2012 Indiana Fly Fishing Reports
9/22/2012 - White River
Anderson/Raible gage @ 160cfs and rising / Water temp at 58-62 / 2-3 feet of cloudy visibility
The heavy rains of Friday night (9/21) skipped around the White River valley towns of Muncie/Anderson, raining only about .5 to .75 in those areas, but dropped much more than that in the areas north and south of the river valley. The result was a slower rise in water levels as the feeder creeks emptied into the river, and minimal discoloration of the water. Plus, the crops are still in the fields, which helps minimize the muddy run-off. We started out about 10am on a blustery, very windy, schizophrenic day that was quickly shifting back and forth from blue skies to cloud cover. Those kinds of changes in light, along with low water temps (the water temp has dropped about 20 degrees in the last 2 weeks) made for a tough day of fishing. Chris is a good caster and handled the wind well. The wind did gust to 30-35mph a few times, which is a challenge for anyone. We fished streamers "low 'n' slow" and did get the occasional fish to eat a small Purple Darter or a light craydaddy pattern. Once we got into the later part of the day, we switched to nymphing and got some steady action from Smallmouth and big Rock Bass. Chris was a pleasure to fish with, but my arms are still sore from pushing the raft downstream into the wind all day. Now we wait for Indian Summer. When it all falls just right... warm, sunny days, aggressive fish, and low, clear water, it can be the best fishing of the year. ~ Jeff Conrad
8/26/2012 - White River
Anderson/Raible gage @ 82cfs - Water temp at 72-76 - 4 feet of cloudy visibility
Ok... the river is officially too low to float, but we did it anyway. It is a real slog trying to get down a shallow river that has virtually no current, but it is really interesting to see the bony skeleton of this waterway. I learn so much about the structure of the river channel by floating the low water of Summer. I remember holes and pools and rock gardens later, when the water is at more normal flows and I fish the river differently than I might if I hadn't seen it "naked"... and naked it was today. I took my old friend Jim Williams (of Royal River Flyshop) and his son-in-law Jim Shelton. (Yep... that was confusing a couple of times but they seem use to figuring out which "Jim" is being spoken to.) Jim Williams is teaching me handgun safety and range shooting so I took him on a float trip. (Jim is an excellent instructor and gun mentor). We floated from 10am to 9pm and dug very hard to catch fish. I warned them that this low water Smallmouth fishing is hard, but they had no frame of reference for what "hard" meant until they experienced it. It told them that we would be out of the boat alot so that I could drag it through riffles... and that they would have to stand up to rebalance the boat anytime it began scraping the bottom... and that the fishing would be pretty technical and visual... and we would be fishing small flies on light tippet... and have to make long casts to reach fish that hadn't been spooked by the boat. They chose to go anyway:-) We did manage to find fish pretty consistently throughout the day, with a nice suprise topwater bite around 5pm when the clouds rolled in and it looked like it was about to storm. Of course, at 5pm I was way farther upriver than I should have been. There may need to be an "intervention" to get me to actually row down the river when we are fishing. I can't stand to leave a good hole or a possible fish! Maybe I should guide in Alaska... the land of the midnight sun. ~ Jeff Conrad
8/24/2012 - White River
Anderson/Raible gage @ 100cfs - Water temp at 70-75 - 3 feet of cloudy visibility
My buddy Mike and I used to work together in an IT firm and have been friends for 15 years. I got him into flyfishing soon after we met and it "took". He has turned into an avid flyfisher and has a real love for the sport. Mike brought a friend along as a birthday gift to him. Randy had never really flyfished. So, we set off on our expedition of "spring creek smallmouth" with a rookie flyfisher. Randy has a good head on his shoulders and loves fishing, so the fact that his casting wasn't too developed didn't bother him. He kept fishing until his arm nearly fell off... and he caught fish in that low, clear water. Thankfully the fish seemed to be developing some of the Fall aggression and didn't spook too badly when we rolled up next to their hole. I find that their behavior heads that direction when the daytime and nighttime air temps start spreading out by about 30 degrees. In other words, as the nights begin to cool and the days begin to shorten. So, we rolled from hole to hole "picking pockets". Some holes gave up 1-2 fish, some gave up 5-6, and some sent us away empty handed. As the day turned to evening, I was rowing hard to get through a couple of miles of frog water that I don't like to mess with. Of course, we had to get out of the boat several times to drag it through shallows, so the trip downstream took longer than usual. Once we were into the last mile of water I could relax and dig in to find some more fish. Mike was fishing a small black McJagger popper of mine and Randy a bright chartreuse popper. Mike plopped the McJagger down next to a log and a 19-20" Smallmouth vacuumed it down. It was a nice end to the day. We pulled up the the boat ramp in the pitch dark. These shorter days are messing with my nearly famous inability to get off the river. ~ Jeff Conrad
8/15/2012 - White River
Anderson/Raible gage @ 115cfs - Water temp at 72-78 - 3 feet of cloudy visibility
Another anniversary, another float trip! Some of my dearest friends, Eric & Barbara Simpson, celebrated their 42 anniversary last year by taking a float trip. We had so much fun last year that they decided to come fishing again for their 43rd. It was so romantic... just the three of us floating down the river. Oh wait, that's for my other novel... the one under my non de plume:-) Anyway, we had a great day.The weather was beautiful and the company even better. I brought along the table and chairs, a bottle of wine, and a nice lunch and left them to enjoy it while I went wade fishing. The winning flies in this low, clear water have been the Schminnow in white (and sometimes olive), Murdich Minnow in brown, small Purple Darters, small Nearnuff Sculpins, and assorted hardbody topwater flies in bright chartreuse and in black. Deerhair divers have not been as successful as they usually are until right at dusk. Eric is my favorite "search engine". He will try any fly I ask him to, and always has a wide variety of interesting flies he has picked up around the country. Every trip he surprises me by catching fish on some fly I wouldn't have thought to use or one that I have never seen before. Through the 10 hour fishing day we brought at least 30 fish to the boat... nothing huge, but some very nice fish. ~ Jeff Conrad
8/7/2012 - White River
Anderson/Raible gage @ 130cfs - Water temp at 78-82 - 3 feet of cloudy visibility
Another rainstorm in eastern Indiana gave us a bump of water on the upper White. Also, the cooler evenings (30+ degree swings between day and night) dropped the water temps back into the normal range for this time of year. The extreme heat and drought had the river running low and REALLY hot until this much needed momentary relief. Sesie, Patti and I took off for an 8 mile float at about 11:30am. (The Friends of Holliday Park had given Sesie a float trip as a gift for her service as President.) Anyway, the fish were sullen and unresponsive to nearly everything until we got into the first fast run. We took several fish there on olive/white clousers and then knew that fish were going to be concentrated in faster water below riffles. So on we went, "picking pockets" and hitting the heads and tailout of pools. Fishing picked up gradually all day, with spurts of fast activity. Several fish came in quick succession to the Purple Darter, which is one of my "never leave home without it" flies. Since we were trying to cover 8 miles on what was still very low water, I pushed hard through the slower water and hit the more reliable spots. The evening popper bite was fun, with a Dahlberg-style diver getting the most action and a bumblebee popper taking it's share as well. We stepped out of the river at 9:30 just at dark, exhausted, sweaty and happy. ~ Jeff Conrad
7/27/2012 - White River
Anderson/Raible gage @ 120cfs - Water temp at 78 - 3 feet of cloudy visibility
After a long break from fishing due to low water (and a family vacation), the Rain Gods delivered a rainstorm of about 1.25" in Muncie and Yorktown a few days before a trip I had scheduled with some guys from Indy Flycasters. Indy Flycasters had invited me down to speak to them in May when whomever they really wanted to hear cancelled out on them last minute. In appreciation of my presentation, the club bought a trip from me and raffled it off. The winners ended up being Paul Bhe and John Krukemeier. So, since we had a push of water and a slight cooling of the river, we were able to fish and shoved off at around 11:30am. We headed upstream to settle in, rig up, and catch some rock bass. The fish were concentrated in the deeper holes and eating baitfish imitations, but were rather sullen and didn't have the normal Summer aggression. Fishing was slow but steady as we hopped from hole to hole "picking pockets". The guys fished well and caught on to fishing streamers slowly using small mends to twitch the fly rather than strips that move the fly too fast when the fish aren't aggressive. John was rewarded with a nice fish of 16-17". Then came the rain. The 30% chance of rain turned into 100% when a gust-front blew in rather quickly and soaked us to the bone. There was some distant lightning but we seemed to be on the edges of the storm with the body of it to the north. After the rain passed (mostly) we switched to Wiggle Minnows to go down through a very rocky area where sunken flies are usually lost instantly. The guys ended up with a double and then we rowed back up to run through again and picked a few more fish. We stopped for lunch and watched a small jonboat with 6 people come by thinking they were headed for Noblesville, which was at least 10 miles (and one dam portage) downriver. We never saw them again. I'm guessing they developed some common sense and jumped out at the 37 bridge. Our day went on with a lull in the fishing between 5 and 7. The evening topwater time wasn't explosive, but fish were caught and fun was had. All in all, an average day of fish-catching but an excellent day of fishing. We pulled out of the river right at 10pm with happy anglers and a tired old guide. ~ Jeff Conrad
7/1/2012 - White River
Anderson/Raible gage @ 140cfs - Water temp at 80 - 2 feet of cloudy visibility
I'd like to thank the Smallmouth Chamber of Commerce for providing me with big fish at exactly the right time to make me look like a genius in front of other fly anglers! I am however, not a genius of any sort and must confess to them now. The story: I walked up on a favorite spot to fish, but there were 2 guys flycasting there, so I waded into a rather awkward position in deeper water with trees and other obstructions blocking easy casting, water snakes swimming all around, baitfish chewing on the hair on my bare legs, and floating detritus fouling my flyline. Within the first 10 casts I had caught 2 good Smallmouth: a 19" and a 17" on a chartreuse/orange/white Clouser. These guys seemed impressed and I tried to act like it was "nothing", but I probably did still walk with a bit of a swagger after that. They turned out to be real fine guys, Brandon and Gary. We talked for awhile, made friends and I gave them some flies from "the collection". I continued to fish in that general area for about 5 hours and must have caught 25 fish including a channel cat on a white Schminnow, and lots of big Smallmouth up to 20" on a variety of Clousers including the aforementioned color, chartreuse/hot pink, arctic fox, and a fly I saw on Mossy Creek Anglers web site called a Chuck Kraft's Kreelex Fly, made completely with Kreinik flash. Weird fly, but it has caught some fish lately.
SOAPBOX ALERT: Notice the corner of this fish's mouth abused by some "barb-arian" who ripped the fish's face apart getting his 6-hooked, barbed lure out. I catch fish all day with a single unbarbed hook and hardly ever lose one due to fishing debarbed flies. I will never understand why people don't see the damage they are doing to these animals by using barbed hooks and then ripping the fish apart. I watched a guy across the river from me work on a good sized Smallmouth for at least 5 minutes trying to get his lure out and then just chucked him back into the river without reviving him at all. I'm sure that fish died. Also, while fishing, I watched a guy with his 2 sons climb right over a fence posted with a no trespassing sign. I asked him if he saw it and he tried to ignore me until I reached for my cell phone to call the owner. Then all of a sudden he wanted to talk. I tried to explain that when you own private property and someone trespasses on it, you are now responsible for them if they get hurt while trespassing on your property. He didn't believe me, but it is true. Here's an example of how it can go: Imagine you are trespassing on someone's property and fall and break your leg. You go to the hospital and give them your insurance card. They submit your card for pre-authorization and payment. The insurance company calls you to find out how/why/where you broke your leg. When they find out it was on someone elses' property they assign their staff of lawyers to find out if the owner has anything they can sue him for to avoid paying for the medical bills you caused by getting hurt. The property owner gets a letter telling him he is being sued for negligence because you trespassed and then got hurt on his property. Now, they seldom win these cases, but the staff of lawyers is already being paid and may as well go on a "fishing expedition" to see if you will agree to a settlement. That process cost one friend of mine 5K in legal fees to defend himself. Ridiculous. ~ Jeff Conrad
6/26/2012 - White River
Anderson/Raible gage @ 115cfs - Water temp at 80 - 3 feet of cloudy visibility
Ed, Todd and I headed out for a float about 2pm to see how low the water was, how clear the water was, and to see how many times we would have to drag the boat. The water is low, no doubt, but since we are all pretty "svelt" guys the boat floated through most of the riffles:-) We were out for a "boat drag" maybe 5 or 6 times, including one section where there is a quarter mile of shallow rocks. I didn't even try to row that. I just got out and started walking the boat. Fishing was pretty good, really. Wiggle Minnows, small Schminnows, arctic fox Clousers, and small shiny stuff kept rods bent. Once the sun was off the water, the topwater kill was on for awhile but ended much sooner than I expected. We were busy fishing and didn't shoot many pictures, but this one fish did deserve to get his picture on the web. He ate a small black McJagger Popper, which is an invention of mine intended to imitate a flyrod version of the Hula Popper (since I can't find flyrod Hula Popper anymore). It has a wide, cupped lip on the front and produces several different effects on the water depending on how you strip it. Anyway, we finally got off the river at 10:40pm. In the words of our old friend Bob Linsenman... "It was darker than 6 feet up a wolf's ass." Good thing my friend Eric gave me that headlamp. ~ Jeff Conrad
And, in case you have absolutely nothing better to do, here's a photo from my other life as a musician. Playing for Michael Feinstein, Barry Manilow and Clay Aikin at the Palladium in Carmel.
6/22/2012 - No Water!
Anderson/Raible gage @ 130cfs, Sugar Creek @ 38cfs, Tippi running between 150 and 500cfs.
I have had to cancel several float trips due to the low water... and there is really no relief in sight. It rained for a few minutes a couple of nights ago, but stopped short of dumping enough rain to make any difference except to my lawn, which I now need to mow! None of the rain that came through the region had any meaningful impact on the rivers. I have been doing some wading on the upper White, and have been successful with small topwater and with a gray Clouser tied with arctic fox fur. It is translucent in the clear water and catches more fish than a bucktail Clouser when the water is low and clear and the fish are spooky. Until we get some much needed rain, there won't be any float trips... maybe just a few "drag the boat" trips. That makes for a pretty hard day, but there are still fish to be caught and they are concentrated in the deeper holes. With the high sun and bright days, sinktips with tiny streamers, or nymphing are the most reliable ways to catch fish during the high sun hours. Sometimes you can find a fish or two willing to hit a terrestrial or other small topwater in the shade. These are the Dog Days of Summer, which is all of 3 days old. It could be a long year. ~ Jeff Conrad
White River - 6/11/2012
Anderson/Raible gage @ 150cfs / Water clarity - clear / Water temp - 73
Randy floats with me regularly. He's a great fisherman and we always have a fun day together. For their 46th anniversary, his sweet wife Rae suggested they take a float trip. What a cool wife! Randy and Rae were neighbors who started dating when they were in 7th grade, married in college, had kids, careers and lots of interesting experiences, and now have a raft of grandkids. Sweet, fun people!
We put on the river about 1pm and had a great day. Randy threw the fly rod and fished small Schminnows in the low, clear water. Every wrinkle in the river with enough water in it that you couldn't see the bottom had a fish or three in it. Fishing was steady throughout the day. We pulled over for dinner about 6pm. I set up the table and chairs, Randy got out the champagne and we toasted their long, happy marriage. Rae fished a Pop-r on a spinning rod (barbless, of course) and got several fish to attack it in the shade. She was a real trooper! About 9pm she said she was amazed that she was still having fun fishing after 8 hours on the river. In the last stretch, Randy was throwing a deerhair diver and getting smashing takes and Rae was still on the Pop-r. Their last cast in the fading light yielded a double. I guess they do everything together after 46 years. We should all be so lucky. ~ Jeff Conrad
White River - 6/9/2012
Anderson/Raible gage @ 170cfs / Water clarity - clear with a slight stain / Air temp - #$@%$#&* Hot! (90)
Dick and Ryan jumped in the boat about noon and we headed off. I normally don't fish on weekends to avoid the crowds, but Ryan had a birthday and Dick wanted to get him out on an instructional float as a gift, so off we went. I rowed upstream to a favorite spot and parked the boat in the shade to let some canoes and kayaks move on by. Soon we were joined by DNR conservation officers Kyle Goff and Bill Doss. Kyle used to be one of the Hamilton County COs but has been promoted to detective, so Bill is the new CO joining the team with John Gano in Hamilton County. They checked licenses and enjoyed talking with Dick, who is involved in an advisory committee to the DNR, so they talked environmental politics, and Dick asked for suggestions on what the COs think would help with their efforts in the field. The answer, of course, was more COs and responsibilities focused solely on outdoor sport monitoring/enforcement. There are only 2 COs per county, so they are already stretched pretty thin, but on top of their CO-related duties, they get tapped to do basic police work as well, which pulls them away from watching their turf. Anyway, good guys doing a worthy job.
