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2019 Indiana Fly Fishing Reports
4/29/2019 - Upper White
Flow: 2500 cfs. but it was 11,200 on 4/27. Water Temp: Doesn't matter. Color: diarrhea:-(
With the rain and flooding last week, and the rain forecast for the next 7 days, I seriously doubt we will be fishing ANY Indiana rivers for a good long while. When the crops have not yet sprouted, any rain that falls goes straight into the rivers. We have very little water storage in this State. An average acre of grassland can store over 1 million gallons of water and reintroduce it to the water table through absorption. Since most of our land has been scrpaed off and turned into famland or asphalt, the rainwater has nowhere to go but into the creeks and rivers. Even retention ponds don't "retain" much water, as their outflows are usually not more than 1 foot above their inflows. My guess is, it will be the end of May before the rivers are fishable again. And that is if we don't get a rainy May. Stick to the ponds locally, fishWipers at Monroe, or go somewhere that doesn't have the "agriculture problem." ~jc
4/9/2019 - Upper White
Flow: 650 cfs. Water Temp: 54 at 7pm. Color: 3+ft of cloudy visibility.
The days are getting longer, yellow flowers are poppin out, and the earth's crust is warming, triggering all of the good stuff we like about Spring. The ponds are lighting up and I caught about 25 fish last evening fishing deep dropoffs with a purple darter. Bass, Bluegill and Crappie. I also surveyed the upper White, and it is looking really good. Several floods reshaped the river channel and there is lots of new deadfall. It'll be a fun exploration to find the new holes and hiding places. It seems that awater temperature of 54 is awfully warm for this early in the year, but looking back on my past fishing reports, it is within the normal range for a warmer year. I expect the spawn to happen on the early side, perhaps by mid-May unless we get a major cold snap. Not out of the question. Anyway... I begin this year as I begin every year; with big hopes for a season of excellent fishing and great fun with my friends. I wish the same for you. ~jc
3/5/2019 - Tampa, FL
As is becoming a tradition, my first fishing report of the year is not from fishing in Indiana. I spent the weekend in Tampa with my buddy Rob. We waded the flats around Tampa on Friday 3/1 and had a pretty good day. Flats fishing for Redfish and Snook is more like sitting in a duck blind or deer stand than it is the fishing we're used to around here. You move out onto the flat at low tide and "post up" out near where the flat drops off into deeper water and then you wait quietly... no casting, no shuffling around. Just wait quietly until fish begin to move into your "area of influence"... and by area of influence, I mean the 50-70 foot crescent (front and sides) where you can see well enough to maybe identify when fish swim into the area. As you scan the water, your eyes play tricks on you as sun and tide make stationary objects on the bottom seem to be moving. My technique is to try to identify all of the things that AREN'T fish so that when fish swim into the area I can quickly spot them. The casting is easy... mostly within 40ft with small flies that imitate shrimp or crabs. But the fish can be pretty spooky, so casts need to land close but not too close. Rob and I were 70+ yards apart, but I saw his rod bent a few times. In the meantime, I managed 2 Redfish... one in the 8-9lb class and one "rat"... a juvenile fish, plus a Catfish and later a Snook. The next day we floated with Pete Greenan of floridaflyfishing.com in the Boca Grande area. Bait and mullet were everywhere, but the Reds and Snook were absent. We caught some Ladyfish, etc. and had a fun day anyway. Sunday was a quick wade which produced no results. A few Reds swam onto the flat and promptly turned right back around and headed for deeper water. It was great to be in 80 degree weather in March. When I landed a Indianapolis International I was greeted with snow and ice on my car and the realization that Spring just isn't here yet. ~jc
10/3/2018 - Upper White
Flow: 350 cfs. Water Temp: 68. Color: 3+ft of cloudy visibility.
Next sob story about our water... Most of September was blown out from extremely heavy rains. At one point the upper drainage of the White got 6-7 inches of rain, so the flow in Muncie went quickly from 20cfs to 6000cfs! The Muncie gauge is still running around 100cfs, which is 5x what the flow usually is this time of year. I finally got on the river yesterday (10/3) with two fellows from Madison, IN. Kevin and Charlie. Both good fishermen and excellent guys! It was a weird day, since we had Spring water levels and color with Fall weather. The fish were as cornfused as I was. I always judge how the day went after the fact by the number of flies I had to try to get fish to eat. On a great day it's 1-2, on an average day it's maybe 3-4. Yesterday was 8-10! For the first 5 hours the wind was high, the sun was bright and the fish were everywhere but on our lines. We did dig out a few fish by mend-twitching Purple Darters in deeper holes, and a couple on Wounded Minnows (the ultrasuede fly), but in general fishing was slow. I stuck in the upper river so we didn't waste good water on a bad time of day. We arrived at a big bend pool at around 4pm and took several fish on the darter and then on Kreelex minnows. The attacks to the Kreelex were instantaneous. As soon as the fly hit on the drop. Still no topwater but some 10-16" fish were being caught and life seemed to be improving. Kevin and Charlie were less concerned about the fishing than I was. I guess some people pay a guide to do the worrying for them! Fishing continued to be spotty... good in one hole and dead in the next. Finally, after 7pm topwater lit up and the damn mosquitoes came out. Why do fish and skeeters so often go together? Anyway, Charlie landed a hog on a yellow popper and Kevin picked up several on a chartreuse Boogle popper. The slow start to the day was washed away as we pulled out using headlamps. ~jc
8/31/2018 - Upper White
Sob story about our water... Most of August was blown out from heavy rains and several trips had to be canceled. Finally, weather, water and schedules converged to make 8/31 a beautiful day on the river with Don and his son Jim. Don is a fine flycaster and has been a flycasting instructor for many years. His instruction has helped lots of people turn into fine flyfishers. Although he had never worked with his son, Jim picked it up by osmosis and cast very well. The day started rather slow. It was a warm, partially cloudy day with quick changes from bright sun to cloud cover. When the clouds come and go quickly, it seems to take the fish a minute to adjust to the new light and come out from the cover they hide in when it is bright and sunny. So, it seems they just stayed back under cover. We caught a few small fish during the first couple of miles, but I was sticking in the upper river until the light started to drop and the fish came out of hiding. That happened at 5:32. As we ran through a small rapid, Don threw a topwater into the eddy below it. As he cast, his flyline wrapped around an air valve outside the raft. As he turned to free the line we heard a big splash and gulp. He was quick to recover and hooked to a decent Smallmouth. Topwater started slow, but as the day progessed there were times when fish were caught every few minutes.Jim is a youth pastor and wrote an article for his student about the day that tells the story pretty well. We had good laughs, caught some decent size fish, and I lied some, but only when my lips were moving. ~jc
7/14 and 15/2018 - Class days
One thing I really enjoy about my fishing business is teaching people flyfishing and helping them get over the giant hump that is the learning curve to success. On Saturday I worked with Phil and his son Zach, and by the end of the day they were casting and catching fish. On Sunday I worked with Greg and his grandson Andrew. Same results. After a full day of instruction people usually know if they are really willing to "tackle" flyfishing or if they realize that it just looked cool in a movie. Both of these young guys seem to be gut-hooked and ready to dive in. They're headed off to the Orvis store in Clay Terrace to pick up their first fly fishing rigs. ~jc
7/13/2018 - Upper White River
Flow: 140 cfs. Water Temp: 79. Color: Clear with a green tint.
My good friend Rob was in town, and since he is so kind to me when I fish with him in Tampa, I return the kindness when he comes here. We floated 8 miles. In the afternoon the sun was brutal and the temperature stifling. We dug hard for fish, but they were pretty far back under cover due to the low water and bright, direct sun. We still pulled a couple out during the day on the wounded minnow and on Rob's black leech. Once the sun moved off to the west, we started having some nice topwater action. Rob's son Michael was the first to hook up on Conrad's Deerhair Diver in yellow. Then Rob hung 2 really nice 17-19" fish on the same fly in a larger size and more natural coloration. Hard-body poppers didn't draw the strikes that the deerhair flies did. We pulled out right at dark after 9.5 hours on the river. We were all wiped out... especially the fishermen, who had cast over 1000 times each. I like sending people home happy and sore:-) ~jc
7/12/2018 - White River
Flow: 325 cfs. Water Temp: 82. Color: 3+ft of clear visibility.
Ben and Craig joined me for a 1/2 day float from 146th the 116th. That section of river gets used pretty hard by the jet boat crew when the water is higher, but once it drops below about 400 cfs the motorboat traffic diminishes. We had the river to ourselves from 3 until 9:30m. Fishing in the upper river in bright sun was surprisingly good. Visible fish in holes willing to chase the right fly. The right fly seemed to be Conrad's Wounded Minnow. Craig took a decent fish on it and Ben caught his first Smallmouth ever. Ben had spent some time trout fishing, but had never fished for bronze. As the sun dropped off to the west, we looked for topwater action, but the fishing was slow and it was hot and buggy, so we pulled out in the dark. ~jc
6/14/2018 - White River
Flow: 250 cfs. Water Temp: 78-80. Color: 2.5ft of cloudy visibility.
While I have been on the river recently, fishing has been spotty and there has been nothing special to report... average to mediocre fishing, but still some beautiful days on the water. On 5/28 two friends (Marty and Jeff) and I hit the upper section and had a decent day with Bad Hair Days, Murdich Minnows, Wounded Minnows, etc., but no topwater action, which I attribute to the end of the spawn, and sleepy fish. On 6/8, Karl, Mike and I floated from 3 until dark. Several fish came to topwater, but nothing remarkable. There was a disgusting algae all over the water in large green clumps with white bubbly crap in it. I have very little doubt that this is from the output of the CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) in the eastern and northern drainages to the White River combined with Anderson's combined sewage/stormwater system (CSO), combined with the farming practice of mixing pig feces into water and spraying it on the fields, which is frequently overused. Who ever thought it was a good idea to put thousands of animals in barns on a small patch of land? Where is all of the animal excrement gonna go??? Into our groundwater, into our creeks and rivers, that's where! Who thought it was a good idea to allow human waste to pour into a river everytime it rains? Short-term, lazy thinking by politicians and citizens alike.
And then there was yesterday (6/14). I took Eric and Jim for a float on one of the lower stretches. The water was dropping and still off-color from the rains earlier in the week, but visibilty was nearly 3 feet and the water temp was 78 at 3pm. It should have been a banner day and evening. Instead, we dug and dug to find a few fish. We had ZERO topwater action and very little streamer action. The streamer fish we did catch were "low and slow". I have to speculate that water quality has something to do with the sullen behavior. When oxygenation is low and toxins flow in the water, fish don't feel good and go into survival mode by conserving energy. It reminds me of when I got sick from breathing auto exhaust while walking around Tokyo at rush hour. Who knows what the future holds for Summer fishing. Thankfully, Smallmouth are pretty durable and seem to survive most of what we throw at them, but it is time to do better environmentally in this State. Protest CAFOs and other unsustainable uses of our land. ~ jc
5/11/2018 - Upper White River
Flow: 325 cfs. Water Temp: 62-65. Color: 2.5ft of cloudy visibility.
Matt and his family just moved back to Indy after a decade living out West. So, Matt had been spoiled trout fishing many of the great western rivers such as the Green, Snake, etc. He wanted to be reintroduced to warmwater flyfishing and get some ideas of the fish, tactics and seasons of Midwestern flyfishing. We pushed off about noon and had the river to ourselves all day... no canoes, no kayaks, no wading anglers... and for the first 3 hours we were barley even bothered by a fish! It was cool, windy, and threatening rain all day, but when the sun peeked out for a few minutes here and there it was hot and humid. We tried all of the normal tactics, and nothing produced well or consistently. A Murdich on a sinktip did attract one decent fish and the Wounded Minnow and Wiggle Minnow got some slashes but no takers. Even the Purple Darter went undisturbed. Of course, I hung in the upper river not wanting to waste good water on unwilling fish... I figured they'd become willing eventually, and they did. About 4pm a Stealth Bomber started to get attacked by Rock Bass, which is usually the early warning sign that Smallmouth will be looking up soon. Once it "felt" like Popper O'clock we switched to a Conrad's Deerhair Diver and started redeeming the day. Rock Bass and Smallmouth ate consistently until they all but destroyed the fly, which is a durable critter. We switched to a Double Barrel in chartreuse as the light faded. Matt must have caught 15-20 Smallmouth and 35-40 Rock Bass. Nothing of size, but that great 12-15" range that eat so heartily and fight so hard. Fun day on the water! The spawn should be on very soon, so I'll be leaving the river alone for a few weeks after next weeks float. ~jc
5/3/2018 - Upper White River
Flow: 385 cfs. Water Temp: 61-64. Color: 2.5ft of cloudy visibility.
I'm sad to say that this was my first float of the season, but happy that my companions for the day were Ben Harris (Orvis) and Joe Smith (Project Healing Waters). It rained about .35" in the morning and we pushed off at 1:30pm with the threat of rain, cloudy skies and high, gusty winds. The Purple Darter took the first fish and a crayfish fly took the second... both within sight of the boat ramp. The wind was a real bear and kept me on my toes tying to keep the boat at a fishable distance from the bank and headed in the right direction. Early on, the fish were sullen and had to be coaxed with sunken flies that had to be "mend/twitched" to keep them moving but staying down in the strike zone. While it wasn't fast fishing, somebody was hooked up on a Smallmouth or Rock Bass every few minutes. The water warmed a bit and the fish became more aggressive, so we switched to Conrad's Dying Minnow and consistently took fish in the top 12" of the water column. Rather suddenly about 6pm, the wind laid down and fishing (and rowing) became quite pleasant. We switched to a Wiggle Minnow and a topwater popper. Both got attacked, although the Wiggle Minnow more frequently. One notable fish took the Wiggle Minnow at the mouth of a small incoming creek and ran immediately for some nearby wood. The fish wrapped the leader around a branch and was swimming around on the other side. We rowed in and Ben used the net to break the branch off and netted the fish, which was "lit-up" in beautiful colors. The whole event was witnessed by a person standing nearby. I'm sure it looked like a circus with 3 clowns all running in different directions trying to corral a house cat! Around 8:30 the temperature started dropping quickly and the fishing shut off. We were near the boat ramp and rowed out. Beers and dinner at Chili's topped off a nice "opening" day. ~jc
4/28/2018 - Lesson Day
Pete came up from Bloomington for a lesson that his cool Daughter bought for him. He's a smart and inquisitive guy and was clearly already "bitten" by flyfishing. We did the classroom work of "equipment/tactics/flies/knots"and then headed out to work on casting. Pete caught on so well and so quickly that I decided to run him to a pond. Needless to say, he caught several fish including this decent largemouth, and "bitten" became "gut-hooked". ~jc
4/26/2018 - Ok... It's on.
I fished the upper White yesterday for a short time. The Smallmouth were somewhat aggressive even with the bright, bluebird skies. Purple Darters and "Eat The Baby" streamers took good Smallies and lots of Rock Bass and Crappie. If we don't get any more extreme rain, we should have strong prespawn fishing for a few weeks. Then it's time to leave 'em alone while they make babies and rest afterwards.
Brookville tailwater has been blown out for a month now. The big flood raised the reservoir massively, and they are still dropping the water from that. It's flowing over 1000cfs today, but they should be able to turn it down to normal flows in the next few days. ~jc
3/1/2018 - Ya wonder why this thing catches fish???
I have been hitting the ponds lately and catching fish regularly on "the minnow". Watch the action of this fly. It's no wonder fish freak out for the thing... it's practically cheating! I'll get a better video one of these days when the water clears, but you get the idea. The fly is available from Orvis in Carmel. Call 'em at 317-249-6000 or stop in.
2/5/2018 - 600 Wounded Minnows DONE!
I have delivered 600 "Conrad's Wounded Minnow" flies in tan and pale blue/gray to the Orvis store in Clay Terrace. If you would like to purchase some, just call the store and they'll ship anywhere (317-249-6000) or stop by if you are in the area. I think they might be stocking a few of them in the Cincinati Orvis store as well. Now it's time to tie something else for awhile to stock my guide box for the upcoming Smallmouth season. For the early season, Conrad Sculpins, Eat The Baby streamers, Clousers, etc., and for the rest of the seaon, Unsinkable Deerhair Divers (the "snack"), Osthoff's Power Divers, Purple Darters, Predator Drones, etc. I know it looks bleak now, but by mid-March we will be seeing noticeably longer days and little yellow flowers popping up, and that means the warming of the earth. Our fish will come back to life and chase our flies and tug on our lines. In the meantime, I've pulled a few largemouths out of ponds on warmer days, and Brookville has been fishing reasonably well on the warmer days when the flows have been manageable. There's my little pep talk to shake off the shack nasties. Maybe it gave you some hope. It helped me to write it. ~jc
1/20-21/2018 - A good time was had by all!
