Fly Fishing the Big Blue River in Scenic Southern Indiana

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New water excites me… I can’t hardly wait the night before as I build with anticipation. Don’t get me wrong, nothing wrong with the waters I have already fished, especially if they are loaded with big hungry fish…but a new pool, riffle or bend is hard to describe…maybe you understand…if you don’t, I probably can’t explain it to you.

Such was the case Saturday, July 6th as I made plans with good friend, Jay Emerson, to travel a couple hours south and fish the Big Blue River in truly Southern Indiana; in fact the stretch we fished was a mere 3-5 miles (as the crow flies) from the Ohio River. We met Jay and his son Eric just across from the very scenic Overlook Restaurant and the view atop the hill…looking down upon the Ohio River was out of this world.

A few miles up the road and we would leave a vehicle…then on a few more miles (9 river miles) to our starting point. The four of us (my buddy Frank was along) eased our way out into the gently rolling water and headed south. I was immediately comparing the stream to one of many that I had been on during my last 40 years of traversing water; truth is, there wasn’t one river that completely came to mind. Sure, parts of the Blue reminded me of Sugar Creek while other portions had me thinking of the Muskegon in Michigan…and so it went…but honestly, the Blue was and will be a special stream with its own characteristics.

Our start was slow, as I looked at my watch we were still ahead of the 11am bewitching hour that in my mind, is usually the earliest that I feel smallmouth are willing to give chase. My first fish was a chunky ten inch native and was caught on a yellow streamer tied on a 60 degree hook; regardless, our, my day had started. Here is where I throw out how nice Jay an Eric were to me and Frank; I can see being nice to me…but Frank, that’s another story (ha). Jay and Eric were truly hospitable and stayed behind us allowing us newbies to fish the water first…thanks fellas!

After a long lull in a section of water that probably was too slow for good smallmouth action, we dropped into a mile or so of water that was moving along swiftly with current and lots of structure for the smallies to lay in wait. Things picked up nicely and I started figuring out a pattern; I had a tan or crème trout candy tied with some weight and in a size 6 that I was casting back upstream and pulling down along and through portions of the stream that was littered with boulders and other smaller rocks…which created perfect pocket water for our smallmouth friends.

After passing under I-64 we once again were in portions of the stream that was and surely has to be…excellent smallmouth water. My largest fish of the day was a pair of 14 inchers, but my gut tells me that lurking there, somewhere, has to be some 15-20 inch class fish. Part of our issue was our near perfect weather. Mid 70’s and later lower 80’s meant that we were indeed under a high pressure and if you have done much fishing at all…you know that will help to make the fishing and the fish a bit sluggish.

All in all our day was as enjoyable as I have ever had. Much of this has to once again go to our hosts; Jay and EJ were such gentleman. It really made up for me having to put up with Frank all day! In the end I caught approximately 30 smallies and a couple of goggle-eyes; the totals weren’t important. What was important was the good time had by all…oh, and the fact that I have added another awesome stream to my repertoire. The Big Blue is a keeper and I will be back!

Fly Fishing for Smallmouth During the 4th of July Week

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Here in Indiana we have to play the water game…much like our trout friends do as well. My summers usually revolve around the weather that is on the way and the current USGS readings on various streams. Such was the case of the 4th of July week. My window came on Monday, July 2nd as the water and weather were in harmony; Frank and I jumped in the truck and drove north whereby Frank dropped me off on a four hour excursion to find a few nice smallmouth.

The first half hour was slim…in fact, I didn’t even have a nibble. When this happens I immediately start to try and unlock the many puzzle pieces and figure out what is going on with the fish? This is a hard and sometimes difficult meandering to describe to others who may not have had as much experience on the water…let’s just say that a huge ridge of high pressure was definitely causing a change in the behavior of the smallmouth I was pursuing. After trying a couple of different sizes and weights of a crayfish pattern I finally settled on a tie of mine that I had finished just a couple of days prior…and as you can see from the video I finally hooked into and landed a nice smallie.

Here is the other factor with smallmouth; water temps. Smallmouth aren’t fond or very active early and as the day progresses and the temps start to rise with the overhead sun, the fish will almost always pick up their search for food. About an hour into my trip I could start to see fish up in the shallows chasing baitfish and this was my signal to tie on a smaller, white fly and see if I could indeed find fish willing to give chase to my pattern…which is without question my favorite way to fly fish.

The rest of the day was exciting…well, it was active for sure. I landed a few nice smallmouth and lost a few more, but all in all it was just a spectacular day to be out on the water in pursuit of my favorite game fish, the smallmouth bass. So, watch the video and I hope you can enjoy the scenery while I land a few more nice fish, the largest being an 18 incher that swamped my baitfish pattern in a deeper hole. If you have any questions regarding this video or a general fly fishing question, you can contact me via email at flyfishingwithjeff@gmail.com and I will do my best to give you an honest response.

Fly Fishing on Father’s Day for Small Stream Smallies

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Join me as I fly fish for smallmouth bass (small stream smallies) on a hot and steamy Father’s Day in 2018. This is one of my most favorite small streams, for several reasons; first, there is usually a big fish or two and second, the scenery is special as you get to walk along in quiet solitude.

This was my first Father’s Day without my very own special father…Ivan Carmichael. In fact, this small stream was the last stream that dad and I walked together and can be seen by watching my video entitled A Walk with Dad. Fathers are special. After teaching public school for over 30 years I can assure you that one of the major issues with kids today is the lack of a substantial father. Mine was not only my best friend…but a true sportsman who taught me the love of the outdoors.