I knew we were in for a long day because of the low, clear water and the amount of traffic coming through, spooking the fish. We started the day with a gray Schminnow on one rod and a small olive Murdich Minnow on the other. Ryan caught a Rock Bass on his second or third cast, but that wasn't indicative of the day ahead. We ran down the river, moving slowly and "picking pockets" as we had done the day before. Fish were caught, but every one was earned. There were no "lucky catches" and no easy fish. It was great for Ryan to see, firsthand in that clear water, how to "tease the cat" to get Smallmouth to eat, and then see how fast these fish can spit a fly. It gives the angler a healthy respect for the speed of these fish. As anglers, it is wise to constantly remember how fast these animals are and how incredible their eyesight and other senses are. I developed a sense of awe over this when I fished the Roaring Fork in Colorado. We float-fished through Class 3 rapids with size 22 midge nymphs and the fish would see and eat the flies right at the edge of the rapids, flying by at breakneck speed. (That is where I also developed an appreciation for Orvis Mirage Flourocarbon tippet material, which was scraped through the rocks frequently on that trip and held up admirably. Good stuff.) Anyway... we stayed in the upper river to let the traffic settle out and let the sun drop on the horizon. We found fish here and there along the way and worked on Ryan's presentation. His casting was working well, but the devil is in the details... line handling once the fly is out there. We worked on the reach cast, the full-line mend, the tip mend, the mend/twitch retrieve, and on keeping the rod tip down to stay directly connected to the fish. About 6:30pm we started banging the banks with poppers with increasing success as the light faded. Hard body poppers got more attention than deerhair. Something about the plastic "chirp" of a hard body was more attractive on this day than the organic "burble" of deerhair. Some days it's just the opposite and I would never go Smallmouth fishing without plenty of both in a variety of sizes and colors. We finished the float at 9:30pm with 2 tired, happy anglers. Ryan had caught at least 20 fish and his final fish was a 16" fatso. I pulled the boat out in the dark and drove home feeling like I had done a good thing. I like taking people fishing. ~ Jeff Conrad
White River - 6/8/2012
Anderson/Raible gage @ 185cfs / Water clarity - clear with a slight stain
Eddie, Ken Langell and I floated the upper for a quick one. We put on about 3pm and headed down. Topwater seemed like it was gonna work initially but once we left the pool at the boat ramp, topwater takes slowed to a crawl. The winning fly turned out to be a Clouser-style fly tied with gray arctic fox and dark eyes. It has the same translucency as the millions of baitfish in the river, and undulates much better than bucktail Clousers. In several places it would take 3-4 fish in a row out of the same small hole. We were "picking pockets"... just rowing from hole to hole and skipping over the shallows. When we found a wrinkle in the bottom with 2-3 feet of water in it we'd usuallly find a fish or two. About 7pm we made a commitment to topwater and started hitting a few nicer fish. We fished the surface as the day turned to night and made it to the boat ramp around 10pm. We caught over 50 fish between us, and had some great laughs. ~ Jeff Conrad
Sugar Creek - 6/5/2012
Gage @ 100cfs / Water temp at 68-72 / Water Clarity - Grey Goose with just a touch of olive juice (dirty martini)
Scott & Max had requested that we do a trip to Sugar before the water level dropped below floatable levels. We missed. 100 cfs is really not enough water to "float" Sugar... however with a little creativity we got through. We'd fish the pools to the tailout, then I'd send the guys wading into the riffle and the head of the next pool to get a few casts in before I'd walk the boat down. It worked and the guys caught some fish on topwater, wiggle minnows, and Schminnows in gray/white. It certainly was not the fast day of fishing I was hoping these two stellar guys would enjoy, but sometimes you have to be satisfied with just fishing well even if the fish don't seem to appreciate your skills. After sevral nights of cooler temps, the weather was weird that day. In the morning it was cool and cloudy, rained on and off and was generally gray. The guys were happy to be wearing waders. As the day progressed, high pressure pushed the pop-up storms east and we were into a serious bluebird day. High, hot sun and low, clear water do not usually make for good river fishing, but we continued to dig fish out of the deep shade on topwater, pool heads & tails on streamers such as the Schminnow, and deep runs bu nymphing small, light-colored crawdads. I was laying for "popper o'clock" and had timed the float to save the last mile+ for 6pm. I'm not sure what happened, but the bewitching hour never came. That "low light, sun-off-the-water" topwater time slipped by with not a single fish noticing. We got to the takeout (if you can call it a takeout when you have to tow the boat 50 feet up the bank!) shaking our heads and wondering what happened. We had thrown topwater, small streamers, and nymphs on that last run and didn't turn a single head. We didn't even see any fish of any kind after 6pm. So goes fishing. ~ Jeff Conrad
Sugar Creek - 5/30/2012
Gage @ 130cfs / slightly off color, 78° water temperature and a 78° air temperature (bright sunny day).
Went to Sugar Creek creek for an evening float Wednesday after work. Jeff and I had floated it last week and I wanted to see if it was still acting like it had then. The smallies were not quite as aggressive as they had been however they were still on. We got on the water about 4:00 p.m. and Todd had gotten the skunk out of the day with four smallies before I got back from spotting a vehicle at the take out. We started playing with a few aggressively feeding fish straight away but after a couple on/offs we headed on to see who else maybe wanted to play. We started with deep flies like clousers as the sun was still high in the sky. However, the fish were acting more like they wanted something higher in the water column so we soon went to a subsurface flies like wiggle minnows. We had a bunch of fun watching the fish come up from behind and attack these flies as they only run inches under the water and are a quite visible and very connected way to fish. We picked up fish on these until the sun started to come off the water. They didn't really stop working and they were fun to fish but it was popper time and popper time is why you fish of an evening to start with. We started with a smaller bumblebee colored deer hair popper that produced until it kinda fell apart from use. Then we switched over to Jeff's, "deer hair snack!" and the familiar gurgle, gurgle, caplush was how we spent the last two hours before dark. I lost count but we boated more than 20 average size smallies like the one I'm holding and several better ones like the one Todd is holding.~ Ed Devine
White River- 5/27-28/2012
Gage @ 350cfs / water temp 75 / water clarity - Shrek's bathwater (this river is in trouble)
After 2 days of wading the White, I can report that the river looks like pea soup but the Smallmouth don't seem to care. I caught lots of Smallmouth in the last 2 days wading at 146th St and north of Noblesville. The hatch of bait is intense this year and the Smallmouth are taking plenty of advantage of it by filling their bellies with gusto! It can be tough to catch fish when they are so focused on a few specific food sources such as Shad hatchlings (3-4 inches in length) and some smaller baitfish of which I do not know the name (1-2 inches). As far as general baitfish go, I take the approach of not really knowing (or caring) what specific species they are. I just carry thousands of flies in the hope that I have something to "match the hatch". This weekend I did. The shad are large and relatively easy to imitate in size and color... olive over white Clousers seemed to work on the smaller fish. But to get any big boys to eat I had to go with a larger profile with my Baby Smallmouth. The smaller baitfish were difficult to imitate... they're translucent... so I tied on a synthetic Clouser and got nothing. Then I tried one of Junior Burke's craft fur style Clousers and again... zip, zero, nada. So I tied on an all-black Clouser and the Smallies hammered it. So much for matching the hatch!
Seriously, I am worried about the condition of the White River this season. It seems that in their enduring wisdom, in 2006 our government suspended the "run-off regulations" for 3 years to attract more Confined Animal Feeding Operations to Indiana. Then when the suspension was about to expire, IDEM extended it. Based on the way the water quality has been decreasing yearly, I'm guessing that the enforcement hasn't started again (if it ever existed). Between farm run-off, Anderson and Elwood contributing massive sewage spills everytime it rains, and now suspended regulations for CAFO run-off, our river is in trouble. I just can't believe this State. Number 49 in environmental quality just isn't good enough... these morons want the number 50 slot. They want Indiana to be "the best at being the worst." ~ Jeff Conrad
Sugar Creek- 5/25/2012
Gage @ 125cfs / water temp 78 / water clarity - clear with a slight "tint" / air temp 90+
Happy Birthday to me! Last week I got older. There aren't alot of good things about getting older except that you have still avoided the "dirt nap", young girls start to think you're cute in that "old guy" way, and you still get to fish. To celebrate, Eddie and I headed out to Sugar Creek for a float. We hit the river about 2pm and were instantly into fish... "big" fish... "aggressive" fish... "not shy in the least" fish... "smash the fly while they're 25 feet away looking right at you" fish! I don't trust days when the fish are this easy! I KNOW I'm gonna have to pay it back. But I do love this tendency of Smallmouth to ignore all evidence of danger and eat like pigs even after their neighbor has just fought a valiant battle right in front of them. But imagine if Smallmouth had their predatory instincts, their appetite, their ability to survive in a wide range of water temperatures, their ability to survive in a wide range of water "qualities", but had a trout's natural shyness and fear of predators. I wonder if there would be any other fish besides Smallmouth Bass if they "spooked" like trout (which they only do later in the Summer/Fall in low, clear water). I think so many of them might survive and thrive that they would starve out all other species... or eat them!
Anyway, the river was pretty low, and we had to get our lard butts out of the boat several times to get through riffles. We used those opportunities to wade the water below and managed several fish for the effort. Around 4pm the fishing shut down but a weird looking holographic "Schminnow" on a sinktip kept the action going during the afternoon lull. I wonder if this is the "shift change" when the evening fish come on duty?... because "come on duty" they did. By 5:30 Eddie was throwing a deerhair diver affectionately known as "the snack" and turning fish after fish. He caught so damn many fish he was embarrassed to keep fishing and took back over rowing so I could be embarrassed as well. As the light faded, big fish after bigger fish smashed "the snack". And there was an early warning system before each topwater attack... baitfish would shower out of the water around the fly, signaling the presence of a predator. Within seconds of "the shower", the fly would disappear into a swirl and the tussle was on. Man are these fish strong this year... or maybe I'm just getting older. It was a hell of a birthday! ~ Jeff Conrad
First fish of the day (except for the 3 Eddie caught while I was shuttling the car!)
Eddie as he started to feel embarrassed by all the fish he caught on "the snack".
How to make a big fish look bigger Jimmy Houston style... shove him into the camera lens:-)
Tippecanoe River below Oakdale Dam - 5/17/2012
Gage @ 825cfs / Water temperature of 67° F / Water clarity - 3+ feet of cloudy green visibility.
Old friend Randy Wilson and newer friend Dave Hyman split a float on the Tippi. They didn't know each other but both wanted to go fishing this week so I put them together and they got along like peas 'n' carrots. Since we all live on the north side, I picked them up at home, drove to the Tippi, hooked up with the spotter and were fishing by 10am. The upper few miles of that float are not my favorite section, so I blow through the pools and just fish the faster water. Partially it's a survival thing, I think. That water is probably just fine, but as soon as I shove off I start thinking about the next 9 miles of water back to the car and panic quietly to myself. So, I lay for the faster runs and row slowly through the pools, staying close to the bank so my guys can take shots for any aggressive fish that might be in the slower water. This day the fishing was "weird" like only the Tippi can be weird. It's a warmwater tailwater and it has it's own twist on tailwater tendencies. Also, the dam operators are a little twitchy on the switch and you never know what water level you might be getting from the dam. For example... on May 16 (the day before our float) the dam output was at:
- 1050cfs at midnight
- dropped to 525cfs around 8am
- rose briefly to 650cfs around noon
- shot up to 1150cfs around 2pm
- dropped back to 350cfs around at 8pm
- beelined back up to 1000cfs at midnight
Needless to say, the fish are just the tiniest bit schizoid. However, on this day, they left the water alone. It ran at 825cfs all day. On the Tippi, sometimes every condition can look perfect yet not a fish can be found... then 2 hours later you almost can't NOT catch a fish of some species... then the fishing can suddenly turn back off like a light switch! Very scary for a guide... we like those days when, at the very least, we can find ways to catch average fish without going to extremes, and of course, we love those days when the clients catch lots of "pig" fish and we look like geniuses. Not so on this trip. In the first 4 hours I don't think we caught more than 3-4 small fish, saw no chases, no surface attacks, nothing. Then around 2pm our sunken presentations suddenly started producing and we started seeing a little bit of topwater action. Randy was throwing spin equipment (barbless). He caught several fish on Rebel Craws and then switched to Pop-r's on top and got several fish on fast retrieves when the lure was skipping over the surface. David was throwing flies. We tried fly after fly for subsurface and the only fly that produced consistently was the venerable Purple Darter. Also, one nice fish came to a deerhair diver. It was a long, fun day. We left Carmel at 8am, fished from 10am until 9pm, and rolled back into town about 11pm. My shoulders are just a tiny bit sore today! ~ Jeff Conrad
West Fork of the White River - 5/13/2012
Gage @ 670cfs / Water temperature of 57° F
While driving over from Iowa, Mark Delzell, an auctioneer at the Class Car Auction at the Fairgrounds, searched the web for a flyfishing guide in Indianapolis and found me and called to book a day on the river. I told him I didn't expect fishing to be too good because the water color was ugly and the fish are in their post-spawn funk. (The good news is it looks like the Smallmouth had a pretty good spawning season.) He said he didn't care, he just wanted to get out on the river on his last day off before the auction (and its 14-16 hour days) started up. We hit the water really early to try to avoid the traffic I expected on the river on a beautiful Mother's Day. We put in and were into fish immediately, but mostly juvenile Smallmouth and Rock Bass, with the occasional Crappie mixed in. Once the sun hit the water, activity slowed and we were out for the float trip I promised him... slow... with the occasional small fish. Mark is a realy good angler and his girlfriend Lauren is also a tenacious flyfisher and lover of turtles, so we did some turtle-spotting and rescued one baby turtle that was surely about to become lunch. It was a beautiful day. I'm sure my Mother was glad I was out fishing since she was in Vegas spending my inheritance! ~ Jeff Conrad
Brookville Tailwater - 5/5/2012
Gage @ 46cfs (2.75 on the gage)/ Water temp of 60° F /Water Clarity - about 3 ft. of cloudy visibility / Air temp 80° F
It has been a tough week for lots of Indiana flyfishers. Our old friend Dick Skooglund passed away after a long illness and left his family and many, many friends feeling lost. Dick was one of the good guys and will be remembered and missed for a long time to come. On Friday night we went to gathering and enjoyed lots of stories and photos of Dick throughout his life, and met parts of his family that came in from across the country for his services. Special credit goes to his wife, Suzanne, for the incredible care she gave Dick in his last year, and to Eric Simpson for being the kind of friend who never turns his back.
Tough times require tough solutions! In honor of Dick, Eddie and I felt the need to fish. After the gathering we drove up to the White to see if it was going to be fishable. The color was bad but improving, and Eddie immediately caught a Smallmouth off the boat ramp, so we hatched a plan to float the next day. But, that evening when the skies opened up yet again and dumped 1/2" of rain on Muncie/Anderson in less than an hour, we knew the White was out and decided to fish Brookville. Eddie had taken Dick to Brookville in 2009 and put him on a bunch of trout, so we returned to the scene of the crime (where Dick had caught several fish and had done some fine trout juggling) and slayed 'em. The water was low (minimum flow), but had some color to it... cloudy green. I immediately began throwing small streamers on a sweet little Orvis 3wt and Eddie was fishing a dry with a PT dropper on his Sage Z-Axis 10ft 5wt. The fish responded to both and we ended up with 20+ fish in our 5 hours of fishing. The most popular fly was the Brookville Clouser. Lots of holdover browns and newly stocked rainbows ate it aggressively, although nymphs, eggs and small dries also kept rods bent. ~ Jeff Conrad & Ed Devine
Richard Duane Skooglund
The "Skooglund Memorial Smallmouth" - the first fish Eddie ever caught while wearing a tie
Dick "trout-juggling" in 2009
Fell victim to a small Brookville Clouser
West Fork of the White River - 4/17/2012
Gage @ 500cfs / Water temperature of 56° F
Well... we finally got Bruce Neckar off of the perch in front of his easel and out on the river. Bruce is an incredible sketch and oil painting artist from Noblesville who has been very generous to Casting For Recovery (and many others) with his time and talents. Since the inception of Indiana CFR, Bruce has been creating an original illustration and doing many other works of art, as well as being a river helper. Eric Simpson and I took him for a half-day float on the upper White very near Bruce's home/studio. He saw the river from a different perspective. We got into a wide variety of fish including, Smallmouth, Rock Bass, Crappie, Sauger, and Red Horse Suckers. The highlight of the day was Eric's 20" Smallmouth on a small olive/brown crayfish pattern. The take was so subtle you would have thought it was a trout eating a size 24 midge. Now, if Eric could learn to use his computer as well as he uses a flyrod, we could get the pictures up here:-)
West Fork of the White River - 4/6/2012
Gage @ 600cfs / Water temperature of 57° F /Water Clarity - about 3 ft. of clear visibility / Air temp 45-62° F
I took Scott and Max for a float on the Noblesville stretch. We hit the river about 9:30 and got into fish right away. Max caught his first big smallmouth nymphing a black wolly bugger with tungsten beadhead under a large indicator. Scott caught a couple of good smallmouth and a good-sized sauger... the first I've seen in a couple of years. The fish weren't too aggressive, so moving the fly by doing small mends to twitch the fly and then doing an occasional escape move (stripping about a foot) was triggering fish to eat. I assume their lethargy was due to drastic drops in water level over the last few days, the cool water temp, plus the water clarity kept them closer to the bottom on this bright, blustery day. It was chilly and stayed that way, with a cool breeze, although the sun was strong and gave me my first burn. Fishing overall was slow but steady, and we had to fish pretty slow and deep all day to stay bent. We did find some deep holes with pods of fish and anchored up on them. Purple Darters (small but heavy), and Whitlock's Nearnuff Sculpin in olive were the most productive flies. Max did throw a topwater for awhile and got one half-hearted roll, but not enough interest to keep doing that when fishing slow and deep was producing. I tried to get the fellows to try a popper/dropper rig but no one wanted to throw that rig in the wind. I don't blame them. We pulled out of the river about 8pm. ~ Jeff Conrad
PS: White bass are running in the East Fork of the Whitewater above the reservoir and a few have been caught in Eagle Creek in Zionsville. Probably in Cicero Creek above Morse, too, but I haven't heard any reports.
