Central Indiana Fly Fishing Report

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2024 Indiana Fly Fishing Reports

April 23 - Upper White River

Flow: 650cfs, water temp: 55-57, water clarity: 4 ft of cloudy visibility

After 2 weeks of flooding and chocolate milk where no guide with any integrity would take anyone fishing, my buddy Matt and I got on the river for "guides day out." The river looked gorgeous... green water with adequate clarity to see the bottom in 3-4ft of water. We pushed off about 10:30am in cloudy skies and a 80% chance of rain. The first nice fish came within sight of the boat ramp to a Conrad Sculpin in black and olive fished on a floating line due to the relatively skinny water of the upper river. As we moved downriver, we switched to heavier sinking flies such as the Thin Mint and Conehead Wooly Sculpin with a tungsten bead the size of a green pea! You'd better duck when that thing comes by... but it does get the fly right down! Fish just hammered both of those flies. We probably boated 40-50 fish (not that we're fish counters:-) and couple of gooduns! We also fished a "Leigh's Green n Gold"... and Clouser-style fly designed by my friend Leigh West for Tampa Bay Redfish. Turns out it's also great on smallmouth:-) The rain eventually materialized and soaked us to the bone... but who cares when you're nailing fish one after another. With water temps in the high 50s, the spawn should start in earnest in the next few days, so we'll stay off the river and let 'em do their thing for the next 3 weeks or so. Doing so is an investment in a better fishery for us all. When people pull spawning fish off their beds, they tire the fish (which is already in a heightened state of agitation and vigilance) and open the spawning bed up to predations from bluegill, baitfish, crayfish, etc. So PLEASE just don't.

March 30 - Upper White River

Flow: 650cfs, water temp: 55, water clarity: 3 ft of cloudy visibility

An old friend and I launched the raftt in an area where I can row around upstream and down through a few pools and fish for awhile. Wading is iffy for him, so this is the best way to get him on the water. While we didn't have the character of water to find multitudes of prespawn fish, we did manage a few nice ones. It was good to get my shoulders warmed up on the oars again and to get my old buddy out fishing. As we all age, float fishing eventually becomes the only way we can keep fishing. I'm glad to have the raft to be able to keep people fishing!

March 28 - Upper White River

Flow: 700cfs, water temp: 54, water clarity: 3 ft of cloudy visibility

I took a friend (and student) to the upper White for a wade. We set up on a deep hole and started prospecting. We found a few fish between 5-7pm. Then, just as dark started invading our day, the Smallmouth turned on in a big way. It was 16" to 19" fish one after another in their prespawn frenzy:-)

March 13 - Upper White River

Flow: 900cfs, water temp: 46-48, water clarity: 3 ft of cloudy visibility

I drove the length of the river to check out the color, flows, and general condition. Then I met a friend to do a short wade and see what we could find. The water temp (on 3/13) was already surprisingly warm... I'd say the water temp was about the temperature it would normally be in the middle of April. This will move the spawn up, as the Smallmouth spawn at around 60 degrees, generally. We did find some active fish willing to inhale Clousers and Purple Darters. All in all it was a nice first outing in shirt sleeve weather in March.

2023 Indiana Fly Fishing Reports

October 17 - Upper White River

Flow: 100cfs, water temp: 54-58, water clarity: clear

Thank God for at least a little rain! My raft only draws 4-5 inches of water, so we had just enough water to float through everything. The water temp at 54 drove the fish out of the upper river and into the deep pools downstream. We couldn't buy a smallmouth for most of the day, but Bill did master hopping a weighted streamer along the bottom and caught some huge rock bass and a largemouth. Then, at 5:15, suddenly the smallmouth turned on. Bill caught several fish and hooked a pig of 18-19" that jumped several times and finally threw the hook. ~jc

October 12 - Upper White River

Flow: 80cfs, water temp: 58-62, water clarity: GIN!

After a busy period of late September/early October of travel playing trumpet on the Disney Broadway musical "Frozen", I finally made it back to Indy to find some of the lowest flows seen in years. Mel and I pushed off in 80cfs and 58 degree water so clear it was nearly invisible! We picked up fish on topwater, wounded minnows, and purple darters. It wasn't fast fishing, but there were fish. Fall is a weird time for smallmouth behavior. One day they're on fire and the next day it seems there are no fish in the river. There was a fair amount of walking the boat through shallow riffles, which is never fun. ~jc

September 12 & 14 - Upper White River

My buddy Rob was in town staying at my place. I visit him every year in Tampa to redfish and he comes back to Indiana every Fall for a visit. We floated 2 days while he was in town... once just us and once with Eddie joining us. We caught plenty of fish in the low, clear September water using topwater, Conrad's Wounded Minnows, and small Murdich's. It was hoot being on the river with my old buddies. ~jc

September 5-7 - Bighorn River, Ft. Smith MT

My brother and I drove from SoCal to Ft. Smith to fish the Bighorn for a few days. Streamer fishing was very good, with lots of big fish coming to Thin Mints, Pete's Bugger, olive and black tungsten conehead buggers, and some eats on Conrad's Wounded Minnow. On our 3rd day there we had the honor of fishing with famous Bighorn guide, George Young. What a fine guy and great guide. His joy of fishing is infectious. Can't wait to fish with him again! ~jc

August 31 - Upper White River

Flow: 106cfs, water temp: 70 degrees, water clarity: 4-5ft of cloudy visibility

Steve was in town from Colorado and wanted to try Smallmouth fishing. We pushed off at 11am and found small/medium fish willing to eat the Wounded Minnow ASAP. As the water warmed the fish became more willing and we were into the normal Summer routine of mid-column streamers and the occasional topwater. Popper fishing never turned on, but the streamer bite was respectable. It was bright out, so we had to pull fish out of the shade to get them turned on. Steve got the drill down (cast, mend, rod tip down, strip set and raise) and started catching fish regularly. I think he topped out at 20 fish and then tired out, so we skipped a bunch of water and rowed out. I got home at 7:40! That NEVER happens. ~jc

Dr. Karl Glander

My dear friend, Dr. Karl Glander, passed on August 1st, 2023. I miss him terribly already. Karl was a consummate gentleman... Kind, compassionate, generous... and funny! Limericks were a special artform to him. Karl was the Dean of Indiana Flyfishing, having been co-founder of the Indianapolis Flycasters, Friends of the White River, and the Indiana chapter of Project Healing Waters. So, if you enjoy fly fishing in Indiana, say a quiet "thank you" to Karl the next time you hook a Smallmouth. ~jc

This photo is of Karl reciting one of his favorite limericks, as follows:

"There once was a man from Dunvizes

whose balls were of two different sizes.

One ball was real small, barely any ball at all,

and the other was huge and won prizes."