The Indiana chapter of Project Healing Waters produced a flyfishing show called the "Heartland Flyfishing Festival". The Indiana flyfishers showed up to have fun and support Project Healing Waters. Fly shops, fly equipment companies, guides, fly tyers, clubs, and environmental organizations all showed up and good times and expert lying ensued. Seminars, casting demonstrations, and fly tying demonstrations were all well-received. There was also a focus on beginners that generated a fair amount of interest in "Flyfishing 101" seminars. I think some people "caught the bug". The show really brought the flyfishing community together. Good job, Joe Smith, Zack McElvey and all of the dedicated volunteers. Thanks for all of your hard work. ~jc
1/11/2018 - Brookville Tailwater
The "Shack Nasties" were just about to get the best of us after a few weeks of subzero temps. Then God took mercy on us and gave us a 55 degree, rainy day at Brookville with 42 degree water temperature and 270cfs flow. Eddie, Todd, Bob Latimer and I headed down for our "therapy". (Cool story... Bob was part of the first stocking of trout at Brookville in around 1977 as part of an Indianapolis Flycasters project. Bob and another fellow drove to Michigan, picked up brown trout, had a hell of a time getting them back to Indiana alive, got lost getting to the creek, and dumped them in to river at dusk, hoping a few might live. They sat on the bank of the creek for awhile and were soon hearing the splashing and rising of trout!) Anyway, we started up top and fished above 101. I picked up a 12" brown on a white streamer on the 3rd or 4th cast and thought I had the formula pegged. Of course, as often happens when I think I have everything figured out, I don't... and no more fish came to the white streamer. So, we moved downstream and switched to nymphing. It just wasn't gonna happen at that hour. Maybe the fish were as "shell-shocked" as we humans were by that cruel deep-freeze we had just endured. So, we had a few slow hours. Eddie picked up one fish nymphing. Todd was farther downstream and switching back and forth between nymphs and streamers. Then, as we headed downstream, we ran upon our good luck charm, Pat. She is a veteran and part of the Cincinnati PHW group. A very sweet lady and quite new at flyfishing. She cast pretty well and was all decked out in new waders, fly rig, etc., but was having leader problems. The leader being the hardest and last thing most flyfishers learn as beginners. I stopped and helped rig her leader with a a small olive streamer on 8lb flouro. We parted ways and fishing started picking up. Thanks, Pat:-) The olive streamer (and a few hours of waiting) turned out to be the ticket. Pat and I met up later and fished together. We both caught nice browns and a couple of good-sized walleye. Eddie, Todd and Latimer had headed downstream and all got into them, too. It was the therapy we all needed. Even after that damn deep-freeze, I have begun to believe, once again, that the universe is a kind place. ~ jc
1/3/2018 - Happy New Year!
Since all of the water has gone "hard" around here with the freeze, I decided to undertake a new venture... bulk tying. I'm producing Conrad's Wounded Minnow (formerly the dying minnow) for the Orvis store in Carmel. This fly keeps proving itself in every style of flyfishing, from warmwater to saltwater, and even on trout streams. It is admittedly a small tying operation, but it gives me some experience producing flies in a "bulk" manner and will help me determine if I want to bring other tyers into the fray and try to produce enough flies to offer to anglers and/or shops around the country. It could be a nice retirement plan! The first order of "Wounded Minnows" will arrive at Orvis Clay Terrace on Monday, 1/8/2018. I assume they'll go fast, so I'm tying lots more. ~jc
PS: This task has been made much easier by my acquisition of the new Stonfo Transformer vise. I realized that I have never really had a GREAT vise before. This thing is absolutely amazing. It has 3 different tying heads: one for general tying (my favorite), one for streamers and one for tube flies. It is very easy to "transform", smooth as silk rotary function, and is built with quality materials. Highly recommended!!!
We ain't dead yet! Thanksgiving Day followed by my father-in-laws "celebration of life" had me feeling like I was gonna lose my already addled mind! I couldn't sit around the house anymore, so I headed out to a local pond. The Dying Minnow in yellow produced 6 largemouth in a short time. Nothing big, but 12-14 inch fish that were as cold as ice cubes and seemed really surprised that some idiot was fishing for them in November. It sure was good to feel a tug on the line. ~jc
PS: Brookville tailwater should be fishable again soon. They have about accomplished the drawdown of the reservoir.
10/13/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 150 cfs. Temp: 59-62. Color: Clear with a slight greenish tinge
Penny & Bill are friends and super-volunteers from CFR. They live in northern Indiana and are deeply involved in Little Elkhart River and their Trout Unlimited chapter, LECTU.org. I was surprised to learn that this was the first time they had ever flyfished for Smallmouth. They won a float in an auction at the Flyfishing Film Tour. It took us a long time to get the float on the books but we finally got it done. We had a beautiful day for fishing and a little rain had put some flow back in the river. Since the water was still low and clear, we started with small flies. The tan Dying Minnow in a 2.5" version got attacked immediately and Penny was into the first fish of the day within sight of the boat ramp. Bill was fishing a slightly longer version (3.25") and getting follows but no takers. As the day progressed, the water warmed and brought more fish out to play. And, later in the day, as the sun faded into the western sky, we found some fish willing to attack topwater flies. We had a really nice day together. It is great to be with a couple that, after 50 years of marriage, are still best friends. ~jc
10/7/2017 - Tippecanoe River
Flow: 585 cfs. Water Temp: 68. Color: 2.5ft of cloudy visibility
Eddie and I hadn't had any time to get out together. So, even though the day looked "iffy", with high winds and possible rain, we took off down the Tippi. The rain never materialized but the wind was there in adundance. 30-40mph gusts and steady 15-20mph winds. The winds were "confused"... coming for all directions. And since Tippi curves a bit, we had wind shoving the boat upstream, downstream, and from side to side. We also had to stay center-current away from the trees as lots of big stuff was being blown down. In spite of the wind, we had a great day and caught plenty of fish. The first Smallmouth (about 19") came on the Dying Minnow in pale blue. When I tried to land him he felt like he was stuck to the bottom. When I pulled harder I brought him up all tangled in a catfish trot line. Eddie managed to get the trot line off of the net and keep it from hooking the raft while I got the fly out of the fish. Trot lines are a dangerous and stupid way to fish. I think they should be outlawed. Plus, most of the people who set them just walk away and never check them again, leaving hazardous litter in the water for other people to become entangled in. Anyway, as we headed down river, the Dying Minnow in a variety of colors continued to produce. Eddie caught this big Buffalo and a nice Walleye on a Dying Minnow in bright yellow. Other flies that took fish were the Murdick Minnow in silver, Conrad Sculpin in yellow, and a few fish on topwater. A great day with my buddy! ~jc
10/2/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 100 cfs. Temp: 59-62. Color: Clear... really, really clear
Kyle and I took off at around 10:45 on a bright, sunny day for a float on low, clear, cool water. That may have been a mistake if catching fish was the only goal. The water is so low and gin clear, that any fish we did encounter scurried for cover. I quite literally could have dropped a coin overboard into the deepest hole and seen it clearly on the bottom. It was still instructive for us to study the rivers "bones" and see where we should be fishing when the water rises or colors up. We also saw some animals without bones. A beautiful water snake slithered across the river toward the boat and was thinking of climbing in until I moved an oar and discouraged him. He swam under the boat and across the river to the bank. As we watched him slide into his cover on the bank, we noticed another snake sunning on a log. We got very close and got an excellent photo. It's good to see snakes in the river. I assume it means a decent level of water quality... at least during the drought. Back to fishing... we did pickup several smaller fish on the dying minnow throughout the day. As the sun dropped and we got into the lower river, topwater fishing kicked off and we picked up 5 average fish in the last mile on a Boogle Popper. So, it turned out to be a reasonable day of fishing, and we worked a hitch out of Kyle's cast. He's on his way to becoming a really good caster. No telling what the rain predicted for this week will do to the river, although it is guaranteed to drop a bunch of leaves into it. I both love and hate Fall. It's beautiful and colorful and kinda stark, but it also means the drastic slowing of local Smallmouth fishing... and higher heat bills. I do plan to float for Smallmouth later into the year (after the leaves fall) if anybody wants to try a November "pre-turkey" float trip. ~jc
10/1/2017 - Brookville Tailwater
Flow: 98 cfs. Temp: 68-70. Color: Clear
John and Patrick booked a 4-hour instructional wade to improve their nymphing skills and learn a little about the tailwater. We started in the gazebo with a discussion of nymphing, rigging, etc. and then moved to the lawn to put a cast together. Once we had them each throwing a reasonably good loop, we rigged up and headed for the water. We fished the top of the park because casting is easy there and the water has minimal complexity for mending, etc. Once we had the guys making decent presentations we moved into one of the deeper holes in that area and started fine-tuning their presentations. They both got several takes, but only one connected on a midge nymph. The water was getting too warm to continue fishing for fear of stressing the fish too much, and the class was over so we parted ways with the guys having a better idea of how to fish Brookville. ~jc
Equipment report: Orvis Saltwater All Rounder fly line
My interest in the Orvis SW All Rounder flyline is not just for salt, but also for fishing our home waters. The taper is perfect for throwing our larger flies and the compound taper (2 heads in the head section) make the line much better for mending than the tradtitional bassbug tapers. The bassbug taper lines have plenty of weight up front for throwing large flies but then have skinny running line that make it almost impossible to mend the if the entire head section is outside your fly rod tip. The Orvis SW All Rounder has a head section that measures out at nearly 50ft long, so you can make a fairly long cast and still be able to mend. So far I love it for river Smallmouth fishing. As the weather turns colder I expect to find it a bit stiff since it had a stiff coating for hot weather. I have implored Orvis to make a freshwater version of this taper. We'll see.
9/17/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 130 cfs. Temp: 63-65. Color: Clear... really clear
Dan's family purchased a trip for him as a gift. Cool kids! Dan has been trout fishing in Michigan with a fly rod for many years, but had ignored Smallmouth as a fly rod target species. I doubt he'll continue to make that mistake:-) Dan has an excellent casting stroke and good timing, so a minor tweak to his approach had him casting 45-50ft comfortably. It was an odd day on the river. The cool nights were gone and we were into the normal weather for this time of year... hot and humid. There were more people on the water than I had expected/hoped for, and they seemed to glue themselves to us. When I anchored up they passed us and anchored up right below us. When I took off rowing to put a mile between us, they followed, then passed us up and anchored right up below us. And then there was the swimmer. Annoying. We dug fish out anyway. The dying minnow started the day and the deerhair diver finished it off. The fish were a bit spooky and tentative and had to be coaxed. ~ jc
9/15/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 140 cfs. Temp: 61-63. Color: Clear
Randy and I hadn't fished together in way too long. We both had knee surgeries last year that kept us from getting out on the river together. It was about time. Randy is a great guy to fish and hang with... engaging conversation and an excellent angler. We were on the water by 1pm and into fish pretty quickly, mostly in the shade. While the fishing wasn't fast, Randy continued to pick up nice fish in unlikely places all day. Every fish he caught was surprised and attacked immediately. If they had time to look it over they weren't interested. So, ambush points were the ticket. Also, casting straight downstream to the tail of a pool produced 3 fish. Topwater took all of the fish except one on a crawdad. I picked Randy up at his house at noon, we fished from 1-8 and pulled back into his driveway at 9. Lots of fun! ~jc
9/8/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 150 cfs. Temp: 61-63. Color: Clear
I took Bob and Joe on a float starting about 1pm. The cool nights have put the Smallmouth into the beginning of their "Fall panic". Their body temperature tells their metabolism that they don't need as much food, but their instincts tell them they need to fatten up for the long Winter... and so goes a day of early Fall fishing: Low/clear water, bright blue skies, and spooky fish that will OCCASIONALLY suddenly turn and attack the fly instead of fleeing for their lives. It was a classic Fall day. Smallmouth were swimming in pairs between shady spots in the shallow upper river. When they were on the move, they were purposeful and not interested in being interrupted by a nearby fly. Then, once they were posted up in the shade, they weren't interested in leaving it to chase much of anything. So, it was a slow day overall with increasing action as the sun disappeared and downright busy in the last stretch of river. Winning flies were the dying minnow (which pulled 5 fish out of a logjam, all chasing and competing for the fly), A Boogle Popper in chartreuse, a Gurgler in white, and a Sneaky Pete in orange. As they say, "a bad day of fishing is better than a really bad day of fishing." ~jc
9/1/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 150 cfs. Temp: 63-65. Color: Clear with a tinge of green.
Nick Schroeder is the President of Central Indiana Trout Unlimited but he also likes to fish for Smallmouth Bass or anything else that will eat a fly. Nick won this trip in a silent auction at the Flyfishing Film Festival. We met just before noon and pushed off about 12:15 on a cool, windy, almost blustery day with cloudy skies and a 40% chance of rain. I offered Nick the opportunity to reschedule, but he wanted to forge ahead and fish. I never know what to expect when the first cold snap of the season hits us. The water temp had dropped 4-5 degrees overnight. A drop like that usually turns the fish off, at least early in the day, but in the Fall it can turn them on instead... and it did. It took awhile for the activity to turn on, but once it did we had steady fishing until near dark. We tried lots of tactics... small Murdich's, wiggle minnows, topwater, purple darters, etc. to no avail. But once we put the Dying Minnow on it was steady fishing with some larger fish smacking the fly, including one pig of a fish that broke off the fly on the take like a bum stealin' a pork chop. We even sight-fished some good-sized fish in a deep, clear pool and caught a few of them. Nick is a soft-spoken guy but his chuckles were heard clearly over the splashing of nice Smallmouth. ~jc
8/30/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 170 cfs. Temp: 67-69. Color: Clear with a tinge of green.
Eric and Barbara finally got on the river together after being very busy with family obligations. We pushed off about 1pm in low, clear water and began picking pockets. The day was bright, the night had been cool which lowered the water temperature, and the fish we largely absent except for a few we dug out of the deep shade. Chasers were few (and small) out in the sunlit areas. Of course, we hoped that the fish would eventually wake up as the water warmed and the sun moved off to the west... and that did happen along some shady banks where the river wasn't "bathed" in bright sunlight. Finally, about 5pm the Rock Bass started to hit topwater and the Smallmouth weren't far behind. It was by no means a banner fishing day, but we did manage several fish and Barbara got one real good one... a fatso of about 18". The presentation had to be very specific and controlled to get the fish to eat: Straight across from the boat at least 35 feet, zero drag either upstream or down, not too big of a fly, soft bubbling (no threatening or aggressive action), straight-line connection to the fly... give them an inch of slack and they'd use it against us. But, when we got all of those elements right, in the right spot, at the right moment, stuff like this happened...Barbara's largest Smallmouth Bass to date:-) ~jc
8/27/2017 - Tippecanoe River
Flow: 600 to 900 cfs. Temp: 76. Color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility.
Rob Walters, his son Michael and I pushed off about 9:45am from the Oakdale ramp. The flow read 590cfs. Sometime within the next couple of hours they turned the flow up to 900cfs. While the water was low, the fish we caught were in slow pools, which is odd... usually low flows = fish in riffles and below in my experience. Once the flow increased, the fish we caught were mostly in faster, deeper runs. Rob was picking up fish after fish on a 150gr, 10ft sinktip and a black leech pattern. Michael was throwing topwaters and visible, mid-column streamers, hunting for aggressive fish. Not many fish were chasing aggressively, and a loud flotilla of canoes was shadowing us, so we pulled over in the shade for lunch and let them pass by. After lunch. Michael started fishing my version of a wiggle minnow and took several fish immediately. Rob was still dredging the bottom with his leech or with my Baby Smallmouth and hooking up regularly on many different species including Smallmouth, Sheepshead, Skipjack, Largemouth, White Bass, Walleye (or Saugeye... not sure which), and Common Carp. We had occasional lulls in activity, but overall it was a great day of fishing and a fun day with friends. The day ended around 8pm with topwater action nearly all the way to the ramp and two whiny anglers griping about their sore shoulders:-) ~jc
8/26/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 150 cfs. Temp: 69-72. Color: Gin clear.
Carmelo and I headed off on a 1/2 day later in the day to skip some of the crowds. We were pleasantly surprised that they weren't too many people on the river and most of them were moving on through pretty quickly. We pulled up on a hole and worked on casting and presentation with a small topwater, which got a few "sniffs" but no takers. So we switched to the Ultrasuede Dying Minnow and pulled 5 fish out of that one hole:-) As the light faded, topwater turned on... not hard, but with an decent number of fish attacking on the surface. Carmelo really enjoyed the day, really liked casting my TFO Impact rod, and was especially fond of the Smallmouth he caught on it:-) ~jc
8/24/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 165 cfs. Temp: 69-72. Color: Gin clear.