West Fork of the White River - 3/28/2012
Gage @ 1200cfs / Water temperature of 57- 60° F /Water Clarity - about 2.5 ft. of cloudy visibility / Air temp 56-72° F
First float of the year! Eric Simpson and Bob Miller, 2 excellent anglers, joined me for a float on the Noblesville stretch of the White. We jumped in the boat about 8am and the day started out fast... with both anglers into fish in the first few casts. The early fish came to a blue-over-pink-over-white Clouser. Once the sun moved higher in the sky, fishing slowed down and the wind picked up. We had steady winds of 15-20mph and brutal gusts up to 35mph. Not a good thing on my first float trip of the season. My shoulders are still sore from shoving the boat around in that! The wind made it a tough day for all of us, but the guys hung in there and continued to catch the occasional fish. Eric and Bob each picked up a very large fish and Eric hooked a real hog of about 22" that came unbuttoned. Bob got a fish around 20" on my Baby Smallmouth pattern, and Eric got one around 18" on the blue/pink/white and hooked the giant on a sparkly crawdad pattern. Another successful fly for the day was a Baby Bluegill that I tied the night before. A simple pattern... #2 or #4 wide gap hook, lead eyes, cover the hookshank thickly with Caddis Green Ice Dub from the hookbend to behind the eyes. Tie in yellow bucktail on the bottom, but just tied down in front of and behind the eyes... not along the entire hookshank like a Clouser. Turn the fly hookpoint up and tie in copper flash, and then bucktail in orange, olive and black. The fly has good color, a broad profile, and a nice jigging action. It's a good early season/high water fly. I found a similar pattern called "Hanson's Stay Hungry Streamer", although it appears to be tied with fly fur rather than bucktail and also have some saddle hackle tied in to emulate a barring effect. Either should work nicely. ~ Jeff Conrad
Eagle Creek - Zionsville - 3/21/2012
Gage @ 30cfs. Water temperature of 62° F. Air temp 82° F.
I was in Zionsville on business and decided to hit Eagle Creek for a few minutes after work. The water was very low and clear. I started with a gray/white Clouser in search of some White Bass. No "whities" showed up, but a few fat Bluegill took the fly. I saw a couple of spawning pairs of Smallmouth swim by in search of adequate spawning beds. They were moving pretty quickly on through. I switched to a Brookville Clouser. It's a simple pattern I came up with after a frustrating day of streamer fishing at the tailwater, where trout were chasing streamers right to my wading boots but wouldn't eat.I figured that the fish were in "chase mode", but then spooked off by the standard Clousers being to bright in color and too big in profile. The Brookville Clouser is tied with red squirrel for the bottom color, gray squirrel for the top, dark eyes, and no flash. I tie it on a longer hook than a normal Clouser to help it pick up some of the "short-strikers" common at Brookville. Anyway... it also catches Smallmouth in low, clear water. This 16" lady hit the fly on the drop. With the water temps reaching into the 60's already, keep an eye out for spawning fish and leave them alone. If we get a good spawn this year (after several years of challenging water levels) it will mean better fishing for everyone. ~ Jeff Conrad
Upper White River - 2/29/2012
Gage @ 680cfs and rising. Water temperature of 48° F. Air temp 71° F.
Yesterday was just too beautiful (and too rare an occurence) to not hit the river for at least a few hours. Even on the warmest Winter day, I like to wait until as late in the day as possible to let the water warm, so I got in the river about 5pm, throwing a weighted streamer (Olive Nearnuff Sculpin), and caught my first Smallmouth of 2012 within 15-20 casts. It wasn't a big fish... maybe 12", but a small victory anyway. Usually we would be pecker deep in gray snow this time of year and paying $300 heating bills, so Smallmouth fishing on February 29th is great, but Smallmouth "catching" is even better. I continued to fish the Nearnuff for awhile to no avail, so I set my sights on a really deep pool with my 10ft 7wt Sage TCX, a great Cortland 250gr "Quick Descent" 15ft sinktip line, and my Baby Smallmouth pattern. The Baby Smallmouth is one of my favorite early-season streamers (along with Half & Halfs in pumpkinseed colors, all tan, or olive/yellow). Anyway, the first cast put a fish on, and over the next hour or so leading up to dusk, several more Smallmouth "ate the baby". Nothing over 15", but great fun. They were aggressive! I was pulling fast and very jerky strips, and that seemed to stimulate their attack instinct. Good fun! ~ Jeff Conrad
PS: I had the pleasure of sharing my Baby Smallmouth pattern with the Reel Women-Reel Men fly tyers on Tuesday night 2/28. I hope they all get out and try their new flies during the early season.
Conrad's Baby Smallmouth - Tying instructions
Brookville Tailwater - 2/18/2012
Gage @ 3.5 and water temperature of 40° F.
The tailwater has been fishing terribly this Winter for the most part. There have been very few days when the flows have been fishable, and when they have been, the fishing still hasn't been consistently good. Saturday 2/18 was no exception. The river was flowing at 500cfs when I left Indy, but by the time I arrived in Brookville the flow had been cut down to around 250cfs and the water was apparently flowing from 2 different gates, which messes with the water chemistry, makes it cloudy, and gives it a weird smell. The fish don't seem to like that. Up and down the river, anglers were complaining that the fishing was off, and Steve and I experienced the same thing. I normally don't fish when I have a guided trip (except to demonstrate a technique occasionally), but Steve and I ended up fishing together and changing flies/tactics frequently to try to find something that would turn the fish on. We had a couple of half-hearted nymph takes and streamer "short-strikes", but the day turned out to be a bust. Steve and I will head back there another day to "wash the skunk off". ~ Jeff Conrad
Brookville Tailwater - 1/6/2012
Gage @ 4.97 and water temperature of 42° F.
Every Fall the Army Corp of Engineers drops the level of Brookville Lake by 8 feet to make room for Spring rains, giving them some degree of flood control for the areas below the reservoir. Since middle of October, the lake has been dropping, but the rain has kept refilling it! It rose nearly 4 feet during the rains before the holidays. Friday 1/6/12 was the first day that I had a chance to fish the tailwater since October. The flow was a little high but fishable. We couldn't have asked for a nicer day in the beginning of January... sunny with a high of 60° and a nice warm breeze out of the south! The only down side I could see was water was going to drop to one half of the flow of the previous day. This can have an adverse affect on the fishing (we call it a "Drop Day") as the trout seem to take several hours to adjust to new water levels in the stream. The day started out kind of slow but everyone caught fish and things turned on just before sunset. We caught trout on nymphs and streamers with the better fish for me coming on streamers late in the day. ~ Ed Devine
Mysis shrimp (the white goo) and scuds pumped from a trout's stomach.
2011 Indiana Fly Fishing Reports
Elk Creek, PA- 11/13-14, 2011
Conditions and timing we perfect for a trip to Erie, PA to fish Steelhead on Elk Creek. My buddy Mike had never fished Steelhead. It was about time to get him into some big fish. This was an "emergency medical fishing trip"... like a trip to the emergency room without the bills or some doctor telling you you're too fat. We left at 4am, drove the 6+ hours to Erie, PA, hit Folly's End for some flies, tin shot, and some wading boots for Mike, and were on the river by about noon. The water was lower and clearer than I have ever seen over there. There were fisherpeople everywhere and few fish to be seen. The fish that were visible were visibly "beaten" and suspended in that way Steelhead do when they just don't want to be messed with anymore. We did finally find a pod of fish in moving water that were somewhat active. We each landed one Steelhead and hooked several more, while fighting off the advances of some rude and pushy fishermen we ended up calling "The Red Horde". I am not shy about telling someone when they are infringing on my fishing territory, I just didn't know how to say it in whatever langauge they spoke. At least we got the skunk off of us and Mike got to feel his first "freight train" pull of a Steelhead. Off to dinner and early to bed to hit the river bright and early and find some untortured fish.
The next morning (in the rain, of course) we found about 15 fish laying in a deeper run in a pocket about the size of a backyard swimming pool. The fish were fairly fresh, un-pestered (un-pestered that day... it was 8am) and ready to play. We took turns in that hole for about 2 hours, and by the end the fish had all been caught/photographed/released and re-warned about those human things that come by and yank you out of the water. Once we started catching the same fish over again and they came swimming right for the net, we moved on and found another pod a mile or so upstream, repeating the action there. By 2pm we had caught all of the Steelhead we needed to catch to keep the shack-nasties off of us for awhile and headed back to Indy.~ Jeff Conrad
White River - 10/16/11
Flow: 160cfs. Water temp: 55. Air temp: 70. Water clarity: low and gin clear
I had a few hours of downtime on Sunday, so I let the cool water flow around my legs. Flycasting can be so engaging... so therapeutic. I lost myself in thought... what could have been... what should have been... what is. Great old friends... thank God for them. Careers come and gone... what's next. Things I want to do, places I want to fish, music I want to play. It was nice... then this guy woke me up! That was nice, too. (In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn't drink tequila and then write fishing reports :-)
Tippecanoe River - 10/10/11
Flow: 525cfs down to 350cfs. Water temp: 61-65. Air temp: 65-80. Water clarity: 2-3 feet of cloudy visibility
Since the White was so low and clear, I decided to take Eric & Barbara Simpson up to the Tippi for a float. I don't know that river very well, having only floated it 5 or 6 times, but this was an exploratory trip with friends, so I didn't feel compelled to be "a guide" as much as fellow explorer (except I brought a kick-ass lunch including peaches in port and fresh eclairs... Eric felt I had reached a new high in my culinary splendor!). We left my house at 7am, met the spotter at 8:45, pushed off into the river by about 9:15 and headed off on our exploration. The river was running at 525cfs, which I thought would be minimum flow for the day. Within the first 1/2 mile we found fish in the faster rock gardens as usual. The long, slow pools didn't produce any action, so with 9 miles of river to cover we began just targeting the faster water and rowing through the slow pools unless they looked especially good, which many of them do, so perhaps we didn't move as fast as we should have. 9 miles is alot of water to cover... especially when the joker running the dam decides to turn the flow DOWN to 350cfs! Mid-afternoon I noticed that I was rowing harder and that the mid-current rocks had higher "wet marks" on them than I had noticed earlier. Soon, the current slowed to a crawl... the slow pools were covered with leaves and they weren't moving! The 100 yard wide riffles suddenly had 3 inches of water in them and we were in for a long slog. We did continue to catch fish in the faster water... not a banner day by any means, but slow, consistent fishing. We caught average smallmouth and Barbara got a freshwater Drum (Sheepshead) of about 5-6 lbs. The winning flies were chart/white Half & Halfs, Purple Darters, my deerhair diver, and some crawdaddy-looking thing that Eric picked up somewhere in his travels. The last 150 yards to the takeout at SR18 was a real drag, as was getting the boat up onto the trailer without being able to back the trailer into the water, since there wasn't any! What wasn't a drag was the company, the beautiful day, and the fact that we were out fishing when other people were being hard-working, productive citizens. I don't mind being a deadbeat. ~ Jeff Conrad
White River - 10/5/11
Flow: 160cfs. Water temp: 61-65. Air temp: 75-83. Water clarity" 5 feet of gin clear visibility
On a beautiful, bright early-Fall day, my buddy Scott brought his brother-in-law Chris out for an instructional float. Not Chris' first time flyfishing, but his first time casting from a drift raft, stripping streamers, etc. We rowed upstream, anchored up in "the spot", also now fondly known as the "Rock Bass Hall of Fame". We got Chris casting a small popper just to work on his presentation, but a smallmouth had other ideas, so we also worked on his fish landing skills. After that, I had hopes for an easy fishing day, but no such luck. The fish were buried deep in cover... not even in the deep holes, but hiding in cover. After digging as hard as we could I finally asked the guys to just try to lose their flies... to throw them so deep into wood cover that we might not get them back. After all, we weren't gonna need them to catch fish anyway! We did manage to pry a few fish out from under heavy wood cover. We finally found some fish that were in cover (under a tree in some dead fall) but were visible to us from the downstream end, so we did some "teasing the cat"... casting into the cover and luring them out. A few fish came from that hole and the sight-fishing was entertaining. Of course, we saw one monster smallmouth in there that just ignored us. As usual, right at dark as we were nearing the boat ramp the topwater finally turned on and a few decent fish were hooked. It was a fun day as it always is when Scott is in the boat. Chris did really well learning to cast from a boat and did get several fish. No explosives were used, but the tactic was considered. ~ Jeff Conrad
White River - 10/2/11
Flow: 200cfs. Water temp: 57-61. Air temp: 50-62. Water clarity: 3-4 feet of visibility
Two good friends joined me for a float... Eric Simpson and Bob Smith. Eric and I fish together all of the time, but I had been meaning to get Bob out for a float for several years since I met he and his sweet wife, Mary, at Casting For Recovery in 2005. Bob and Mary are among the kindest, most generous people I know, and I was honored to take Bob fishing. (Mary, your'e next!) We met at 10am and headed up to the put-in. The air temp was 48 but warming quickly... around 50 when we pushed off at 10:30. The water temp was a brisk 57, and I started to reconsider my decision to wet-wade, but too late... the waders were at home. I am never quite sure what to do this time of year. The water is low and clear, the skies are crystal bright, and the fish are schizoid! They are stuck between not wanting to eat because their metabolism is slowing due to the colder water, while at the same time having an instinctual urge to beef up for the coming Winter. I hope I am not perceived as insensitive, but I have to think this might be something like menopause for fish... I'm hot, I'm cold, I'm hungry, I'm stuffed, I love you, I hate you, I need you but get away from me! Wow.
So, to get started, we hit a big rock garden and took a chance on my topwater deerhair diver and a mid-column "BeastMaster General"... a Jack Gartside pattern that pushes water when retreived and then "swoons and dies" when left to drift. Surprisingly to all of us, two small bass hit the flies and we had the skunk out of the boat right away! However, the topwater action didn't continue after that. Once the sun rose high the fish ducked for cover. We picked up fish subsurface on various standards such as Clouser's Baby Smallmouth, Purple Darters, olive Schminnows (on sinktips), and tried unsuccessfully with lots of other flies. Eric is a great angler and always a willing "search engine", so he did lots of switching flies and tactics and helped find fish. Finally at 3:30 we pulled over for lunch. Lunch is frequently a day-changer. We relaxed in the shade, although the sun might have felt better... the wind was up and it was a bit brisk. After lunch I figured that the water was about as warm as it was going to get for the day, so we committed to topwater flies and started banging the banks with deerhair poppers. Although it felt like "Popper O'clock", nobody came calling on our offerings and Eric moved back to the Schminnow on a sinktip and started hammering fish again. About 6pm we came upon some Rock Bass and Smallies busting bait and the topwater action began... slowly at first, but as the sun dropped behind the trees, action increased. As usual I was STILL 2.5 miles from the takeout with about 2 hours of light left, so I jumped on the sticks and we skipped some slow pools that seldom produce fish (probably because I never have time to fish them properly). Once we hit the last 1 mile stretch, the topwater action increased as the light decreased. Bob hit me with a fish, but I forgave him. It was a small fish and it wasn't moving too fast as it had flown 40 feet from where he hooked it rather forcefully :-). That was great laugh! The twilight fishing was like a Summer night, with the biggest fish of the day caught in fading light, straining to see (or hear) the gurgle of the popper and the attack of a smallmouth. I wish I could have days like this with all of my friends. ~ Jeff Conrad
Casting For Recovery - 9/25/11
Casting For Recovery is one of my favorite events of the year, flyfishing or otherwise. CFR is a national organization that provides retreats (based on flyfishing) for survivors of breast cancer. The retreats are really more of an opportunity for the women to get together with others who have been through a similar frightening, life-changing experience. Flyfishing is really just the theme to give the participants something new to learn... something to focus on. As we all know, flyfishing will take you mind off of just about anything, so it has ended up being very therapeutic for many of the CFR participants from the 9 retreats that have taken place in Indiana since 2005.
