Throughout the year I get a lot of questions, some in person and some via email; the questions center around lakes in our area, which ones are good and which ones are better…as there is a lot of water and you can for sure waste valuable time on un-productive water. So, here is my top 5 lists and in no particular order…and I might add that fishing may not always be the only factor as to why I fish a lake. I love to be on water that is aesthetically pleasing and Indiana has a ton of water that is a pleasure to be upon. If you agree with the list…great, if not that is OK as well. My goal is to help and hope that you can find time to search out one or all of these small lakes and give the fishing a try.
Downing Lake: Downing is located in Greene-Sullivan which is as it sounds on the Greene County and Sullivan County lines. Downing is a shady lake and that is a nice place to be on a hot summer day. You may know where Downing is if you have camped in Greene-Sullivan as the campground sits on the west end of the lake. The direct way there is to travel west on highway 54 through Linton towards Dugger then turn left on County Road 900. You will now be traveling south and the entrance to the lake is on your right after you enter the state forest land. I love to fish the south edge of the lake on a hot summer day for big bluegill. I use a spider pattern and cast under the over-hanging trees and then just let the fly sink…and hold on. These big gils will come out and bang your fly!
Crooked Creek Lake: Crooked Creek is located a few miles east of Brown County and just past the turn off to Yellowwood Lake (just past the old Knight’s Corner). Take a right onto Crooked Creek road and follow the dusty gravel until you arrive at the lake on your left. Now…I must say that this little lake is not the greatest fishing lake. It was re-constructed a few years back…there is a real beauty while sitting on this lake and as I said sometimes the surroundings help out the fishing. Don’t be surprised by the boat ramp…or lack of! This is a great spot for a canoe, kayak, float tube or small fishing boat that can be carried down to the water. The northern point of the lake is shallow and offers some good bass and bluegill fishing and I usually do well with a flashy baitfish pattern in a size 6 or 8.
Island Pit: Island is located in Minnehaha Fish and Wildlife Area about halfway between Dugger and Sullivan on the north side of highway 54; look for a Minnehaha sign on your right and the boat ramp is a very nice one! Island is a real gem; the water is as clear as any lake and at times is too clear. I often fish the pit early or late and rarely in the middle of the day. Starting April 1st the game and fish will dump in somewhere between 2 and 3 thousand rainbow trout and that draws a big crowd. I have caught a bunch of nice 15 to 18 inch bass as well as a few smallmouths. The north end of the lake has a ‘boot’ that can be accessed from a county road. This boot can also be a good spot to put in a kayak or float tube on a windy day; the surrounding hills will limit your exposure to the wind. This boot offers some excellent fishing; on the far eastern end of this boot is a small creek that dumps in from across the road and is often a holding spot for a big bass.
Black Cat Lake: Let’s just jump across the road, literally, from Island and you will find one of my very favorite lakes, Black Cat. Black Cat is the furthest west lake in the Dugger Unit of the Greene-Sullivan State Forest. The lake is deep and clear and is shaped sort of like a ¼ moon. The area furthest north is shallow and the water here passes from West Lake (just to the east) into Black Cat and early in the spring when the water is up you can find loads of nice predatory fish pounding the bait fish as they are usually blown into the point by the prevailing southwest winds. My favorite way to fish the lake is to hang just off the weed edge and strip a white or grey shiner anywhere from 2 to several feet deep. The bass are usually in attack mode and will come out and side swipe a fly that looks like it is in trouble or suffering. Note that Black Cat is also a lake that has been stocked with Musky and on occasion I have seen a few of these big beasts as they chase fish and surface….wow!
Shelter Lake: Last but certainly not least is Shelter Lake which is located in Hillenbrand Fish and Wildlife Area located due north of Linton and just southeast of Jasonville. Shelter is a medium sized lake that is secluded and a little hard to find. Turn west on highway 48 in Worthington and head towards Jasonville. When you get to CR 1100, turn left; you will cross 700N…continue on and look for the Shelter Lake sign on your right. The boat ramp while small is safe and will allow most boats to be launched safely. The lake has at least two creeks or drainages that flow into it…and the same number of creeks that flow out of it and any of these four spots are safe bets. Note that if it has rained hard the day before…the lake will turn to chocolate and be virtually unfishable. Normally however, the lake is very clear and is another one of those pleasing waters to fish. I love to fish Shelter early in the morning with a large popper and have had several incredible explosions close to both my float tube and my new boat. This past year I caught several nice bass in the area just off of the boat ramp; I think all too often this area gets overlooked by fisherman heading to the other end of the lake.
So…there is my list, agree or disagree…up to you; my hope is that you grab your gear this fall and go searching out some good water. Take the time to enjoy all the nature that surrounds the water as we all Enjoy the Great Outdoors.