RIP Karl

August 28 - Upper White River

Flow: 95cfs, water temp: 73 degrees, water clarity: 4-5ft of cloudy visibility

After the heat wave, the drop in temperature had me worried. The daytime temps had gone from upper 90s to upper 70s. Usually the smallmouth take a little snooze for awhile when the temp drops, and the drop had been 10 degrees in 2 days. However, they were out and running around, God bless their little hearts! The river was so low that even my raft was scraping bottom occasionally. We started picking up fish on the wounded minnow and a few on small bad hair days, but the upper stretch was so skinny that I think alot of fish had vacated the premises for deeper water. Once we got into some of the deeper pools lots more fish were chasing. Some topwater action, some wounded minnow action, BUT... when we put on small white Murdich minnows the action was on. Mike and Bill were picking up 3-4 fish out of every little wrinkle of the river, and that continued for most of the rest of the day. When I got home that night I went straight to the vise to tie some more! ~jc

August 24 - Upper White River

Flow: 110cfs, water temp: 82-84 degrees, water clarity: 4-5ft of cloudy visibility

The Indianapolis Flycasters Club purchased a trip from me to raffle off at one of their meetings: The losers we Bill and Jacob, who were forced to fish with me. We took off at noon on a scorching hot, humid day. It was 96 degrees and hazy/sunny... the kind of day when you expect to see heat lightning. The water was low and very clear, and the sun kept the fish back in the shade. We prospected with various flies: topwater, wounded minnow, etc. and found a few fish in the upper river. As we moved into the lower river, we started finding fish in deeper holes. Bill hung a goodun (18") on a small blue popper. Fishing wasn't fast but active enough to keep our hopes up with each cast. As the sun dropped, fishing picked up to a respectable pace and the guys each got a few nice fish. Of course, we were all drenched with sweat after spending 9 hours out in that weather, and we went through 1.5 gallons of water. ~ jc

August 16 - Upper White River

Flow: 210cfs, water temp: 72 degrees, water clarity: 2.5ft of cloudy visibility

Carlton and his wonderful wife Leigh showed up at my house via Uber for a float. They were in town for a State Legislators convention. Carlton is a state legislator from Little Rock and also owns a media company, www.wingmediagroup.com. He had asked if I minded him shooting some video as we floated, but the main impetus for the trip was to continue the development of Leigh's flyfishing skills. We were on the water at 2. When I stepped in the river to launch the boat I winced a bit. I've developed a bit of a thermometer in my feet, and I knew the cold rain and cooler nights had dropped the water temerature precipitiously. I estimate it dropped about 11 degrees in 4-5 days. For some reason, any downward change in water temp slows the fish down even if the temperature is in their normal operating range. It seems to be the difference in temps that changes their metabolism-driven behavior. For a teaching day, I had hoped we would have the 9-13" fish out chasing bait. No such luck. We dug hard and had a few swipes at flies such as the Murdich Minnow, Bad Hair Day, and Conrad's Wounded Minnow. I knew we could dig fish out deep with a Purple Darter, small sculpin, or other bottom-bouncer, but those can be tough to cast for budding casters. So, we switched tactics to topwater. I chose a hard body popper because the water color was a bit stained. That did the trick. Carlton hooked a pretty nice fish off of a rootball, which proved that they were tight to structure but wiling to come out for a decent chunk of protein. Several more fish came to topwater. About 7:30 Leigh had a smashing take from a nice smallmouth. She was so excited... her childlike enthusiasm was so great to witness. We had to cut the trip a little short, so we rowed out and I drove them back to the JW Marriott downtown. I made 2 new friends and Carlton filmed enough footage (including drone footage) to create a nice segment for his TV show, Arkansas Outdoor. So, now I'm gonna be famous and I'll be even more of a pain in the butt than usual :-) ~jc

UPDATE: Here's the episode that Carlton filmed. The White River segment begins at 8:15, but the whole show is worth watching. Carlton is an excellent host.

August 4 - Upper White River

Flow: 95cfs, water temp: 83 degrees, water clarity: gin clear

Andrea is a flyfishing (and fly tyting) student of mine. He has been working hard on casting and learning the presentation techniques in moving water. With a minor tuneup, he was casting accurately, mending well with the reach cast and full-line mend, and moving the fly using the mend/twitch. That was the recipe for a banner day of fishing. He must have caught 60 fish... nothing over 15-16, but lots of nice fish. The water was very clear, so we saw the chase and the eat:-) Great fun...and Andrea will be another one of that 5% of fishermen that catch 95% of the fish. We also saw a Bald Eagle right above our heads and caught a photo in-flight. ~jc

August 2 - Upper White River

Flow: 100cfs, water temp: 83 degrees, water clarity: gin clear

Randy and Greg are old buddies that worked in the White House together. Great men, both of them... and fine fishermen. They caught fish on minnow patterns, topwater, and a few on crayfish patterns. The smallmouth were in moving water, with only rock bass and bluegill in the slower pools. Low water and poor water quality tends to push the smallmouth to rocky, oxygenated water.

July 25 - Upper White River

Bud and Mel are both students of mine that are continually improving. So, we pushed off on an instructional float on low, clear water that had the guys continuing to learn the tricks of smallmouth fishing visually. When they put the fly in the right place and moved it in a seductive way fish would appear out of nowhere and eat. Lots of fish came to the Wounded Minnow and topwater. We pulled out in the dark, as usual. ~jc

July 19 - Upper White River

Rick & Joe came out for a float for Joe's birthday. It was a sweltering day and the fish behaved strangely. Fish came willingly to the small Wiggle Minnow but were reluctant to chase any other fly, which was odd. The fact that they were eating the Wiggle Minnow means that they were willing to chase bait, and yet other baitfish flies went largely ignored. Odd day, but fun. Rick and Joe are good friends and a groove to fish with. ~jc

July 17 - Upper White River

Chris is a flyfishing student of mine. As part of his development, the next logical step was a float trip to learn about fishing from a boat, reading water, line handling, line control on the water, hooking and landing fish, etc. With his casting pretty solid by now, he did well with casting accurately, and learned the reach cast, full-line mend, tip mend, and the mend/twitch. We got caught in a torrential storm with hale for a few minutes (10% chance of rain... yeah, right:-). Many fish were caught on streamers, topwater, and he even did a little bottom-bouncing just to say he'd caught a fish that way. Good day on the water and Chris is on his way to being a solid flyfisher. ~jc

July 14,15, 16

I do alot of flyfishing instruction. People come to me usually after they discover how complex flyfishing is, although occasionally someone comes for a class just to learn about the sport. This particular weekend was a busy teaching weekend. Matt, Isaac, and Al each showed up for the full-day course, which entails 2 hours of classroom, 2 hours of basic casting instruction, and 4 hours of pond fishing. At the end of the day they were each pretty pumped to continue on with flyfishing, having been exposed to many of the details involved in becoming a competent flyfisher. I truly enjoy helping people learn our great sport. ~jc

