Fly Fishing Greene-Sullivan State Forest

If you didn’t see…recently, sometime this spring, there was a large muskie caught in the Greene-Sullivan State Forest in Indiana; more specifically the fish was reported to be caught on Bass Lake in the West Dugger Unit. If you are a fisherman and haven’t yet journeyed to the Greene-Sullivan area…you are missing out on a great experience. The two areas are much different as the West Dugger Unit is newly added to the forest and potential fishing area; this area has only been open for the past 20 years and is much more open, treeless, than the older state forest areas.

The muskellunge or musky for short was caught in Bass Lake; Bass is one of my favorite lakes and at times has been very productive for me. I love to fish Bass very early in the morning when the bigger fish are on the feed. After reading about the big musky I had to wonder how many times this spring that fish and I were in the same area….and as I have questioned a few times, what would or will I do if or when I hook into one of these big, toothy fish. While I realize this will be an issue for a guy who fly fishes out of a float tube ….I am eager to try and figure it all out. Over the past few years I have caught and landed 2 muskies in West Dugger Unit. Both were small, one only 9 inches and the other was 12….but they were muskies and I knew that meant the population was doing well.

There are other lakes in the Dugger Unit that also has musky; Black Cat along with West Lake were also stocked and I know for sure there is a good population of musky in Black Cat; not only is that where I caught my fish….but I have seen several while paddling around the lake. If you are interested in pursuing Musky…strap on your patience bag as these fish have the nickname of “Fish of a 1000 casts” and after watching, reading and pursuing…I would tend to believe it. It is also worth noting that the best time to catch one of these beasts is early in spring or late in the fall and up north they do their best catching when the weather is its worst.

Greene-Sullivan on the other hand doesn’t have musky but offers a wide variety of native species to choose from; bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish and others. A few of my favorite lakes are: Wampler, Downing, Airline, Graveyard and T Lake. There are over 100 lakes in the forest area and most offer good to great fishing. The thing I like most about many of these lakes is the tranquility offered. Very few places allow you to casually paddle around a lake, catch lots of fish, do so in the shade of big hardwoods and pines and hardly ever run into anyone else.

Downing Lake offers a nice environment for fishing and is not too far off the beaten path…in fact it sits just about a mile north of the “4-way bridge” that is so well known. If you are new to the area or need a map or some advice…the 4 way bridge and its bait shop is a nice place to start as they can provide you with a map as well as anything else you might need for the day. Downing looks kind of like an ankle with a sore big toe. You can enter the lake from either the far west end or from the east end. The campground is located and sits adjacent to the west end of the lake and at times may be a bit more crowded. The boat ramp and entrance on the east end of the lake is where I usually start my fishing and the ramp sits in a nice bay with lots of logs, and underwater structure that holds fish.

Earlier this summer, my friend Frank and I made our way to Downing and both of us were using small streamer patterns that we stripped by these down limbs and underwater structures…and both of us did very well. We caught lots of 12 to 14 inch bass and a few nice ‘round’ bluegills. The water in Downing (and most of the lakes in the forest) is crystal clear and I tend to get mesmerized just looking down into the water at all the marine life moving around. If you are new to fly fishing…then one of these stripper pits is a great place to start as you can catch lots of fish with a simple sinking or weighted spider pattern or a top water hopper or popper.

Whether you are in hot pursuit of a big musky or just want a nice place to catch a few fish and un-wind…give the Linton/Dugger and Greene-Sullivan area a try; you won’t be disappointed and for sure will Enjoy the Great Outdoors.

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