I am able to catch a few nice fish and finish up with a chunky 16 inch smallie that was indeed the ‘king’ of his hole. These journeys allow for not just fishing but allow a person to clear their mind and better prepare for the upcoming week of business. I hope you enjoy the video; if you have questions you can contact me at flyfishingwithjeff@gmail.com. I will do my best to best answer your questions as I hope to help others better enjoy the art of smallmouth fishing on the fly.

Fly Fishing for Smallmouth on Sugar Creek – Part 2

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Welcome back to my follow up video on fly fishing for smallmouth on Sugar Creek – Part 2. There was just too much to put on Part 1 and I wanted you to be able to see a separate portion of what I feel is indeed the most beautiful creek/stream in Indiana. The weather continued to be spotless and in fact, it was so nice that it really put the fish down low in the water column and reduced their aggressiveness in chasing my favorite fly, the baitfish pattern. One note, I had a battery issue and this video is a bit shorter due to that fact….you won’t be able to see the best smallmouth I have caught yet this year as I landed a true gem in a deep dark hole just east of Crawfordsville….so it goes with technology and being your own film crew.

As I said with the first film, Sugar Creek is simply special. It is one of those rare gems in Indiana that looks like it would be a stream from the mountain west. I believe without question that Sugar Creek is our finest smallmouth fishery … even on days where the fish are a little sensitive. Today’s video is taken further north and east from Shades State Park, which was our home base for a couple of days. If you aren’t familiar, the water on SC runs from pools to riffles and runs and then once again back into deep pools. As we start to move into summer the fish can be found in a wide variety of spots; in fact, up from the deep holes that they have spent the past 6 months in…to the shallows, where they will spot and ambush a wide variety of prey.

I am a streamer guy, plain and simple. I like to casts baitfish patterns mainly due to the fact that I love the tug or smash of the fly as it is taken in any number of situations. Often I tend to be stubborn and continue on with a baitfish pattern when I know for sure that smallies will eat a crayfish just as often as the baitfish…and I have to be reminded or remind myself of that on occasion. At the end of our second morning’s fish…I pulled up just in time to see my buddy Frank hooked up on a nice smallmouth and later found that he had caught three fish in a row on a smaller crawdad pattern. Moral of the story…try a variety of flies.

I hope that once again as you watch this video you can appreciate the sheer beauty of Sugar Creek. If you need a ride or lift…or need to rent a canoe or kayak, then Clement’s Canoes is your place. They are located just east of Shades State Park at Deers Mill. If you have any questions or comments you can email me at flyfishingwithjeff@gmail.com.

Fly Fishing for Smallmouth on Sugar Creek – Part 1

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Fly fishing for smallmouth takes me to places that are special… are unlike other spots here in Indiana; Sugar Creek in North Central Indiana is just one of those places, in fact, it is THE place if you are looking for a beautiful place to find nice smallies. Such was the case just recently as my friend Frank and I journeyed a couple hours north to Crawfordsville to float the waters of Sugar Creek.

After unloading my camper at Shades State Park and stowing away some gear we moved upstream and started floating back down stream. Here is the part where I make a couple of excuses; anytime it is June and the weather is perfect, 72’ with no humidity…the weather is a factor. We were experiencing some awesome weather, a Canadian High pressure had moved in and frankly had put the fish down on the streambeds, on their bellies. If you combine that with the most crystal clear water we had ever experienced…you have the potential for tough fishing. Such was indeed the case. As you watch you will see that I do catch lots of fish the first morning out, but not any big fish, those big-shouldered bruisers in the 16-20 inch range that make the rod bend so nicely.

It is however hard to fish SC and not enjoy the time out in one of, if not the most gorgeous place in Indiana. I caught myself casting and watching the cliffs up ahead of me for eagles, etc… Once again I get a lot of questions on where to put in on the creek, if you have your own water mode of transportation, then there are any number of access points. If you need a ride or a rental, then contact the good folks at Clements Canoes and they can hook you up. Clements is located on the eastern edge of Shades State Park. And one quick word about Shades…it is a great place to stay. No electricity, but a nice shower facility. If you camp, be prepared for the marauding creatures at night…specifically, the raccoons. They climbed all over my vehicle and even were up in our boats on top of the rig! They are truly a nuisance.

So, hope you like this video and “Part 2″, a shorter version that will soon follow. If you have any questions you can contact me at flyfishingwithjeff@gmail.com; I will be happy to answer as many questions as I can.

Fly Fishing for Late Spring Smallmouth in Scenic Southern Indiana

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Finally, the weather and water temps have created the right scenario for some of The Hoosier’s States fine smallmouth bass fishing; it sure took long enough! Late May in scenic Southern Indiana gave way to a rise in water temps which caused our native trout (smallmouth) to make their way up into every nook and cranny of the water system. Truth is that I would rather fish for and catch smallmouth over any other fish (OK, let’s exclude the musky). In this video you will watch me work my way down the stream and pick off one nice fish after another.

I have also tried to give a few tips along the way to help those who might just be beginning their smallmouth career. One note…there are so many factors that have to come together for a day like the one on this video, please don’t be disappointed if you don’t have the same amount of success. Believe, please…there are days where no matter how hard you try, the fish just don’t cooperate.

I am using a 6 weight rod in place of my usual 3-weight; honestly, my shoulder is once again in such a mess that it is much easier for me to chuck a heavy streamer with the 6 over the smaller 3! I also have a Rio sink-tip type one line with 14 pound test as my final tippet. As I have said before…there is no reason to go small on leader or tippet size as smallmouth just aren’t leader shy. Trust me…you’ll want to have the ability to tug and pull a big fish out of harm’s way if and when you ever hook into one!

So, come along as we catch some very nice fish over Memorial Day Weekend and relax along the way. If you have any questions please go to the bottom of this page and send me a comment and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.