June 26-27 - Bradenton, FL

I was invited by some good friends to fish tarpon on the beaches near Bradenton. It was an illuminating experience for me. I had only fished baby tarpon in the mangroves. First of all, you anchor up 50-100 yards off shore in a flats boat. The boat rolls in 1-3 swells, which creates the first challenge... standing up:-) After a little practice just letting my brain relearn balance, I was able to stand in the well of the boat and cast a 12wt rod 80-100ft. I never did make it to the casting platform, but I have found some balance exercises that should improve my "sea legs" for next time. The flies they use are surprisingly small... 3" of rabbit strip on a deadly strong, short-shank hook. Also, I was surprised how the modern heavy rods cast. I hadn't cast a 11 or 12wt rod in years, and when I did years ago they were like broomsticks with anchor cable for a line. The modern heavy rods that my buddies let me use cast like 8wts... very sweet:-) So, here's the drill... You pull off about 70-80 ft of flyline and put it in a bucket so you are ready to cast ASAP when needed. Each person takes a different quadrant to watch for tarpon swimming into the area. Once you see tarpon coming into the area, you prepare to cast. If you see them from a distance you might have 7-10 seconds to get ready and cast. In other cases (most cases) it is an almost immediate need to get the flyline aerialized and drop your cast so you can lead the fish and have the fly swim across their path... NEVER at them, which will turn them away. Anyway... over the course of 2 days I got 3 shots at cruising tarpon. In 2 cases the fish gave a "nod", which means they turned briefly to look at the fly and then swam on, and one strong follow, but I apparently moved the fly to fast and the fish turned away and swam on. Great learning experience and I'm pretty confident I'l be armed and dangerous next time. Thanks to Rob & Leigh for their hospitality and coaching. ~jc

June 21st - Upper White River

Flow: 350cfs, water temp: 79 degrees, water clarity: 3ft of cloudy visibility.

I picked up Randy at his home and we floated 146th to 116th. It was an average day of fishing, but enough fish to keep him busy and satisfied. The Wounded Minnow drew fish high in the water column, crayfish flies took fish from deep, and topwater produced later in the day. BTW... access is closed at 146th while the bridge expansion project is underway. ~jc

June 10th - Full Day Flyfishing 101

Adi is a 4th year medical student. He has discovered an interest in flyfishing and and need to disconnect from the incessant studying, so he came over for my full day 101. We went through the classroom portion and, with his manual dexterity, he excelled at the knots. Then his casting started working because he follows instructions very well and started to get the feel. We have since been out on the ponds and he is casting well, shooting lione with the "slip n grab", hooking fish... and enjoying it immensely:-) ~jc

June 7th - Upper White River

Flow: 210cfs, water temp: 76 degrees, water clarity: 3ft of cloudy visibility.

I met Bill for an instructional wade trip as part of his on-going flyfishing journey. Bill is now traveling around the Midwest, fishing various rivers for trout, steelhead, etc. Line control on moving water is pretty much the whole game, so reading water and learning the reach cast, full-line mend and tip mend is the secret to catching fish. ~jc

June 5th - Upper White River

Flow: 180cfs, water temp: 74 degrees, water clarity: 3ft of cloudy visibility.

I met Chris for an instructional wade trip as part of his training. We had worked together on casting, rigging, knots, and stillwater fishing. It was time to help him figure out moving water presentations. He was a bit overwhelmed with how dynamic fishing moving water can be... reading water, the constant mending, an how fast the fish eat. He did well and his understanding of mending will serve him throughout his flyfishing career. ~jc

May 29th - Upper White River

Flow: 200cfs, water temp: 72 degrees, water clarity: 3ft of cloudy visibility.

I met Rick for an instructional wade trip to help him figure out moving water presentations so he can have some success in Colorado this Summer. After some tweaks to his leader set up and casting/mending technique, he started hooking fish. It was then he realized he needed more information about flyfishing and booked my full day Flyfishing 101 course. He is in Colorado now and reports that he is doing well and having success fishing. I love helping people become competent flyfishers. It makes their life better. ~jc

May 26th - Upper White River

Flow: 230cfs, water temp: 70 degrees, water clarity: 3ft of cloudy visibility.

My Spring calendar was littered with a happy mess of music. The Steve Allee Big Band for the 29th anniveesay of the Jazz Kitchen, the American Pianists Association jazz piano competition, and the premiere of the Gennett Suite with the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra. The Gennett Suite is an 80-minute suite for big band dedicated to Gennett Records in Richmond, IN, where much very important early jazz was recorded over 100 years ago.

Due to the amount and complexity of all of this music, I chose to skip pre-spawn fishing and conserve energy. So, May 26 was my first float. I normally wouldn't be floating now due to the spawn, but the spawn went off very early this year. We're at the tail of the post-spawn doldrums already.

I floated Eric and John o the upper White. Lots of small fish came to Murdich Minnows, Bad Hair Days, Conrad's Wounded Minnows and even topwater later in the day. The water is already getting low and clear. Might be a tough Summer of draggin' boat! ~jc

2022 Indiana Fly Fishing Reports

August 18 - Tippencanoe River

Flow: 500cfs, water temp: 85 degrees, water clarity: 2-3ft of cloudy visibility.

Randy has been fishing with me for almost 20 years now. He's great fun to fish with. He has a million stories from his years in law and politics. But he's really just a Hoosier farmboy, married to same wonderful lady since just after high school, a raft of kids and 3 rafts of grandkids. He's the salt of the earth and an excellent fisherman. We floated the Tippi on very low water. I took it as a challenge to row that rocky river without having to get out of the boat. At low water it's like rowing through a pinball machine!! I almost made it... after 9 miles of river, I had to jump out and drag the boat about 10ft just upstream of the takeout. That low water makes for a really tough day of rowing, but the fishing can be worth it. Randy caught alot of fish and a couple of "good uns". The Purple Darter, Conrad's Wounded Minnow, and topwater were the winning tactics. Randy is an excellent flycaster but his shoulder won't take it anymore, so we've figured out some ways for him to fish flies on spinning rod. ~jc

tippecanoe river fly fishing trip

August 17 - White River

Flow: 140cfs, water temp: 80 degrees, water clarity: Gin clear

A big part of my flyfishing business is instruction. I think I've gotten about 30 people started in flyfishing in the last few years. Part of that instruction is, of course, casting, knots, etc. But the bigger and more vaulable part is in teaching people to fish. Some students come to me as avid spin fishers who know "how to fish" (read water, choose tactics, etc.) and just want to learn how to operate the flyrod. Others come to me to learn how to operate a flyrod AND learn to fish. Such is my Itlaian friend Andrea. He has done some fishing in his life... enough to know he wants to explore it. So, he's been through the course and it was time for an instructional float. We talked about the things you have to do right to be consistently successful, pushed off, and dug in to learn those skills. Andrea was into fish quickly because he's "fishy." Some people are natural predators (fishy) and in others that skill has to be developed. Andrea has it... plus he's very focused on getting good at flyfishing. He'll get there. These 2 pictures are his first river Smallmouth on a streamer and a popper. ~jc

flyfishing lessons on the White River in Indianapolis

August 15 - White River

Flow: 150cfs, water temp: 78 degrees, water clarity: Gin clear

After taking a week off of guiding to be involved in an incredible jazz recording project (The Gennett Suite Project), I got back on the river. Low, clear water is a favorite of mine. If you are quiet and polite the fish will show themselves and you'll get to see the whole operation... the chase, the eat, and the battle. And speaking of quiet and polite, my friend Joe Smith (Project Healing Water, Heartland Flyfishing Festival) joined me for a float. It was another banner day! With my raft slipping along nearly silently, Joe dug out fish after fish on the Wounded Minnow and on topwater. If I had to choose one fly for warmwater flyfishing it would be my Wounded Minnow. You can buy them at Orvis in Clay Terrace or directly from me for custom orders. ~jc

