Spring has sprung…and for us fishermen, it is an exciting time of the year as the water begins to warm and fish begin to put on the feed bag after a long and arduous winter. Bass in particular become almost ravenous and regardless of size will eat about anything that they think is food and is placed in front of them; this is evidenced by a largemouth of almost 6 inches that I caught while fishing this past Sunday, March 27th. This little guy was not only hungry…but had some big ideas in his head as he ripped into one of my own flies, a fly that was just an inch short of his own length!
Just so you will know (in case you catch a true monster), the Indiana state record for a largemouth bass was caught in 1991 by Jenifer Schultz in an un-named lake in Harrison County. I hate to speculate but would have to guess this behemoth was caught during the spring and was a female full of eggs. If you are curious, the world record largemouth bass is the famous Perry bass, George Perry, it was caught way back in 1932 in Georgia…the fish weighed in at a whopping 22 pounds and 4 ounces. As the story goes, Mr. Perry had the fish weighed then preceded to eat the bass as his family needed the food!
Well, now that we have all the dreaming out of the way…reality is this, a bass of 20 inches or more is a great fish. In fact, in Indiana a ‘keeper’ or legal bass is usually one of 14 inches or larger. Careful though as some lakes have a slot limit which might require the fish to be larger than 15 inches.
I am often curious how my love affair with bass came about. One of my most vivid memories is as a young boy…I slipped out across my neighbors field to fish their pond. I had an old Shakespeare rod and reel with a jitterbug tied on…nothing else with me, at all (things were much simpler then). On my first cast a big bass made the water boil and that is when I found that my drag wouldn’t work…so, I started walking backwards up the slope until I beached what I thought at that point, was a new state record. Truth is the fish was probably 4-5 pounds, but I was ‘hooked’, literally and figuratively on catching big bass.
I am sure that as you read this…you too, have your own memories of big fish and the adventure that came with it. The adventure is certainly a main attraction for me. A few years back I was sitting on my float tube, the sun had just gone down and I had a big frog popper tied on. Things were quiet, except for frogs and crickets…I had just made a comment to Harrison about how this would be a good night for one of those classic explosions…honestly at that moment I heard something that sounded like someone threw a dog into the water. I instinctively strip set with my left hand and preceded to fight a bass for the next few minutes. The environment was what made the catch so special as I couldn’t see hardly anything, the moon wasn’t up and there wasn’t any ambient light to speak of. This is still, to this day, one of those times that I can close my eyes and with little trouble…go back to that night, that time and place.
The big topic of interests is and always will be water temperatures. This is where the science becomes invaluable. I talked to my good friend and resident ‘bass-pro’, Tim Entrekin and he gave me his run down; we both agreed that the biggest fish will start to feed aggressively at or real close to 57 degrees. Tim in particular likes the temps when they hit 62 or 63 degrees…he feels like you have a good chance at catching one of those ‘hefty limits’ that we all dream about. The truth is simple, from now until the temps get too high, in the mid 80’s, the fishing is and will be pretty good. Even then, with high water temps, you can find the fish but it takes a lot more effort in doing so.
As I have said many times and will continue to badger folks…you can’t catch a good one from the comfort of your armchair. We live in an area with exceptional fishing and in particular some very good bass fishing. You might think that Monroe is too big…but I fish it from my float tube. You can pull into any of the many coves, Allens being my favorite, and stay out of or away from the big waters and all the ‘craziness’ associated with speed boats and personal water crafts.
Looking for something a bit smaller and more personal…then look no further than the areas in and around Linton. Greene-Sullivan offers so much water and so many lakes that you could start today and not fish each one this year. A couple of selections; Downing Lake, Graveyard Lake, Bass Lake, T-Lake, Wampler….well, the list could go on and on.
Lastly, if you have relatives or know someone with a private lake, then give them a call. Ask for permission. Make sure to ask if they want you to keep fish and if they might want a few filets themselves? Often I find that a little conversation will get you permission to fish a nice lake and I am never surprised or frankly more excited than when fishing a new water for the first time. Get out and get going, give nature a try and I know, like me…you will Enjoy the Great Outdoors.