Wayne and Tracy are good friends and avid supporters of our wonderful flyfishing charties here in Indiana... Casting for Recovery and Project Healing Waters. They purchased a silent auction trip while attending one of our key fundraising events, the Flyfishing Film Tour in March of 2016. We futzed around with schedules but had trouble finding time, the water went bad, I had knee surgery, then the water went bad again, and again, and again! Finally we got the job done, and it was fun, and fish were caught. We took off about 12:30 and folowed my familiar path by hanging in the upper river until there was a pretty good chance of topwater action. The first fish was a 16"... a nice surprise that smacked a deerhair topwater within 50 feet of the boat ramp! Always a fun start, but frequently met with disappointment as that first "accidental fish" is not immediately indicative of the upcoming fishing early in the afternoon (the dog nap hours). The fish were slow to turn on, probably due to the lower night time temperatures followed by an absolutely bluebird day with a high of 80. It was clear to me that the suckers are moving into their Fall behavior, with large schools milling about and swimming upstream. And where suckers go, Smallmouth seem to be nearby. With every school of suckers, a few Smallmouth would be swimming with them. They are harder to spot, but their black-tipped tails give them away. Anyway, we found fish in wood rubble in the shade, and later in slower, deep water. Not many fish were eating in the faster water above or below riffles. The topwater flies that got the most action were the cup-faced poppers tied with the Double Barrel popper heads (small) in chartreuse and Conrad's Deerhair Diver (affectionately known as the "Snack") in bright yellow and dirty yellow. Wayne and Tracy both caught plenty of fish, Wayne caught one real big fish (video below), they missed a few good ones, and let me catch a couple of fish during lunch:-) Tracy, a southpaw caster, emailed this morning, "Ok, so I'm sore on my left side. Not just my palm or my hand or my arm, MY ENTIRE LEFT SIDE. It's a happy hurt though." 6 miles of streamer and popper fishing with a cast every 20-30 feet can really take it's toll. We are fully into the low/slow water of Summer, which really takes it's toll on my shoulders when it's time to row through the frog water to get to the next hole. If we don't get any rain, I'll be dragging the boat through shallow gravel within a week. With float trips scheduled for the next 3 days, my shoulders are wincing in anticipation! ~jc
8/20/2017 - Casting For Recovery
Casting For Recovery events support women who have (or have had) breast cancer. The retreats are 2.5 days long and leave many of the participants changed forever, with many new friends and a new support group to help them through their struggles. The events are held at Wooded Glen in Henryville, IN. It's a beautiful property. I am proud to have volunteered at every Indiana retreat since 2004 and will continue to ALWAYS be there. ~jc
My participant... Lisa with her first bass on fly rod
8/13/2017 - Upper Whie River
Flow: 200 cfs. Temp: 69-72. Color: Gin clear.
Eric is a transplant from Minnesota who moved here awhile back for work. He had flyfishing experience in his past, but had spent most of his fshing time in MN chasing walleye. His cool wife gave him a float trip for Father's Day. We pushed off about 1:30 and stuck in the upper river, working on casting and presentation techniques. Eric learned quickly how to cast the larger flies and then mend/twitch to move the fly and combat drag at the same time. It was a very bright day with a fair number of people on the water, so I waited the fish out until the river was quiet, the sun was moving off to the west, and the topwater bite started up. Rock Bass are usually the first to come to the surface, so I'm always glad to see them. It means that the smallmouth will wake up soon... and they did. As we came into a long, deep run, the topwater activity kicked in and Eric picked up five fish in about 200 yards... each one bigger than the last. Of course, I had stayed in the upper river too long, so there was some fast pushing between the best holes. Topwater activity continued all the way to the boat ramp in the dark. The last 2 fish came immediately one after another. I released the first one and threw the fly back in the water. As soon as it hit, there was a large boil and Eric was tight to the biggest fish of the day that attacked his fly about 8 feet from the boat. He laughed like a kid as the fish fought him to a standstill on a 6wt:-) ~jc
8/6/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 240 cfs and dropping (slowly) on the Raible gauge. Temp: 67-69. Color: Gin clear
I took Pete Greenan (www.floridaflyfishing.com) and Joe Smith, Project Leader of Indiana Project Healing Waters on a float on the upper White. We dug hard to find fish, but we got some nice ones and had a great day. Now that the water is low and clear, I can see that the repeated flooding this year has not been good for the upper river. About 2 miles of the section below Lafayette Trace is flattened out. The holes are filled in, the river is largely a uniform depth and the river channel has widened. The larger holes (the ones with big rocks) are still there (albeit shallower than before), but the many "depressions" that were in that section are filled in and flat. That stretch will largely be "row thru" (or possibly "drag-thru") water once the levels drop to normal Summer flows. We did manage several fish on Wiggle Minnows, Purple Darters, and Boogle Poppers in the lower section. A great day with a couple of good friends. ~ jc
BTW: Joe brought lunch from a sub shop called Sub 16 in Zionsville. Good food! And right across the street from Wildcat.
8/6/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 270 cfs and dropping on the Raible gauge. Temp: 66-69. Color: 4+ feet of good visibility.
My old buddy Pete Greenan came to town to visit us, present a seminar at the Orvis store, a seminar for the Indianapolis Flycasters, give a few private casting lessons, and, most of all, do some Smallmouth fishing! Pete is an incredible guide and instructor that has guided around the Florida Gulf Coast for nearly 38 years. His home water is Boca Grande. Visit his website at www.floridaflyfishing.com and head down there this Fall or Winter for a mangrove trip. Anyway... we had planned to fish Sunday and Tuesday while he was here. Sunday looked very "iffy". There was 60% chance of rain during the day and 90% chance of heavy rain in the evening. Pete and I debated whether to go, knowing that we would surely get wet. We eventually decided we would have to brave the storm. We're sure glad we did! Barely a speck of drizzle fell, we had the river to ourselves, and the fishing turned on as the day aged and warmed. The cooler nights with this weird August we're having put a fair cooling on the river, which takes the fish awhile to adjust to (or is that "to which to adjust???"... or "to which to adjust to???". Hell, I don't know... I'm just a dumbass musician and fishing guide.) We were joined by Marty James for a nice day of fishing, lots of laughs and a fair amount of discussion on fishing and casting techniques... and lots of good casting took place with Pete being a Master Certified Casting Instructor and Marty a Certified Casting Instructor. Fish fell to the Wiggle Minnow, Purple Darter, Clouser in baby smallmouth colors, Murdich Minnow (pearl and pink with a cone head to get it down... thanks, Marty), Ultrasuede Dying Minnow, and eventually on topwater with the orange Boogle Popper. The massive and repeated flooding this year really moved some holes around and filled in a bunch of my favorites. Now that the water is clear enough to see the bottom I'll have to find some new ones. It's a tough life! ~ jc
7/28/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 600 cfs and rising on the Raible gauge. Temp: 72. Color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility.
FINALLY!!! After 18 trip cancellations and another 12-15 trips turned down due to unsuitable fishing conditions on the White, Sugar, Tippi and Brookville, we got out on the upper White and had a nice day of fishing. Don and Fred from Indianapolis Flycasters won a trip when I did a presentation at the IFC meeting a few months ago. They are great guys, good anglers, and fun to have in the boat. The day started at 1pm on the upper White. We had interrmittent clouds and then bright sun. We started with a wiggle minnow in the front of the boat (to test agression) and an olive subsurface in the back. They both got some chases, and the subsurface got eaten a few times. Then the wiggle minnow started to produce, proving to me that the fish had some aggression during the midday hours, so we switched the back of the boat to a topwater in black. Both flies continued to work throughout the afternoon, with a lull between 6 and 7. It wasn't a fast fishing day, but it was steady, with topwater and wiggle minnow action lasting until the final cast at about 8:45pm 150 feet from the boat ramp. Happy day! I slept better than I had in months. ~jc
7/7/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: NEVERMIND... Temp: WHO CARES... Color: BROWN
We're screwed again. This is the fourth major flood since March. Bad year. I've canceled 14 float trips (and counting). Maybe August will be better.
6/29/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 700 cfs on the Raible gauge - Temp: 65-67 - Color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility
The river seems to be finally settling down. Last night's rain made a minor blip in the flows, and since the crops are up and growing, the farm fields should not have eroded so much soil into the river. If the rain forecast for this weekend holds off, we SHOULD be into the beginning of the Summer drought and some decent rivers to fish. Three major floods since March has made fishing (and guiding) nearly impossible and certainly undesireable in the chocolate milk that has been flowing down the riverbeds. Last night, I waded for an hour or so on the upper and took several very aggressive fish of the medium-large female variety... (and I do like medium-large females:-)
On another topic, I wet wade almost any time the water temp is above 50, and for several seasons I have worn Simms Rip-rap shoes. After 3 seasons mine were falling apart, so I replaced them with the new Rip-rap model. Excellent shoes. Much more durable than the past version, more arch support, and the option of rubber soles or rubber with felt in the middle. Also set up for adding studs if you want. I got the rubber/felt combo.
6/11/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 400 cfs on the Raible gauge - Temp: 68-70 - Color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility
I have NEVER seen so many people on the river. Easily 200+ "floaters". Mostly nice folks, but that is just too damn many people. I floated a fellow from Arizona named Jeff. He was a small creek trout fisherman and had never had to move a fly of any size or weight, so the casting was completely foreign to him. The crowds were foreign to the fish and pushed them back 5 feet under the wood. We never saw a single fish out in the current all day! Normally, when the river is crowded with tourists, they are all gone by about 3pm. But on this day, people were grouped in large flotillas of blowup rafts, pool toys, etc. and just rolling along slower than the current speed and having a big ole time with their beers and boomboxes. It was 6pm before we had any quiet water to fish. Anyway, we did manage to find several brave fish that would eat a topwater later in the day and Jeff caught his first bass ever on flyrod. He was a really good sport about all of the traffic on the river and enjoyed his day anyway. I'm taking him pond fishing tonight to help him learn some better casting habits and get him some more bass. I'm floating again next Sunday... and I'm hoping last weekend was some kind of anomaly, but if the river is crowded to that degree again, I will not be doing weekend trips again until the weather cools off. ~jc
6/4/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 650 cfs on the Raible gauge - Temp: 66 - Color: Turbid with 2 feet of cloudy visibility
There is still alot of water in the White River drainage. The river is droppng slowly and many farm fields drain pipes are still flowing steadily. I did my first float since mid-April, and my first float of the season on the upper stretch. The flooding moved some stuff around considerably. There will be 2 or 3 new riffles where I'll have to drag the boat in low water, which of course means that there are now some new or deeper holes where all of that gravel came from. Fishing was spotty and the fish we did move were tight to wood or in natural ambush points. The Conrad Sculpin in chartreuse on a floating line took several average fish. Other flies that got attacked include Cecil's HellBoy, Conrad's Deerhair Diver, and the "Eat The Baby" in Smallmouth colors. Flies that did not catch fish were the Ultrasuede Dying Minnow, Purple Darter, pink/white Clouser and Kreelex Minnow to name a few. So, larger profile flies are still the ticket until the water drops/clears some more. We're coming into Summer now and I'm looking forward to the next 5 months of great fishing. ~jc
6/2/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 720 cfs on the Raible gauge - Temp: 64 - Color: Turbid with 1.5 feet of cloudy visibility
I think the Smallmouth spawn started a few weeks earlier than "normal" this year due to the warm weather. I noticed fish making beds and spawning in earnest in late April/early May. Unfortunately, the flooding started right after that, so we won't know until July or August when we start seeing baby Smallmouth loitering around in the shallows (or not) whether they got busy and were able to make some babies. Often, the flood waters wash the beds out and the polluted water causes the fish to abandon their beds to conserve energy. So, finally, the rivers are dropping and clearing after nearly 6 weeks of being in flood state. The White still looks like crap throughout the entire upper stretch from Indy to Anderson, but now that the crops are in the fields and the rainy season is (hopefully) coming to an end, we should find ourselves enjoying decent water and good fishing. I am planning float trips for next week. I know... eternal optimist. Fortunately, the ponds have been a lifesaver during the flooding... and man are those largemouth dumb this time of year. Also, my addiction to the Ultrasuede Dying Minnow (spoon fly) is in full swing. I must have caught 200 fish on that thing in the last month. BTW... this year the mosquitoes are THICK and big enough to stand flatfooted and f@&# a turkey! (Thanks for the graphic metaphor, Eddie:-) Take your bug spray with you. ~ jc
PS: I was supposed to float my buddies Joe Smith (Project Healing Waters) and flyfishing guru Joe Mahler on June 1st. (The calendar entry said "float the Joes"). The water was still ugly so we opted for dinner and a pub crawl in Zionsville. Fun night... and big plans were made for August!
4/16/2017 - Upper White River
Flow: 800 cfs - Temp: 56 - Color: Turbid with 2 feet of cloudy visibility
After playing 2 church services, Easter dinner with the family, and then biting the head off a chocolate bunny, there was no better end to the day than a wade on the upper White. The fish are in pre-spawn mania and ready to kill just about anything, although the larger fish seem to prefer a larger meal. I started out throwing a Kreelex Minnow (by Chuck Kraft) and took a few Rock Bass and Crappie immediately, but no Smallmouth, so I switched to the venerable Clouser's Purple Darter. Several fish pounced on the darter fished slowly in sandy bottom areas. Never satisfied with the fly I'm catching fish on, I tied on my "Eat The Baby" pattern in smallmouth colors and started hammering big fish. The fly is a big gob of material and has lots of enticing action. It's my favorite early season fly, or anytime there is high water or poor visibility. (The Eat The baby is essentially a Clouser-style fly with a rabbit strip bottom and heavier body. Holler if you want tying instructions.) After landing several nice fish on the Eat The Baby, I switched to a 3.25" version of the Dying Minnow made with Ultrasuede just to see if I could get anybody to chase it. Several small fish were trying to play with it when a good smallmouth crushed it as I tried to pick it up for another cast. I swear that fly catches everything I throw it at:-) It is just too much fun to fish! ~jc
PS: I'll be presenting a Smallmouth seminar this Saturday 4/22/17 at noon at the Orvis store in Clay Terrace. Come on by.
"Eat The Baby" Smallmouth version.
4/11-12/2017 - Brookville Tailwater
Flow: 185 cfs - Water temp: 51 degrees - Water color: clear, but tons of loose algae floating
Eddie and I gave up on work and headed to Brookville to see what we could scare up. Conditions (according to the data sources) looked perfect... and they were good conditions excpet for an amazing amount of algae floating downriver; big clumps of algae and so many of them that you had to cast between them and hope your fly made it through. I thought that was odd to see that much algae when the water is 50 degrees, but there it was thanks to Indiana's questionable water quality. Anyway, we got there at 6:30pm and Eddie rigged up for nymphing and was immediately into fish, with a good number of holdover rainbows in jumbo sizes. He was a happy man:-) I didn't feel like rigging 2 flies, weight and an indicator and watching it all float. Since my rods are inevitably rigged with streamers anyway, I just started casting. I missed several fish to short strikes (or my own stupidity) on a white tungsten-head wooly bugger. I suspected that a color change might be the trigger to full-on attacks, so I switched to a light olive tungsten-head fly and it was on. The first fish was hiding in the roots along a fast run and pounced as the fly sped by. It was a nice 15-16" fat brown with a bad attitude about being hooked. The next fish was plenty for me to end the day with. He was over 20", but I'm not sure how much over 20" because I landed him alone and could only shoot a photo in the net. He was stationed at the tailout of a fast pool. I had seen him swirl and he moved lots of water, so I threw a cast past and above him and gave the fly one twitch. This fish wasn't shy. My TFO BVK 10ft 4wt wasn't much of a match for this critter but it did protect my "too light" tippet and I eventually got him in. ~jc
Welcome to 2017!
