After a long and hot summer…cool days and even cooler nights are upon us. With this cool weather comes cooler water temperatures and that is exactly the impetus needed by our scaly friends here in the lakes and streams of southern Indiana.
Saturday, September 22nd was the first day of autumn and for me a great day since there was no volleyball…meaning I had a day to wind up my fly-rods and hit the open water. As I made my way through the country, through Worthington, Linton and Dugger I had high hopes for the day that I would try and fill with a Musky. I turned left off of highway 54 toward the East Dugger unit of the Greene-Sullivan State Forests and found my eventual target…Bass Lake. Bass is the largest of the lakes in the area, 220 acres of prime bass and musky water. It didn’t take me long to dump my Twin Troller into the water…throw in a few flies and four previously strung rods and be on my way across the lake in the early morning light.
If you haven’t musky fished before then understand that it is in the back of your head that getting skunked is a real possibility. They don’t call this fish the ‘fish of a thousand casts’ for nothing! Fishing for these big beasts on fly equipment is even tougher and readily gets me a look of….”Are you crazy” from others on the water. Today would be a little different for about a half hour into the morning I could see yet another fly-caster across the lake and he was laying out a long line and then stripping in a fly…just like me. It may sound odd but it gave me a feeling of kindred spirit and about an hour later our paths crossed and we took a moment to discuss our musky hunting morning…neither of us had yet hooked or seen one of these tough fish but both shoved off in opposite directions in search of a trophy.
I eased my way closer towards the blacktop ramp and a spot that I had caught a couple musky from earlier in the year. As things happen I made another long cast with a large white streamer that I had tied earlier in the spring and was retrieving the fly when I felt a complete stop of the fly and without hesitation I strip set the fly; there is a feeling that you know immediately when it is a large fish and on the other end was something….it was substantial! I stripped line and there below me was a big musky…and the only way I can describe it is that it looked like a small shark swimming below me. The fish didn’t realize it was hooked and shortly…when it figured it out…it took off and gave me the real feel of musky furor. I got the fish on the real and fought it back to the boat, then moved it to the left side and could now see that the fish was tiring. Moving the rod to my left hand I was preparing to grab my landing net when it happened…the fly simply popped loose. I watched as the big fish ambled off to the depths of the lake. I have to say that it took me a minute to feel better…but as the old adage goes…it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. I felt good that I had fooled such a nice fish and I also know that someday I will once again go hand to hand with one of these great beasts.
If you haven’t been to the Dugger Unit area then take a drive down towards Sullivan and wander around these lakes. The entire morning was filled with sounds of the fall as what must have been a hundred beagle hounds chased rabbits all around the lake to the cries of their owners…”Tally Ho” was a cry that I heard several times…usually just seconds before the entire squad of rabbit dogs took off on yet another hot trail.
The following Sunday, after church, my luck changed as I made my way to a small Greene County pond owned by my good friend Steve Thurman and traded in my big fly-rods for my 2 and 3 weight small stuff. The water in this pond is very tannic and therefore I went with a small, cream colored streamer with just enough weight to get the fly down a few feet. If there could be much of a better afternoon then I am not sure I would believe it as not only did I catch a batch of 12 to 14 inch crappie on small fly equipment…but had a great conversation with Steve on a wide variety of topics. My float tube was not just functional but was perfect for this small water as I could hold myself in place while being totally hands free to cast and catch bass, bluegill and crappie for a couple hours.
Whether you are looking to drown a few worms, chuck a big bait casting outfit or rhythmically work a fly rod, I hope that as our days and water temps cool that you will grab your gear and bend a few rods as we all Enjoy the Great Outdoors.