Indiana white river flyfishing

August 5 - White River

Flow: 220cfs, water temp: 80 degrees, water clarity: 3ft of cloudy visibility

Lee and Doug are old buddies and fishing partners. Lee is my dentist (and a great one...) His wife bought him a float trip for his birthday (cool wife:-) We kicked off down the White and were into fish almost immediately on Conrad's Wounded Minnow. With intermittent topwater tests, we stuck with the wounded minnow for several hours and it kept producing. Then, about 6pm, the sun had dropped enough that topwater was the obvious choice. The guys continued to hammer fish all the way to the takeout. It was an easy day to be a guide, and those don't come along very often:-) ~jc

July 31 - Tippecanoe River

Flow: 800cfs, water temp: 84 degrees, water clarity: 3ft of cloudy visibility

Mumbles came down to Chicago to meet me and Chumby) and fish the Tippi. We fished our way down the first few miles with streamers on a bright Sunday with limited success. Then, out of "what do we do now on this super bright day?" I moved to the shady side and Chumby hooked a monster from behind an docked pontoon boat on a big blue popper. The pig broke him off on 14lb test after several jumps and maybe a little too much strong-arming. After that, poppers in the shade was our focus, but shade is sparse on the Tippi... it's a wide open river that is bathed in sunlight with the occasional shady bank when the river turns the right direction. Nevertheless, we continued to find fish on topwater. As the sun dropped in the sky, the fishing turned up. Mumbles wanted to row a bit, so I even got to fish and picked up several in a short time. We didn't tak any pictures of Chumby. We suspect he's in witness protection:-) ~jc

guided flyfishing on Indiana's tippecanoe river

July 18 - Tippecanoe River

Flow: 830cfs, water temp: 82 degrees, water clarity: 3ft of cloudy visibility

Eddie and I took our good friend John for a float. John lives in No. Indiana, so meeting at the Tippi was a natural. We pushed off at 11am from Oakdale, and did the "Tippi Shuffle"... trying every tactic in every water type until you figure out where the fish are hanging. The flows on the Tippi have been up and down, which pushes the fish around to different water types based on flow. We found fish in medium-speed runs in or near shade and on mid-current structure (both locations are common in lower flows). Not alot of fish... probably 35-40 through the day... and only a couple of big fish took a swipe, but we had a fun day. It was very hot, and since the Tippi is wide and offers little shade during the midle of the day, there were times when we felt like we were fishing in a pizza oven. Successful flies were my version of the Wiggle Minnow, Boogle Bugs, Purple Darter, Conrad's Deerhair Diver, and a new fly I made called the Alien Invader (cork diver). And for the bad news... there are hog barns on Tecumseh Bend just upstream of Camp Tecumseh Scout Camp that seem to be dumping their "shitpits" into the river, so once we entered that area of the river, there was massive algae, a disgusting smell, and a distinct lack of any fish except grass carp... thousands of them. I have actually seen one of the hog barns dumping directly into the river... a foul milky torrent flowing into the river and the water covered in bubbling algae just below it. I reported it to IDEM, but, of course, nothing ever comes that. The fines for dumping (if they get caught) are so low that it's just a slap on the wrist. Sad State and disgusting that some people would foul a river just to save a couple of bucks. ~jc

Tippecanoe River flyfishing

July 12 - Upper White River

Flow: 145cfs, water temp: 80 degrees, water clarity: very clear

James and Steve have been trying to get on the water with me since 2020. The world kept conspiring to prevent that, but we finally got it done. It was an instructional float on a hard day. There was a full moon coming the next night and the water was low and clear, so the river had been illuminated with a nearly full moon the night before and it was clear by the fish's behavior that they had gorged all night. That turned into a positive for the "instructional" aspect of the float. James had to do everything right to get even a chance at a fish... Read the water, cast cautiously, practice good line control (reach cast, full-line mend, tip mend), move the fly softly and seductively, stay directly connected to his fly (rod tip down), and strip set on the eat and then raise the rod to stay attached. He worked hard to master those key skills and was rewarded, not with alot of fish or big fish, but with enough "earned" fish to cement those lessons into his fishing habits. Steve was mostly along for the ride and to enjoy the river. He fished a bit in the upper 2 miles and caught several fish on the Wounded Minnow (small yellow) and then kicked back for the ride to watch James learn he techniques that increase our chances of success. ~jc

July 11 - Upper White River

Flow: 145cfs, water temp: 80 degrees, water clarity: very clear

Meredith and Chester joined me for a float that they booked at last years Heartland Flyfishing Festival. I've known Meredith as a volunteer of Casting For Recovery for 18 years. He has been flyfishing for 72 years! We had a good day on the water, with fish coming steadily (but not fast) throughout the day. The usual suspects caught fish... Conrad's Wounded Minnow (available at Orvis Clay Terrace), Boogle Bugs, Conrad's Deerhair Diver, Purple Darter, etc. ~jc

July 6 - Upper White River

Flow: 155cfs, water temp: 80 degrees, water clarity: very clear

Mel has been studying flyfishing with me for awhile now and fishing nearly everyday. He's hooked. He had never fished moving water from a boat, so we pushed off about 1:30 and discussed line management in the boat, casting and mending techniques (reach cast, full-line mend, tip mend), and reading water. His first fSmallmouth on flyrod came within 200ft of the boat ramp on a small Bad Hair Day tied on a light hook. His second fish came on a topwater about 1/4 mile farther downstream. It was a productive day and Mel knows alot more than when we started and what he needs to work on to get even better at float fishing. There was a 60% chance of rain but we saw maybe 40 drops all day. The sun went in and out of clouds, making the fish a bit schizoid with the changing light. We caught fish on Conrad's Wounded Minnow (more available at Orvis Clay Terrace today 7/7), Conrad's Deerhair Diver, Double Barrel popper, purple darter and gray/white Clouser. ~jc

June 30 - Upper White River

Flow: 180cfs, water temp: 78 degrees, water clarity: very clear

Bob and Mike came out for a float. We hit the river at 2pm with the same plan as the day before... wait out the sun in the upper river and hit the topwater bite in the bigger pools downstream. After seeing lots of fish out in the open, we put on Conrad's Wounded Minnows and started catching lots of the small fish that are prevalent in the shallow upper river. That kept the guys busy as we slipped downstream. As the day progressed, the topwater bite turned on intermittently and the guys got hooked up, but we still weren't seeing the spawning class of fish, so I think they were still "resting". Finally, at 9pm Mike hooked a bigger fish in the 16-17" range off the end of a wood pile as the pool was speeding up into a riffle.. We pulled out in the dark. ~jc

June 29 - Upper White River

Flow: 200cfs, water temp: 77 degrees, water clarity: very clear

Every year I take Karl out for his birthday. This year he celebrated his 90th! He and his friend Dave Johnson (a masterful caster) hopped in the boat and we took off about 2pm to wait out the sun in the upper river and hope for some good topwater later in the day into the evening. Lots of fish were caught later in the float, once the sun started dropping behind the tree line. Karl got a nice birthday present with fins on it. ~jc

June - I leave 'em alone to let the Smallmouth spawn...