"It was Grandpa who told me that nothing in life could be so bad that fishing wouldn't make it better, or, if not better, then bearable, or, if not that, then at least it was a way to pass the time while you waited for your luck to change." ~ Anon
Indiana CFR was originally started by Barbara and Eric Simpson with a great deal of assistance from Mary and Bob Smith. Last year, Barbara took on the role of Executive Director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation, and Mary stepped up to be the director of Indiana CFR... thanks to both of you for who you are and all you do to make the world a kinder place. They have pulled the retreats together, found the facilities (Wooded Glen), contacted the volunteers, and did everything they could to make a wonderful, healing weekend for the "ladies". We had a great retreat and I got see several old friends including Jim Williams (of Royal River Flyshop and Gander Mountain), Junior Burke, Cecil Guidry, Wayne & Tracy Woods (yep, she's still married to that guy!), Jeremy Weber, Bruce Neckar (who is the resident artist and does some magnificent illustrations for the event), Meredith Wilson, Desi Shidler, Eric Lee, Nelda Wert, medical facilitator Dr. Patricia Rae Kennedy, psychology facilitator Dr. Christine Ward, CFRs "sweetheart" Erica Sheets... a survivor/participant at the first CFR retreat who has since become an integral part of the volunteer team, and many other people who give unselfishly of themselves to help make the retreats possible. (Sorry if I missed anyone :-)
White River - 9/21/11
Flow 180cfs. Water temp 72-75. Winning flies: Clouser (tan/white), Schminnow (white), Conrad's Deerhair Diver, Bumblebee popper.
Author Jeff Stone has been taking flycasting and flyfishing lessons with me and has really progressed well. He fishes avidly and usually everyday at some point. We had fished ponds together and he had begun wading local rivers. So 9/21/11 was the day for him to try his hand at flyfishing moving water from a moving boat... a whole new experience for him. We set off on an 8 mile float at 9am. The water temp had warmed somewhat due to the warmer rain that had fallen for the 3 days before our float. We worked on fishing all of the water columns to give him experience with topwater, mid-column (floating line) streamers, deep-water streamers (sinktip line) and indicator nymphing. We dug hard all day long, doing our "9 to 5" work and catching a few fish. The fish he did catch were incredibly tight to wood cover. He'd have to cast suicidally into the wood and then let it sink before stripping. Jeff pulled a few fish out that way. Suddenly, at 5:30pm we rounded a corner into a run that I normally think of as "frog water". It looks good but has never fished well. Not this time! The run was on fire with smallmouth crashing bait. Jeff threw a bumblebee popper in and caught 3 fish on 3 casts. Then we rowed back up, got a few refusals, changed flies to one of my deerhair divers and picked up several more fish. By that time it was after 6pm and I had lingered in the upper stretch too long, so with still 3.5 miles of river to the takeout and 2 hours of daylight left, I started humpin' the boat downstream, only fishing the tried 'n' true spots along the way. We got into more topwater action as the day wound to a close and Jeff hooked the biggest smalmouth of the day. Having not yet experienced the fight of a big smallmouth, Jeff held on a bit too tight and dropped his rod tip a bit too low and the hook pulled out. Fighting big fish is more like a "handshake"... a little give, a little take. Not dominant, but firm and confident. Oh well... everyone has to lose their first big fish to learn how to fight them. ~ Jeff Conrad
White River - 9/13/11
I must have a screw loose! I don't seem to be able to go downstream until I have rowed upstream as far as humanly possibile. I drug Ed into my insanity and convinced him the help me row (and drag) the boat upstream over a mile to see water that can't be reached easily any other way. We found some lovely water and a few decent fish. The river is narrow in this stretch so you are on top if the fish before you know it. We learned to fish from far upstream or bury the boat back under the trees and roll cast or just cast suicidally to reach the fish. It was a nice evening float with my buddy. A bottle of good tequila (Corzo) was a nice finish to a evening of fishing. ~Jeff Conrad
White River - 9/6/11
Flow 110cfs. Water temp 64-67 (ouch!)
A 20 degree drop in water temp in 3 days had me offering Scott and Max a "pass" on our float trip, but they held my feet to the fire and made me take them fishing.Tough life! A drop of temperature that drastic ALWAYS changes the fish's behavior as it slows their metabolism, alters the water chemistry, and changes behavior of the food sources they rely upon. Sometimes when the weather changes that quickly you can float and never see a fish... even the rock bass ("sorority girls") go into hiding. We pushed on about 10:30am in 64 degree water that was clearer than it has been all year (most algae dies in colder water), 57 degree air, and gusts to 25mph. The low had been 48 degrees just hours before and my expectation for the fishing was in the dumps. We rowed upstream to our "spot" and started out fishing a Clouser and a Schminnow, covering the bottom and mid water columns. Happily, a few small fish ate the Clouser (olive/orange) right away and we knew that fishing deep should be the answer to catching fish. But once we left the rock gardens in that run, aggressive fish were non-existent. We moved slowly, staying in the upper river to save some good water until the fish woke up. Meanwhile, we went through several fly choices, testing everything including a stonefly nymph under an indicator (which did catch a few fish). After lunch we put on 2 venerable flies, Clouser's Purple Darter in size 4-6 and Kelly Galloup's Conehead Wooly Sculpin in Tan (size 4), and started catching fish in the oddest places. We actually went out of our way to fish "unlikely" or grade B water and found smallish fish. As the water warmed to around 67 (5pm) the fish woke up a bit, and while no big fish were seen or landed, we ended the day with an acceptable 25-30 fish dug out through sheer determination on the part of Scott and Max. My shoulders are still sore from pushing the boat around in that wind, but I'd do it again to fish with these guys! ~ Jeff Conrad
Scott Brown /Jeff Conrad
White River - 9/3/11
Flow 90cfs. Water temp 84
Blake and I fished the White on Saturday. There is a saying that only mad dogs an Englishmen go out in the noon day sun, part of my heritage goes back to Wells (close enough) and I forgot to ask Blake his heritage, but we were out in record setting heat of 100°. I can't think of a better place to be in these types of conditions than on a river somewhere. As long as you have plenty of cool water to drink, some occasional shade and good company, it ain't so bad. Blake lives in Washington, Indiana along the White River there. He was in town visiting family for the holiday weekend and wanted to experience the White River closer to its source. Jeff is the normal White River guide but he was otherwise occupied with another obligation so I took Blake on his maiden upper White float. Jeff has been having banner days on the White here lately and I was glad to horn in on the action. Blake was quite amazed at the different character of the water here as compared to Washington, Indiana. The water was low and clear so the rocks, the gravel, the shelves and other structure were quite visible. We started the day about 11:00 A M with some quick top water action and a average smallie got the skunk out of boat no more than 100 feet from the put in. The sun was high so we didn't stay on top for long. We switched to some subsurface flies and they produced and produced and produced. With the water being so clear Blake had a blast watching the smallies chase and then attack the flies. We had an exceptional day with more than 25 smallies, a bunch of rock bass and the occasional crappie. The biguns eluded us but what the fish lacked in size they more than made up for in numbers. We spotted some bruisers on the move but we didn't get any good consistent shots at them as they were a bit spooky. We ended our day back on top and took a few more fish on poppers but the clear winning fly on the day was the Schminnow with a few of the bigger fish coming on clousers. ~ Ed Devine
White River - 9/1/11
Flow 100cfs. Water temp 82-87
My old friend and client Randy Wilson and I had a great day on the river. We were fishing by about 7:30am and back in Randy's driveway by 3pm, but we packed alot of fishing in those 6+ hours. Randy is a great angler, both fly and traditional,and really fun to fish with. He reads water very well and never stops fishing. Those 2 attributes make him "deadly". His shoulder is bugging him and he's scheduled for surgery soon, so flycasting was ruled out after about 5 casts. He broke out his spinning gear, his large collection of BARBLESS spinning lures, and off we went. A Pop-r produced a 17" fish within 100 feet of the boat ramp and the day was on. While topwater didn't continue to produce, a variety of other lures did. Randy took fish on spinners and crankbaits. The real winner was some sort of Bill Dance fast-diving crawdad crankbait. It caught fish in every kind of water from 2ft to 8ft, slow/medium/fast. The highlight was the 22" Smallmouth that attacked the lure in a fast run... the largest smallmouth of his life. It was a real "goat-ropin" to get that fish landed, but Randy played him perfectly. The day goes down as one of the best fishing days I've seen on the White since 2007. ~ Jeff Conrad
White River - 8/29/11
Flow 120cfs. Water temp 82-87
Jazz guitarist Bill Lancton and vintner Steve Thomas hopped in the boat around 10am and we took off for a "low-water" float. The river was at 120cfs and the boat was at max-capacity with 3 hefty fellows on board. We rowed upstream about 1/4 mile to a nice rocky run that is one of my favorite places on the river for a few reasons, one of them being the fishing. We anchored up in the shade of an old sycamore and immediately found the "Rock Bass Hall of Fame". Bill must have caught 10 decent-sized goggle-eye in about that many casts. Conrad's Deerhair Diver strikes again! Once the leaders were tuned up and fishing well, we took off down the run and got a few smashing topwater kill strikes that set a happy tone for the day. Bill and Steve were casting well, the flyrods were balanced correctly for easy presentation, the guide chose the right flies, the water had about 3 feet of visibility, and we weren't working (well, I was). Once we fished down through the deeper water with topwater flies, the river flattens out for quite a while, so we switched to lightly-weighted Schminnows to hit the rocks in the shallow runs. One olive and one white to test the color preference... there wasn't one. Both flies took many small fish as we rowed through the shallows. Fishing slowed down as the sun rose high overhead, so we pulled over for lunch. When we started back down the river, Steve was fishing a Todd's Wiggle Minnow and getting hilarious chases and smashing takes. I love the way that fly pisses off Smallmouth! Soon both anglers were throwing those flies and raising fish that we might not normally have seen in the bright sun. As the sun dropped we switched back to the deerhair diver and fished the day away on the surface with lots of takes and plenty of fish landed. A good day for all. ~ Jeff Conrad
White River - 8/22/11
Flow 160cfs. Water temp 80-85
Tim and Joe joined me for an float. Tim is the CEO of Merchandise Multi-temp Warehouse and a long-time friend and client. We put on around 11am with a goal of fishing until dark. We had a "bluebird day, approx. 2 feet of cloudy visibility and enough water to float the boat with 3 of us in it except through a few of the skinniest spots, where we all had to jump out and drag the boat through gravel. Fishing proceeded at an acceptable pace... not a banner day, but somebody was catching a fish every 15 minutes or so. Schminnows, Murdichs, small hard-body poppers and deerhair divers were the succesful flies of the day. Due to bad timing on my part, we had to rush through the last mile of the float and only lightly fish some excellent popper water in that last mile. (Man, are we losing daylight quickly now!) By that time everyone had caught plenty of fish and had a fun day anyway. ~ Jeff Conrad
White River - 8/18/11
Flow 200cfs. Water temp 80-84.
Jack and Jim are members of Indy Flycasters and volunteers for the Project Heaing Waters group here in Indy. They're fun guys and avid anglers... we had a good day. The river is dropping and clearing quickly now and we're heading into our normal Summer drought and low, clear water. The fishing was spotty through the high-sun parts of the day, but we did manage to hoist some fish out mid-day with Clousers, small Half & Halfs, Schminnows and some nice terrestrials that Jack had tied. Strangely for this water clarity (3 feet of cloudy visibility), we caught lots of small-to-medium fish in the fast, shallow water on Schminnows. It's fun to watch them attack. Later in the day... around 5:30 we began to notice more surface activity and set Jack to the task of testing the topwater bite. It only took about 200 feet of river to figure out that the topwater action was heating up. So we put everyone on top and started catching Smallmouth in the most fun way on the planet... gurgle, gurgle, SMASH! My version of the venerable Dahlberg Diver brought alot of fish to the boat, as did Jack's terrestrial/popper. For the last 2.5 hours of the float the surface bite continued and didn't come to an end until we ran out of water! The end of the day brought fish for both anglers on their last cast. Uncommon fun! ~ Jeff Conrad
White River - 8/16/11
Flow 280cfs. Water temp 75-80
I had the pleasure of spending the day with 2 of my favorite people on the planet! Eric & Barbara Simpson joined me for a float to celebrate their 42nd Anniversary. (Barbara was not yet born when she was betrothed to Eric!) We had a great day on the water. Since the air temps had dropped to the low 50s for a few nights before, and cooler days (in the low 80s), the water temp had dropped approximately 10 degrees in those few nights. That tends to "postpone" the active feeding until later in the day. The water was an "opaque green" with about 2 feet of cloudy visibility. However, we still managed to find some willing fish on deerhair divers and Clousers (on floating lines), Murdich Minnows and Schminnows (on sinktips). Fishing was slow but steady most of the day until the last couple hours of light, when the topwater bite turned on like a light. Eric & Barbara probably caught 20 fish in the last mile of the float! ~ Jeff Conrad
Tippecanoe River - 8/13/11
Flow - 765cfs- steady flow all day. Water temp - 82-86
After nearly a month of record air temps and very little rain, the Summer weather has settled into a more normal pattern. Since the White has been so dirty looking, we took a trip up to the Tippi and floated Oakdale Dam to SR 18. The water color was not much better than any other water I have seen in Indiana recently, but we were there, and damnit we were gonna fish. (Plus the "Spotter" had already left with the car... more on that later.)
We shoved off at 1:30pm with Eddie rowin' and me throwin'. I prospected with a popper/dropper rig to see if anybody was looking up but still maximize effectiveness in my presentation.. The popper never got a sniff, but the Spoon Fly behind took 2 smallmouth... nothing big, but they ate! So I switched to a white Clouser and several fish took the fly. Almost all of the fish we caught were in rock gardens in faster water. The long pools didn't give up many fish except when there was a mid-current rock to throw at. After fishing the White and Sugar so much, it is temporarily disconcerting to ignore the banks and fish mid-river, but a few fish later it seemed natural, and roily mid-river water became the target. The killer fly of the day was Clouser tied blue-over-pink-over-white with a little bit of silver crystal flash. We probably took 18-20 fish on that fly. Nothing big... 12"-16", but nice healthy fish that would fight you to a standstill. I love Smallmouth Bass!
As our "bluebird" day progressed, the sky turned "interesting" and then "scary" and about 1.5 miles from the takeout the "gust front" before the storm blew us back upstream about 1/4 mile to Camp Tecumseh. There was no use rowing against it... I tried and could only keep the boat in place, never making any downstream progress. So we sat on the boat ramp at Camp Tecumseh and waited it out. About 20 minutes later the wind died down and we headed to the takeout in a drenching rain. We had contracted a local canoe livery to shuttle our car back downstream. When we arrived at the livery, we found that my car had been whacked by a very large falling tree limb, which broke the mirror and antenna and left a few minor dents. Then came the adventure of backing down a 60 degree boat ramp in the pouring rain and pulling the boat out.
Just another in a long series of "life adventures" caused by the deep, irrational need to flyfish. I know you understand. ~ Jeff Conrad
A Rant on Indiana water "quality"... 8/7/11
The upper White has been so dirty and disgusting looking since the extreme hot weather hit. For 3+ weeks, the river has been green/brown/gray and had only about 6 inches of visibility... certainly nothing I wanted to fish in, float in, take clients on, and especially not STEP in! (I have cancelled 15 trips... all but 3 of my float trips on the White this year!) So, on July 29th, after driving the upper river from Strawtown to Mounds State Park upstream from downtown Anderson, I called the IDEM inspectors to look the river over and see if someone had spilled something in it. The river below Anderson was ugly "pea soup", the river at Raible Ave 100 yards above Andersons sewage treatment plant was still quite ugly, the river 4-5 miles upstream in downtown Anderson was STILL ugly, so I drove to Mounds SP and saw that the river was fairly clear and looking good even though there had been over an inch of rain earlier that day. Final analysis... something is happening to the White River in downtown Anderson that is affecting the whole river system. Anderson is only one of 108 cities in Indiana that still has a CSO (combined sewage outflow) where sewage and stormwater share the same pipes, so evertime it rains, raw sewage flows into nearby rivers. Last year Anderson "contributed" 890 million gallons of combined sewage spilled into the river due to rainstorms and occasional equipment failure. The other cities that pollute the West Fork of the White River with CSO are Elwood (into Big Duck Creek and then into the White River), and, of course, Indianapolis with 5-6 billion gallons of CSO annually. Wanna know more? Watch this... http://www.wthr.com/global/story.asp?s=9260797 or read this lovely weekly sewer bypass report from IDEM... http://www.in.gov/idem/5105.htm. these will both give you something to think about in terms of how we allow our cities to treat the water we drink, fish in, and send downstream to our neighbors. If you get your hackles up about this like I do, contact your State Legislator and give 'em an earfull.
