time I was lucky enough to hook into what I think is a Yellow Bullhead (I honestly have the hardest time telling the bullheads apart)

After this fish I returned to jigging, I found a small submerged tree branch and tossed my jig into it. I was incredibly excited to see this little Redear Sunfish come out of it.

The last thing I wanted to include were a few of the strange catches I had as I was exploring the forest. The first is the very oddly colored Warmouth, at first I thought it was a rock bass but it appears to have the wrong number of spines on the anal fin.

And while I was micro fishing I was very surprised to catch a frog in between the tadpole and the froglet stage!

Micro Fishing Bluegrass FWA

To start this out, I know this is going to be a post that really only relates to a very small number of anglers and that this kind of fishing goes against the typical fishing mentality. The first thing you need to know is what micro fishing is: basically micro fishing is where you try to catch the smallest fish possible on a hook.

My go to setup for micro fishing is my 5 wt Redington fly rod and Mustad size 22 hooks. I tie the hook onto my fly line and tip the tiny hook with a very small piece of white soft plastic from old lures. This gives the fish a specific place on the hook to strike and increases the hook up ratio significantly.FOT9603

The easiest place to target micro fish on lakes seems to be at boat launches, since it provides safety from predatory fish in the deeper water. However, it seems that you have to work through a lot of average size panfish before you can start targeting the actual micro fish. The first fish you tend to catch in these spots are more aggressive, in my case Green Sunfish.

After the Green Sunfish got spooked from my spot the next aggressive fish started hitting my fly: Redear Sunfish.

The last species you have to worry about is the occasional Largemouth Bass that will come up into the shallower water.

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Now the fish actually start to become micro, the easiest small fish to start catching is the bluegill. The fry tend to stay in the shallows and are fairly aggressive and will fight each other over which gets to eat the fly first.

If you start fishing in the very shallowest part of the water you can catch some of the truly small species. I focused my attention on trying to catch my first Blackstripe Topminnow. Turns out they are very easy to catch once you have downsized your hook to a 22.
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The last species that I was able to find was the Western Mosquitofish. This is a very common fish to find in the shallows, however due to their very small mouth they are one of the more challenging micro fish that I have caught so far.WP_20160702_18_29_41_Pro

I know this post will seem strange to a lot of anglers since this goes completely against the “catch the biggest fish possible” mentality. But I find that micro fishing is incredibly relaxing and very intriguing when you are trying to figure out how to identify the fish that you catch.

So give it a try, I’d love to know what you think about this very different form of fishing.

Tight lines,

-Isaac

 

Exploring Sugar Ridge

I like to think that I have fished a good number of lakes in this area, but before today I never had an opportunity to fish Sugar Ridge. I had always heard that the pits there didn’t have very good shore fishing and I had never tried taking the kayak out there. But today was different; a buddy and I planned to meet there and fish from his jon boat for the day.WP_20160530_17_08_36_ProI arrived before my friend did and got to choose the pit that we were fishing, so naturally I choose Arm Pit. My friend was being slow getting here so I started exploring around to try to find a spot to fish from the bank. Most of the spots accessible from the bank were very shallow and had lots a weeds. But I found a creek that was flowing out of the lake so I hiked out to it and started fishing it from the bank. As expected I found a lot of panfish in this creek and was able to catch them on worms, jigs and spinners. I was hoping to catch a bass out of this creek but I just couldn’t seem to find one. WP_20160530_13_33_16_ProWP_20160530_14_01_31_ProWP_20160530_13_42_46_ProWP_20160530_13_47_24_ProWP_20160530_14_25_13_ProAt this point my friend arrived and we tossed his jon boat in the lake and started fishing. We actually started fishing the lake beside Arm Pit, it was super clear and you could see bass all over it. These fish all seemed to be smart and we couldn’t tempt any of them to hit lures. We then dragged the boat over to Arm Pit and started fishing it. I fished a finesse worm rigged wacky style in this lake and targeted all of the submerged trees and any place that had a slow transition from shallow to the deeper water.WP_20160530_16_32_54_ProWP_20160530_15_51_50_ProWP_20160530_16_22_33_ProWP_20160530_16_22_52_ProWP_20160530_16_35_36_ProWP_20160530_16_41_43_ProAfter covering a lot of water we hooked into some nice fish and even managed to sight fish for a few cruising fish (I am such a sucker for seeing a fish hit a lure). The biggest fish of the day hit 4 lb even  and caught about 30 fish total.

I hope your Memorial Day was as good as mine,

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.