Float Tube Fly Fishing At Hillenbrand FWA

I’ve said it before many times…but we here in southern Indiana are lucky with many good fields and waters at our finger tips, just waiting for those of us who will….to go forward and go for it. One such property is Hillenbrand FWA (Fish and Wildlife Area) located north of Linton on both the east and west sides of highway 59. For me it is a quick jaunt and the property contains several lakes that at the right time are full of our native fish like bass, bluegill, crappie, etc…. This past Saturday found me, Harrison and a new addition to our little family; a girlfriend from Lewis University, all enjoying one such small lake named Shelter Lake.

Heidi is a soccer player from Lewis and was reared in Michigan and tends to be an outdoor gal and if you know Harrison, then all these facts will make sense to you as he loves the outdoors just like his dad does. We had Heidi in the kayak and Harrison and I both launched in our float tubes for some mid-November streamer fishing for bass.

Hillenbrand is 3400 acres of mostly reclaimed surface mine land in Greene County; 60% is grasslands with 125 acres of wetland habitat. Hillenbrand is named after Indiana businessman John A. Hillenbrand for his dedication to Indiana’s natural resources and was purchased in 1995. Of the 125 acres of water, Horseshoe Lake is 27 acres and Midland Lake is 20 acres; two of the largest lakes in the FWA and all lakes are limited to a maximum 12-volt electric motor.

As for hunting…deer, rabbit, dove, quail and woodcock are all common at Hillenbrand; in fact while we were there fishing on Saturday it sounded like an armory with rabbit hunters shooting at those ‘waskly wabbits’. I enjoyed listening to the beagles running and chasing the bunnies and it brought back many memories of me and dad from a few years back. There is also limited hunting for turkey and waterfowl; you can visit the website under Hunting Regulations for more info. There is also a check-in station just north of Midland Lake, just east of highway 59 in the town of Midland…all those who intend to hunt small game must check in and choose a starting area; a daily hunt permit card must be in possession of the hunter and any successes of the hunt recorded at the check in station. For further info you can call Minnehaha FWA at 812-268-5640.

As for our fly fishing, Harrison and I were both fishing sinking line; I had my 3 weight with a type 2 full sinking line and he had a 6 weight with a type 1 full sinking line. We both had one of my own Hoosier Streamers tied onto 3X tippet (click here to see how to tie a Hoosier streamer). I struck first blood as I caught a 14 inch bass about 100 yards down the north side of the lake and was quickly outdone by number one son as he landed a 16 inch bass about five minutes later. I knew it had to be a good one as he was sharing his success with Heidi and made sure that I saw he was on the scoreboard.

As I have said before, the two of us are pretty competitive and I was now in high gear trying to catch yet another nice fish. I rounded the small island in the lake and came upon a spot where it was obvious that there was some current flowing through the gap between the shore and this small island. I made a long cast right up the middle of the lane, gave a couple small strips followed by one long strip and waited. All the slack was out of my line as I felt a sudden jab on the other end and without thinking I strip set with my left hand. At that moment I knew that I had just set the hook on a nice fish as my 7’6” 3 weight Cabela’s TQR rod was bent double. I gave two quick strip sets and debated whether or not I needed to get the fish on my reel but chose not to. I stripped the bass into my leader and was at this point at the mercy of the fish…who was now towing me towards the shore and the cover he wanted to get into. It was at this point that I turned my rod sideways and used my kick fins to stay away from the danger of the shore and in a couple minutes had brought to hand a chunky 19 inch largemouth. I slipped the fish onto my stringer by running the point of the connection up and under the bottom jaw, placed the fish back into the water and went back to fishing. A few minutes later I watched as Harrison came casting around the corner and as he neared I held up my camera and asked him to take a few photos; he knew that meant his record had been eclipsed. Not only did he snap a few stills…but He also took a short video of the technique that we were using and it too can be viewed at my website.

Our great day got rudely interrupted a few minutes later as a very cold and somewhat heavy rain started to come down. We put the south shore of the lake to our left and headed back to the truck. It had been a great couple of hours of fishing and I was impressed with Heidi’s toughness on the water but knew it was getting too cold and too wet to push on…and anyway I had won the war with my big fish! If you are looking for a nice place to stretch your legs, go for a nature walk, try a hunt or catch a fish…then Hillenbrand might just be the right place; hope to see you there as we all Enjoy the Great Outdoors.

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