May 27 - Upper White River

Flow: 550cfs, water temp: 58 degrees, Water clarity: 2.5ft of cloudy visibility

Eddie, Eric and I took of from the dam at 11am on a day when rain had fallen the night before and was expected today. We threw the usual big stuff looking for prespawn fish. The winning fly turned out to be a cork diver I had made a few years back. It has been successful in ponds but I just hadn't used it in the river. It's a bit of a chunk to cast, and lands like a rock, but that turned out to be what was needed for the shock value to turn the fish on. Several fish came to the fly throughout the float. It dives and wobbles as you strip it, and then comes back to the surface slowly like it is injured. The fly has a new name.. the "Alien Invader" due to the type of eyes I used on it. ~jc

The "Alien Invader" - please enjoy my wonderful photography skills using a paper plate as a background:-)

May 18 - Upper White River

Flow: 650cfs, water temp: 55 degrees, Water clarity: 2.5ft of cloudy visibility

Another tough day on the river:-( A few fish were caught, but they were few and far between.

May 16 - Upper White River

Flow: 700cfs, water temp: 55 degrees, Water clarity: 2.5ft of cloudy visibility

Prespawn fishing can be spotty. Just 3 days before the fishing was quite good, but on this day, the fish were hard to coax. Bob and Joe joined me for a 1/2 day float and we dug hard. Several fish were landed early in the trip and then the river seemed to dry up. It happens. Every tactic was employed... deep, mid-column, topwater, and lots of flies were tied on. At the end of the day we had caught fish, but it had been so tough in the lower river that I felt I had failed. Sometimes guiding is tough. Poor me;-) ~jc

May 13 - Upper White River

Flow: 800cfs, water temp: 54 degrees, Water clarity: 2ft of cloudy visibility

Blake is a friend from So. Indiana. He comes up a few times a year to fish with me. We got in a prespawn float between floods. I had canceled several float trips in April and early May including 2 earlier in the week. This was the first day I considered the river fishable to my standards. We pushed off about noon and caught several smaller fish deep on the purple darter. Once we got into a big, slow pool with lots of wood structure we switched to the Bad Hair Day and started probing near the wood. That was the ticket for larger fish.. Blake caught several fish slowly limping the BHD along next to wood. It was great to see big, healthy looking fish getting ready to spawn. A great day on the water with an excellent fisherman and fine guy! ~jc

April 2nd - Upper White River

Flow: 1200cfs, water temp: 45 degrees, Water clarity: 3ft of cloudy visibility

First, let me apologize for the lack of fishing reports last season. We had so much rain and so much awful water, that I sort of checked out after canceling literally dozens of float trips. Perhaps, this year will be better. So far, it's looking hopeful!

Matt and I shoved off for a 1/2 day early season float. We dug hard for 4-5 fish, but one of them was a real bruiser! The Purple Darter took some smaller fish (12-14") early in the float, but it was the white Bad Hair Day on a sinktip that turned the head of a nice Smallmouth. 19.5" long, 6.5" tall and about 4lbs. The fish came out from under a log and attacked the fly like it was a Summer evening! It was the earliest Matt had ever caught Smallmouth and the largest he'd ever caught. The river looked gorgeous and we had the place to ourselves. We saw only one bank angler and no canoes or kayaks all day. If we don't get a major flood it should be a good prespawn season. I fish up until about the last week of May and then leave them alone for 3-4 weeks while they "do the deal." I wish everyone would give them a break while they're spawning. We'd end up with alot more fish in the long run. ~ jc

2021 Indiana Fly Fishing Reports

July 23 - Upper White River

Flow: 300 cfs., water temp - 77, Water clarity - 3ft of cloudy visibility

After a long run of rainy weather, some pretty high flows, REALLY ugly water, and LOTS of trip cancellations/postponements, the river settled down and I was able to get back out. Blake and I pushed off about 2:30 on slightly higher flows than are usual this time of year. There had been a full moon the night before and the river was chocked full of baitfish. Nearly every cast caused a small "shower" of baitfish to jump to avoid the fly. Based on the laissez faire behavior of the fish it was clear that they had probably been feasting on the tiny baitfish all night. Fully bellies notwithstanding, we drug a couple of fish out of the shadows on the Wounded Minnow and the Purple Darter during the bright part of the day. As evening settled in, the topwater bite turned on. Blake has been flyfishing for over 50 years, so he's got some "chops." He caught several fish on Conrad's Deerhair Diver. We tried some hard body poppers as well, but deerhair was the fly of choice... I think it's the soft "burble" sound of deerhair over the plastic "chirp" of a hardbody. 90% of the time I find deerhair superior to foam or plastic. About 8:30 he dropped a lovely 40ft cast against a deep bank and a big Smallmouth inhaled his fly. The fish turned out to be 18.5" and a real porker... deep and thick... probably 3 to 3.5lbs. He landed the fish, we shot this picture and he said "That's it... I'm done. I wanna remember this day just like this!" We rowed out and I actually made it to the boat ramp before dark:-) That seldom happens... ~jc

Indiana white river summer Smallmouth flyfishing

July 6 - Upper White River

Flow: 190 cfs., water temp = 82, Water clarity - 3ft of cloudy visibility

Jarrod & Brittany (from Texas) and I pushed off at 2:45 in 90 degree heat and light shifting every few minutes from BRIGHT sun to light cloud cover. Of course, we would prefer the cloud cover to help draw the fish out of structure and into the river, but you fish when and where you can and make the best of it. With every cast there was a shower of tiny (1") baitfish... clearly there had just been a hatching of bait. Fishing was slow to pick up... probably a result of the massive amount of bait in the water and the fright they experienced from the barrage of 4th of July weekend river traffic. A few fish followed the Wounded Minnow tentatively... seemingly more out of curiosity than hunger or aggression. We switched back and forth between topwater, shallow streamers, and sinking streamers until we "rang the bell" on my version of the Wiggle Minnow and then on a Clouser tied with the bottom half white bucktail and the top half chartreuse ripple ice fiber. Then, about 6:30pm the fish started to really wake up. We switched to a Conrad's Deehair Diver and got the classic Smallmouth topwater attack. What fun... and good to see the fish waking up. The rest of the day was topwater all the way out for the last 3.5 miles. I can't call it fast fishing, but there was enough activity to keep Jarrod casting like a madman. He's 35 and reminds me of myself at that age... tireless caster and endlessly optimistic about the "next cast." Attributes that make for a great client and a fun day! ~jc

Indiana white river summer flyfishing

PS: I did see a fair number of baby Smallmouth, so we apparently got some degree of a sucessful spawn.