On the brighter side, I drove the upper White this evening (8/14) and saw that the water color was greatly improved from a few weeks ago. I'll float it this week if we don't get any significant rain and report later on how it looks. ~ Jeff Conrad
Upper White River - 7/14/11
Flow - 320cfs, Water temp - 74 to 76
Warren Vander Hill is a Muncie flyfisher, former Provost of Ball State and teaches the flyfishing course at BSU. He is a fun guy to fish with and is a "guide's dream"... he brings his own lunch! We set out for an 8 mile float and rowed upstream to a favorite hole. His 3rd cast produced a nice Smallmouth on a Deerhair Snack... my version of a Dahlberg Diver with a foam wing to help keep it afloat long after the deerhair is saturated. We fished the same 2 Deerhair Snacks all day, with a short intermission to fish a beadhead Murdich Minnow when the topwater bite slowed down. Warren has some serious endurance and fished hard all day. He reads water very well, casts very well, and knows his way around landing a fish. The end of the day brought an estimate of 40-45 fish, 1/2 smallmouth (up to 16") and 1/2 rock bass. No complaints! ~ Jeff Conrad
Brookville Tailwater - July 10, 2011
Gage: 3.07cfs, Water temp: 62
James is relatively new to fly-fishing and wanted to shorten his learning curve. This one of the primary reasons to take a guide as well as access, safety, local knowledge and experience. In fact, the way we see it is that after a trip you should be all that much more prepared to do it on your own. We kind of had the perfect storm of day to accomplish this as the morning was thick with fog, that broke to sunny hot weather and then they dropped the water on us. This gave us a chance at some early streamer action that lasted a little longer because of the fog and low light conditions. When the sun did pop out it brought with it a midge hatch that lasted until the CORPS dropped the water down on us. A drop day, as we call, almost always puts the fish in a bit of a funk as they adjust to the new flows, pressures and temperatures if that changes too. After that we took a little break had some lunch and waited for things to settle down before we went to nymphing. James caught fish on all three tactics and we has us quite a good day with better than 15 fish to hand and quite a few long distances releases that were no ones fault but more a function of the tinny flies we where using when they occurred. James is originally from Liverpool, England and as I had lived in England for several years (back in the 90s) we traded war stories of each others faux pas in the respective countries and had a bit of a laugh at each others mistakes. All in all a good day to be in the water. ~ Ed Devine
Sugar Creek 7/9/11
Flows 295 cfs rising to 433cfs
I was supposed to fish Eric Simpson and his wife Barbara Friday evening however Barbara had a last minuet obligation that prohibited her from coming along. Eric found himself another fishing date for the evening... our old friend John Freeland. John was fishing poppers and Eric fishing subsurface flies. It was "popper time" because John started the show shortly after he started popping along. We switched back and forth as poppers were not the only thing working... just the most fun. The count on the evening was 20 or so fish to the boat with a couple long distance releases. We also got a bit of a surprise when Eric tossed a clouser minnow into some roiled water and 20+ inch channel cat smashed it. At first we thought it was a huge smallie until we got a look at it but it was a fun surprise none the less. The winning fly of the day was Jeffs' Deer Hair Snack that he developed for the White River but, like most good ideas, it works just about everywhere, Sugar creek included. ~ Ed Devine
Upper White River - 7/7/11
Flow - 400cfs, Water temp - 72 to 76
I had the pleasure of fishing with Karl Glander and Al Fish... members of Indianapolis Flycasters. These guys are the young at heart, great fun to hang with, and excellent anglers. We floated 6 miles from noon until 9pm and enjoyed topwater action most of the day, although the big fish of the day (18") came on Al Fish's tie of the "Schminnow" in white. Karl fished deerhair divers all day while Al switched back and forth. It has been interesting to note that topwater action has been steady mid-day, mostly in the shade and then there is a lull in the popper bite at the time it would normally start picking up. So, from 4-6pm I have been moving away from topwater and having success with wonderfully simple flies such a the Schminnow and the Murdich Minnow, both in olive and white. I really apreciate simple flies that catch fish and only take 3-5 minutes to tie! BTW, I have been tying Murdich Minnows with a tungsten bead and fishing them on 12ft 4x leaders on floating lines. This gives it enough depth while giving the fly a nice jigging action. ~ Jeff Conrad
Sugar Creek 7/3/11
Flow - 310 cfs rising to 1,030 cfs
Todd Settle and I went for a short float on Sugar creek on Saturday. It being the Forth of July weekend I figured it would be a bit of a mad house with campers, swimmers, canoes, rafts, inner tubes and all manner of floatable devices especially in the middle of the day. It had rained north of where we were Friday evening but the flows looked good so we went for a quick float to see what was going on. Well it was going on despite the flotilla of people on the river. We found some less than crowded areas and the smallmouth were cooperating. We caught no less than 25 average fish on sub surface flies and probably would have doubled that amount had we'd been fishing more than one angler at a time. That was until the water started to catch up with us. We noticed that water seemed to be changing colors and rising but it wasn't effecting the bite much at first so we fished on in hope that the last part of the float would keep producing and maybe giving up a few bigguns. We went to bigger more colorful flies towards the end and picked up a final fish close to the take out but the bigguns eluded us. Had the water stayed at the 310 cfs flows at the beginning and not gone muddy it could have been a float for the history books. Oh well that's fishing and still a good day. ~ Ed Devine
It is with sadness that we report the passing of Indianapolis Flycasters member Steve Burkett. While Ed and I didn't know Steve too well, many of his close friends are also dear friends of ours. We offer our heartfelt condolences at the loss of a "fishing brother". We can also report (much more happily) that Steve had an excellent day of fishing on the Brookville tailwater on June 25, 2011, a few weeks before his unexpected passing. Here is Ed's original report.
Brookville Tailwater - June 25, 2011
Gage @ 3.16 and water temperature of 61°
Steve and Sid are members of Indy Fly Casters club where I did a presentation at one of their meetings early this spring. They are both experienced anglers, a pleasure to fish with and have fished the tail water before so it was a fairly easy day for a guide. The nature of guiding is that more of the clients are closer to the novice side of things and want to learn, so instruction can be a big part. These guys didn't need any of that so we got to fishing and hook ups quickly. We started the day with streamers and the fish cooperated, starting (as with most fishing buddies) a friendly competition. That being said I have to confess something in that when Sid caught his first rainbow Steve said to measure it so he couldn't lie about it later, but in our haste to get it back in the water I forgot to measure it, so Steve... when I told you it was 13 1/4 that was an estimate. It could of been that or a bit bigger but no more than 14. Now that the air is clean I'm sure the razzing can continue. Anyway they picked up over a dozen fish with a bunch of long distance releases as the fish have been taking flies more gingerly than normal and there was no clear winner on the day. ~ Ed Devine
Steve Burkett at Brookville on 6/25/11
Brookville Tailwater - June 24, 2011
Gage @ 3.2 and water temperature of 61.5°.
Kirk Gibson and I fished Friday afternoon/evening at the tail water. Kirk and I have been trying to fish together since late January and the weather had zapped us in one way or another every time we had tried. It seems only fitting the we arrived at the tail water to get rained on soon after we started. It wasn't anything threatening or dangerous so we put on the rain gear and fished. The fish are already wet and sometimes trout turn on with a change in weather. Kirk is fairly new to fly-fishing and lives fairly close to the tail water so he wanted to get to know the stream. We fished until dark thirty and tried to cover all of the stream for future reference. We would have covered the entire stream had it not been for interruptions of hooking up with a dozen or so fish. We had as many long distance releases as we did fish with the bulk of the landed fish on streamers. Nymphs were working too, however the fish didn't seem to be taking them with the normal gusto accounting for most of the long distance releases. ~ Ed Devine
Brookville Tailwater - June 14, 2011
Tail Water gage @ 3.2 and water temperature of 63° F.
Jeff and I Hit the tail water Sunday and I went again on Wednesday evening of this week. The rainbows have seemed to have settled in nicely and the high waters from the recent record discharges has helped to disperse them from their stocking sites. We have been catching bows from the beginning to the end of the tail water. They are eating well, have grow a bit from when they were stocked (a month and a half ago), are in good health. Most of them are kind of carbon copies of one another as they are fairly fresh from the hatchery. We have also been catching browns although not quite as many as usual. I think the new bows are grabbing flies a little quicker than the more wiley veteran browns that have been there for at least a year and are fussier about what they eat or how it is presented. This too shall pass, as it already seems that the bows are getting more selective in what fly and drift is working on them. Nymphs have been the ticket with a few coming on streamers. We have seen a few caddis plus some midges in the evening however not enough risers to justify changing over to dries or at least not yet. Ed Devine
Brookville Tailwater - June 10, 2011
Flow = 100cfs. Water temperature = 62
I was joined by Andy and Dave from Cincinnati for an instructional wade trip. Just as I arrived around 11am the water dropped from 250cfs to 100cfs. "Drop days" are usually pretty tough... at least for the first several hours after the water drops. This one was no different. The fish run to the only deep holes left, so if you're not in one of 3 or 4 key spots there aren't even any trout to fish to. We fished in the sun, rain, hail, fog and then sun again as the day went on. About 4pm the fishing turned on like clockwork and the guys landed a few fish each, missed a bunch more, and learned a whole lot about nymphing and presentation, including stack mending. The day ended up a success after a slow start. Nymphs were the answer of the day. Only 1 fish came to a streamer. One angler that shared his hole with us (thank you, sir) was cleaning up fishing a midge emerger under an indicator. ~ Jeff Conrad
Sugar Creek - June 2, 2011
Flow = 550. Water temperature = 72
We hit Sugar Creek for a afternoon/evening float. I hoped the popper bite may be starting with the warmer weather we have had as of late. Todd Settle and I got on the river about 3:00 P. M. with the plan of floating until dark. Things started out as usual with a few average fish on streamers. We saw a few fish busting the surface and chasing baitfish out of the water, which brightened our hopes for some fish on poppers. The popper bite never developed but we cotinued with streamers and they produced as usual. In fact they produced a little better than usual with a 20 plus inch fish for Todd.
Upper White River - June 1, 2011
Noblesville guage at 1200cfs - water temp 70
After 2 MORE WEEKS of rain, the White is finally dropping, although I can't say t is clearing. The water color is still ugly... more brown than green... but the fish are voracious. The water temp is rising and turning on their metabolism. I waded the Noblesville stretch for a few hours and picked up this lovely fish on a Clouser Darter tied in crawdad colors. Jeff Conrad
Upper White River - May 8, 2011 (Mother's Day)
Noblesville guage at 1800cfs - water temp 58-60
I couldn't take it anymore! I didn't care if the river was running through the streets of Noblesville, I was gonna fish some moving water or die trying! I'm sick of ponds. The river has been blown out since the day after my last report (4/3). The river still has significant color and the flows are pretty high, but the water temp was 60 and the fish were actively feeding in the eddies and side channels. I fished from 5-8pm and cleaned up on the White River grand slam of Smallmouth, Crappie, Rock Bass, Largemouth, and Carp. A heavy olive/white clouser with orange eyes was a good choice, but then later in the day the Purple Darter was a good selection as well. Let's hope the rain holds off so we can FINALLY get some Spring fishing going before Summer is upon us.
(The rod pictured below is a boat rod I built as an extra for guide trips. It's a 9ft, 4pc, 6wt loaded with a 7wt line. An inexpensive kit from www.jannsnetcraft.com. The whole rod was less than $120. Quite a good fishing tool for that price.)
Sugar Creek - April 14, 2011
Water temperature 44.6
Todd Settle and I hit Sugar Creek for an evening float. The rains that affected everything else didn't hit it so much and the water was fine (350 cfs) albeit still a bit chilly for smallies (or at least I thought so). The warm weather must have got the smallies going because we had a rather productive evening with better than 20 fish to the boat and a long distance release or two. It looks like spring is beginning to spring and time to start thinking about smallies as the weather warms. Ed
Upper White River - April 3, 2011
Water temperature of 48-52°.
I waded the Upper White in 2 spots today. The look and feel of the water and the healthy looking fish gives me hope for the 2011 season. While the fishing was slow I did manage to find 12 fish from 9" to a hefty 17". All fish took a tan/brown conehead Wooly Sculpin. I found the fish mostly laying in 3-5 feet of water in slower pools with dark bottoms. They were holding over the dark bottom to warm themselves up and in the slower pools to avoid fighting current. I did cast through some heavier water, but had no takers. If the water keeps dropping and clearing the way it has been we'll have a banner early Spring of fishing.
2010 Indiana Fly Fishing Reports
Brookville Tailwater - August 27, 2010
Gage @ 3’ and water temperature of 68°.
As many of you may already know, I am a greenskeeper and run a golf course. If you stepped outside this summer you can probably imagine why I haven’t made any fishing reports lately. I have been fairly occupied with keeping the golf course alive. Fishing has taken a back seat as the golf course is my passion and my primary responsibility. The good news is the weather has broken somewhat and everything on the course is in good shape, so I got out and fished Friday evening. Todd Settle and I had hoped to maybe get a midge hatch as the CORPS has been at minimum flow for quite some time. These conditions usually mean midges, and midges can mean a bunch of fish if you hit it right. We had no such luck with the midges but we did have some luck nymph fishing where we could find suitable current. We didn’t set the world on fire but picked up 8 or so fish between us. They were a mixed bag of this seasons stockers and a couple of holdover browns. It is a good sign that even though this Summer has been a hot one the trout are doing well at the Tail Water. ~Ed Devine
West Fork of the White River - August 27, 2010
I had the honor of taking Eric Simpson and Gene Hopkins for a White River float trip. Eric is the former owner of Royal River Flyshop and Gene is a new friend of ours that is involved in the Sportsman's Roundtable as well as an avid hunter and fisherman. However, his fly rod experience was limited to pond fishing. So we took him out and got him on his first Smallmouth on the fly rod. The day started slow with a morning water temp of 68 degrees. The drop of 14 degrees in 2 weeks put the fish down for awhile. Not even a Rock Bass came out to play. So, we hung around in the upper river for a few hours, moving slow, anchoring up, fishing slow and deep, and waitimng for the water to warm up. We pulled off for lunch around 1pm and wished Gene a Happy Birthday with a lunch of gazpacho, turkey & boursin on french bread, and boozed up peaches. After lunch, fishing started to turn on, first with the rock bass and then the Smallmouth. Eric put on a Spoon Fly and started taking fish. Topwater action began an hour or so later.
West Fork of the White River - August 23, 2010
My friend Nick Schroeder and I took to the river for a long float. We fished an 8 mile section of the upper White. The water temps was 76 degrees when we put on about 9am, which was down from a high of 82 the week before. Nick's first fish was 16" and ate a chartreuse Clouser in some roily water below a fast run. A 14 came out to the exact same spot.Then a few hours went by without any action. Nick started fishing a sinktip with a white Beastmaster to see if we could drag up any bottom dwellers. Within a short time, 2 fish had hit the Beastmaster right when it hit the water. We switched to topwater (a Dahlberg style fly) and proceeded to clean up, with the biggest fish registering near 18". The next 6 miles was all fairly regular topwater action.
West Fork of the White River - August 12, 2010
I took Max and Scott for a float on the upper White for their first real Indiana Smallmouth trip. They fish all over the world but had yet to try the waters in their own backyard. After listening to me blather on and on about Indiana Smallmouth at Orvis Days last Fall they decided to give it a try. They're both excellent anglers, so all I had to do was help them break a few trout fishing habits and they were hooking fish regularly. (Rod tip down!)The Smallmouth will have a hard time competing with the performance they put on that day. Fish after fish came to topwater flies from the beginning to the end of the float. Chartreuse Sneaky Pete's were the fly of the day, with both anglers taking fish simultaneously on the same fly several times.
West Fork of the White River - August 2, 2010
Patti and Sesie joined me for what turned out to be a banner day of Smallmouth fishing! The fish turned on right away with subsurface and topwater action. The ladies enjoyed several "doubles" throughout the day. Patti caught one fish that had a crayfish, a cicada, and a hopper in its throat and then smashed a bumblebee popper. Sesie was the "fish whisperer". She would wave her rod over the river like she was charming the fish, slowly fishing her Purple Darter through a run, and boom... there would be a fish.