This Winter has been a busy time for me, so I've only fished a handful of times so far. During the record warm February I fished local ponds several times, as well as the upper White and Brookville. I also took a trip to Tampa to fish with my good friend Rob Walters. Rob and I fished the first day with a young, energetic guide named Ethan Kiburz in the flats and mangroves around Dunedin, FL. There had been a red tide in the gulf as well as exceptionally warm water. The fish were hard to find and spooky, so we didn't do much that day other than the occasional trout and a few shots at Redfish, one of which I hooked and then lost on the last cast of the day right across from the Marina. The next day we fished the mangroves around Boca Grande with my old friend Pete Greenan of floridaflyfishing.com. Pete has been guiding down there for 38 years. His knowledge of the area and fish habits/location based on tide, temperature, available light, etc. are astounding to me. He put us on fish after fish... Snook and Reds. Being a "structure fisherman" I understand fishing the mangroves... they give me something to cast at and something that I have faith will hold fish. Again, the Dying Minnow (the one made from UltraSuede) was a killer. Snook and Reds came charging out of mangroves and sand holes to kill that fly. We threw it in white, tan, gray and pale blue. They ate all of the colors with equal savagery. We had a great day! Our third day was spent wading the flats in Tampa Bay. We got out to the green water edge at dead low tide. Very suddenly, without any notable amount of tide coming in, we were surrounded by fish. It was a "confused tide", because some fish were still going out while others were coming back in. There were primarily Redfish and Black Drum wandering around the flat with their noses down. We each put several good casts on fish with small shrimp patterns and the flies were ignored. The fish didn't spook, they just had no interest in the fly. Rob had told me about a little white worm that the fish key in on sometimes and I had tied a saltwater version of the San Juan Worm using white ultrachenille. Rob tweaked the fly a little and calls it the "Sand Juan Worm":-) We both put those on and immediately hooked up... Rob with a Redfish and me with a big honker of a Black Drum. It sure is nice to have good friends in Florida! ~jc
11/5/2016 - Tippecanoe River below Oakdale Dam
Flow: 900 cfs - Water temp: 58 degrees - Water color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility
Ed Devine, Eric Simpson and I headed out on the Tippi for a float before the massive leaf drop that will happen once we get a hard frost (which is really late this year). We pushed off at 10am with Eddie rowing, and Eric and I throwing a variety of flies. I was throwing a 4" version of my Ultrasuede Dying Minnow in a blue/gray. Eric was throwing a blue and white shad pattern. We both (suprisingly) hooked up pretty quickly. I caught a "regular" (fish between 10-14") and Eric hooked but lost a pretty good fish. A couple of jumps and rolls revealed its size in that 18-20" range. Then, at the "ugly white wall" (a bank stabilization system), I threw the dying minnow into the slow water next to the wall. The water boiled with something quite large and toothy and I instantly drew back a bloody stub of 1x. We don't know what it was, but it was long-bodied and lightish green in color, so I suppose it could have been a big walleye or perhaps even a muskie. After that, fishing slowed down for quite awhile. But, later in the afternoon we had a little more action on shad and minnow type flies, including the Ultrasuede Dying Minnow, blue over white articulated shad, blue over pink over white Clouser, light crayfish,and the Purple Darter. Eddie picked up a couple of nice Smallmouth and Eric caught a pretty portly Buffalo. A great day to be on the water with 2 of my best friends. BTW... the Ultrasuede Dying Minnow is the most snag-proof fly I have ever fished. It seems to roll away from obstructions... even the leaves. Holler if you want a pattern sheet. ~jc
9/16/2016 - Upper White River
Joe Smith, project lead of Project Healing Waters, and renowned flycasting instructor and all-around good guy, Joe Mahler jumped in the boat and we headed off down the White. Fish were caught on the Wiggle Minnow, Predator Drone, Purple Darter, Stealth Bomber, Conrad's Deerhair Diver, and Joe's Strawboss. Mid-day, a storm brewed up and drenched us. We waited until the worst of the storm had passed and the only thunder was rumbling way off in the distance. The fishing turned on pretty hard after that. We put on topwater and fished it "loud and hard" in the drizzling rain and the fish responded. Again, I was lucky... Joe Mahler wanted to row the boat like he had done on last year's trip with me. Only this time he wanted to do more of it and do some of the trickier spots, not that the White is too tricky, but there are a few places that offer a challenge in low water. Joe did great on the oars and I got to fish AGAIN:-). We caught alot of fish... nothing over 16-17", but alot of fun was had. Joe Smith "joke blocked" me when I was telling Mahler one of my famous "bullshit" stories. I'll never forgive him for that and may drown him next time:-) ~jc
9/15/2016 - Upper White River
I finally got to take the "Orvis Boys" on a float. Ben Harris is the manager of Orvis at Clay Terrace and Jason Sandlewick is the manager of the flyfishing department. Great guys and good anglers! I highly recommend Orvis products and the people that work there. We pushed off about noon from Lafayette Trace and rowed upstream a little ways. The water and air temperature had dropped quite a bit over a few previous days, so topwater wasn't a good early day option. A few Rock Bass ate sunken flies immediately and then the Smallmouth started to turn on. Jason hooked a nice fish below the boat ramp and we began the process of picking pockets all the way down. I was lucky... Jason wanted to row a bit, so I got to fish for a little while. We spent the day picking our way from hole to hole, switching to topwater later in the day. Many fish were caught, much fun was had, and we pulled out in the dark after catching several fish in the last 30 minutes of the float. ~jc
9/8/2016 - Upper White River
Dr. Steve Mangas has been my chiropractor for 25 years now. He is a good friend and great chiropractor/kinesiologist/acupuncturist and has saved my "biscuits" many times. (mangaschiropractic.com) He loves to hunt and fish, so over the last couple of years I have been getting him into flyfishing. I think, on this trip, it finally "took". His casting and presentation continued to improve all day. As a result, he was rewarded with a couple of very nice fish. A real pig pulled out at the net and then this fish made it into the boat along with many other smallmouth and rockies. ~jc
9/4/2016 - Upper White River
Greg Zoeller was in the midst of his White River Adventure... 5 days spent exploring the entire range of the West Fork of the White River from the headwaters in Randolph County to the confluence with the East Fork. Some of his days were spent mostly kayaking, but Sunday 9/4 was reserved for fishing! Greg uses these yearly adventures for a brief respite from his duties as Indiana Attorney General, a job that requires him to manage 160+ attorneys. We pushed off from Perkinsville and headed down through the masses of canoes, kayaks and "floaties" on the river. (I can't believe what some people float on... we saw a guy weighing in at about 350lbs floating on a kids pool toy:-) Anyway, we stayed in the upper river for as long as possible (and then longer) to let the hoards push on by. The day was ultra-bright bluebird and there was ZERO topwater activity, even in the shade. Greg did catch a big carp on a purple darter. Finally we were getting some peace and quiet and Greg was fishing very well. He is a good caster and a lifelong fish hunter who fishes frequently... not a weekend warrior. We pulled up on a hole with a rock garden in it, and fishing was on! The little fly that was killing it is what I call "Not Even A Murdich". Tungsten bead on a size 8 streamer hook. 20 strands of olive bucktail. One or two pieces of copper flash. Olive estaz wrapped sparsely up to the bead. We floated along "picking pockets" one after another and having a great time. We switched to topwater around 5:30 and started hammering fish. The Stealth Bomber first and then the Boogle Bug popper. The fish were where they were supposed to be, doing what they were supposed to do. Huge fun!!! No big fish, but plenty of the 10-14" fish that think they are Tarpon! We rushed through the slower pools, only fished the prime water, and still pulled out in the dark. 8 miles might have been a bit aggressive for low water. ~jc
9/2/2016 - Tippecanoe River at Oakdale
Scott Gobel and I did a 2 boat trip for 4 clients on the Tippi. I had Mickey Maurer (of IBJ, National Bank of Indianapolis, Sedretary of Commerce under Mitch) in my boat as well as his friend Nate, whose last name escaped me. Through a misunderstanding, the duration of the float wasn't communicated, so we had to rush the 9 mile float in about 7 hours. That's a hell of alot of rowing and skipping good fishing water. We managed to get them on a few fish and still make their deadline. ~jc
8/26 and 8/30/2016 - Upper White River
Two attempts at float trips. Both interrupted by "pop-up, not on the radar, not in the forecast" thunderstorms. On the 26th, Marty Schaffer was with me for an instructional float. He's an excellent self-taught caster and a natural fish-hunter. We'll get out again another time and wipe this drenching off the books. On the 30th, Eddie, Eric and I took off, half expecting to get wet, but it was the only time we could fish together. Torrential rain again. A few fish were caught, anyway ~jc
8/7/2016 - Upper White River
Project Healing Waters is a favorite program of mine. I had the honor of taking Son Tao and Clyde Angel on a float. Clyde is the Head Chaplain of the VA in Indianapolis. Son is a veteran who served 5 deployments in the middle east and is still active duty. There is no adequate way to show appreciation to this man for what he sacrificed, but I hope taking him fishing helps a little. We pushed off mid-afternoon for a 6 mile float intended to end in the dark, as usual. There was a fair amount of canoe/kayak traffic on the river, but everyone was poilte and seemed to be in a great hurry to get downriver. I like that:-) It was a bluebird day, and the fish were a little shy about coming to the surface, altho we did pick up a few that way. Right at dark, about 100 yards from the ramp, Son hooked a real pig that broke him off. We pulled out in the dark as planned. ~jc
7/24/2016 - Brookville Tailwater
3 guys had requested a nymphing class at Brookville... 2 of them in preparation for trips out West, and one of them just because he is "ate up" with flyfishing. I combined them into a group class. We sat in the gazebo and talked leaders, tippet material, rigging, strike indicators, holding water, water column dynamics, etc. Then we headed out to do some fishing and work out the dead drift, tip mending, full-line mending, mending with slack, reach casts, reading water, etc. All three guys got the hang of nymphing and eventually caught fish, even though there were tons of people on the water, minimum flows, bluebird skies and mid 90's air temps. ~jc
7/21/2016 - White River
Jeff Pierson and his son fished the White from 146 to 116 with me. That stretch of river has not been producing much for me this year. We dug as hard as possible and found fish, but it was not one of those fun days of easy fishing that we always hope for when taking a float trip. Jeff is an experienced flyfisher and had a fair amount of success on Purple Darters, and later in the day on topwater. ~jc
7/9/2016 - White River
Michael and Beth from Goshen joined me for an instructional float. Wonderful folks! We had a fun day on the river, improved some skills, caught some fish and dodged some jetboats:-( Recently, Michael sent me some pictures of the fish they caught on a trip on their home waters. ~jc
Beth on their home waters near Goshen, IN
7/7/2016 - White River
Dr. Watkins (I presume) joined me for a float. We did the normal mid-afternon push off and spent 4 hours looking for any sign of fish. Kevin is a good caster and a good fisherman, but it looked like it was setting up to be "just one of those days". The sky kept going from blue to cloudy, changing the light on the water. Rather suddenly, the fishing turned on and 3 nice fish were landed in under a mile of river and within an hour. All on topwater. Then, just as quickly as it had turned on, it turned back off. Fishin! ~jc
6/16/2016 - Upper White River
Flow: 650 cfs - Water temp: 67 degrees - Water color: 2 feet of cloudy visibility
When we had that drenching rain on Wednesday night, I texted Mike and Shelly and told them I thought we were screwed for our Thursday float. My jazz quintet was playing at the Jazz Kitchen Wednesday night and I was driving through torrential rain and 6-10" of water on Keystone and 54th St to get there. It turns out that most of the rain fell south of Noblesville, with only a more normal storm falling on the upper drainage. I looked the lower river over Thursday morning and there was about 3 feet of cloudy visibility to the water. So, I called them back and said I thought we could still fish. They were in from St. Louis and looking forward to it, so we were on. We pushed off about 3:15, but the visibility had gotten worse... down to 2 feet of cloudy visibility. Probably farm run-off coming from Stoney Creek and Cicero Creek fouling the river. So, we started by testing topwater to see if anyone was looking up. We saw a couple of noses, but got no takers, so we added a dropper behind the topwater. One 10" fish fell for that but no other takers, so we switched to mid-column streamers. No takers. So we switched to the Wiggle Minnow. No takers. So we switched to the venerable Purple Darter with heavy eyes to get down deep. Mike has a good cast and a nice way of teasing a deep streamer. That was the ticket. Mike caught several fish, including this nice 17". If you are Smallmouth fishing, the Purple Darter is like the Amex Card... never leave home without it. As the evening progressed, a front came in. Not exactly a cold front... more like a "weird front". It got a little cooler, but the pressure changed and the fish turned completely off. Shelly was along to improve her casting, which she did... and she would have caught fish if the topwater bite had been on. Nice people and a fun evening. ~jc
6/12/2016 - Brookville Tailwater
Flow: 200 cfs - Water temp: 68 degrees - Water color: Cloudy
The Army Corps of Engineers that run the dam have an on-going puzzle to assemble: How do we meet minimum flow requirements, keep the reservoir at the proper level for their flood control plans, and keep the water temperature in the tailwater at reasonable levels for the trtout to survive? They do it by mixing water from different levels of the lake, using gates at various levels. This can sometimes create a water chemistry that is not too friendly to fishing. Such was the case on Sunday. It was hot out (90), the fish were sullen, and it didn't seem to get better as the sun got off the water. Of course, having hordes of people tramping through the water didn't help, but that's Sunday fishing. I took Carmelo to Brookville for an instructional wade. He had never spent much time nymphing and wanted to add that to his skill set. We arrived about noon and found the concrete hole empty, so we dug in there and started the process of learning rigging, casting an unwieldy 2-nymph rig, and mending to get a drag-free drift. Carmelo caught on quickly to the urgency of mending before you think you need to, and got good at the full-line mend and the tip mend. He was rewarded with two decent fish... a brown and a rainbow. By 2pm it was blistering out and we needed AC, liquid and sustenance, so off to El Reparo for lunch. After lunch we headed back to the park and worked the day out fine-tuning presentation and catching the occasional fish. ~jc
6/7/2016 - Upper White River
Flow: 800 cfs - Water temp: 64 degrees - Water color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility
Eric Simpson, Joe Smith and I headed out for a 1/2 day float on the White only because it's the only time we had to fish together, and bad fishing is better than no fishing. The day and the water both looked good. However, the fish had just fisnished their spawn and were in a funk. I know better than to fish after the spawn but we all just needed to be on a river and cast a line. Joe picked up one fish on his favorite topwater... the "Stealth Bomber", but other than that, topwater activity was nil. Later, Joe got a couple of White Bass on a mid-column streamer. Eric "search engine" Simpson started digging deep and pulled several small to medium fish out of the deep on files such as the Clouser in Smallmouth colors and the Purple Darter. We had a great day in spite of the slow fishing. ~jc
5/22/2016 - Brookville Tailwater
Flow: 282 cfs - Water temp: 63 degrees - Water color: 3 feet of clear visibility
So many people contact Eddie and I for guided trips at Brookville that we thought we would make it easier for all of us. Good anglers that know how to cast and rig their own rod don't need a full day of guiding to figure out Brookville. They just need some guidance on flows, tactics, flies and holes. So, we have put together a 1/2 day option for an instructional wade. It's 4-5 hours of fishing assistance and instruction and a small Brookville "essentials" fly selection for $200. That way the client gets a good start at understanding this odd, productive little tailwater and gets to fish a full day, and we get to guide 1/2 day and fish 1/2 day. Good for everyone:-)
Yesterday, 2 anglers took me up on my offer. I fished Nate from 9-2. It turns out Nate and I played in a band togther in the late 90's but lost track of each other. We had a ball talking music and fishing. Nate learned to nymph quite well and stuck around all day catching fish. He wrote me a nice note:
"Hey thanks again. The nymphing lesson was super helpful, and definitely caught me some fish. Brown trout on a size 20 egg fly on 7X tippet drifted across the bottom of the deepest hole?!?! Damn those fish are tricky."
Then, in the afternoon/evening I fished Mark. He is an avid flyfisher that spends lots of time fishing the Mad River in Ohio. His streamer skills are formidable and his nymphing was quite good. A few minor tweaks to presentation (as outlined on the Flies/Tactics page) had him into several fish. He also wrote me a nice note:
"Thanks so much. I can't believe how much I learned in just a few hours."
I love helping anglers succeed at this sport we love so much. ~jc
5/20/2016 - Upper White River
Flow on the Noblesville gauge was 650cfs - water temp ran from 60-63 - Water color was 3 feet of cloudy visibility.
Sorry for the lag in fishing reports. I've been busy with other things (such as playing lead trumpet for the Johnny Mathis show... great fun:-) and the only time I had openings to float were when the water was high and off-color. It was a pretty wet April and early May. I did get out myself to enjoy the pre-spawn fishing on the White, and it was great, but it's now over. I floated the upper White yesterday with old friends and clients Randy and Bob. The Smallmouth and Rock Bass are on the beds, so we studiously ignored the obvious spawning beds and spent our day catching mostly male fish in the 9-14" range. It looks like spawning conditions are excellent this year. Let's hope for a big year-class of Smallmouth. It was a gorgeous day to be on the river. Since the spawn has just begun, I'll be staying off the river for the next 2-3 weeks to avoid the beds (for the fish's sake) and then avoid the post-spawn funk (for my sake... these fish like a nap after sex... who doesn't?). Let's hope for a continuing drizzle to keep the water color murky. I saw several guys "hunting" for spawning beds so they would have easy fishing for big fish. Of course, they were running around in jet boats. Brookville is fishing well. I'll be heading down there. ~jc
Fly pattern resurrection: Anyone remember the old Spoon Minnow made of ultrasuede and epoxy? I have figured out a similar pattern, not tied as complex or fancy as the original, but I think it actually fishes better. I call it the "Conrad's Dying Minnow". The fish that eat it don't seem to be able to "not" eat it. They go crazy on it. Tying instructions are on the Flies/Tactics page.
5/19/2016 - Upper White River
Randy is an old friend and one of my favorite fishing clients. He brought Dr. Bob along for a float. It was a gorgeous day and the fish cooperated in pre-spawn fashion.
4/9/2016 - Current and Upcoming Fishing
Experienced anglers already know this stuff, but I get lots of calls from beginning anglers about where to fish in central Indiana in the Spring. Here's a quick overview:
If you see yellow flowers, it's time to be fishing the ponds. Low and slow presentations with lightly weighted leeches and small baitfish patterns should produce largemouth and bluegill even during this cold snap. I use a "one feather leech". On a size 6-8 streamer hook, tie a feather of black or dark brown marabou with a light, flexible stem with the tip off the back of the hook to form a tail. Wind the thread down tightly and move it foward to the hook eye. Spin the marabou in your fingers to create a "chenille" with the remaining marabou. Wrap it forward in spirals up to the hook eye and tie it off. That's the whole pattern. Add a small bead if you want it to fish deeper. For small baitfish, I use another simple pattern. Slide a small tungsten bead onto a 6-8 streamer hook. Wind thread from the bead back to the hook bend. Tie in 15-20 strands of bucktail about 1.5 times the length of the hook shank. Tie in 1 piece of flash extending back through the bucktail. Tie in a piece of estaz or other sparkle yarn. Advance your thread to behind the bead. Wrap the estaz forward in spirals to create a thin body. Tie off. Olive, pearl or gray are my favorite colors for this simple fly.
