As the years go by, one would hope that we get a little smarter? It doesn’t matter if it is handling money, work or even the big picture of life itself…but for sure I have started to fish ‘smarter’. There are fly patterns, lakes, streams and methods that work at various points of the year. The good part is that while I still have a good memory…I can pull up past successes and zoom back to those places. Sometimes I even find the same fish in the same spots and they even eat the same flies.
Recently I have perfected a technique I started using a few years back. Fishing from my float tube I am able to easily control my line depth, speed and where I travel as I troll over good water. I know this is nothing new for many of you as I see boats doing the same thing and have watched Lord knows how many TV shows where they are using a small kicker motor to cover water for big trout or a wide variety of other game fish. But…for me and my little float tube…it has become a very efficient way of both covering water and finding where the fish are as well as what they are eating.
Just this past weekend, after striking out once again in the turkey woods…I turned the truck south and made my way down through the country to the Hillenbrand FWA. I have written about Hillenbrand before but if you missed any of those let me tell you that this particular group of lakes sit north of Linton and south of Jasonville…and primarily east of Highway 59. These are old coal pits that have been reclaimed and provide the angler a myriad of fishing opportunities. The best part is the fact that I’m usually there by myself and if not alone…let’s just say, there isn’t ever a traffic jam at the boat launch.
I like several lakes in the FWA but would have to say that Midland proves to be my favorite as I fish it probably 30 or so times each year. Just like any other adventure…do it often enough and you will start to ‘learn’ and figure out where the fish are during different periods of the year. On this Saturday it was not only misty, but a little rainy from time to time. For those of you who aren’t fishermen then often I will have folks say to me something like this, “Raining outside…guess you aren’t going fishing”? Now I know they have the best of intentions but what they don’t understand is that usually the fishing is much better in low pressure or rainy conditions. Truth is it’s even physiological for fish like trout as they don’t have eyelids. They are photophobic and the brighter the sun is overhead…the further they go down in the water column. To the point that if it is a bright-sunny day with little wind…you may as well forget trout feeding in the top 10 foot of a lake. Now obviously this depends on the water clarity…but, let’s say there is some wind that puts a chop on the lake, then the trout will move up as there is less sunlight penetrating the surface. Throw in an overcast day with chop and maybe even a little rain from time to time…and you have what might just be a ‘perfect-storm’.
When I pulled into the parking area at Midland Lake I glanced at my watch and it was a bit after 11am. There were three other trucks/trailers sitting in the parking area and I could quickly look west out onto the lake and see all three boats situated in areas where I knew they were fishing for pan fish. As I sat on the bumper of my Yukon and pulled on my waders the excitement for the next few hours…was evident. That is the part I love about fly fishing; doesn’t matter how many times I go I always look forward to the chase and hunt involved.
I took two rods along; my 4-weight with a type 1 sink-tip line and my small 6-weight, also with a type 1 sink-tip line. Both of these rods would allow me to get the fly down to a targeted depth and yet weren’t so bulky that I wouldn’t enjoy fighting the fish. I tied a crème colored trout candy, size 6, onto my smaller rod and made a long cast, put my back to the west, into the wind and rain…and started off slowly towards the middle of the lake. I gave an occasional strip of the line and in about a minute had retrieved the line back onto the stripping net situated between my two legs on my Creek Company ODC 420 float tube. I was now about 50 yards away from the ramp and made another long casts…let the line sink down and continued kicking backwards; I had made a couple of strips and felt a slam on the other end. I quickly strip set, on the other end of my line I was now attached to a silver bullet (rainbow trout). You have to hook into one of these little bombs to actually understand how powerful they are. This one came up in the air and then back straight down under my float tube…all before once again launching itself upward, at least 5 feet. I knew I had to be patient because I had 4X tippet attached to the trout candy; patience paid off and in less than a minute I had landed my first trout of the day.
I continued to troll back and forth over a piece of water that was about the size of a city block. On each pass I would hook up with 3 or 4 fish. Notice I say hook up…and not land. These silver rockets were so full of life that keeping one on and actually bringing it to hand was a real chore. Never the less…it was an awesome afternoon that found me not only catching trout, but several nice bass and a couple of big bluegill, one of which is pictured above the column today.
If big crowds and lakes full of people racing around at warp speed is not your thing…then give the smaller lakes of Hillenbrand and Greene-Sullivan State Forest a try. These lakes are teeming with bass, bream, crappie, trout and a few other notable species. The time I spend on these small lakes is never wasted…you will find that time seems to slow down, allowing us to better Enjoy the Great Outdoors.