West Fork of the White River - July 8, 2010
On Thursday I floated my old friend Jim Williams (Boomer... from Royal River Flyshop) and his son-in-law Jim (Lil' Boomer) on the upper White. Although the water level and color were perfect, it was a very hard day. The weather was really hot and humid, the fish were sullen, and it poured torrential rain on us in the afternoon, turning the water more brown than green. Jim and Jim were very good sports about the lame fishing. Me not so much. I take it personally when the fish won't eat ANYTHING! I don't mind having to figure out the equation and adjust flies, location or presentation tactics. That's my job. But when you spend 11 hours on the river with good anglers trying every trick this side of dynamite and only manage to land 8 or 10 average fish, I get grumpy. I'm taking up needlepoint. Boat for sale :-)
The one very interesting thing we saw was a massive (22-24 inch) Smallmouth crashing bait. We watched him (and fished to him) for a long time. He wasn't the least bit concerned about our presence. He's a big boy. He knows all of our tricks and wasn't about to be fooled by them. He just went ahead eating baitfish like he was sitting in front of a movie munching popcorn. We did get him to chase a tiny emerald shiner pattern, but he turned away at the last second. It was awesome watching an apex predator do his business. Hooking him would have been even better. Another day.
West Fork of the White River - July 5, 2010
I spent some time wading the upper river yesterday. There is another massive hatch of bait (emerald shiners and shad). The baitfish were literally coming out of the water in "showers" and the Smallmouth were completely keyed in on them. There was so much bait that trying to emulate that activity was a losing battle. The best I could do was to fish slowly below the surface action and pick up the stragglers, but I did get several nice fish. Fishing aside, the main thing is that the river is now dropping and clearing into comfortable range for flyfishing. Streamers, poppers, divers, and crayfish or leeches either stripped, tumbled or drifted under an indicator are the tactics for the next couple of months. Fish smaller and finer as the water drops and clears.
Brookville tailwater - July 1, 2010
Gage @ 3.25ft and water temperature of 68° F.
I took our friends PR and Kevin to the tailwater for their first flyfishing experience. The Corp dropped the river to a very low flow (100 cfs) from 500 cfs at noon that day and changed to a higher gate, so the water temp rose precipitously from 60 to 68. When we arrived about 1:30 I saw how low the water was and thought we might be in for a hard day.
PR, Kevin and I took to the grass for casting practice before hitting the water. Once they had the basic stroke under some control, I took them into the Park pool and got them started. The fish were not responding and I expected that they wouldn't until they had some time to adapt to the new flow and temp, so we worked on technique and waited for the sun to drop on the western horizon. We positioned up on a good hole and rigged for nymphing. The feeding fish turned on like a light switch at about 4:30. Eddie arrived to assist at just about that time, and for the next 3 hours we had a very nice time. PR and Kevin each landed several fish and got the hang of the arcing nymph cast, mend and hook set.
Brookville tailwater - May 15, 2010
Gage @ 4ft and water temperature of 49° F.
The annual stocking of brown trout was to have taken place on Friday the 14th, but didn't as the DNR felt that the flows were too strong for the stocking. It didn't really matter that the stocking didn't go off as planned... we found the fish. Between Todd Settle and I we had what could be considered a epic afternoon at the tailwater. It took us a little while to figure out what flies were working but nymphs seemed to be the ticket. After a short bout with a passing rain the fishing went from good to almost fantastic. We landed over 24 fish between us and lost half as many again. It was a good mix of holdover browns and this season stocker rainbows. I'm looking forward to actually getting the brown trout in the stream as this should make the fishing more consistent. The browns have a restriction on them of nothing smaller than 18 inches can be harvested so more of them should hang around to be caught and released. The big holdover fish should have more competition so they may be more apt to take a fly as they will need to compete more for food. ~ Ed Devine
Todd Settle with a 19" holdover Brown - 5/15/10
White River - May 5, 2010
Water temp -64 degrees, Noblesville guage at 850cfs
I took a short wade trip today and had a bit of luck. The Smallmouth we're crashing bait, coming out of the water and rocketing back into schools of baitfsih. That sounds great (and it was fun to watch), but it actually makes them pretty tough to catch when they are that focused on a single food source. No one fly was the answer, but I did catch a few by quickly ripping Gartside's "Beastmasters" in white, a few on gray/white Clousers fished slowly along the bottom, and a few on Clouser's Purple Darters. I also caught a few good largemouths, as well as the requisite 40-50 Rock Bass. The river is in prime shape. The Smallmouth should be spawning any day now. Please remember to leave the beds alone (and the fish that are guarding them).
Brookville Tailwater - May 1, 2010
Gage @ 3.12 and water temperature of 51.5° F.
Flows have been consistently on the low side for several weeks as the CORPS has been building to summer pool in the lake. This has been helpful for the fishing because the fish do not seem to like constant changing levels and the fishing always seems better with steady flows. Along with these lower flows and the current water temps, the annual algae bloom has started in earnest. We fished on Saturday and found the algae covering the entire subsurface of the stream. This made nymph fishing impossible so we stuck to streamers and dry flies to stay above it. The fish we caught were a mix of holdover browns and stocker bows. The fish in the photo is one of the better hold over browns of the day. We caught 16 to 18 fish between us and the one that got away was a better than 20’’ brown that I fished to for over an hour before it ate a streamer and eventually broke off before we could net it. Low clear water means light tippets are necessary and with them sometimes the bigguns get away without being photographed.
White River - April 30, 2010
The water level was perfect and the clarity was like we usually see in August! Water temp was 61 at 10am and 63 later in the day. Synthetic Clousers were the ticket early on. We switched to synthetics after a few minutes of casting and getting chases but no takes. The water clarity was such that traditional bucktail flies looked way too "opaque" in the water, and the Smallmouth agreed. The synthetics have a ghostly appearance in the water very similar to the millions of bait fish present. The early warming seems to have been good for the Smallmouth and the baitfish! During early afternoon I noticed some surface activity and tied on a Wiggle Minnow. That fly is fun to watch even if the fish don't respond... but they did. Not in huge numbers, but enough to keep our interest. We boated about 20 fish for the day, mostly in the 10-14" range with one big fella measuring 18" taking the topwater offering in a slashing attack.
Brookville Tailwater - April 23, 2010:
Gage @ 3.3' and water temperature of 49 F.
It looks like spring has sprung at the Tail Water. The first stocking of rainbows has been done and they were fairly eager to take well presented flies. Conditions were just about as perfect as you could ask for: overcast, cool, no wind, and flows have been a steady 100cfs for a week. Bill and I hit the tailwater on Friday afternoon/evening in hopes that these conditions would make for an exceptional day. Bill wanted to work on technique as he is relatively new to fly-fishing. It turns out he is fairly quick study and we started getting solid hook ups soon after we started. We caught fish on a dry, we caught fish on a streamer and we caught fish on nymphs. I stopped counting after 15 so I can’t say exactly how many fish came to hand. They were mostly rainbows with a couple of holdover browns mixed in. A good day to be on the water.
PS: Normally I net fish for clients unless they want the practice. As you can see, Bill also got some practice at this. I’m just hoping that the next trip maybe he wants to practice making lunch as well.
White River - April 11,2010:
After last weeks short-term cool down, the water temps are on the rise again. While wet wading on Sunday, the thermometer read 61˚ at around 5pm on the upper White above Noblesville. The fish were very aggressive and liked big flies in bright colors! Half & Halfs, big Clousers and my Baby Smallmouth were all sacrificed in the name of angling bliss. There is nothing like the tug of a newly awakened Smallmouth. I picked up several fish with a few around 18", many above average 15-16", and only one dink. The fish looked very healthy with some very dark and some light green. If the Spring rains come in reasonable amounts and well-spaced, some of the farm soil might stay in the fields where it belongs and we could have a great year of fishing!
Upper White River - 4/5/2010:
Spring fishing is just getting fired up on the upper White. Some friends and I floated yesterday and had a fun (but moist) afternoon/evening on the water due to the leading edge of last nights thunderstorm. Fortunately, the lightning stayed well to the southeast of us.
The Noblesville guage was at 900cfs, and the water temp was 60. However, it seems that the water level guages have been recalibrated, because 900cfs yesterday looked more like 1200cfs from the last few seasons.
The water was a little high, with more green than brown to the color, and about 18-24 inches of opaque visibility.
Fishing heavy flies (and sometimes sinktips), we did manage to land several Smallmouth Bass in the 14-16+ inch range. All healhty, fat fish with bad attitudes! The winning flies were heavily tied chartreuse & white Clouser Minnows, my Conrad Sculpin in black or olive, a rusty craw, and my Baby Smallmouth. The fish are preparing to spawn, so lets hope for mild weather and no floods so they can get their job done.
Brookville Tailwater - Winter and early Spring:
The tailwater fished reasonably well during the colder months. Several days produced good fish. Upcoming stockings of Rainbows (mid-April) and Browns (mid-May) will replenish the river for the put 'n' take anglers and many will escape the stringer and be there for the catch 'n' release anglers. It seems that feelings have cooled off on both sides, and while there will not be any further protective regualtions for the trout, people are generally cordial to visiting anglers. The river will continue to be what Central Indiana Trout Unlimited helped it become... a nice little tailwater in an unlikely place, stocked with brown and rainbow trout, and home to some holdover trout that can be enjoyed year round.
2009 Indiana Fly Fishing Reports
West Fork of the White River: 10/23/09 - I suspected that the falling leaves would foul the river any day now, so Eddie and I headed out for a Fall float before the trees dump their leaves. We hit the river about 11am on rising water with some color after the Thursday rain of nearly 1.5". There were still only a few leaves on the water to foul our casts, but a stiff breeze continued to blow more and more leaves off the trees. As the water cools, the fish tend to lay in shallow water to absorb warmth from the sun. We fished spots such as behind rocks and ambush points in as little as 6" of water. Eddie picked up 6 or 8 average fish by hitting those spots. At around 2pm the sky opened up and dumped nearly a half inch of rain on us in 15 minutes. After the rain, the river went way off-color and the numbers of leaves increased ten-fold, with floating mats of leaves making it nearly impossible to sneak a cast through, even with sinktip lines. We pushed out the last 2 miles, only making occasional casts to key spots. I would say that Smallmouth fishing is over until the leaves clear. Then we'll be into mostly "low & slow" tactics until next Spring (unless November gets quite warm). It may be time to hit the Wipers at Monroe a few times and then switch to Great Lakes Steelhead!
Tippecanoe River: 10/18/09
After having 4 trips cancel due to heavy rain in the last 3 weeks, I was ready get out on the water, so Dustin Tabert and I went to the Tippi for some Fall fishing! The Tippi was running pretty low...600 cfs. We put in and rowed up to the dam to hunt for big wipers and stripers. We didn't find any but did get into a mess of white bass. As the sun came out and started to warm the water, I fished a heavy sinktip and a big Deceiver to continue the hunt for big fish. I caught 2, although not the big fish I was looking for. I foul hooked 2 Asian Carp - one about 10lbs and the other 20lbs. Man those things are ugly! Other than that, the fishing was slow, with the few fish we caught coming on thin, flashy baitfish patterns. Weird Fall.
West Fork of the White River: 9/21/09
Nate Wilsford joined me for a very wet day on the river. We put on about 9am in gray skies and by 10:30 we were in a drenching rain. We got about an inch of rain over the next hour and a half. Nate was catching some nice fish, including a 17" smallmouth out a rock garden. (I tried to photograph that fish with my cell phone camera, but the rain ws falling so hard that the lens was fogged up). After the rain, I had great hopes for the day. We had 3 classic signs that fishing would be great; 1) gray skies (no sun or shadows); 2) rising water (and the terrestrial food sources added to the river by the rain); and 3) rising water temps from the warm rain. Oh well... you gotta have theories even if they don't always prove to be true. We still had a nice day and Nate caught lots of fish, including hooking his first fish on a flyrod.
West Fork of the White River: 9/18/09
Based on promises from the weather experts of "mostly cloudy with chances of drizzle", I took Randy and Chris for a pre-Fall float. We had hoped for that gray, misty kind of day that brings fish out of the cover. As usual, the weatherman (just like my investment advisor) was wrong again. It was a gorgeous day complete with bright blue skies, high sun and a light breeze. Just what the doctor didn't order for a good day of fishing in low, clear water. These guys are good spin anglers and dug deep to get some fish... and as the day progressed, even found a few decent fish on topwater Popr's. On these bluebird days, I row through water less than about 3 feet deep (unless there is serious cover and classic ambush points), and head for the deep pools where a majority of the active fish will be found. That tactic worked today.
West Fork of the White River: 9/10/09
Eric Simpson (former owner of Royal River Flyshop) & Gary Wood of Orvis in Carmel hopped in the boat and we took off for a float. We picked up fish on streamers most of the day with occasional bouts of topwater activity. All in all, the cool weather coming so early this year seems to have confused the fish (or me!). While dropping water temps in the Fall usually triggers active feeding by Smallmouth, they seem to be treating this early cool down as just another cold front that puts them off the feed bucket. While still feeding, the fish have been sullen and unaggressive, mostly requiring slow, deep presentations to hook up.
West Fork of the White River: 8/31/09
Gary Wood, (manager of the flyfishing department at the Orvis store in Carmel) joined me for a float trip on the White. Just friends out fishing together, so he fished as we drifted into the good holes... then we anchored up and fished together. The sky was bright blue, the sun was high and the water was low and gin clear. The Smallmouth were miles under the structure and we had to dig deep to lure them out. So, we lost a few more flies than usual to catch fish, but it was worth it. We had a great day on the water, saw a gray wolf along the river, and finally got some fish up to the surface later in the day as the sun dropped behind the trees.
West Fork of the White River: 8/28/09
Flow guage at 84cfs (very low). Water temp 72 degrees (down 5 degrees from previous Friday). Joe and Bill joined me for a long float that lasted nearly 12 hours. The weather was again crazy, with a storm moving in mid-afternoon and dumping rain on us from 3pm until we got off the river at 9pm. Before the storm hit, fishing had been spotty. The low water had moved fish out of their normal habitat and into the deeper pools, and the bright skies pushed them way back in the cover. During the first half of the float, Bill and Joe had to fish very tight to cover and/or very deep to draw any strikes. Then the sky darkened, the humidity shot up and the fish came out to play. After a slow morning of streamers (and sometimes sinktips) to dig out the few fish we caught, the changing weather turned on the topwater fishing. We had steady topwater action from 3 until 7, at which point the cold front moved in hard and the fishing turned off. We rowed out the last mile with sore arms and big grins from a great day
Joe with a White River smallmouth
Bill with a 18.5" pig that ate a deerhair popper.
West Fork of the White River: 8/21/09
Flow guage at 150cfs. Water temp at 77 degrees (down 5 degrees from a few days before). I had the pleasure of floating Rob Walters. He has been in Iraq for the last 4-5 years, first serving in the Indiana National Guard and then as a civilian consultant. Rob is a great angler and former owner of Royal River flyshop. We had the best (albeit weirdest) day on the river this year. The weather was completely psychotic!... from bright bluebird skies to dark and threatening with light rain, to sunny with high winds, back to gray and cloudy, and finally ended up in a downpour. Each time the weather changed, so did the fishing. In the AM it was a beautiful bright day. We fished a crawdad pattern on a sinktip and Rob took 4 fish in the first hour, including a catfish that slammed the fly as soon as it hit the water. Then, for the next 4 hours it was sunny and very windy. The only fish we saw were 1-2 year class smallmouth in the 4-6" range, but there were alot of them (which bodes well for future seasons). Then mid-afternoon the clouds rolled in, the wind died down and a light drizzle fell. This was the trigger! We swithced to a popper and the larger fish came out of their shoes to get the fly. No pigs, but respectable sized fish in the 13-15" range that fought like they were twice their size. We caught 1 or 2 fish out of every target hole and some in between. I have to give credit to my "trained fish"... they made me look like a genius in front of my old friend, Rob. Of course, the weather was bound to change, and it did. By 5:00 we were back to bluebird skies, the popper bite slowed down and we went back to sinktips and small olive streamers, which produced well. As 6:30 rolled around we had a dropping sun, calming wind and another popper bite. Rob picked up several more fish banging the dark holes along the bank as I pushed the boat downstream through the slow pools. We had been on the water for nearly 12 hours and were both pretty tired when Rob wound up his flyline and pronounced himself "toast". I started rowing hard to get us to the boat ramp before dark, but the weather had one more turn for us. We had stayed on the river 1/2 hour too long! The sky opened up and dumped about an inch of rain on us in the last 1/2 mile. Gluttons... soaking wet but happy!
Rob with the first smallmouth of the day around 9am
This channel cat came a few casts later
Trained fish! The first sizeable popper fish of the day
West Fork of the White River: 8/12/09
Ed, Todd and I needed an "emergency medical" float trip to rinse off some of the crappy cards life has been dealing these days. We put on about 3pm for a short float. We anchored up on 3 or 4 big holes and worked them hard, starting on sinktips with Murdich Minnows and progressing to small deerhair poppers as evening came. We caught several fish, laughed, picked on each other, and generally had a therapeutic time. We weren't too swift with the camera, but here are a few silly pics.
Todd in his new hat (Ed confirmed that he DID NOT get a bowl of soup with it.)