Brookville is currently running at an ideal flow of 275 cfs and an average temp of around 48 degrees. White or light olive streamers stripped through deep water are a great choice. For nymphing, try size 16-18 Prince, Psycho Prince, Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tail, cream or chartreuse egg, San Juan worms, or gray scuds drifted drag-free through the deeper slots. Smaller nymphs in the 22-26 range can also work. Watch the surface for risers. There may be some midge activity bringing fish to the surface, but be prepared to fish tiny dry flies, wet flies, or an unweighted nymph.
White River, Sugar Creek, etc.: As soon as this cold snap ends, the river water temps will warm into the 50s, inspiring the food chain to get moving and the smallmouth to put on the prespawn feed bag. Streamers and crayfish in the lower to mid water columns should get bit. Topwater should become a viable tactic as the water warms closer to 60... at first in the late afternoons as the water warms to its warmest temp of the day.
Late April through May is the time for the White Bass runs in streams that flow into reservoirs such as Eagle Creek in the Zionsville area and downstream, the East Fork of the Whitewater River near Connersville, Cicero Creek above Morse Reservoir, Raccoon Creek, etc. These are school fish that hold up in deeper holes. You will seldom see these fish, so if you can see the bottom they usually aren't in that hole. Small Clousers in white, gray/white, yellow/white, chartreuse/white, olive/white or other small streamers crawled across the bottom usually get them to eat. Fish long leaders with heavier flies and good mending or a sink tip with a 4-5ft leader and lighter flies.
Hybrid striped bass/white bass nicknamed "wipers" move into the shallows of Monroe Reservoir (and probably other reservoirs where they have been stocked). They come into the shallow bays and shorelines (maybe 3-10 feet deep) chasing shad and yellow bass when the water is between 50-60 degrees. Cloudy days are best but they can be pretty active the last hour of the day even on bright days. At Monroe, we fish the face of the dam and the bay at Fairfax SRA. Again, a Clouser selection or possibly a half n half or deceiver or Puglisi style baitfish. ~jc
3/17/2016 - Equipment Report - TFO Impact Fly Rod
TFO has a new rod out called the "TFO Impact". I picked one up at the recent flyfishing show at the state fairgrounds and immediately wanted one (or two, or five). I think the Impact is the biggest advancement I've seen in flyrods since the advent of dampening technology used to minimize tip wobble and the resulting waves in the flyline when casting. Since then, it seems to me that most flyrods have only become lighter and easier to break. The Impact blank is extremely strong and yet has a very slim profile. When I first picked one up off of the rack I thought I was picking up a 6wt, based on the diameter of the butt of the rod. I was wrong... it was a 10wt I had picked up! Because of the slim profile, I notice alot less wind drag when casting it. The 6wt I bought looks like an average 4wt in the butt and casts like a rocket. However, these are not extremely fast rods. They tip cast 20ft of line comfortably and roll cast smoothly, but when you put your thumb into them they turn into high line-speed, tight loop machines. Lots of butt power makes fighting fish easy. The burl cork grip is more "grippy" than plain cork... I like that. The way this rod delivers power, I have not felt the need to overline it. We'll see what happens when I get around to throwing big streamers or topwater, but so far, paired with a TFO Prism 7-8 reel and TFO 6wt flyline, this new rod graciously does everything I ask of it. They come in 4wt thru 10wt, 4-piece, 9ft length. Retail price is $325 to $375. Here are some other reviews from Flip Pallot, Brian Flechsig and Blane Chocklett. ~jc
UPDATE 5/20/16: I love this rod even more now that I have fished it for a couple of months!
3/15/2016 - The Ponds
The pond fishing is lighting up! I've caught several largemouth, bluegill and crappie. Low and slow with a small, slow-sinking light olive or white baitfish imitation has been working consistently. I've probably caught 35-40 bass between 1 to 3.5lbs in the last few days. Get out there! ~jc
3/6/2016 - F3T Fly Fishing Film Tour at the Jazz Kitchen
The 2016 F3T fly fishing film tour was produced by my friend Todd Settle/Zionsville Insurance and sponsored by Wildcat Creek Outfitters and Central Indiana Trout Unlimited. Lots of donations were received for the silent auction and the raffle. The proceeds this year are being split between our 2 favorite flyfishing-related charities: Casting For Recovery and Project Healing Waters. Overall the event raised just over $7,000! Good job, everybody! ~jc
In other news...
On 2/13/2016 I purchased a new (used) car... a 2004 Honda Element and passed my old Honda Cr-V on to my daughter. On 2/28, nature had a different idea for my new car... After $5600 in repairs she'll be better than new. ~jc
2/21/2016 - Brookville Tailwater
Flow: 350cfs • Water color: Steelhead green • Water temp: 38
Rob asked me to help his son Michael learn to flyfish. Michael has been an avid angler since he was a little boy. He has an "angler's heart", the enjoyment of fishing (not just catching), and patience. All I had to do was teach him some knots and the basic cast and he was off and running. We went to Brookville on a bright Sunday morning to get him fishing moving water, nymphing, streamers, and see what we could scare up. There had been a severe pop-up storm early that morning and the ACOC had opened up the dam quickly to let some water out and then shut it back down to normal flows. Apparently lots of water as the grass along the bank was matted down and the river was full of dead or dying shad. The big fish were having a field day, "rising" to dead shad like they were popcorn caddis. There were 5 of us (old friends and new... Todd, Joe, Jason) stacked up in a hole sharing the water and everybody was hooking up. Michael, dealing with slack and drag for the first time, missed several fish but persevered. I hooked one of the largest Browns I've seen at Brookville, live or in photos. Michael did a great job netting him, but I screwed up the grab from the net and off she went without a proper photo. I'd like to believe she was about 24"... one of those big fish that doesn't really run, but rather just digs in and stays right where they are and it's your problem to get them to move. ~jc
2/4-7/2016 - Tampa, FL
As usual, my first report of the year is not an Indiana fishing report! Every Winter I head down to Tampa to fish with my buddy Rob. We had postponed the trip originally scheduled for the first week of the year due to unseasonably warm water and absent fish. I arrived Thursday night with a plan to hit the flats the first thing Friday morning. We got to the flat at 7am and it was 46 degrees and a cold wind was blowing out of the north at a steady 20mph. We walked out to the green water edge of the flat and posted up to wait for the tide to come back in and bring the fish with it, which we expected about 8:30am. The wind blew so hard that the tide was held out in Tampa Bay and didn't come in until 1:30 in the afternoon! When it did come in it came with whitecaps as he wind continued to blow. However, fish were spotted and hooked. Redfish and Black Drum. Rob had called me before I came down and described a little white worm that the fish were keying in on. "It looks like spaghetti" he said... "same size, same color. And it needs a little weight to get down in the holes." So I tied up a little pattern out of micro-chenille and a tiny cones on a #8 34007. Both the Redfish and Black Drum ate the odd little fly. No big surprise that the Reds ate it, but Black Drum hardly ever take a fly according to Rob... at least in Tampa Bay. The next day (Friday) we drove down to Placida and fished with my old buddy Pete Greenan of floridaflyfishing.com (a web site I built for him). Pete has been guiding down there for 38 years and has serious knowledge of the area and great stories. We ended up only fishing 1/2 day and then getting absolutely drenched by a pop-up storm. (BTW... the LifeProof phone cases really work). Fun was had and fish were caught in spite of the drenching. The highlight of that day was dinner with Joe Mahler after the trip. Joe drove from Ft. Myers to hang with us. Joe and Pete are old friends, Joe and I met last Sumer when Cecil Guidry brought him on a White River trip with me, and Joe and Rob had never met, but Joe had illustrated an article Rob did for Flyfisherman Magazine on a clever knot/rigging tip. So, the seven degrees of separation thing came together and we consumed frothy beverages and had a ball. Sunday the wind was blowing 30mph out of the northwest. We attempted fishing a flat for awhile, but again, the wind blew the water out of Tampa Bay and we headed for a cut to catch whatever was swimming by. Ladyfish and Seatrout cooperated. My flight back was at 5:30, so about 3pm we headed in. I even got a shower before the flight. That wouldn't have happened if the fishing had been good:-) ~jc
11/5/2015 - Erie, PA
Eddie and I headed over to Erie to fish Elk Creek. We stopped in Cleveland on the way and picked up Rob Walters, who flew in from Tampa to meet us. Long story made short... There were 3 fish in the river and 3,000 anglers looking for them. Rob, Eddie and I each got one. Eddie photographed mine and then wen't off to catch one on his own (which he promptly threw back like it was a bluegill because he has caught so many of them in his life), and then just at dusk, Rob hooked up. It was a lot of wading and trudging to try to escape the crowds, but we did find that a few fish had the same idea and moved into extremely fast pocket water that most guys wouldn't wade into. Sometimes, weighing on the high side has it's advantages! While we did hook several fish in the fast pocket water, landing them in that stuff on 4x was another story. ~jc
10/23/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 175cfs • Water color: gin clear • Water temp: 60
Karl Glander and Al Fish wanted to get out one last time before the weather turned ugly and the leaves fell. We floated an afternoon/evening trip. It was mostly a casting exercise, but, through Karl's dogged adherence to his favorite topwater fly, Rick Osthoff's Power Diver, he managed to land the largest Smallmouth he has ever caught... and Karl has done some fancy Smallmouth fishing in Minnesota, Maine, etc. The fish turned out to be about 23". Al Fish is credited with the photography. ~jc
10/12/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 200cfs • Water color: gin clear • Water temp: 64
After a couple of cold nights, Eddie, Eric and I hit the river for a quickie float. The water was getting critically low, cold and ridiculously clear. We didn't expect much, but managed a few fish. ~jc
10/9/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 220cfs • Water color: gin clear • Water temp: 66
I picked up two convicts along the river and took them fishing on a work release program. Actually, my friend Kevin and his work partner Drew jumped in for a 1/2 day just before the leaves fell. These guys are both fine casters and diligent fishermen. Fishing was slow but they each found one real nice fish on my version of the Spoon Minnow, which is nothing more than a piece of UltraSuede cut into the general shape of a fish with a hook epoxyied into the fat part of the body. It is a soft-landing, subtle fly that wobbles, sinks very slowly, seldom snags and looks helpless. Great for spooky fish and slow presentations. ~jc
9/7/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 150cfs • Water color: gin clear • Water temp: 70
Labor Day might not be the smartest day to push out on the river. My friends at White River Canoe Company were having one of the busiest days of the year, but that is the day we could fish, so off we went. Cecil Guidry brought his good friend Joe Mahler along for a float. Joe is a fabulous casting instructor and illustrator that does lots of illustrations for the flyfishing magazines and teaches flycasting in Florida. He is originally an Indiana boy, so he comes around every Summer to visit family. We had a banner day on the water! After pulling over in the shade and waiting for a massive flotilla to pass, we had the river to ourselves by about 3pm. Joe started out with his Straw Boss fly pattern and caught fish immediately and consistently on this wobbly, attractive fly. When Joe hooked his first fish a look of joy came over his face and he was "a kid again"... back home again in Indiana catching the fish he grew up on. Cecil was hard into torturing fish with his Hell Boy pattern. Everything worked and there were fish in every good looking piece of water. We ended the day in the dark with Joe attached to "something" that fought him to a standstill until the hook pulled out. ~jc
9/4/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 300cfs • Water color: gin clear • Water temp: 72
My chiropractor, Dr. Steve Mangas, has saved my life more times than I can remember. For the last 25 years, he has kept my family in great health and rescued us from our own foibles. A few years ago I built Steve a rod and outfitted him with a reel. It was time to get him out on the river. He brought his friend Ron Bontrager along on a cloudy day and we headed out for an afternoon/evening float. Ron took the front of the boat and immediately connected with a good number of average Smallmouth in the 9-13 inch range on what I used to call a Murdich Minnow but now refer to as "NEAM" (Not Even A Murdich). Bill Murdich's minnow is a great baitfish pattern, but even with it's thin profile I feel it can be too much fly in the low clear water of Fall. The NEAM is so simple that it would be a good "first fly" for anyone to try. Size 6, 8 or 10 streamer hook, tungsten bead, 15-20 strands of bucktail and 1 piece of flash out the back, and sparkle chenille palmered thinly forward. Tie off. Anyway, this little fly produced all day. Steve worked out the casting and caught his first few Smallmouth on the fly and even some on a topwater called the Stealth Bomber. Mission accomplished. ~jc
8/31/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 330cfs • Water color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility • Water temp: 76
Karl and Bob joined me for a float on the lower section of the White above Indianapolis. It was hot and bright when we pushed off about 2:30pm for a 1/2 day evening float. Bob dug deep with a Murdich Minnow in olive and got a nice 16" fish out of a rock garden. Karl stuck with his favorite topwater fly, Osthoff's Power Diver, and stuck several average fish right out in the bright sunlight and sometimes out in the middle of the river! As the sun dropped behind the trees on the western bank, Bob switched to topwater, and based on the fact that we caught fish on the surface in the bright sun, we assumed that "popper o'clock" would be pretty good. Bob did hook and lose a very good fish that charged out of a wood pile and inhaled his popper, and several decent fish made short strikes but failed to connect.Popper o'clock was overall a disappointment. A pop-up storm brewed up and we heard it rumbling just a few miles away and felt a push from the gust front. Also, a jet boat came by twice, which ALWAYS puts the fish down for awhile. We got off the water at 8:30 with a good day of fishing and an average day of catching. ~jc
8/29/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 330cfs • Water color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility • Water temp: 76
Eddie has been so busy at Grand Park that he hadn't had a day to fish yet this season. The only time we could find was a Saturday morning. So, Eddie and I and my friend and occasional spotter David pushed off from 146th at 7am. With hopes of early morning topwater dashed within the first 1/2 mile, we headed deep. David got the first fish on an olive Murdich Minnow... a 3lb Largemouth. Eddie soon followed with a nice Smallmouth on a streamer I tie called "Eat The Baby". While Eddie was rowing I had several chases to my "Predator Drone" pattern but ended up only hooking a white bass on it. The day was hot and mostly cloudy and had that look that says "topwater", but the night had been cold so we resisted the urge and kept catching fish subsurface. Once we entered a slow pool section with deep banks and lots of wood cover we switched to topwater and caught several nice fish at around 2 in the afternoon. David had first water and hung a nice pig on some funky looking little foam mouse pattern in red. We all had plans for later in the day/evening and we rowed out. ~jc
8/28/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 330cfs • Water color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility • Water temp: 76
As part of teaching flyfishing, I sometimes take students on their first float trip. Honestly, it's a tough job, but somebody did it for me and tolerated my inexperience and incompetence, so I feel like I should pay that back. And it is very gratifying when a student progresses and really learns the sport as so many have done and have become my "fishin' buddies" now. This day I took my friend Jeff out for his first float. Jeff is a brilliant and accomplished guy at many diverse things from mechanical engineering to whittling and lots of other disciplines in between. He has decided to add flyfishing to his stable of talents. We worked hard on casting and line management in a boat, working a fly to get a fish to eat, setting the hook, landing fish. A productive day of learning and another student "gut-hooked" on flyfishing. ~jc
8/22/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 200cfs • Water color: Gin clear • Water temp: 74
Since this uncommonly cooler weather, the fish have started the beginnings of Fall behavior. Lots of schools of Redhorse and Northern Hog Suckers are gathered up and seem to be either migrating upstream or just milling around thinking about it. Such were the conditions for this Saturday float with Project Healing Waters Veteran Joe Wildridge and his PHW host (and super-volunteer) Jerry Koons. Great guys and good fishermen. Joe throws a beautiful line and immediately took to fishing from a boat, doing a good job at casting and line control in and out of the boat. The water was so low and clear that we spent the day in the upper river "picking pockets"... fishing every little wrinkle that was more than 2 feet deep with small flies and lighter tippet and digging deep under log jams. Fish were "earned". As the sun dropped behind the trees we transitioned to topwater and finished the day with several above average (but still not big) fish. Fun day! Also, a big thanks to Rich LoBianco, Jerry Koons and all of the volunteers that help with the Indianapolis chapter of Project Healing Waters. ~jc
8/21/2015 - Sugar Creek
Flow: 110cfs • Water color: Gin clear • Water temp: 72
Mike Goriszewski lives in central Illinois and had heard of Sugar Creek for years. Primarliy a trout fisherman, he wanted to try his hand at Smallmouth on Sugar. We had to postpone hsi trip several times due to high water. I scheduled him out as far as I thought was possible to fish Sugar. I hit it on the head! The day we floated was the last day we could float without dragging the boat and spooking the pools downstream. We fished topwater all day to fairly aggressive fish. Mike mastered the somewhat more forceful casting with large/wind-resistant flies, and the mend-twitch to both move the fly and keep it from dragging in one simple movement. As his skills improved, his catch rate increased. We finished the day about 8:30 after several smashing takes of a deerhair diver in the last 1/2 mile. ~jc
8/12/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 225cfs • Water color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility • Water temp: 74
Randy and Bob came back again, this time for a float on the upper White. Randy got the skunk off the boat by catching 2 fish on one lure within sight of the boat ramp. Bob followed with a nice Smallmouth on a Murdich Minnow. The day fished pretty consistently, with the normal mid-afternoon doldrums and then a topwater bite in the evening. ~jc
8/8/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 350cfs • Water color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility • Water temp: 72
I had the privilege of taking one of our Project Healing Waters veterans (Tom Neffle) and his PHW host (Doug Frailey) fishing on the upper White. We pushed off about noon in some of the biggest crowds I've seen up there. Canoes, kayaks and tubes galore. So, we found a few holes in the upper river to park on in the shade and wait for the crowds to disperse. We caught fish, ate an early lunch, caught more fish, worked on presentation, and generally had a great time. The crowds moved on through and we set off down the river. Tom has eagle eyes and pointed out fish that he could see from his perch up front that I couldn't see from the rowing seat. Streamers such as Murdich Minnows and Schminnows took fish, as did the Purple Darter. Topwater activity kicked on about 5:30 and we never looked back. Doug caught his first Smallmouth on fly rod that day. I was a nice way to honor the contribution Tom made in service to our country. ~jc
8/5/2015 - White River
Flow: 800cfs • Water color: 3 feet of cloudy visibility • Water temp: 74
Steve Meyers came down from Chicago to fish his old haunt. Originally from Indianapolis, Steve had fished here all of his life but hadn't been down in quite a while. I learned that Steve's father was one of the original founding members of the Indianapolis Flycasters. His name was Charlie Meyers. So, while we were floating I called my old friend (another IFC founding member) Karl Glander to see if he remembered Charlie. He did... and that brought back alot of old memories for Steve. We're planning a float trip with Steve and Karl together one of these days. Anyway, hte fishing was as the fishing has been... lots of smallish fish. Not sure what the massive floods did to the river, but the fishing is just sort of "off" these days. Hope it gets better. ~jc
7/31/2015 - White River
Flow: 1100cfs • Water color: 2 feet of cloudy visibility • Water temp: 72
Randy and Bob wanted to do a morning float so they could bug out of town in the afternoon. I don't like morning floats as much as evening. For one, I'm a late-nighter and don't particularly care for morning in general. Also, while there may be a hour or two of hot fishing in the morning, it's usually over by the time the sun gets on the water. But, since the stretch we were fishing was a primarily north-to-south route, I reasoned that the eastern bank would stay in the shade longer and hopefully the fish would stay active until the sun got in their eyes. Not many fish went along with my theory. After realizing that topwater was not gonna do any good, we dug hard with deep streamers and crawfish imitations. Eventually, the fish started wo wake up and take the deeper presentations. By no means a fast day of fishing, and no picture-worthy fish were caught, but we got the skunk out of the boat, had a nice day, and were off the water by 2pm. ~jc
7/26/2015 - Sugar Creek
Flow: 350cfs • Water color: Clear with a tinge of green • Water temp: 70
Dr. Glander and his son, Dr. Glander joined me for the first float trip since May 9th. We have had the wettest Summer on record with about 8" of rain in May, 11" in June and now 15" in July. The rivers throughout Indiana have been blown out and off-color 95% of the time since the rain started in early May. Anyway, calendars, water and weather finally coalesced into a day when we could fish together. We shoved off about 12:30pm, on a slighty hot, humid, but cloudy day with great hopes for topwater fishing. Our hopes were realized within a few hundred feet of the boat "ramp". The topwater action continued throughout the day, with a lot of average fish and the occasional larger specimen taking Rich Osthoff's "Power Diver" and my deehair diver, and later in the day, a Boogle Bug popper. As the day went on the clouds became more threatening and we felt the cool gust front of a coming storm. 100 feet from the takeout the sky opened up and drenched us. The rainstorm that hit dumped an incredible amount of water in the area and the river (which we started floating at 350cfs) is now up to 6,850cfs again and just topping out. I guess this just isn't our year... yet. Anyway... a nice day of fishing and a very rough takeout dragging the boat 40 feet up that bank. ~ jc
PS: Fortunately, the worst of the storm went south and didn't hit the upper White River watershed, so the White took a small bump, but nothing catastrophic. The float trips scheduled this week should happen unless the rain that is predicted for Wednesday turns into another gully washer.
