Fly Fishing the Big Blue River in Scenic Southern Indiana


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!

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