Me fighting a 16+" fish. I screwed up the "grab" and watched the fish swim away. "I don't need no stinking net!"
West Fork of the White River: 8/7/09
Fished my good client (and friend) Randy and his 10 year old grandson, Geoff. It was tough day on the river. The front moving in put the fish down HARD! If I didn't know better I would have thought there we no fish in the river except the 3 Randy caught. Two of them were big fish. The first one (about 17") he caught right away, leading us to believe that we were in for a great fishing day. It was several hours before the next one (shown below), but it was over 18" and took us all by surprise. Geoff fished like a real trooper. As the day progressed, his casting became more accurate until he was fishing like pro.
Brookville Tailwater: 8/7/09
Ran over to Brookville to see how the recent storms affected the TailWater. The torrential rains in that part of the State caused the West Fork to rise meteorically and it backed up into the Tailwater. It was interesting to see the high water marks on the tailwater, as they were well over our heads down by the 52 bridge and it appeared to have backed up all the way to the 252 bridge. The run off from the storms that caused this back up deposited some Indiana silt/mud... just about every step in the stream stirred it up. I checked on the aquatic insects and the few species that I usually see seemed fine. I'm sure the silt has some effect but this happens with some regularity at the Tailwater so I'm sure the bugs have lived through it before or they would not be there in the first place. There are some tricos coming off now and it should last for another couple of weeks, Nymphs are productive as usual and small streamers continue to be a good option when stripped quickly and erratically.
West Fork of the White River: 8/3/09
Don and Tim joined me for a White River float. We put on the river at first light. The AM popper bite was on and the guys caught several 12-16" fish right out of the gate. As the sun rose in the sky, activity slowed and we went subsurface with sinktips and small baitfish patterns. The sinktips worked and they caught several more fish before pulling out around 4pm. A nice day on the river. Although I would have liked to stay on the river for "evening popper o'clock", Tim had "Dad duty" with his new baby girl.
West Fork of the White River: 7/27/09
Dave is a new flyfisher with a great passion for the sport. He is perfectly drawn to be a lifelong flyfisher... dedicated, inquisitive, always trying to learn and improve, and willing to be frustrated for long periods of time until he solves the problems. Dave had drifted flies for salmon but had never had any formal instruction in casting, so we started our day with casting lesson/practice, popper/streamer presentation techniques, and line management in the boat... just enough of the basics for him to be able to catch some fish. As the day progressed, so did Dave's skills and soon he was throwing good 35-40 foot casts and taking some chances to get his fly into the cover. Fishing was steady, with the normal 9-12 inch Smallmouth and plenty of Rock Bass coming to a variety of Clousers and deerhair divers. "Popper o'clock" arrived later than usual, but by 6pm we put on a Sneaky Pete to cover the last couple of miles. Along a deep bank, Dave made a nice cast between trees. His fly disappeared with a "kasploosh" and the battle was on! A trophy Smallmouth of 19.5" had attacked his fly. Fortunately, he was on 1x tippet and fought the fish well. It was a spectacular end to a day of hard work (on Dave's part) to learn to cast, present the fly properly and keep his rod tip down so that the hookset is solid. It's amazing that when we set the hook on a big fish, the flyfishing "hook" snags us even deeper, and catch 'n' release doesn't seem to be an option.
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Dave with a 19.5" trophy Smallmouth
Brookville Tailwater: 7/25/09
Gage @ 3.51 and the water temperature was 66°. Barbara had a birthday and her husband Eric (being the intelligent man he is), decided to book her a day at Brookville as a gift. She had had a disappointing trip out west recently and wanted to practice nymphing and work on technique. When we arrived at the Tailwater some rather heavy thunder storms hit, sending us to the pavillion to wait it out. Those storms dropped over 3/4 of an inch of rain in about an hour, and an hour after that the river had cleared enough to fish. Barbara's technique didn't need much work and what I thought was going to be a day of nymphing 101 turned out to be more like the advanced class. She picked up the, "mend wiggle" technique quicker than most and was getting drag free drifts of 75 to 100 feet before the end of the day. In fact, the fat brown in the photo came on this advanced mending technique. Barbara worked hard on getting drag free drifts and it paid off in numbers as well as a couple of nice holdover fish. We arrived at the her home in Indy after a 12+ hour fishing day fraught with thunder storms, muddy water and other anglers trying to "high hole" us. Barbara gave me the Indiana FlyFishing Guides quote of the week, "Boy I sure am glad I had a chance to get my nails done yesterday! Could you imagine what that photo would look like with my nails all chipped and banged up??" The funny thing about this is after being married for only a short 5 years I understood the comment completely.
- Ed Devine
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Brookville Tailwater: 7/18/09
Gage at 3.08 and water temperature of 65°. Looks like summer has finally hit the tailwater and we are at minimum flows... the water is gin clear. This is kind of nice for seeing the fish you are fishing to but the fish can also see you. I found five nice size fish in a hole and fished over them for more than an hour before I could get one to eat. This is the time of year when flies and size mean the difference between catching and getting skunked. The fish can see things coming from quite a way off and have plenty of time to be choosy. Midges and emerges have been the most productive flies. While nymphs haven’t been the most productive flies the rainbow in the photo did eat one after an hour or so putting them in front its face. Streamers can also work in these conditions but like everything else small like Jeff’s Brookville Clouser will work as well. The one thing you want to remember is strip it quick. If the water is clear and you can see a fish following your streamer, keep it moving cause if you stop the fish normally stop their pursuit as well.
- Ed Devine
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
West Fork of the White River: 7/13/09
Ed and I had the pleasure of fishing with our old friends from Royal River Flyshop. The shop went out of business when Orvis announced that they were building the corporate store in Carmel. It was a great shop... well-managed, with knowledgeable staff and a genuinely friendly and welcoming vibe. Flyshops throughout the country could have learned alot from Royal River about making their store into more than just a flyshop, but rather a "fishing buddies networking venue and mental health clinic". Man do I miss that place! Eric Simpson, Ken Langell, Jim Williams and Bill Wheeler jumped in our boats for a float down the White. Many fish were caught, lies rehashed, old jokes retold, and a "wee dram" consumed.
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Jim Williams (Boomer) with a 19" Smallmouth
Eric Simpson (El Padrino) with a popper fish
Bill Wheeler (Crawdaddy)
Can't you just hear the banjo music?
Ken Langell, me and Billy Wheeler in my raft "La Culona"
West Fork of the White River: 7/7/09
Patti Beasley and Duane Riddle of the Reel Women-Reel Men flyfishing club joined me in my new raft for a float of the upper White. We hit the water about 11am and by noon the topwater action was on with Dahlberg Divers drawing strikes in the shade. The anglers persistence earned them fish as we anchored up on holes and fished them hard with streamers and poppers. I'm always amazed how you cast to the same spot 20 times and on the 21st time a fish will smash the fly. I think Smallmouth are grumpy and just get tired of being hammered, so they attack. Fishing was pretty steady all day, with the usual afternoon lull, and then the evening "popper o'clock" bite. We got off the water about 9:30 after a fun and productive float.
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
My new raft: It's 14.5 ft long, 6.5 ft wide, with a custom fishing frame and hard floor.
The perfect flyfishing platform for our Indiana rivers.
6/29/09 thru 7/2/09
Dave's wife Brenda is a genius! For his 50th birthday present, she booked 4 days of guided flyfishing right here on his Indiana home waters. Monday I floated him on the upper White where we had a nice day and caught Smallmouth on every tactic we used. Tuesday he fished with Dean Shadley on the Whitewater in Brookville from the confluence to Cedar Grove. The water was still a bit high so they went back and forth between fly and spin fishing and caught several fish. Wednesday, we floated him on Sugar Creek for a day of topwater. He still has one more day that he is saving up.
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Dave on the Whitewater River with Dean Shadley
West Fork of the White River: 6/28/09
I had the pleasure of floating Bill and Wayne on the upper White. Even though we spent some time dodging canoe traffic, we had a very nice day and caught several fish. The winning fly of the day was the Nearnuff Sculpin in tan stripped slowly through the rock gardens. Fish also came to Clousers and a few to topwater later in the day.
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Bill with the first fish of the day at the boat ramp
Wayne with a topwater fish
Bill with one of several Smallmouth he caught on the Nearnuff
Brookville Tailwater: 6/24/09
Gage @ 3.36 and the water temperature was 64°. With the storms the last few weeks the USACE has been getting rid of excess water and levels have been too high for productive fishing. Levels are back to fishable and today was a drop day which is usually not the best fishing as the trout seem to turn off until they acclimate to the lower flow. I decided to get over during the week as the Brookville CanoeFest is happening on Friday and Saturday and the place is going to be packed with canoe races all day. Also, there is a Casting For Recovery fund raiser/fishing tournament sponsored by RWRM on Sunday, so the river will be busy. We arrived around 4pm to medium flows and gin clear water. These conditions can mean a hatch of some kind and we were hoping for a decent rise later towards evening. The first half hour brought two hold over browns on nymphs. I saw more than a few bugs on the water but the rise I was hoping for never really developed. The nymph fishing slowed for me as evening was coming on and with no fish rising I decided to give Jeff's Brookville Clouser a shot. I no more than tied it on and striped it thru the hole I had been nymphing for an hour without result, and bang went a stocker brown. Three cast later a strike and a miss. I continued to strip this little streamer and caught five more before dark. I had my best streamer fishing so far this season at the Tailwater.
- Ed Devine
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
West Fork of the White River: 6/24/09
Hot day! 93 but felt like 105! Noblesville guage reading 750cfs. Water temp around 72. Water clarity about 18". I floated 2 spin fishers today, Randy Wilson and his son Dr. Spencer Wilson. While I have little expertise with spintackle/tactics, they have serious skills, so we managed some fish in spite of a slow day on the water. We fished early... from 6:30 am until about 3pm. Rebel Craw's and Pop-R's took the majority of fish. Surprisingly, tumbling soft plastics through the rock gardens produced not a single fish. That's usually the killer tactic for spinfishers. Randy did pickup one fish on flyrod with my McJagger Popper. All in all, we had a really nice day away from the phones and email and caught 12-15 fish.
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Brookville Tailwater: 6/20/09
Spent the afternoon and evening fishing Brookville with Ed Devine and our buddy Todd Settle and enjoyed a special guest appearance from Dean Shadley. AS soon as we got wadered up and into position, the siren song began and the dam operator opened the gates to increase the flow from a gentle 250cfs to a daunting 1000cfs. That is normally the end of fishing as the water is just too fast and deep, but we all needed to slough off the week's stresses and just be near flowing water, so we each coped with the high water in our own ways. I put on my heaviest tungsten bead wooly bugger in light olive and fished straight upstream along the banks, managing to hook and land 4 browns between 12-14". Ed nymphed the edges and picked up some fish. Later we coverged downstream from the park to meet up with Dean and fished the deck hole, where Ed and Todd managed fish on nymphs and Dean excelled at landing an 18" sucker. We excused ourselves from the trout and headed off to The Hearthstone in Metamora for burgers and beers on the deck. Lovely day!
Brookville Tailwater: 6/12/09 - Trout juggling tournament (see pictures)
Gage @ 3.74 and water temperature was 61°. Dick (Shop Dawg) Skooglund and I had planned to get over to the Tail Water Friday afternoon but the rain scared me into thinking it would be unfishable by then. They had over an inch of rain that way and some pockets of over two inches so I knew there would be a blow out coming in the next couple of days. We headed over after work to see if we could get an evening of fishing in between storms. It worked out fairly well and we didn't get chased by thunder/lightning until we had fished for four hours or so. We fished longer than we drove so I considered it a success.
Brookville Tailwater: 6/6/09
Gage @ 3.37 dropped to 3.07. Jeff and I fished Alex, Austin, Cooper and Joe, four 14 year old boys that have started their own fly-fishing club. We had a great time fishing with these boys and were impressed with the flyfishing skills they have already mastered. Jeff took two of the boys one way and I took two the opposite. Two of the young men’s fathers accompanied them and fished on their own so as not to crowd out an area and give the boys the best opportunity at fish. We had a little bit of a caddis hatch in the morning and picked up a few fish on dries. Nymphing also worked as it usually does. About 10:00 a. m. the CORPS cut the flows by half and, as usual, the fishing slowed down. We moved and fished other spots, and picked up a fish here and there, hoping that they would turn again. We decided to stop for a bit to have some lunch and let the fish become acclimated to the new flow rate. The fathers joined us at lunch to swap lies and eat chicken dinners from the Dairy Cottage in Brookville (good food!). The break seemed to help. After lunch the fish started to rise sporadically and we picked up others with nymphs. All in all it was a magnificent sunny day with some great kids on a beautiful trout stream. Everyone caught fish, everyone had fun, everyone learned. We had some nice holdover browns and rainbows as well as stockers. At the end of the day we were figuring out exactly how we did and everyone had picked up at least three fish and one of the boys had picked up eight. Adding in the fathers' catches made a total of 23 fish for the day. We had a bunch of fun fishing these young men and were impressed with their fishing abilities, their passion for the sport and their focus and endurance to keep fishing even when the fishing got slow. It was nice to have the fathers (Ed & John) along accompanying their sons and friends and indulging them in this passion. I grew up with a trout stream no more than four miles from my house so it was a bit of a walk but it wasn’t any great hardship for me to get to trout. It is a little different here in central Indiana where trout fishing is more like a two hour drive. It is nice to see some creative thinking to indulge youths in the sport.
- Ed Devine
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Eddie and the boys after a long day of fishing
Ed comtemplating the Concrete Hole
Brookville Tailwater: 6/3/09
Gage @ 3.37 and the water temperature was 62°. OK, so it rained today. I run a golf course and everyone knows that you can’t do that when it is chucking down rain. That is unless you want to go fishing that afternoon and you have to get a few things done before then. So I worked out in the pouring rain all morning and through lunch to get out a little early. Why because the flows have been steady for several days and conditions were perfect for trout fishing. There were some off and on rains at Brookville but the trout are already wet and I have a rain jacket. Todd Settle and I zipped over with high hopes and some trepidation as to whether the rains would cloud up the river. We got lucky and the rain hadn’t been as strong there, leaving the water as clear as you could hope for. The tailwater did not disappoint. After we figured out where the fish were hanging out at this flow we caught fish after fish. It almost got a little ridiculous at times, like when one of Todd’s flies came unraveled and he continued to fish the bare hook anyway. Believe it or not a nice hold over brown ate the bare hook. Not to say that a bare size 18 scud/worm hook was the fly of the day or anything but it was interesting to witness. As evening came the fish started to feed on top. Todd switched over to dries and started taking fish on top. I continued to nymph as it was working so well. We caught over 30 fish between us and most of them were hold over browns with a few rainbow stockies thrown in (photo above/below). Sorry I didn’t take many photos but when the fishing is hot and heavy sometimes taking photos gets forgotten until you are about to leave and it’s just about too dark to get a good photo anyway.
Eastern Streams: 6/1/09
The East Central Indiana streams are finally fishable again. My friend Trip Kellerher and I traveled to the East Fork of the Whitewater River today to try to pick up a few late season white bass. We fished the area near Liberty and only picked up two small whites; the run is definitely over for this year. Since we had a little time left we decided to fish for smallmouth in Fayette County in the Connersville area, after all it was on our way home. I started with a black wooly bugger but after seeing a 16” fish follow and refuse it twice I changed to a chartreuse and white Clouser. The 16” fish ate it on the next cast. I ended up catching three buster fish like the one in the photo and one about 12”. Not bad for a little over an hour of fishing. The waters are in near perfect shape except Big Flat Rock which is still running a little high and muddy. A couple of smallish fish did take a poke at a popper but I think top water is a week or two away.
West Fork of the White River: 5/31/09
Temp: 67: Guage: 425: Visibility 12-15". Floated the upper White with my good friends Junior Burke and Todd Settle. We did the afternoon/evening float, hoping the river traffic would be down. Quite a bit of canoe/kayak traffic, but by about 5pm we had the river to ourselves. Judging by the slow fishing we experienced with 2 excellent anglers, I would say the post-spawn doldrums are upon us. Piscatorial post-partum depression. That said, we did manage several average fish (9-12") and 2 real nice ones (16"+). Most of the fish we caught were holding tight to wood cover, and the normally productive rock gardens we're not the hotspots they usually are. The flies that produced fish were my Baby Smallmouth pattern and 1/2 & 1/2's in olive/yellow/orange... in other words, large profile streamers. We did get some fish on Clousers, but visibility is still low after the recent rains, so the larger profile flies got more attention. I was happy to see lots of small fish of the 1-2 year class. Should mean good fishing for years to come! Although it felt like a topwater evening, nothing but Rock Bass ate our poppers. If you go out in the evenings TAKE BUG SPRAY! As soon as the sun dropped below the trees we were attacked by swarms of mosquitoes. I have never seen them this bad! I couldn't find my bug spray and we ended up wiping ourselves down with anti-bacterial wipes that contain alcohol, bleach and some other toxic crap to try to keep the bugs away from us. I'm afraid Todd, who was wearing shorts and a T-shirt got chewed up the worst. There goes his bikini modeling career.