PSS: For those who float the stretch down to Rock River Park, don't plan on yanking your boat up the bank there anymore. The campground/canoe livery installed steps there which have eroded and large metal spikes protrude from the steps.
6/19/2015 - Nowhere...
Flow: We're screwed. • Water color: Chocolate milk • Water temp: Who cares
For the 4th week in a row we are getting hard rain. The ground is now saturated and flooding has begun in the area. Even if the rain stops now I'd bet the rivers won't be fishable for 7-10 days. I have cancelled 11 float trips in the last month. Thank God for ponds, and Largemouth Bass and Bluegill.
From a more positive perspective, the full water table should keep the normal Summer river flows higher than during the drought years of the past. Maybe we'll be able to float Sugar Creek for a month longer than normal. Fingers crossed. ~jc
5/31/2015 - Brookville Tailwater
Flow: 144 CFS. Water temp: 62 degrees.
Eric Simpson and I met our friend Ben Harris (Manager of the Orvis store in Clay Terrace) at the tailwater for an afternoon of trout fishing. We had planned to float, but Mother Nature had other plans when she dumped 2+ inches of rain on all of Indiana on Saturday. The rivers are STILL rising! Anyway, we were into fish immediately on my new fav, the Psycho Prince. During the course of the afternoon/evening we caught fish nymphing, throwing streamers and finally on #14 caddis. Probably 25 fish in all between the three of us. Fun day. The water is pretty loaded with algae... it's time for a blowout to clean some of this stuff out of the river. However, it didn't make it too tough to fish. ~ jc
5/24/2015 - Sugar Creek
Flow: 190 CFS. Water temp: 63 degrees. Water color: Clear with a green tinge and lots of cottonwood seeds.
Instead of watching cars turn left (and occasionally right), Cecil Guidry, Bob Miller and I took off down Sugar, pushing off about 2:30pm. There were lots of people enjoying the upper river near the campground. The spawn is mostly over. I saw baby smallmouth in the water but also saw a few males still guarding nests under center-current wood piles. The day was very bright and the fishing was slow, as a majority of the fish are resting after the spawn. We stayed in the upper river, finding the occasional juvenille (9-12") on topwater (Cecil's HellBoy) or a wiggle minnow. As the day wore on, we found ourselves about a mile from the takeout. We anchored up and waded a bit to cool off while waiting for the sun to drop behind the trees. About 8:30pm we took off on the final leg of the float and picked up 3 nicer fish in the 15-17" range on topwater: 2 on Conrad's Deerhair Diver and one on a Fruit Cocktail Whitlock Bug. This time of year is fun but frustrating. The weather is psycho, the water goes off-color in a heartbeat, the sun shines, the clouds cover the sun, and the fish are crazy aggressive one day and sullen the next. If you hit it just right it can be the best fishing day you'll have all year. Other days, you dig hard for a few average fish. I'm looking forward to the hot, stable days of Summer. ~ jc
5/8/2015 - Brookville Tailwater
Flow: 225 CFS @ 64 degrees in AM increased to 492CFS @ 45 degrees in PM.
I met Scott and Jeff at 10:30 in the park and we headed off upstream to fish a deep run. Scott is an experienced flyfisher, so all I had to do was rig him up, show him the drift and leave him to his own devices. Jeff is an experienced spinangler but not yet proficient with the flyrod. So, I waded down to him to get started teaching him the casting stroke. Now, that's not my favorite way to teach casting... standing in the middle of a river with all of the inherent problems, but Jeff had a willing spirit, so we forged ahead. He caught on quickly once I gave him an overlined rod, and hooked a couple of fish on streamers. Then we switched him to nymphing to round out his experience. He caught a trout on his first nymph drift! Since Scott and I were wet-wading, and rather deep, we were "particularly sensistive" to the almost instantaneous drop in water temperature and the increase in depth and force of the water. We never heard the horn, but they had opened up the lower gate and increased the flow to 492CFS. The water temp had dropped to 45 degrees and the algae on the riverbed was being freed by the harder flows, making fishing impossible. So, we abandoned the river and headed into town to El Reparo... a nice little Mexican restaurant on Main St. After a nice lunch, we did a driving tour of "the holes" so I could show the guys where to fish on their own if they came back. In the lower river, the algae was still coming hard, so we headed back up around the 101 bridge and fished there. Nymphing was unsuccessful in the colder water, but some nice fish were chasing streamers, so we ended our day with Jeff hooking (and eventually losing) and very nice pig of a slad-sided Rainbow on a tungsten conehead olive wooly bugger. He wasn't to happy about losing the fish, but I comforted him with the fact that most everyone loses their first big fish on flyrod. There are just too many things to do, what with line management, keeping pressure on the fish, trying to steer the fish away from cover, recovering line to get it on the reel, etc. Nice fish, tho. Wish we could have netted him. ~jc
5/1/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 1200 CFS. Water temp: 56 degrees. Water color: 2.5ft of cloudy visibility.
Wayne from South Carolina wanted to see some Indiana water while he was in town on business. While I was bit skeptical about finding many fish except with deeply-sunken flies fished slowly, we headed out on the White for a 1/2 float. My prediction was correct, but Wayne did catch fish both on sunken flies fished on floating line and long/light leaders and while nymphing. A variety of Smallmouth, Largemouth, Rock Bass and Crappie kept Wayne busy. His favorite thing of the day was watching a Wiggle Minnow dance in the water. He kept having visions of what would happen to that fly in his South Carolina waters. ~jc
4/12/2015 - Local Stillwaters
While every river in Indiana is high and muddy, the ponds that I have hit are in great shape and the fish are active. An olive Schminnow, a Clouser in chartreuse/white or olive/tan, or any small wooly bugger in olive or white have been producing large numbers of LM Bass and Crappie. The bluegill seem a bit preoccupied with making spawning beds. When you see yellow flowers in the Spring, it's time to fish. ~ jc
PS: I got a nice little rig from TFO. A 7'6" 3wt Finesse with a Prism 3/4 reel and a 4wt TFO line. Sweet little rig for the ponds and should work out pretty well for trout.
4/4/2015 - Upper White River
Flow: 900 CFS on the Noblesville gauge
I snuck out between rainstroms to see what the water temps were and to gauge the general "readiness" of the fish. Water temp was 48º. No smallmouth were willing but I did catch largemouth bass, rock bass, and the juvenile carp were doing their silly porposing and darting around and foulhooking themselves on anything I threw. Once the rain blows through and the water drops and clears we should be fully into mid-Spring, pre-spawn fishing. The ponds that I have fished have given up largemouth bass and crappie, and the bluegill have been posting up, ready to make their spawning beds. It's on. ~ jc
1/23/15 - Brookville Tailwater
Flow: 300 CFS
At least we do have some fishing opportunities in Indiana in the Winter. Eddie and Todd went to Brookville on a fairly mild Winter day. Flows were perfect and the fish were willing. Both stocked fish and some holdovers were caught. Rainbows and Browns. Nymphing (as usual) took the most fish and streamers took the largest fish. Nymphing under an indicator with small eggs, Prince, Psycho Prince, scuds, Hare's Ears, Pheasant Tails, etc. For streamers, you can't beat a conehead wooly bugger in olive or sometimes white, although people have reported catching fish on other colors including purple and red. With streamers, make sure you are deep enough and that your fly is animated and looks "alive but in trouble". Using mends to move the fly and then stripping to recover slack line animates the fly better than simply stripping it back toward you. ~jc
1/20/15 - Tampa Bay, Florida
I guess it only makes sense for the first Indiana fishing report of 2015 to take place in Florida. Let's face it, Indiana is not the Winter fishing hotspot we would like it to be! My old friend Rob Walters (former owner of Royal River Flyshop) invited me down to crash at his place, be well fed and cared for by his sweet wife, play with his beautiful little boy and fish the flats of Tampa Bay for Redfish. Tough to turn down. I didn't. I arrived on a Sunday morning, Rob picked me up at the airport, dumped my stuff at the house and were on the water by noon. The cold front was just letting up (the cold front you guys were stuck in) and the wind was cool and coming out of an undesirable direction for flats fishing, plus the tide wasn't quite right. So, we went to a channel to just hunt and blindcast, but to no avail. No complaints here, tho. Just being in 70 degree weather and stretching casts out as far as I could reach was pure therapy. The next day was stacking up to be perfect... warmer night, wind out of the north, low tide at 8am. We were psyched... Up early, great breakfast and off we go to get on McDill AFB water that only military personnel can access. (Rob is "Colonel Walters"). We waded across a deep cut (which we would later have to use a float tube to get back across) and headed out onto the flat about 7:30am. The flat is expansive and was nearly devoid of water in most places. I noted the places where there was water, because those would turn into the deeper holes once the tide came in and the flat flooded. We walked a good mile out to the green water edge, Rob explaining all the way what we hoped we would find out there. It was fascinating to learn about the "very specific" details of this species in this location. Saltwater fishing is a detail sport. As the tide turned, we posted up about 80 feet back from the drop-off and watched for shapes to appear. Visibility was difficult as it was cloudy. The clouds reflect off of the water and turn the water surface "shiny gray", so seeing through the water is tough. Add a little chop to that from the wind and you're looking for ghostly gray shapes that move under the shiny gray water surface. But not the ghostly gray shapes that don't move (the grass and seaweeds). Occasional blindcasting is ok, but if you do too much of it the fish will move off to the side of you and pass you by, never to be seen until it's too late. So we wait and scan the water for moving shapes. None appear. The tide is coming in. We wade back to the left toward the cut we crossed, scanning for schools of Redfish or the telltale nervous water they create (which Rob says looks like "jello"... the water smooths out a bounces up and down like jello on a plate when a pod of Redfish are posted up in deeper water, digging in the grass for shrimp and crabs.) Rob picked up a marauding Snook that swam by him and then took up position in a sand hole about 50 feet away. Finally, Rob motions me over. I wander his way to see what he's found. A school of at least 200 large Redfish are in tight squadron formation swimming fast in what seems to be figure eights in front of us. We cast in front of the school. No eats. We cast to the stragglers at the back of the school. No eats. We cast to the edge of the school. No eats. They have lockjaw and are just messing with us. They finally fly off to the far edge of the flat. Rob follows them while I cut up into the flat to see if there are any tailing or boiling fish visible. Neither of us had any luck. We headed back across the deep cut, which is now much deeper and can't be waded. Rob brings a tow-behind ski tube and a kayak paddle, which he ties up in the mangroves. That's a real vision... my big butt perched in that thing, paddling across the cut in waders. Go ahead a take a laugh break... I'll wait. We did make it safely across the cut and went to another flat. This one less pleasant to fish due to the interstate and airport nearby, but there were fish there. No Redfish, but we found a cut and caught Seatrout and Ladyfish for a couple of hours just to get a bend in the rod. The next day, we headed back to the interstate/airport flat for a 9am low tide. We waded out, and posted up near the drop-off and waited. Visibility was easier and the wind was coming from a favorable direction. A blindcast revealed the presence of fish just over the drop-off, so we waited quietly for the Reds. We stayed near 2 troughs that Rob knew about that tend to be "highways" onto the flat. They finally appeared. Gray, ghostly shadows that actually did move. Quite suddenly, mullet were "stirring the soup", baitfish were nervous, and boils and even a few tails appeared. I looked to my right and saw that Rob was hooked up. I reached for my camera to take a video but my selfish demons got to me and I put the camera away when I saw fish within 50 feet of me boiling and tailing. One cast and I was hooked up just as Rob landed his Redfish. Rob, being not nearly as selfish, waded over and took a picture for me. I saw the relief on his face... after 2 hard days of fishing and no Redfish, we were finally on them. Even when you're not officially "guiding", you feel responsible for making sure the person you drag along has a good time and catches fish. We did. I hooked 4 and landed 2. Of the 2 I missed, one was inexperience and one was complete stupidity. The "inexperience" one was a late hookset after watching the fish inhale the fly and not believing it happened. The "complete stupidity" one was a big fish that I thought I could horse to the right to keep him from spooking the school of fish that were tailing 100 feet to the left. I pulled right. He pulled harder to the left. He won. I retied. Great trip. Thanks, Rob! ~jc
10/11/14 - Upper White River
The annual Eric & Barbara Simpson Anniversary Float... a little late because Barbara was gallivanting around Montana with friends on their real anniversary. We took a blustery Friday and hit the river to find slow fishing. The river was very low and very clear, and the fish were certainly in "Fall mode"... scattered around in places they don't normally hang out... and with lockjaw! As we dug deeper and slower, we finally started to find fish. And as the day warmed the fish warmed up to our flies We stopped for lunch and a "wee dram" and got a few beautiful Fall pictures. Nice day with some of my favorite people. ~jc
8/9/14 - Tippecanoe River at Oakdale Dam
Flow at 550cfs. Water temp 76. 2 feet of cloudy visibility.
