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

Lake Spillway Fishing

Most people go to Ferdinand State Forest with the purpose of fishing in the main lake. I am not one of those people. You’ll see me walk right beside the lake and down the dam wall and stop at the small creek formed by the spillway. I have been laughed at countless times for fishing in this little creek, but I have yet to be disappointed by it. It holds large numbers of chubs and bass in the spring and crappie and panfish through the summer and fall.  The lake only thawed out this week so the water levels were high and water was terribly muddy. But this pushed a lot of water through the overflow and had the creek at decent level. The set up was simple, an ice fishing float tied on 18 inches above a jig with a piece of night crawler. With a fairly decent current at the top of the creek, the fish were congregated around the edges of the deep pool. It seemed I was reeling in a fish every minute or two, they were all small (the largest being around 9 inches) but they all produced that kid like excitement of watching a float dance and then shoot underwater. My prize catch this round was a small Longear Sunfish, it was amazing how few panfish there are in the creek this time of year (of the 70 fish I caught in the creek only 4 were panfish). The most photogenic of today’s catches:6tag_200216-2213586tag_200216-2214306tag_200216-2215506tag_200216-2216286tag_200216-2216476tag_200216-221758

So next time you are exploring a new lake don’t forget to check for a spillway, because often times this is where a good number of fish will be congregated. Tight lines

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!

Some Fun Little Projects

I will happily fish in the winter, but I have found the line that I will not cross this time of the year: Once it is dark I am done fishing. By the time I finished work and accomplished the errands I needed to run it was pitch black. I was still feeling very fishy, so I settled down to make some fishing gear.

The first project was tying a fly called ‘La Bomba’. Instead of following the suggested materials on the fly pattern, I followed my cheap tendencies and made the materials I currently own work. The beads were from a bracelet making kit I was given, the tails were made from yarn, the legs from silicon bracelet string and the body made from either ostrich herl or some rabbit dubbing. I was proud of how the flies turned out and I can’t wait for the water to be warm enough to get into some bluegill and bass on this pattern.

The next 2 projects brought me over to my 3d printer. I found a design by timebeestudio on thingiverse.com called ‘The Minnow’ that I thought had some fish catching potential. I printed it out and used heavy fishing line to run the hooks through the body of the lure. I haven’t taken this lure on a swimming test yet, but the design does seem to be very sturdy and the body design looks like it should work. I was too lazy to go hunt down treble hooks so I used some size 8 hooks. I then demonstrated my fine art skills and colored in the lure with sharpies.   IMG_9881

The next design was made by lew597 on thingiverse.com called ‘Inline Method Feeder’. I’ve designed and made many method feeders out of wire mesh, wood and plastic over the last year, but this design seemed to be much cleaner than those I have previously made. This design prints fairly well with out support and if printed with PLA it won’t require much weight to settle correctly.  The design has a hollow space on the bottom for you to attach your weight of choice. I coiled up fencing wire and glued it in place, I am assuming that this is a safer alternative than lead, but I haven’t researched to see if that is true yet. I plan to test these out with the carp bait I made recently.

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The final project was inspired by Paul Adams’ videos on youtube. I do not have the materials or the technical ability to create the high quality creations like he does, but his projects always make me want to try for myself. I took the inside container from a kinder egg and sketched out a minion pattern on it. Then I attached a screw eyelet into the bottom and cut craft foam to match the design. The foam was then attached to the container with hot glue and the float tested in a cup of water. I’m happy to report that it floats perfectly and looks just as ridiculous in water as you would expect.

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Winter Catfish: Flooded Creek Adventure

Winter fishing has always been a little bit of a mystery to me. But as an angler, there is one thing that no matter what time of year it is tells me that I should be fishing: Flood conditions. The NOAA chart had the Ohio River just dropping below flood today. Ideally you would fish as the water rises or when the water reaches its maximum level, but this trip proves that fish will still bite even as the water levels start to drop.

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I set up in between two sharp bends on Pigeon Creek, this sudden change in flow creates a deep bowl in the creek bed. When the creek floods, this results in a roughly 30 foot deep pocket that has a slightly buffered current. This creates a safe place for bait fish to school up, in turn bringing actively feeding catfish. The map below shows the location that I fished.

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It was too cold for me to comfortably try to cast net bait fish, so I settled for some nightcrawlers. I tied 2 ounces of lead on my line and then created a dropper loop a 1 and 1/2 foot above that. I attached a circle hook to the loop and cast the bait 10 feet out into the creek. The bite was very slow,  having a nibble once every 30 minutes or so. Luckily my patience paid of with 2 small catfish.

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I missed a large number of bites, but for a short and very cold trip I was happy to have landed 2 fish.Fishing this creek only gets hard and harder as the water drops and cools down further, so soon I will back trying to figure out how to catch fish in the Ohio River during the winter. But until then, I will stay grateful for every little catfish that I get lucky enough to catch from this creek.

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.

Sometimes Technology Fails

I wasn’t feeling like doing anything fancy today so I grabbed the bait I had and went to the river with hopes of their being a few decent fish. The river was up a little higher than it was the last few days, sitting at 15.56 feet. My initial thought was to fish a spinnerbait, which did end up being a decent call. I fished right beside the boat launch at Angel Mounds, one side has a very rocky ledge and the other side of the boat launch has a current break with a mostly muddy bottom. I choose to use a spinnerbait with two blades to give off a large amount of vibration, one larger Willow blade and a smaller Colorado blade.

I started by working the side with rock ledge with and was rewarded with a decent spotted back, the problem was I took a picture with an old camera. And when I got home I found the camera had dumped the picture, so you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. After this fish the bite really seemed to just stop.

At this point I really just wanted to catch anything, so I switched to the side with a current break and tried my hand at some micro-fishing. I used hot dogs as bait and the smallest fly tying hook I had. I don’t know what the name of the species is, but they are very common in this area in the creeks and the river.

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After I had caught a few little minnows it seemed logical to use these as bait and that resulted in 0 fish. Right at sunset a few skipjack started attacking some of the minnows so I tied on a little jerkbait and caught one 8 inch skipjack. But alas the camera failure resulted in no proof.

This spot does have potential for holding a decent number of fish and has been a good place to fish for years. I believe the main problem today was that a commercial fisherman had set his nets right off the boat launch.