This fish may not look that big until you consider that Junior is 6'7" and built like a Ford F-350.
Brookville Tailwater: 5/29/09
Gage @ 3.66 and water temp of 60°. Bopped over Friday for an evening fish. The CORPS had been adjusting flows all week and this was the best day so far this week as far as flows were concerned. With the rains as of late the discharge rates have been fluctuating and, although the river has been fishable, it isn't the best scenario for productive fishing. I got on the water late afternoon and was glad to see absolutely no one on the stretch I wanted to fish. Started with streamers as the water temperature was just about perfect for a good streamer night. I dedicated some time to this until I saw some fish working the bottom of the hole I had just run streamers through. I switched over to nymphing and the third pass through the hole I picked up a smaller hold over brown. Within an hour I had a nice holdover rainbow, that I fumbled and missed snapping a photo of, (good thing my camera is waterproof) and several others including the nice brown (that I managed not to fumble) photo below. I moved around a bit, checking spots to see where the fish are holding and picked up a few more fish here and there. I wanted to try a different spot where the new stockies have been hanging out just to see if they are still there. They are and they too were all too willing to eat what I had to offer. I like catching big fish more than numbers of fish but when you find a pod of newbie stockies you can catch five or ten to one holdover fish. That ain't all bad. It is a good way to end the day, or start one.
- Ed Devine
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
West Fork of the White River: 5/24/09 (Indy 500 day)
The first float in my new raft. Great boat... roomy, comfortable and stable. Enjoyed the company of Junior Burke and Mike Leonard. Even though the river was crowded with boats, canoes, bank fishermen and even swimmers, we managed to find 20-25 smallmouth. We were lazy and didn't resort to the sinktip lines and streamers which would have produced the most fish, but topwater was producing enough strikes (and some decent fish) that the guys enjoyed a really nice day of visual fishing. The most successful topwater flies were the McJagger Popper, Chartreuse Sneaky Pete, and the Todd's Wiggle Minnow. The White is dropping but it never clears as quickly as I would like. We had 12-18 inches of visibility. Water temp was 67 mid-day. We did see a very good sign in that there were lots of baby smallmouth present in the river.
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Brookville Tailwater: 5/23/09
I got over to the tailwater on Saturday after several weeks of unfavorable flows. The recent rains have had the Corps needing to get rid of some water from the reservoir. This has had the tailwater at flows up to and above five feet. This is no fun to fish and is down right dangerous to wade. All the larger streams close to home have had been blown out for the most part as well. It's a good thing the white bass have been running in smaller streams to keep me occupied or I may have gone completely bonkers. Anyway the annual stockings of Rainbows and Browns have been completed and they seem to be doing fine. I fished for several hours and the dozen or so fish I caught had full, fat bellies. It looks like they have figured out what the forage base is and are exploiting it. The Bows are an average of 12 to 14 inches and the browns are a bit smaller. I found fish in the usual spots and the not so usual as they haven't found all the hiding spots yet. With all the new stockies the fishing was a little easier than normal but that won't last long as these tailwater fish have to adjust to survive. It won't be long and they will get more selective as what flies they see as food. For now they are a still kind of dumb and it is a good time to learn. The fly you are using now is important but you can get away with a wider selection. It won't be long before the low water and educated fish will require that your technique and your fly selection be "spot on" to catch fish consistently.
- Ed Devine
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
West Fork of the White River: 5/13/09
I fished the upper White between rainstorms, just before the 2" deluge of rain smacked us last Wednesday night. The secret was to find a slow, deep hole adjacent to fast water. In just over 3 hours, I caught 30 smallmouth from the average 10" to a coupla nice 18". Another miscellaneous 40-50 fish included carp, rock bass, white crappie, black crappie and bluegill. A big carp snapped my 5wt, which was the only rod I had in the car when I stopped to fish. So, for the remainder of the trip I fished my new "5.5 ft, 8wt rod" thanks to the carp. Even after the rod broke I handlined him in. I couldn't get the 2x Rio flourocarbon tippet to break. Short, heavy Clousers in Chartreuse over White was the most eaten fly but other colors did produce fish as well.
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
18" smallie caught on the first 2 sections of the broken rod
A nice 17" White River smallmouth
Eastern Streams: 5/11/09
It appears that the main rivers are still somewhat high. This doesn’t mean you can’t fish you just have to go to the smaller tributary streams that clear first. The streams that we fished today average 15’ to 20’ in width. At this time of year you can catch some surprisingly large fish that have moved into the smaller streams to spawn. In the smaller streams the holes that hold fish may be yards or even miles apart but they are definitely worth looking for. It sure beats sitting on the couch waiting for the water to go down. We were fishing clousers, wooly buggers and crawfish patterns but all of the smallmouth were taken on white wooly buggers, one of my favorite patters for this time of year. As always sinktip lines helped us get our flies down to the fish. Practice your casting before you go because fishing the little streams is like casting in a closet.
- Dean Shadley
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
15" smallie taken on small southeastern Indiana stream
West Fork of the White River: Mother's Day 5/10/09
I snuck away for a few hours of wading yesterday on the upper White around Noblesville. The water was 60 degrees and still high and off-color. However, the the fish were very cooperative. In just over 1 hour I took 8-10 nice smallmouth (14-18), several average snallmouth (9-13), plus a bunch of crappy and rock bass. Since the water is off-color, bright flies drew more strikes than natural colors. Pardon the quality of these pictures. My digital camera took a plunge at Brookville a few weeks ago, so these photos came from my phone.
My new raft will hit the water for the first time this Thursday. Ed and I worked hard on customizing the frame and Junior Burke did a masterful job building the wood floor. The raft is an Aire 143E (14.5 ft long, 6.5 ft wide) with a custom NRS frame and hard floor. It has the advantages of a raft (durability, shallow draft, lightweight) with drift boat comfort... big and roomy with comfortable seat, leaning bars, hard floor, etc. After 11 years of float fishing I knew exactly what I wanted!
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
East Fork of the Whitewater River: 4/28/09
The white bass are on fire in the East Fork of the White Water River above Brookville Reservoir. As of today the river is in great shape and the whites are stacked up in the deeper holes. It wasn’t uncommon for us to catch fish on 9 out of 10 casts. Most of our fish were caught on a heavily weighted white Shadley Streamer; however any 2” white streamer should work. We were all fishing sink-tip lines and 4ft of 6lb mono for a leader. Strip fast and be sure to pause between strips. The run should last for at least another week or two.
- Dean Shadley
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Sugar Creek Fishing Report: 4/25/09
We enjoyed a "guides day out" floating about 6.5 miles of Sugar. This normally unfloatable section of Sugar was made somewhat accessible by high water, but the rowing is still very challenging and a durable boat is required. We floated in the Hog Island drift boat, which is nearly indestructible. Fishing was typical of Spring high water fishing... sinktip lines, big flies, and moments of great excitement followed by long stretches of repeated casting with no activity. Still a lovely day on the water and we landed 5 fish from 14" to 18.5".
The winning fly (of which we had only one) was a large, black Conrad Sculpin (email for pattern). Early in the float, Ed Devine switched to the "big ugly" and within the first 10-15 casts landed a 16" and 18.5" Smallmouth. It was clear that the dark profile and undulating motion of the fly was the trigger for the early season fish. I switched to a smaller black Conehead Wooly Sculpin and picked up a 14" fish out of some pocket water.
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Ed Devine with a 16" Sugar Creek Smallmouth - 4/25/09
An 18.5" Sugar Creek Smallmouth with a Conrad Sculpin stuck in its chops - 4/25/09
Brookville Tailwater Fishing Report: 4-16-09
Gage was at 3.8 and the water temperature was 52° F. The water was a touch high or on the upper end of the gage for comfortable wading and the water was as perfect a color as I would like to see. When we arrived around 5:00 pm, after a long day at work, we were excited to see the water so, "perfect!" We started fishing and in the first 20 min. we had both hooked and missed a couple of fish. Todd picked up one and landed it about 10 min. later and then it stopped. When I say stopped I mean stopped dead in in the water. We moved, switched tactics, switched back and tried pattern changes, all to no avail. We only had time to fish for a few hours... that's my excuse anyway. Had we had some more time before dark maybe we could have found them. I like to think you can learn something new every time you fish. I think today proved that sometimes no matter how perfect everything seems it just doesn't happen.
- Ed Devine
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Eastern Streams Fishing Report: Early Spring
Late march produced several smallmouth in my local rivers in Rush and Shelby counties. The pond fishing for large mouth was just beginning to pick up when the rains and cold weather returned and shut everything down. Pray for warm weather. I sampled the East Fork of Whitewater River above Brookville Reservoir for white bass in early April. They haven’t started up the river in any numbers as yet. Recent rains will both keep us out of the river and bring the fish upstream. If the rivers clear the white bass fishing should be good for a few weeks. As the water goes down begin looking for smallmouth in the tributary streams to the major rivers you commonly fish in the summer. You’ll be surprised at the size and quality of fish that will go upstream to spawn at this time of year. In addition the smaller streams will be the first ones to clear after this period of rain. I’ll keep you posted.
- Dean Shadley
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Brookville Tailwater Fishing Report: 4-8-09
Wednesday 4/8. The river was running at 3.3 on the guage (about 200 cfs at the current guage calibration) and the water temp was around 46 degrees. We started in the park at about 5pm and Ed picked up 4 fish at the top of the park in the first 20 minutes, but that's Ed... he does that all of the time! The fish were caught on a small hare's ear on a 2 fly rig under an indicator. I was fishing the middle of the park in the normal deep runs against the east bank and couldn't buy a strike. We moved on upstream and I switched to a streamer (Brookville Clouser - email me for the pattern), which took a 14" brown immediately. We found feeding fish only in the heads of pools immediately downstream of riffles. There were clouds of midges everywhere and fluttering caddis, but surface activity was sparse except for the large carp that came up right next to me and grabbed a caddis (practically out of my pocket). All in all, fishing was slow but we did manage to pick up the occasional fish and get away from the never-ending barrage of phone calls and emails. Nice day.
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Flatrock River Fishing Report: 3-28-09
Dean Shadley and I waded a coupla miles of the Flatrock River south of Rushville. It's a beautiful river with some "float your hat" holes, but the wading and casting can be challenging. The river often has high banks on both sides and that causes deep runs down the middle. Lots of roll casting. But the Smallmouth were gorgeous! They were awake and eating but still hanging out in their wintering holes, so we only found them in 6-8 feet of water. We picked up 12 or 13 of them between us but forget the camera, so you'll have to believe us. The fish came to chart/white Clousers, white Wolly Buggers, and my new crawdad tube fly design, the "TubeDad". Holler if you would like tying instructions. Dean was fishing a sinktip line/short leader rig. I was fishing a floating line/long leader/heavy fly rig. Each setup has it's challenges in tight cover: Sinktips can be hard to roll cast, but roll casting a floating line with a long leader and heavy fly can cause the fly to swing wildly and sometimes get caught in overhangs and bankside brush. All in all, on my next early season Flatrock trip I'll go with a sinking 5' mini-head on my 5wt to sorta split the difference. Live and learn. If you haven't seen these eastern streams (which few have), I can highly recommend checking them out with Dean. He has been fishing these streams for over 40 years and was born either in or near them! Call him at 765-969-0643 to book an "Eastern Tour Wade Trip" or a float trip on the West Fork of the Whitewater near Brookville.
- Jeff Conrad
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Brookville Tailwater Fishing Report: 3-21-09
Gage @ 2.8 and water temperature of 50° F. Got on the stream early when it was a brisk 30° F. Todd Settle, Mike Baun and myself ran over for a day of trout fishing. The Corps is building the lake to summer pool so we expected minimum flow... low and clear water. We started out nymphing and picked up a few on the standard fair. We had noticed midge activity in the air, and as the day warmed the midges got thicker. I took Mike upstream for a go at another spot as Todd stayed behind to continue where we had started. Then it started happening... a pod of fish started purposing on the far bank. Looking into the water you could see a flotilla of midge pupa passing by. Assuming that the same thing was happening down steam and not wanting to be out done by "Todd the midge king", we tied midge pupa flies on. One fish was caught, two fish and then a third. I was thinking I should call Todd on the cell and let him know what was going on. Then my cell rang instead and it was Todd saying that we may want to return cause he had some fish on top eating midges. After a short discussion he confirmed that he had three pods of fish and we had one. He had picked up four fish and we three. After some time had passed the rise died off at our location and being the greedy sods that we are we headed back to Todd's location to horn in on his fish. The several pods he had been working died to one and he graciously allowed Mike a turn at them. After several hook ups and long distance releases Mike landed a nice 15'' hold over Rainbow. The hatch lasted less than two hours and 11 of the 16 fish we caught came during that time. We went back to nymphing and watching for another hatch of some kind but nothing else developed. It was a fun day to be on the water if you had the right fly. The Tail water doesn't have a bunch of hatches or even one reliable one but if you are there on the right day it sure can be fun.
- Ed Devine:
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
White River "Chainsaw Float" 3-14-09:
Ed Devine, Ben Shadley and I floated the White above Noblesville yesterday to make sure there were no deadfalls blocking the river and to see how it looks after the Winter floods. The river is in great shape. The water was "Steelhead Green" with a few feet of visibility. Some old stuff has been moved out of the way to re-expose great holes, and some new stuff is in the river, but no blockages. It seems that the high water this Winter washed some of the silt from last year downstream... sorry New Orleans. Cross your fingers that we don't get any torrential Spring rains, at least until the crops are in the fields to curb the run-off. If we escape that we should have a very nice fishing season. Of course, while we floated looking for river obstructions, a line or two got wet. The water temp was 43˚, the air temp hovered under 50˚, the sun tried to shine but failed, and the Smallmouth forgot to take their anti-depressants. We didn't even see and Carp rolling or porpoising like I had while wading on Saturday 3/7. Apparently, last weeks cold temps set Spring progress back a bit. We anchored up on big holes and bounced the bottom with small ugly stuff... we anchored up next to deep runs and stripped streamers large and small on sinktips at an agonizingly slow pace, but to no avail. FYI: The Noblesville stream flow gauge was at around 650cfs.
- Jeff Conrad:
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Brookville Tailwater Fishing Report: 2-28-09
The weather was a bit brutal in Brookville! It was windy and temps ranged from 26° to 31°, so cold hands & feet, windburned faces and ice in the guides were constant companions. The water temp was 38° and the gage was at 3.97, which is wadeable but the river is very "persistent" and good drifts are over pretty quickly. But we went anyway, because it was a special day... the 50th birthday of our dear friend "Crawfish Bill" Wheeler (Crawdaddy). We were charged with the task of keeping him busy for the day while his family put together a surprise party for that evening.
We arrived about 9am to a beautiful, Steelhead green river. We were the only people there (duh) so we setup in the Park and Ed Devine proceeded to fish like a damn heron, landing 2 fish in the first 20 minutes; a 15" brown and 19" brown. Man were they fat! Ed was breaking in his new custom built Sage Z-Axis 10ft, 5wt. It's a great rod... powerful but still has a great feel, mends well and even roll casts, which is usually not the case with the new "high-speed cannons" that most rod manufacturers produce.
We fished until about 3pm, and athough the fishing was spotty and the fish we did catch were a bit sluggish, it was a whole lot better than stripping the wallpaper in my kitchen!
And man was Crawdaddy surprised that night! Ed and I said goodbye to him at Brookville around 3pm and were sitting in his in-laws house in Carmel at 6:30 when he walked through the door. He looked at us like we'd shot his dog. Betrayal! Et tu, Eddie? We had a nice evening hanging with the Wheeler clan, enjoyed a few tequilas, and got to see the surprise on Billy's face when his wife Pam told him that his birthday present is a week in Montana hunting elk this September. I bet he takes a fly rod, too.
- Jeff Conrad:
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
Brookville Tailwater Fishing Report: 2-21-09
Gage @ 3.53. Water temp 38° F. 34° high. Snow. Gusty winds.
The recent rains have meant some high discharge rates from the dam but the tailwater has settled back down to fishable levels. It was good to see that the recent high discharges cleaned the stream bed of a lot of the silt that remained from last season. Todd Settle and I managed some nice fish including this 22 + inch healthy Brown. One thing you need to remember is the water that is released from the reservoir is colder in summer and warmer in the winter than surrounding streams. This is the reason we can have trout in southern Indiana. When warmwater fish in other Indiana rivers are hunkered down waiting out the winter (with their metabolism operating at 20% efficiency), the trout in Tail Water are awake and feeding. Winter can produce some big fish at Brookville if you are prepared to deal with a little cold weather.
- Ed Devine:
Indiana Flyfishing Guides
22" Brown Trout - caught 2/21/09