Eddie and I took our old friend Mike Elkin to the Tippi to put him on the oars for the first time. His son is a whitewater rafting guide in Colorado and is buying his own raft. Mike has eyes on putting a frame on it (similar to mine) and using it for fishing. Now, low water on the Tippi might not be the friendliest time to learn to row, but it does present the most challenges... exposed rock gardens, "silent" rocks (rocks that don't create any noticeable surface disturbance), slow to no current, Summer winds, spooky fish, etc. But, you buy your ticket and you take the ride. With lots of laughter and and only a few spinning circles, Mike began to get the hang of "rowing backwards" and sensing every little shift in the wind and what to do about it. As for the fishing, we had a pretty good day and caught some nice fish. Successful flies included the Clouser in blue-over pink-over white, the purple darter, this ugly crawdad-type thing Eric Simpson found, tied with blue-green estaz, ranch brown marabou tail, bucktail wing and orange rubber legs (pictured), white Murdich Minnow on a sinktip, Conrad Deerhair Diver, and Osthoff's Power Diver... but the real pig-hanger was the Gartside's Beastmaster General in tan. I caught several large fish on it and the attacks were smashing. One of the fish that we landed was 23". Everytime it jumped I swore it was a carp.The middle and lower sections of the float produced more fish, perhaps more because of the time of day, but also because of the character of the water... as in more current. We caught fish consistently in moving water and never in the big, slow pools. Long float... fun day. ~jc
8/3/14 - Upper White River
Flow at 120cfs. Water temp 76. 2 feet of cloudy visibility.
Eric and I took off for a test float. I had decided that if the White didn't start fishing better I was gonna float elsewhere. The temps had been cooler and the I expected the water temps to have dropped even farther than they did, but a drop of 6-8 degrees was all we got. The river had a funky green color to it, like there was a stringy algae suspended in it. We did catch fish and they looked reasonably healthy... not stressed or off-color, we just didn't catch too many. Now, it was a busy day on the river... the canoes and kayaks just kept coming (I'm happy that my friends at White River Canoe Co. had a good day!), so that could have put the fish off a bit, too. As the sun dropped and the canoes disappeared, topwater activity picked up and we each caught a few decent sized fish. ~jc
8/1/14 - White River
So… last Friday (8/1) I was taking some people flyfishing on the White River. One guy lives in Carmel and the other lives in Fishers right on the White River at 116th St. We put in under 146th St. bridge about 4pm and started down the river. We fished until about 9pm and were around the water treatment plant when I began rowing us out. We arrived at the boat ramp under the 116th St. bridge at precisely 9:25pm (right at dark). My car was waiting there. I backed the trailer down into the river and loaded my raft. I was done loading the raft and strapping it down within about 8 minutes. I left the boat ramp and turned onto 116th St. at 9:35, headed westbound. It was then that I saw several Carmel patrol cars coming east. As I crossed the bridge, one of the patrol cars pulled up on the bridge and stopped. Then 2 more patrol cars came, lights & sirens, toward the bridge, followed by an ambulance and a fire truck. I commented to my friend that they were probably going to assist Fishers Police with a big accident on I-69 or something.
I turned north on Hazel Dell to take my fishing buddy home. Just then the other fisherman who lives there by the river called and told me that someone had called 911 and reported that a car had driven into the river. He had talked to one of the officers to see what all the commotion was and explained to the officer that we had been down there and had backed a trailer into the river to load a boat. We immediately realized what had happened and laughed our butts off. I heard from a Carmel cop friend yesterday that they closed the 116th St. bridge for awhile as they looked for the "car in the river".
7/26/14 - Upper White River
Flow at 140cfs. Water temp 82. 2.5 feet of cloudy visibility.
I took Karl and Mike for a float on the upper river. I am really worried about this river. My non-scientific diagnosis is that the CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) in the watershed, Anderson CSO (combined stormwater/sewage outflow) and the perhaps runoff from the agricultural practice of mixing pig crap with water and spraying it on farm fields is causing extreme algae blooms in the White River. Anyway, the river has fished poorly this year so far (early August) and the water "color" has become more of a "texture". We floated 6 miles and worked hard for the fish we caught. They are both excellent casters and fishermen. Mike did some nice work with subsurface flies and caught several fish. Karl is a topwater guy to the the end. He will fish subsurface if necessary, but his faith in topwater runs deep. Both anglers caught a fair number of fish, but again it was with great effort. ~jc
7/17/14 - White River
After returning from a long family vacation (we drove 2600 miles), I needed a float. Eddie and I headed out for an last minute (emergency medical) afternoon on the upper White and took our buddy Karl along. The trip was conceived at 1pm and we pushed off by 3pm. As has been the story on the White more often than not this season, the fishing was spotty. The occasional visible chase, a few short-strikers, a dink here and there, but no fish of any size. 1/2 hour before dark as we were about to push out, we pulled up on a log that is know to hold fish. Karl and I each took a 15-16" fish, mine off the upstream end on my deerhair diver and Karl's on the downstream on a Fruit Cocktail. We weren't skunked, but we worked for our fish and rowed out in the dark. ~jc
6/29/2014 - Sugar Creek
Flow at 125cfs. Water temp 82. Slight tinge of color to the water.
Dr. Glander, Mr. Latimer and I did a "make-up trip" to try to wash away a really bad day on the upper White (on 5/31). We decided to change rivers as the White has not been fishing very well up to this point (early August). We had a decent day on Sugar. Although the fish were somewhat sullen, we did catch fish fairly steadily and in the normal spots. Dr. Glander's favorite fly... Osthoff's Power Diver brought several fish to the surface, as did my foam-wing deerhair diver, and later in the evening the Wiggle Minnow. We made a half-assed attempt at subsurface fishing but nobody's heart was really in it. It was a nice, relaxing Sunday float interrupted by the occasional fish. ~jc
6/18/2014 - Sugar Creek
Flow at 200cfs. Water temp 78. Slight tinge of color to the water.
Eddie, Todd and I did an afternoon float on a hot, steamy day under partly cloudy skies. I needed it bad as I had been teaching alot of beginning flyfishing lessons... and while that is rewarding, it is hard work and progress can be slow. It was nice to be on a river with 2 other good anglers where casting/mending/retreiving/knots, etc. are second nature. The slight color to the water had Todd and I a little concerned but Eddie held the faith and he was right. Within the first 150 feet a nice Smallmouth rose slowly to the surface to munch a Conrad Deerhair Diver. The take was slow, easy and confident but the fight was spirited. Eddie was throwing a wiggle minnow and getting lookers but no takers so he switched to the diver and was soon into a beautiful 20" fish. Action was steady throughout the float with one break while we waited out a thunderstorm. After the rain, topwater wasn't doing the trick so we switched to wiggle minnows and the fish turned on again. Lots of average to average+ fish were caught, but Eddie's was the winner. ~JC
5/31/2014 - Upper White River
Flow at 300cfs. Water temp 68+. Water color - 2.5 feet of cloudy visibility.
Karl Glander and Bob Latimer are about as good a couple of guys as you'll ever meet. They are also excellent Smallmouth anglers, which is why I was surprised and frustrated when we couldn't buy a fish! We set out about 9am on a float from Perkinsville to Strawtown with the intent of making it a long day and fishing the topwater bite in the evening. Plan foiled. The fish had just finished their spawn and were laying back, shagged out, having one last sip of scotch before a much needed nap. We dug hard for about 3 miles and were rewarded with 4 small... no, not small... TINY fish. It was hot and bright and windy, and the water color was very fishable and clearing but still had quite a bit of suspended solids as well as a fresh crop of cottonwood seeds to foul our flies. After trying for too many hours I offered the guys a "do over"... a "Mulligan". They jumped at the chance, so I put my shoulder to the wheel and started rowing us out. Of course, hope springs eternal in the twisted mind of the flyfisher, so we slowed down occasionally to hit what used to be "hot spots" before the fish decided to have sex and then sleep for 2 weeks! Eventually I just rowed, put on some mellow jazz, and Karl got the right idea. ~ JC
5/9-11/2014 - Tampa, Florida
Many of you may remember Rob Walters. He was the original owner of Royal River Flyshop at 96th & Keystone in Indianapolis. The shop was subsequently purchased by Eric Simpson and was "home away from home" for many of us. Rob lives in Tampa now and we have stayed friends all these years. For some reason beyond comprehension, he invites me to come down and crash at his place and fish with him. It may be my good looks, but it's most likely my fabulous sense of humor coupled with my humility... or possibly that I never say "no" to fishing:-) Anyway, Rob is incredibly generous with his home, time and formidable saltwater knowledge. He has a very analytical mind and he has put it to good use figuring out the many things there are to know to become a competent saltwater fly angler. I arrived on Friday 5/9 at 5:25pm. We were wade fishing before 7pm and by 11pm we had caught redfish, snook and trout within a 60-70 foot cast of shore. A great way to start a mini-vacation! Rob's wife and son were out of town, so we were on our own to fish, eat, shower, drink, etc. We did fish (alot), eat (fast food) and drink (consistently)... showers were optional. The next morning we arose early to head out and post up on a flat as the tide was coming in. This particular flat is both hard to get to and a long walk. For those reasons, Rob has great success there. However, I learned something valuable this day. A south wind is not the friend of the Gulf Coast fisherman. It blows some pretty big tides into the Gulf and generally scatters the fish, meanwhile making it a bitch to cast. As we got out on the flat, the wind came up... really up... and blew some pretty heavy and discolored water in. I did manage to catch a small snook and a catfish, but the water kept getting more roiled until visibility was nil. We slogged out of there and headed for a spot that Rob hoped would be shielded from the wind and high tide a bit better. No such luck. The water was high, the wind was tolerable but persistent, and the fish were elsewhere. After a short nap, we headed back out to fish the evening for giant snook that hang out around bridge pilings... 3-4 foot long snook that Rob had spotted. They lay in the bridge pilings until the tide starts to come in and then move out onto a deep sandy flat facing the tide as it comes back in. We cast and cast for them and Rob did manage to hook 2 of them. These are serious alpha fish and the chances of landing them on fly tackle that close to the bridge pilings is minimal, but damn is it worth it! On both fish, Rob's rod just doubled over and then involuntarily bent toward the bridge. Both fish came unbuttoned, but awesome fun was had anyway. As Rob said, "this is the stuff that makes us stay out too late." I did manage to land a bluefish and Rob got a pretty big trout that night. The next day Rob had booked a hungry young guide (Ethan Kiburz) to drag us out hunting tarpon. We cruised the beaches and cuts watching for the giant silver goldfish for 7 hours. In that time we saw one school of fast-moving jack crevalle. No tarpon. 2-3 foot seas. Lots of other "users" of the resource. The guide shared a few acronyms that he and his friends use to describe these other users:
- Jet skiers & ski/cruising boats= MAFI (motor-assisted f#%@$#*& idiots)
- Kayakers - PAFI (paddle-assisted f#%@$#*& idiots)
- Sailboaters - WAFI (wind-assisted f#%@$#*& idiots)
Rob and I dubbed ourselves FRAFI (fly rod-assisted f#%@$#*& idiots). It was rather amazing that, with an entire ocean to cruise, people would come within 50 feet of us on all of the above water craft.
Once we accepted the fact that the tarpon had also gone missing, we pulled into a backwater flat to wait for something... anything to happen. There were fish moving at dead low tide, but getting near them to get a cast off was a challenge even when being poled. The water was only about 6 inches above the turtle grass and the fish were spooky. As the tide came in the flat flooded pretty quickly and the redfish began tailing. They were still spooky, but we could get a cast on them from 60-70 feet. We got several to turn and follow, but nobody would munch the fly. It was still delicious to be out there spotting their knife-like tails slicing through the flat, mirrored water. At dark we pushed across a cut to the marina and called it another 12 hour day of fishing. ~jc
And while Rob's flat didn't produce that day in the heavy south wind, he's had a few good days out there before!
5/7/14 - Sugar Creek
Eddie and I hit Sugar and towed my darling older daughter along to ride in the rear seat and sunbathe. The flows were already nearing summer levels. 125 cfs that day and gin clear with a temp around 62 and fish making or already on spawning beds. Lovely river! We saw a beautiful big water snake at the boat ramp, hundreds of gar, and lots of other good evidence that the water is in pretty healthy shape. We caught our first fish on topwater (deerhair diver) immediately after pushing off from the ramp. The first mile or so fished well with topwater. Then the 3pm doldrums hit and fishing slowed, so we switched to streamers but got no meaningful fish throwing subsurface. So, we decided if we weren't gonna catch any fish we might as well at least fish a fly that is fun to watch... enter the Wiggle Minnow in yellow with a white tail. I tie my wiggle minnows on heavy hooks (Mustad 3366), cut the front angle a little more generously than the commercial version, use thick marabou for the tail to stabilize the action, and bend the hook until the fly runs really true. The things are pure sex in the water. The fish responded immediately and forcefully. We picked up fish out of deep pools, off of rock walls, in fast runs, and even directly downstream of the boat. No really big fish for the day, but lots of 13-16" fish. I'll take those anytime! ~ jc
4/26/14 - Upper White River
Eric Simpson, Mike Elkin and I headed down the river from 146th to 116th for a quick 1/2 day just to check the river out after a long winter. The river looks good through that stretch, but a cold front had put the fishing off. We caught some fish in the smaller/average category on Clousers and Purple Darters, but since the trip was mostly reconnaissance, we blew on through and didn't spend the time necessary to dig deep and find more fish.
4/19/14 - Upper White River
Friends Brian (White River Canoe Co.) and Kevin (Indiana Smallmouth Alliance) joined me for the first float of the season. The flow registered on the Noblesville gauge at 1080cfs and the water temperature was between 52 and 56 as the day progressed. Air temp was a high of about 67 and the day was bright, sunny and sorta windy. The water clarity was at my prerequisite of 2 feet of cloudy visibilty. I figure that if we can see 2 feet into the water the fish have to be able to see alot farther than that. We got the skunk out of the boat right away with a largemouth for Kevin (on gear), a smallmouth for Brian (on gear) and a smallmouth for me on a black Conrad Sculpin fished on a sinktip line. The fish were scattered throughout the river and a bit sullen even though the water temp was what I usually consider to be within tolerable range for this time of year. Brian picked up several smallmouth including one big girl on an eddie seam adjacent to fast water. Kevin held out for warmer water and cleaned up with 2 nice fish back-to-back on a west-facing, deep bank at the warmest time of day. My Winter workouts doing SuperSlow weight training sure helped in the rowing strength department. I'm usually pretty worn out for the first few weekes of guiding, but not this year. Not a bad start to the season! ~jc
10/27/13 - Brookville Tailwater
Eddie, Todd and I went to Brookville. Although the Army Corps of Engineers is usually blowing out Brookville Reservoir this time of year, dropping 8 feet of water out of the big pond, for some reason the river is still flowing around 400cfs. Water temp was about 50. Eddie did well on streamers, including going "Pennsylvania Old School" with a Muddler and 2 split shot. He dug out a fish he's been trying to catch for 3 years! Todd picked up a couple of fish on nymphs and streamers. I got skunked, but I enjoyed fishing my new TFO BVK 10' 4-piece 4wt. Excellent nymphing rod with enough backbone to chuck a weighted streamer a good distance and then mend to control the drift.
10/12/13 - Upper White River
Recent rains made the upper stretch of the river easily floatable, so Eddie and I took of to see what the river looked like up there after nearly 2 months of fishing the middle White. The river and fish were fully into Fall mode. Every breeze dropped a load of leaves into the river and leaves were throughout the water column, so most casts ended up fouled at some point. We were lucky and snuck some casts through the "flora" and found some willing fish. Later in the day, as the wind died down, so did the leaves and we found some fish willing to smack a topwater. It seems this year that the leaves are just gonna torture us a little at a time instead in one big deluge. Something in my bones tells me we have a long Winter ahead of us. It's time to turn my attention to Trout and Steelhead. I'm headed to Brookville soon and Erie in November!
9/28/13 - Tippecanoe River
Eddie and I took a float from Oakdale Dam down to SR 18 on this "warmwater tailwater". The flow was at 525cfs and had been stable at that level for over a week. I expected low, clear water and long casts to spooky fish. Instead the water was murky and kind of disgusting with about 2 feet of cloudy visibility. We pushed off around 9am throwing heavy streamers on long leaders to get some depth without having to use a sinktip. Nothing much happened in the first few miles of the float, but as the sun warmed the water, the fish became more active. I had some great chases to the BeastMaster in white, but those fish turned away before killing the fly. We ended up taking several fish using large white Schminnows fished with a slow twitch. Late in the day some topwater action turned on. Not a fast day of fishing for the Tippi. I threw the TFO BVK 7wt for the first time and it is a rocket!