PSS: I had a disagreement recently with a couple of local anglers (guide/client) about their fishing the White on May 25th. They said they didn't see any Smallmouth beds and weren't targeting spawning beds and I believe them... they're good, reasonable people. They also said the water temp was 75 degrees. I took a temperature the next day at it was 69. They were possibly using one of those digital thermometers that only gives you surface temp. Surface temp isn't the real temp. The real temp is a couple feet down where the fish live. The thing is, you don't always see spawining beds, but that doesn't mean they're not there. If we just leave the fish alone for about a month, we'll have alot more fish in the future. I skip fishing the upper White... usually from the last week of May until the last week of June. The spawn usually gets rolling when the water temp is about 62-65. Since we don't really know exactly when they spawn except for the occasional bed we might see, AND they don't all spawn at the same time, I find the "one month rule" to be effective in avoiding upsetting their spawning activities and then the "post-spawn funk" that ensues after their congigal activities... I mean... let 'em have a cigarette and a scotch and relax a little like we do:-) I discusssed this with Bob Clouser a few years back and he said he avoids the Susquehanna River altogether until the end of June so he can let the Smallmouth do their thing. I wish the Indiana DNR would just close the river to fishing during that time. These fish have enough challenges to their reproduction, what with poor water quality, siltation of spawning gravel, unstable water levels (flooding followed by drought, etc.) We don't need to add another challenge to their survival just to get a tug on the line.

June 4 - Tippecanoe River

Flow: 1200 cfs., water temp = 72, water clarity 3-4 feet of cloudy visibility with increasing clarity the farther we got from the dam.

4 guys from Virgina were driving through on their way back from a fishing expedition that took them to BWCA and then the Driftless. They were trying to fish their way back to Virginia... a noble pursuit! Marc Dixon and I pushed off from Oakdale at 11am and dug and dug and dug trying to find something the fish would eat. In my boat, several fish swooped at the Wounded Minnow and few committed, but the "trout" strike didn't get them hooked well enough and they came unbuttoned. Same with the Purple Darter fished deeper... big eats but lack of hookset and the subsequent LDR. As the day wore on, we noticed big black dragon flies, so we kept testing topwater every few minutes until we started to get some activity. I think the fish were in some stage of their post-spawn funk and there was "interest" in the flies, but not alot of commitment. Each angler landed a few fish on topwater, plus some Rock Bass activity, but overall it was a good day of fishing and a "so so" day of catching. The guys were really nice people and had fun anyway. I aspire to do what they did someday (hopefully soon)... just take off with a loose "plan", a pocket full of cash and a bunch of flyrods! ~jc

Tippecanoe River flyfishing

April 18 - Upper White River

Flow: 600 cfs., water temp = 54

A nice afternoon/evening float started at the dam with a near "White River Grand Slam" of species, including a giant crappie. The float down to Noblesville was cold and not many fish came to the fly... 3 or 4 maybe. But this one made up for the otherwise slow fishing. IF the rain holds off we could have an excellent pre-spawn season. ~jc

April 9 - Brookville Tailwater

Flow: 46 cfs., water temp: 50, skies: Cloudy and rainy (except when it wasn't)

Mark and Chad booked me for a nymphing lesson at Brookville. We started out with the rigging discussion and then headed out for a quick casting refresher on the lawn before hitting the river. We moved into the Legion hole, posted up and started fishing. I started them with indicator (suspension) nymphing and they both hooked fish using that tactic, but discovered the deficit in the use of an indicator... drag. So we switched to tightline nymphing using a hydrid leader I tie. It's a light leader butt and turnover section of about 6 feet with a sighter section of about 18 inches and tippet ring on the sighter. Add tippet and a couple of nymphs and you're "Eurosnaggin":-). They both hooked fish that way as well and learned when to use an indicator and when to tightline it. The water at Brookville is in horrible shape, honestly The green snot algae is already thick on the rocks and in the shallows. Indiana water "quality" at its worst. If the algae is this bad in 50 degree water, I don't want to see what happens when the water gets to 65. It is sad the way our water is treated by the agricultural industries, manufacturing industries, cities, and even our neighborhoods with our constant lust for a greener lawn. If you agree, reach out to your local rep and voice concern. If we don't speak up it will continue to get worse. Regenerative farming practices, controls on CAFOs dumping into the rivers, controls on industry, and elimination of combined sewage/stormwater outflows would be a great start on cleaning up our State. ~jc

2020 Indiana Fly Fishing Reports

October 2 - White River

Flow: 76 cfs. (20 year record low flow). Water Temp: 54. Color: Green tint with 5-6 feet of cloudy visibility

Rick and I took off around 1pm in low, clear, COLD water. The shorter days and cold nights have really kicked the rivers and fish into "Fall Mode" with a drop in water temp of 14 degrees in 7 days. Rick is a fan of the Wiggle Minnow and was throwing one. I fished lower and slower with small streamers. Soon enough, both approaches produced. The sun kept coming out and then hiding behind the clouds. Unlike most days, the fishing was better when the river was illuminated by the sun. That's Fall for ya. Once in the lower river, the big pools started to produce a bit and Rick grabbed a pretty decent fish on a white streamer. It was gorgeous on the river with the trees coloring up and the clear water. ~jc

September 22 - White River

Flow: 68 cfs. (20 year record low flow). Water Temp: 68. Color: Green tint with 4 feet+ of cloudy visibility

Rob was in town from Florida. I didn't care if I had to carry him on my back, we were going fishing. Fortunately, he and his son Michael are both slight fellas. So, off we pushed in the lowest I've ever seen the river. Although the river wasn't "gin clear", when it's only 6 inches deep in lots of places you can still see the bottom. Michael is a new Father, so it was a day of celebration of his new baby boy, his sleep deprivation, and survival panic. (Oh, crap... I have to pay for this kid now!) It was bright and sunny. We threw very small streamers to very skittish fish and finally landed on a winning strategy... the Wounded Minnow on a 5ft sinktip in the deeper holes. The fish were hesitant to come near the surface, but with the fly 18-24" deep fish were often fighting over the fly. I suspect if it was 24-36" deep even more fish would have eaten it, based on the number of fish I saw do a "drive-by" from underneath but not eat. Later in the day my deerhair topwater began to bring fish up in selected places. The fish we caught were in two characters of water: deep pools with some motion to the water (not still), and faster runs in the shade. Us old buddies had a fun day and gave Michael lots of sage "Dad" advice. ~jc

September 11 - White River

Flow: 80 cfs. Water Temp: 78. Color: Green tint with 3 feet+ of visibility

September 11 is a day that I always try to spend on the river. I texted my friend Marty, who is normally very positive and upbeat... "Hey... long time! How ya doin? His response... "I've been better." I knew then I needed to call "911" and take Marty fishing. We hit the river and shook off some of the "life-nasties". Low water. No big fish, but plenty of fun and good medicine for the soul. ~jc

August 28 - White River

Flow: 85 cfs. Water Temp: 78. Color: Green tint with 3 feet+ of visibility

Charlie received a float trip gift certificate from his office as a retirement present last year. When I emailed him to schedule his trip he had forgotten all about it during this covid crap. We did my normal afternon/evenng float (because I AM NOT a morning person and the fishing is usually better in the evening anyway.) Again, there were water quality issues and the fish were sullen. Charlie caught several fish and had fun, but I'm always saddened to see the damage agricultural businesses and cities do to the river. This river can fish so well when the water is in decent shape. I know I keep harping on this, but something has got to be done to reign in the strangle hold agriculture lobbies have on the State. Sportspeople and agriculture should be able to see the longterm good sense in protecting our water quality. ~jc

