Saturday November 5th might have just been one of those ‘perfect’ days….quail season was in and still there was good fishing to be had; the weather was near perfect with a sunny and crisp 55 degrees.
Jonas and I started the day off loading my three Shorthairs into the dog trailer; in fact, you need to make sure that you aren’t in their way when they are released as all three know what it means when the dog trailer is hooked up. We made our way down to Worthington, stopped in on a farmer friend of mine and got permission to hunt his bottom…about 150 acres of good quail habitat. The old farmer made is more exciting when he told us that he had seen plenty of quail this year while harvesting his beans. Early season is good for many reasons but I enjoy just being out and walking and watching the dogs’ process scents that they haven’t dealt with for a few months. We worked one fence row and grassy strip after another and for whatever reason we wound up back at the truck, two hours later with not a single quail…we all got skunked. I am still a little puzzled but also know that this early there is a lot of cover out there and the birds could have been anywhere feeding; we will find them later this year.After a quick stop at the Subway for a sandwich, Jonas and I were off to a beautiful lake that was only about 15 minutes away. Shelter Lake is located within the Hillenbrand FWA and is about 10 acres of serenity. We swapped out our hunting pants and boots for a pair of Cabela’s 3mm neoprene stockingfoot waders and a Creek Company ODC 420 float tube … and in a few minutes we were chucking flies at some chilly bass. The water temperature was 56 degrees and the fall foliage surrounding the lake was still hanging on and made for a canvas that was second to none.
I gave Jonas my 5 weight rod with full sinking type 3 line and I took my 3 weight rod with a type 2 full sinking line. We both were using streamers in greens, whites and silvers. I put the cover to my left and started backwards down the lake making 45 degree casts, allowing the line to sink as I stripped 8 to 10 inches of line back at a time. I was struggling with my concentration due to the beauty of the lake and the perfect weather we were enjoying; if you have never fished from a float tube you need to give it a try as it is one of the most enjoyable and peaceful ways to catch a fish. My moment of serenity was interrupted with a sharp jab on the other end of my fly line. I gave a quick strip set but missed the fish…experience has told me to leave the fly alone and thus I paused for a moment allowing the fly to sit suspended like it was injured; bang the bass made a return hit and this time I set the hook and hauled in my first fish of the day, a very cold and shiny 12 inch bass.
I snapped a few photos of the fish as it dangled in the water and from the other side of the lake I could see that Jonas was also stripping in a bass of about the same size. Jonas is an athlete and like his older brother Harrison has learned the art of fly-casting and does it well.
As morning progressed into afternoon both of us continued to catch a few fish…none were too large but it was just grand being out on the water with your kid and not having any deadline to meet. I made the switch from one side of the lake to the other and now had the shady wooded area to my left. I decided to go to a white Hoosier Streamer; a fly that I tie that shows up well in low light conditions. I made a cast across a long flat area and started stripping the fly back to me, interspersing stripping with time for the fly to fall as if it were injured. On my third cast I had made a few quick strips and was waiting for the fly to sink when I felt tension on the line and without thinking, set the hook. The tug on the other end was more solid this time, in fact it was a heavy feeling that I hadn’t experienced for a couple weeks. My little 3 weight rod bent double and I made a few hard strips to ensure that the hook was set. A couple moments later I had landed an 18 inch largemouth that punctuated a truly great day. Jonas snapped a few photos of me and the fish and I watched as it swam off into the clear water.
Southern Indiana has so many opportunities for outdoor fun in the fall and these crisp days of autumn are prime for making lasting memories. Grab your gear, your camera and head out as we all Enjoy the Great Outdoors.