9/21/13 - Middle White River
Neal Upton is one of my oldest friends. I know he doesn't look that old, but he is:-) I took he and his friend Tom on a float as a thank you for helping me with the CFR pond project. Again, it was unseasonably cool at night and the fish were fully into their "Fall schizophrenia". We dug hard to get them to eat on a bright, cool day with water temps that had dropped precipitiously and was quite low and clear to boot. The Purple Darter to the rescue again! If I had to choose one fly for Smallmouth it would be the darter. Tom was spinfishing and did get one nice fish about 17" on a silver Rapala out of a heavy run against a rocky, steep bank. But overall, flyfishing won out as the more productive method. Neal picked up fish consistently through the day with some nice topwater action once the sun dropped. After the float trip I had the honor of playing the Indy Jazz Fest with my good friend (and fellow flyfisher) guitarist, Bill Lancton. We played the main stage at the Jazz Kitchen with a quintet consisting of Bill on guitar, Steve Allee on piano, Scott Pazera on bass, Gene Markiewicz on drums and me on trumpet and flugelhorn. Tough life I have, eh? Flyfishing and Jazz!
9/15/13 -TFO News
I have been accepted into the Temple Fork Outfitters Guide Program. This will give me access to TFO products to stock my boat with great rods and reels for my clients to fish. TFO makes high-quality, affordable flyfishing equipment designed and endorsed by some of the biggest names in flyfishing such as Lefty Kreh, Flip Pallot, Gary Loomis, etc. I got my first shipment of rods in and I have to say that I'm impressed. The 6wt Mangrove is a medium-fast rod with a lot of backbone that kicks in at about 25 feet when it's overlined with a 7wt line and continues to have power out to 70+ feet. Its a good looking rod with a nice brown finish and a TiCr coating to help protect it from damage by errant weighted flies. They feel solid and durable, like they won't snap easily like so many of the new lighter (and much more expensive) rods do. They retail for $250. I also got two BVKs... a 10' 7wt and a 10' 4wt. They are light in the the hand and really throw a beautiful tight loop when you put your thumb into them. I'll report more as I continue to fish them, but so far I'm pleased. Again, a nice rod with a high-end feel and nice components for $250. I have a hard time paying $750+ for a rod. Maybe the high-end rod makers have gotten out of hand with the "lighter and more expensive" thing. It seems that every one of the high-end rods I have owned has snapped multiple times under seemingly normal fishing circumstances. I snapped 2 high-end rods in one week on a trip to Montana and finished my Madison River float trip using a 15 year old Orvis Silver Label that had never broken once in 15 years. I'm not sure who told the rod companies that weight was such an issue. It seems to me they invented the problem of flyrods being too heavy so they could "solve" it with an expensive product. I don't know about you but I can barely tell the difference between 3oz and 4.5oz, but I can sure tell the difference when the 3oz rod shatters in my hand and leaves me standing there wondering how I'm gonna keep fishing. I know... I'm grumpy:-)
9/14/13 - Middle White River
Rob Walters is an old friend and former founder/owner of Royal River Flyshop. We did a float to celebrate his son's graduation from high school and acceptance into the Navy. We had some unseasonably cold nights and therefore got on the river a little later than I like, but I knew that the predominantly south heading float was going to be in deep shade until at least 11am. So, we pushed off at 10am and started trying to figure out what these fish were going to eat with the water temp dropping so much over the last few nights. As usual, the Purple Darter kicked the day off and by noon or so we were fishing higher in the water column with the BeastMaster General swooning just under the surface on a sinktip. A few average Smallmouth took it and one big Carp took a swipe at it. as the day progressed we continued to test the topwater bite. No recognizable pattern ever emerged and the day was a hodgepodge of topwater, mid-column and deep flies with water type more than fish behavior dictating the tactic. It was great to spend the day with Rob and Michael and be part of that event where Michael heads off on his first real life adventure as a Navy MP.
9/4/13 - Middle White River
Eddie and I took my friend David out for a quick aft/eve float. David lives near me and has been kind enough to act as my spotter a few times, saving me the hassle of shuttling cars before or after a float. David is a fairly new but already quite accomplished fly angler. And a day watching Eddie fish was just what he needed to cement several essential skills like the reach cast and mend/twitch. We took off from 146th around 3pm with a target of being off the water by 8 or so. It's the better part of 5 miles, so we had to keep moving, which isn't always the best way to fish Smallmouth. Often times, hopping from prime spot to prime spot is more productive, but that's life. They Feast On The Beast! Gartside's BeastMaster General in natural brown/tan was a killer early in the float, and the visible strikes were a ball to watch. Later in the float Eddie hung a pig on an Unsinkable Deerhair Diver. I don't think we quite made the 8pm takeout target, but we did have a nice night and topwater was the winning tactic.
8/31/2013 - Middle White River
Chris and Seth Bakke jumped in the boat and we enjoyed a day on the water. Chris lives in Arkansas and fishes the big tailwaters down there frequently. His son Seth is a youth pastor in Indianapolis. They both absolutely love to fish. Chris is an experienced angler and Seth is a relative newby, but hungry to learn. We had another odd day on the water... low and clear with spooky fish that wanted 50-70 between them and the boat or they wouldn't eat much. As the sun dropped behind the western treeline on our south heading float, the fish did aquiesce and started being a bit more cooperative.
8/25/2013 - Middle White River
My old friends Hank and Matt Rossman joined me for a (long) 1/2 day float. They had never flyfished and brought along their spinning equipment but graciously agreed to mash down the barbs on all of their lures. The water was LOW and CLEAR... not ideal for spinfishing as every splash down of a lure sent the visible fish running for cover and kept the fish hiding in cover from coming out. They were skeptical about "this flyfishing stuff" and asked me to demonstrate. I complied and so did the fish. After 2 miles of river they had caught only 3 small fish. In the first 100 feet I caught 3 on flyrod and my Unsinkable Deerhair Diver. They were convinced that flyfishing was the way to go but didn't want to try it that day. Hank has TFO Professional that I built him as a gift several years ago. I think he'll be stopping by for a lesson next Spring.
8/18/2013 - Middle White River
Eric and Barbara joined me for the third year in a row to celebrate their anniversary on the river. We floated the White in town (Carmel/Fishers). The day was beautiful, and some nice fish were turned, but the short strikes and false attacks were the behavior that made me crazy. Nice Smallmouth would do drowning attacks rather than full-on "eats". The partial solution turned out to be smaller flies... we actually turned to bluegill poppers to get the fish to make a full eat. Anyway, the fishing was weird, as has been the theme this year, but we had a great day anyway.
8/14/2013 - Upper White River
A fine gentleman from Seattle, WA... Mr. Bill Wheeler, found me on the web and booked a trip during a visit to the area. We had a great day on the river. Bill is a fine caster and a FFF Certifed Casting Instructor. He threw a gorgeous loop and was dead accurate. However, I don't think he had ever cast as much as you tend to cast fishing streamers and topwater. I've long believed that streamer fishing is the most demanding type of flyfishing. He started crapping out with his soft trout rod and normal weight line. I handed him one of my boat rods...a 6wt medium fast action with a 7wt bass taper line. That allowed him to eliminate most of the false casting and deliver the fly in 1 backcast. He caught a wide variety of warmwater fish including a nice crappie on topwater. We had a stellar day on the water and I look forward to seeing him again someday.
8/11/13 - Casting For Recovery Structure Project
Eddie and I have been very involved in Indiana CFR since it's inception and have been river helpers on most if not all of the retreats. We both love this cause and the ladies we take fishing. the retreats have long been held at Wooded Glen... a resort and conference center in southern Indiana. It is a wonderful veune for the retreat... beautiful setting, great facilities, killer food, but there was one problem... the fishing sucked. The pond we fished was basically a 2.5 acres kidney-shaped swimming pool, and with EXACTLY the same amount of structure as a backyard swimming pool. Consequently, the pond was full of catfish and a few very frightened and timid bass and bluegill... the ones that had managed to escape the catfish. So, with the support of Wooded Glen, we hatched a plan to improve the fish habitat and then put some fish in the pond. To accomplish this task, I sourced some free wooden pallets from J & J Pallets in New Albany, IN ( Thank you , Susan!). I went down and picked up the pallets and lots of concrete block and staged them at the pond. Ed Devine, Cecil Guidry, Eric Simpson and I went down on a Sunday morning and built and placed pallet houses and 11 PVC "anenomes" that Cecil built. Then 500 hybrid Bluegill and several punds of fathead minnows were stocked into the pond. At the CFR retreat a few weeks later, everyone caught lots of bass and bluegill and signs are good that the pond will continue to improve as the fish grow and begin reproducing. We plan another stocking for next April and the fishing should be stellar for our ladies at the May 2014 retreat.
8/4/2013 - Upper White River
I took the legendary Ken Langell and everybodys good friend Eric Simpson for a float. It's become an annual event that I hope will continue until I can't row anymore and I just push them overboard and feed them to the turtles. We had a stellar day of laughs, stories, a "wee dram", and feeshes. The fishing was, again, weird but good. It's a theme these days... fish in odd places eating odd flies... or fish extremely tight to wood cover and eating miniscule minnow patterns. Schminmnows in tan or light olive, or arctic fox clousers in size 6-8 have been drawing fish out. First water draws the strike. Second water sucks hind teat. Many times the back of the boat (second water) is more productive than the front. I think the fish get interested by what the first angler throws and then attack the second time something comes by. The first angler is "the fluffer" and the second angler gets the fish. Not today. First water ruled. Also, noisy poppers were not the answer. Not even the gentle burble of a deerhair popper pulled a fish. It was the chartreuse Sneaky Pete that won "popper o'clock" again.
7/28/2013 - Upper White River
Dr. David Osborn came in from Australia to help out a friend. He's a veteranarian with a specialty in large animals. He's also an avid flyfisher. He and his friends trout fish in Tasmania! Man, does that sound exotic to me. He brought a travel rod and the basics and I hooked him up with some flies and heavier tippet. We floated the Upper White on a very strange but lovely day. I don't think the temperature ever topped about 70 degrees and it was cloudy. The night before had been a record low. I expected the usual when that happens... no fish until about 4pm when the water has warmed and the fish wake up. That was not the case this day. We rowed up to the "Rock Bass Hall of Fame" and started by working the "trout cast" out of David's arm. After a few minor injuries (to me) we got him moving heavier flies and keeping them aerialized above the boat. The fish cooperated early on and David caught his first ever Smallmouth Bass within an few hundred feet of the boat ramp. As the day went on, David got better with fly placement, mending, stripping and hooksets. Each time he improved a skill, a larger fish would reward him for it. He dropped a purple darter into a hole next to some wood and was quickly attached to his largest bass of the day. There were never any signs that topwater was a possibility, but we decided to test the theory and caught fish in places I never expected on a chartreuse Sneaky Pete. Every fish we caught had a cicada stuck in his throat, so the topwater bite made some sense, but the chartreuse Sneaky Pete did not. We left it on and David caught fish after fish on it. He said "Crikey, I've never caught so many fish in my life." Later in the day we switched to deerhair as the light faded, and the gurgle was frequently followed by a splash.
The next day, Eddie took David out to Sugar Creek for an afternoon/evening wade. They had a good day and David got a look at what I think is one of the prettiest streams in Indiana.
Dave's first Smallmouth
Dave on Sugar
7/18/2013 - Boca Grande, FL
While on a family vacation in Siesta Key, FL, I hooked up with our old friend Rob Walters. Many of you may remember Rob. He originally opened Royal River Flyshop and then sold it to Eric Simpson. Rob is now living in Tampa, so this was a perfect opportunity to fish together. I booked a day for us to fish Boca Grande with Capt. Pete Greenan. It was cloudy, rainy and windy when we left the Placida boat ramp but the hard rain held off until later in the day. We first ran the beaches in search of tarpon. We did see a few and I got a fleeting shot at one as he swam by the boat, but the water color was off and the reflection of the gray sky on the water made spotting the fish tough until we were 30-40 feet from them and had already alerted them to our presence. With the tarpon hunt a bust, we headed into the back country to fish the mangrove islands. This may very well be my favorite type of fishing now... poling silently along, 60-70 feet from a mangrove bank, casting into the dark recesses in tea-stained water and never knowing what might attack your fly. Delicious. We spent several hours poling around, moving from bank to bank, hooking the occasional fish and having our asses handed to us by "who knows what" that just slashed the fly and tore off back into the mangroves. Finally, as the tide began to move out rapidly and the rain began to pound on us, the fish came out to play. Rob caught a baby snook and then a redfish. Capt. Pete was about finished for the day, but wanted me to get a fish before we left. This picture was from the last cast. I could hear the sigh of relief from Pete, both because I finally landed a fish and it also meant he could go home and get out of the rain. I am proud to note that all of the fish we caught that day were on the first 3 Puglisi style flies I ever tied. I never understood the value of the Puglisi flies except for ease of casting, but they really do fish very well and look realistic in the water. I have been using them for bass around here now and getting some good fish on them. I also morphed the style and tied a few with Hareline's "Baitfish Emulator Flash" material. Great fly.
Gear Talk... I used Pete's TFO BVK 8wt rod with a Rio Bonefish line (not the Bonefish QuickShooter... the regular Bonefish taper). Holy shit! The rod is very nice and the line really gassed me. It shoots like butter and holds the tighest loops I can make. I ordered one that day. I think it is gonna be a great warmwater line for the basses. Also, no need to overline with this one. The regular taper seems to have enough forward beef to load the rod quickly, plus the slick coating flies through the guides. I shot 25-30 feet of line on my first backcast and was instantly a fan. 80-100 foot casts almost seemed natural. Also, the line stretch is minimized by the mono core, which helps with long-distance hook sets.
7/7/2013 - Sugar Creek
Bob & Mary Smith are dear friends and the sweetest people on the planet. They volunteer for "everything" and are always helping others. Mary now runs the Casting For Recovery retreats and Bob is always "in tow" and digging in as well. After all of their years living in Indiana, they had never fished Sugar Creek. We remedied that with a float from Elston to Rock River Park. The fishing wasn't fast, but it was steady enough to keep our interest.
7/4/2013 - Sugar Creek
Ed and I celebrated Independence Day by enjoying our independence and hoping for a repeat of 7/2. No such luck, but the fishing was good and the company even better. Here's Eddie in his 4th of July sartorial splendor.
7/2/2013 - Sugar Creek
Sugar was on fire! Wiggle Minnows and my Unsinkable Deerhair Diver took fish after fish. While we're not really "fish counters", the estimate after the float was at least 80 fish between the three of us. Every year Sugar blesses me with freaky good day of fishing. Last year it was May 25th for me. This year 7/2/13. Fishing was too good to stop and take pictures, but here are 2 from when the fishing slowed down to a dull roar for a few minutes. So glad to be on the river with my buddies!
6/26/2013 - White River
6/8/2013 - White River
Eddie and I took my friend Dave for an instructional float on the upper White. Dave is the father of one of my daughter's best friends. He is a congenial guy who learns fast and really enjoys life. The fishing was pretty good for the average sized fish. The mosquitos were pretty bad. Dave's lovely wife Joan loaned him her hat.
5/1/2013 - Eagle Creek
Although I have been fishing a bit this year, this is my first report of the season. After an incredible flood that totally reshaped most of the rivers in Indiana, I did manage to get out on Eagle Creek. The White Bass run seems to be in pretty good shape. Eddie, Todd and I fished a few hours last night and had a nice time catching these "school fish". After much discussion we believe we have identified the primary feature that makes for a good White Bass fly... a hook:-) These fish will eat anything (subsurface). We had a wide variety of flies going and all of them produced. The key is to make sure you are fishing deep enough and bumping your fly along the bottom. You have the option of using a sinktip line, short leader and lighter fly (Eddie's preference), or a floating line, long leader, heavy fly (my preference). The White Bass don't seem to care. Eddie caught a few more fish in the faster runs, but with proper mending, I did just fine, too. White Bass are almost always schooled up in deeper pools or in slower deep runs.
PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION: I don't buy many flies. I tie my own because most commercial flies aren't as good as what I can make myself. However, I just bought some BoogleBug Poppers and I liked them so well I called to talk to the owner of the company to compliment him on his great product. Mr. Pierce Hayes is a very pleasant southern gentleman in Birmingham, AL that has a passion for making great poppers! He makes a cup-faced popper called the "Boogle Popper", a Sneaky Pete style slider called a "Boogle Bullet", and a tilted-face fly called an "Amnesia Bug". The BoogleBugs I purchased are well-tied, in great colors, with a super-durable finish that will last for a long time without chipping (Pierce tells me they have a total of 6 coats of primer, color, accent, and clear polymer overcoat). BoogleBugs are tied with the hook gape open so that hooking fish is easy, unlike many commercial poppers where the hook gape is obscured by the popper head. These are very much worth the extra buck or so. I bought mine from Mad River Outfitters.