August 21 - White River

Flow: 90 cfs. Water Temp: 81. Color: Green tint with 3 feet+ of visibility

Joe came up from southern Indiana for a White River float. We are 2 big guys and the river was low, so there was some scraping and dragging going on. There had been a popup rainstorm a few days before but the river dropped back down quickly. There was a "milkiness" to the water and quite a bit of dirty black algae floating on the surface. Undoubtedly a "contribution" from one or more of the CAFOs on the upper drainage. More sad, unnecessary news for the White River. Joe is a good caster and caught on quickly to the line control tricks that keep flies in the strike zone and not dragging. He was amazed at how small of flies we were using. In that low water, if you put on a #4 Clouser it would look like a 6" Rapala. ~jc

August 14 - White River

Flow: 105 cfs. Water Temp: 78. Color: Green tint with 3 feet+ of visibility

Wayne and Tracy are great friends from Casting For Recovery. In fact, Tracy is the new leader of our CFR chapter. They joined me for a float they won in the silent auction at the Fylfishing Film Tour event. It was a bright, sunny, hot Summer day but I had the feeling that topwater was gonna work in spite of the bright blue skies. The day started with topwater fish on my deerhair diver and a small blue popper, and for most of the day that was an easy answer. During the late afternoon doldrums we switched to Conrad's Wounded Minnow for awhile and had some success. It fishes just below the surface, so it is still a visible take and fun to watch. ~jc

July 24 - White River

Flow: 120 cfs. Water Temp: 76. Color: Green tint with 3 feet+ of visibility

Tom has been taking lessons from me. It was time to get him out on moving water to discover the wonders of Smallmouth. He had done well on ponds fishing small baitfish and topwater patterns, but hadn't experienced the need for repeated casting and line control necessary for effective river fishing. He was a bit surprised at how demanding float fishing for Smallmouth can be. Cast/mend/retrieve/mend again/retrieve some more/backcast/false cast/rinse/repeat. He was beat at the end of the day and wanted to continue working on casting with some heavier flies so his next trip would be less of a shock to his system. That said, fun was had, some fish were caught, and lots of good casting practice. ~jc

Late July - White River and Pond

Chad is a student of mine that is really enjoying getting into flyfishing. After his initial class we started the process of advancing his skills from stillwater, then wading moving water and finally floating the river. His casting has developed well and now his line control is coming along nicely. By the end of our float he was recognizing good holding water, dropping his fly fairly accurately, and mending to control drag and move the fly. With good instruction and lots of practice, a new flyfisher can go from a "newbie" to a relatively versatile and skillful angler in a single season. ~jc

July 20 - White River

Flow: 150 cfs. Water Temp: 74. Color: Green tint with 3 feet+ of visibility

Rick and Mark are avid and experienced Smallmouth anglers, so my job was largely reduced to rowing the boat and bringing the cheese n crackers:-) We pushed off around 3 on a very hot, steamy day in bright sun. The fish were reticent to come out and play for the first few hours, but we did manage to dig a few out of wood on Purple Darters and Wounded Minnows. Then, like clockwork, at 5pm the smallmouth decided it was time to eat... I think the fancy author guys call that the "bite window." It was all topwater from there on out. Fish of all size came out after poppers, including 4 fish in the 18" range. Rick threatened to throw my fly box full of barbless flies in the river if he lost his bigger fish. I threatened him with bodily harm, so fortunately he held on to his fish and no violence ensued. Barbless fishing works just fine for good anglers that know how to keep the pressure on their fish. Mark stood quietly in the back hooking big fish that Rick had fluffed up for him. We pulled out in the pitch dark. ~ jc

June 26 - White River

Happy birthday, Karl:-) My dear friend Dr. Glander gave me the honor of fishing with me on his 88th birthday! He is one of my favorite people around and we always have fun together. Karl's son Steve joined us. It wasn't a day of fast fishing, but some pretty good fish were caught and fun was had. We ushered in Karl's 89th year in his favorite way! ~jc

June 18 - White River

After the 5/15 float trip, the skies opened up and the rivers flooded out just as the spawn was about to proceed. I leave the fish alone during the spawn and for a few weeks after for the dreaded "post-spawn funk." So, once the rivers cleared and some time had passed I took my old buddies Bob & Joe on a float. The river was in good shape (altho I don't recall what the flow was) and the water color was quite nice... cloudy green with a few feet of visibility. However, apparently the post-spawn funk was not quite over. The guys caught fish after fish... probably 40-50 fish, but they we all small... 10 inches and under. Only 2 big fish showed their faces, bolting out from logjams and then turning away instead of committing. The guys were happy with their trip, but as a guide I was less impressed. ~ jc

May 15 - White River

Flow: 590 cfs. Water Temp: 61. Color: Clear with 4 feet+ of visibility

Friday was slated to be a rainy day, but it looked to me like the rain was gonna be intermittent. We're wet on the inside anyway. Gray skies, mild temperature, slighly rising water, prespawn time... all signs that a good day of fishing could be had by people that were willing to maybe get a little wet. Good decision. We pushed off at 3pm after launching the boat in very hard rain. The rain stopped and we were into fish almost immediately. Fish on lumber. Fish on rocks. Fish in medium-speed water. Fish in slow water. Fish on mid-column streamers. Fish on topwater. Mostly big fish. It never rained again all day and we never saw another person on the river. Between fish, Ben Harris kept having to get on calls with Orvis to discuss reopening the stores. Currently, Orvis Clay Terrace is open 11am to 3pm on M/W/F/S. Hours will extend as the country gets back to work. Tim McCarthy (trumpet player with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra) was experiencing his first Indiana float trip after winning the trumpet audition and joining the orchestra last September. Tim brought along some delicious wheat beer he brewed which he dubbed "Jeffeweizen." We had an amazing day of fishing the prespawn. The spawn should be in full swing by next week and it'll be time to leave 'em alone for a couple weeks. I'll get back to fishing the White in mid-June. ~jc

PS: Product testimonial... A few weeks ago I was launching the boat and slipped and fell partially into the river on my knees. (My ballet career is over:-) A few hours later I reached for my phone and it wasn't there. I immediately knew that it had fallen in the river when I went down. So, 7 hours later I went back to the put-in and found my i-phone 6s laying in18" of moving water. Fortunately it was in a Lifeproof case. The phone was completely dry and functional. Between the quality of the Lifeproof products and their amazing warranty support, I will never look at another brand of phone case. #lifeproof

White river spring flyfishing in Indiana

Late-winter/Spring 2020

My "social distancing equipment" has been in use on an almost daily basis. The rivers have been blown out and running brown until recently, and I was busy taking care of my daughter who got the virus while working in a Cincinnati hospital. She's fine now and back to work as of today, so, the next week or so will find me floating the rivers.

Here are a few of the local fishing opportunities that come up this time of year (once we see yellow flowers):

Ponds - the ponds begin to light up as the water warms and the ponds turn over. Often the evidence of the pond turning over is pretty ugly (depending on pond depth... the shallower the pond the uglier the turnover in my experience). Organic material that was glued to the bottom rises to the top and looks awful. It seems to dissolve or sink away in a few days. Insects will start coming to life, bluegill and crappie will start scouting areas for spawning beds, and bass will begin marauding to find prey. Small minnow patterns and damselfly nymphs should get some attention, as well as size 14-18 midge nymphs if you wanna go "trouty" on them. Small Purple Darters hopped up a steep dropoff have taken lots of fish this Spring. I even caught a largemouth on topwater a few nights ago at 8pm and 50 degree air.

White bass runs - many creeks in Indiana that run into a reservoir experience runs of white bass from the reservoir up into the creek. White bass are resistant to light, so you seldom see them. Find the green holes where you can't see the bottom and run a minnow pattern through there. Use either a short sinktip line or a floating line with a long leader to get down.Whities hang right on the bottom. Some reservoirs with white bass stocked in them are Eagle Creek, Morse Reservoir, Brookville Reservoir, Cecil Harden Lake, etc. Fish the creeks above the reservoir.

Wipers - the white bass/striped bass hydrid are also stocked in Indiana reservoirs. Monroe is the primary location for me. While normally a deep water fish, they come up into the shallows chasing bait in Spring and Fall when water temps are between 50-60. This is a cast and strip game best done with a medium-heavy rod (7wt or 8wt is good). Heavy leaders are needed with 16-20lb tippet in case a real pig grabs on. These fish fight more like a saltwater fish than any other fish in our local waters. Use either a sinktip line or a floating line with a long leader to get down. Clousers on heavy hooks are the staple flies. Other baitfish patterns work as well. Take your waders. Wade out to your knees and blast long casts out, fanning across the water in front of you. Don't hesitate to turn around and cast back toward the shore occasionally. Sometimes they'll sneak in behind you. Low light hours or crappy gray days can be best.

Rivers - Smallmouth are in pre-spawn and can be really aggressive. Water temps of around 50 degrees kick off what I think of as "pre-spawn", but it's really more of an acceleration of aggressive feeding behavior from about 40 degrees on up. The problem is, in agricultural States, the water is usually in poor condition as early rains wash farm soil into the rivers, discoloring them and making fishing unpleasant to me. The fish are still there, and they will still eat, but I believe the water quality is dangerous to us humans as it contains run-off from farms, high e-coli from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), city sewage overflows, etc. I have a 48-72 hour policy of avoiding rivers after any serious rain, and longer if the color is still funky. Some guides will take you out in that kind of water. Make your own decision on that, being aware of the possible dangers. I use mint isopropyl alcohol to clean my hands while fishing all the time. "What's running in the creek ain't just water!"

During pre-spawn, Smallmouth will eat most any fly if you get it in their face. Intelligent fly selection can be based on water color, but they will frequently eat anything they can see (or hear):
• Off-color water = larger, darker flies such as black, dark olive, purple rabbit strip flies, Decievers, Clouser's Purple Darters, crawdads, Conrad Sculpins, Conrad's "Eat The Baby", etc. fished deeper in the water column.
• Clearer water = flies fished in the lower and middle water column. Clousers, purple darters, Murdich minnows, Bad Hair Days, Zoo Cougars, Conrad Predator Drones, etc. And you can try some topwater flies fished softly in the slower water and backwaters. While backwater areas get funky as the water warms, they can remain pretty clear and reasonably well oxygenated when the water temps are lower. In Spring, I find fish marauding around backwater areas that were willing to eat a topwater fly when fish softly.

The Scientific Anglers Sonar full intermediate is a great line for fishing the middle column with an active retreive. It's a Titan Taper head shape, 2x heavy (a 6wt is an 8wt). You can add a short mono or flouro leader to fish down to a certain level (based on water speeed and fly weight), or add one of the many SA Sonar sinking leaders and you customize a very versatile "sinktip" flyline that you can change easily as depth and water speed change. At minimum, I'd get a Sink3 and a Sink6 in 10ft. If you need to get really deep fast, try the SA Third Coast spey tips in 120gr or 160gr. These things get down! Probably too much for the White, Sugar or smaller creeks, but may be the ticket for the Tippi at higher flows. These lines may be available for order from the Orvis store in Clay Terrace (317-249-6000) or even available in the store (when it reopens) under a slightly different name since Orvis owns Scientific Anglers and repackages a subset of SA's lines in Orvis packaging.

Once you see spawning beds, give 'em a break for a couple of weeks. I usually take the end of May and half of June off as that seems to be the spawn and post-spawn funk most years. There is plenty of other fishing to do then... ponds, lakes, trout streams, etc. Leave the Smallmouth alone while they are spawning and we'll have more of them the rest of the year and in years to come. ~jc

2019 Indiana Fly Fishing Reports

July to September 2019

I apologize for the absence of fishing reports... and for the absence of fishing. The Spring was so tough with the flooding and bad water quality that I moved on to other business and skipped even thinking about guiding/fishing until the rivers straightened out. That was around the middle of July. My guess is that there were only 8-10 intermittent days between 4/15 and 7/15 where water level, water quality, and my calendar coalesced for the possibility of fishing. Anyway... once the weather/water shaped up we started having some good fishing days on the upper White and a day on the Tippi. Successful flies include Double Barrel Poppers, Boogle Bug Poppers, Conrad's Deerhair Diver, Predator Drone, Conrad's Wounded Minnow, Purple Darter, and a few fish on Murdich Minnows, Kreelex Minnows, crawdads, etc.

The rivers are low and clear now, and the leaves are starting to be a problem. The cooler weather will kick off the "big dump" of leaves soon. I plan on fishing for Smallmouth into November. ~jc

Indiana White river smallmouth bass on fly rod

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


2018 Reports

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

White River flyfishing in Indiana near Anderson

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

flyfishing Indiana's white river in August 2018

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

flyfishing students in Indiana

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

White River Indiana smallmouth bass on flyrod

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

White River fly fishing in Indiana

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

white river flyfishing on 5-11-2018

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

White river flyfishing

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

fly fishing lesson

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

brookville indiana winter flyfishing

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!!!

2017 Reports


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

Tippecanoe River flyfishing in Indiana

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

Indiana White River flyfishing

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

Brookville flyfishing

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

White River smallmouth in Indiana

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

White river smallmouth fly fishing

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

flyfishing on the Tippecanoe River near Lafayette, Indiana

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

White river Indiana smallmouth flyfishing

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

Indiana West Fork of the White River flyfishing for smallmouth bass 8-24-2017

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

Indiana White River flyfishing for smallmouth bass

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.

indiana smallmouth bass flyfishing on the white river

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

indiana smallmouth with Pete Greenan and Marty James

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

white river smallmouth on fly rod

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.

Simms RipRap wading shoes

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.

White river smallmouth bass

Eat The Baby - Smallmouth
"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

Brookville trout flyfishing

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

OLD FISHING REPORTS HERE - 2009 through 2016