Fishing Trips · Tips

Swift Current Lure Options

My dad and I recently floated the White River near Brookville, Indiana in a canoe. This is the fastest flowing stretch of river in Indiana. There were definitely some areas of very swift current. The river is very scenic and offers some great water to fish. We even saw a bald eagle on this trip.

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Picking the right lure is critical for success when you are floating at such a quick pace.  Fishing with fast moving lures is by far the easiest and most productive way to cover water in these situations. Sure, you can anchor, fish the pockets and deep areas slowly, but these lures will work for the entire float trip in all current speeds.

I like to choose fast moving topwater lures such as a buzzbait or a fast working “walk the dog” style lure.  This river is very clear and the smallmouth bass love to hit these speedy topwater lures. Choosing smaller baits is a great choice. There are a lot of small bass in rivers like this and bigger baits will not get as many bites. Don’t worry, big bass will hit these smaller lures too.

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A shallow diving crankbait in a crawdad pattern is also a great option. These lures dive fast and deflect off most rock and wood cover making them very efficient. Not to mention, crawdads are very prominent in rivers and stream making them a regular meal for most fish. In the shallow stretches I hold the rod tip high which helps the bait run much shallower. When I come to deeper water in the river I will hold the rod tip low to the water, making the bait dive deeper.

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Another option I like to throw is a small swimbait. Picking the right jig head is very important. If you choose too light of a head the lure will just be swept down stream with no action. If you go too heavy, it will sink and get stuck in the rocks and boulders. A good rule of thumb is to start with 1/4 ounce head and see how that works.

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If you haven’t floated a stream or river in the summer months, you should give it a try. You can catch a wide variety of fish and will usually have the entire water to yourself.

Fishing Trips · Tips

Memorial Day Crappie Fishing

This past Memorial Day was one of the hottest I can remember. While most Hoosiers were watching the Indy 500, my nephew and I were on the lake catching some crappies.

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It was 90 degrees and super humid. This would have been a great day to relax in the water, like many others were doing. The water temperature actually rose 8 degrees during the time we were on the lake. It was 76 in the morning and 84 by the afternoon!

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The crappies are pretty much done with the spawn and are transitioning to their deep water summer patterns. When the water temperatures get into the 80’s they are usually located in deep water. The pattern we found is almost done now for the summer. We caught our fish in shallow water around docks. The fish were located in the shadiest parts. Skipping plastic grubs worked the best. (Check out a previous post about my favorite crappie lures.)

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Crappie fishing can be very difficult on hot, calm, sunny days. If you are faced with these conditions in late spring to early summer, it may be worth skipping some docks to see if you can get a few bites. I know we had a great Memorial Day on the water.

Fishing Trips · Tips

Early Spring Fishing

Early spring fishing can be some of the best trips of the year. I recently fished a small local lake that typically has a ton of people fishing it. To my delight, I had the entire place to myself. The fishing at this lake was much better than normal, mainly due to the lack of fishing pressure.

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The water temperature was in the high 40’s, which was much warmer than I had anticipated. I found the bass in 3-4 foot of water, but close to deeper water. This is a standard place to look for bass in late winter and early spring. Bass like to move up and down the water column looking for the warmest water at this time of year. I caught the bass on a Rapala Shad Rap and a Berkley Flicker Shad.

The crappies and trout were located on a flat in about 3-5 foot of water. Both species seemed to be close to stumps and brush piles. This is a very common place to find crappies this time of year. Crappies will spawn in water temperatures between 50-60 degrees. These fish were already thinking about spawning. I caught the crappies and trout on a float and hair jig tipped with Berkley Gulp.

If you are willing to put on some extra layers of clothes and battle the cold, then I think you may be surprised how successful you might be. I was able to catch some nice bass, crappie, and trout on this trip. 

 

Fishing Trips · Tips

Muddy Water

My first kayak trip this year was met with some very muddy water. We have had record level floods, which made the lake look more like chocolate milk than water!

I fished a small lake at winter pool. You couldn’t launch a boat in the lake because the only boat ramp is still on dry ground.

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In muddy cold water, I like to use bright lures that make a lot of vibration so the fish can find the bait. I used a Berkley Flicker Shad on this trip. This crankbait has a tight wobbling action that I like. It also has rattles, so the fish can hear the bait coming through the water.

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I only managed a few bites on this trip, but with the water conditions the way they were I was very happy with that. If all the fish I catch are this big, I will have a great year!

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Fishing Trips · Tips

Late Fall Fishing Trip

I spent a great day on the water this weekend. I went to the lake with the intentions of using the baits from my last post, Fall Haul. I fished a lake that had been lowered for the winter. The lake is about 12 feet lower than its normal level. The water temperature was in the mid 50’s and the fish were biting.

The bass were located around wood structure along the new bank line. I caught the majority of the fish with crankbaits. I tried a few other baits, but the baits from my Fall Haul post worked the best. Once I fished the area thoroughly, I re-fished it with a jig and caught a few more quality bass.

Fishing lakes that have been lowered requires a little more work than normal. Most of the time, the boat ramps are inaccessible, because they on dry land with the water being down. You may have to carry your kayak or boat through mud and debris to get to the water. This keeps a lot of people from fishing this late in the year. I only saw one other boat, but I usually have the lake to myself.

Late fall and early winter fishing can be very good. If you are willing to put in a little work you’ll be the only one catching fish this time of year.

Fishing Trips

Fishing the Everglades

A couple of years ago I took one of the best bass fishing trips of my life. We were vacationing near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I wanted to take a guided fishing trip while we were there. I tried to book an inshore saltwater trip, but never found a guide that I felt confident about catching fish with.

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I then began my search for a bass guide. Lake Okeechobee was a little too far to drive from our hotel, but the Everglades were very close. I remember talking to Captain Michael Hicks from Bass Assassin Fishing Charters and feeling very confident that he would find good fishing spots.

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I met Captain Hicks at a local bait and tackle store, and we drove into the heart of the Everglades. Michael had a new Ranger bass boat and had it equipped with all the tackle I needed to be successful. We mainly fished the canals adjacent to the interstate system through the Everglades. He knew exactly where the fish were located. These canals run for miles, and he had the bass pin pointed to a few highly productive areas.

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I caught over a hundred bass in a 4 hour trip. Most of the bass were all over 3 pounds. I caught fish on every lure I tried. I used crankbaits, flukes, buzzbaits, soft plastics. I figured out pretty quickly that the larger bass would eat a Zara Spook. Once I figured out that I could catch 4-5 pound bass on topwater, I never put that lure down.

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I even caught a Peacock Bass on this trip. This fish is native to South America and has been transplanted to Florida. We both were surprised to see a Peacock, because we were at the very far northern stretches of this fishes environment. Peacocks need very warm water to survive, and my guide had never seen one this far north.

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Another new fish for me was an oscar. Apparently, these fish are very abundant in the Everglades. I caught dozens of oscars while bass fishing. If I lived in Florida, it would be hard not to fish for these all the time. They are very aggressive and fight hard. They were a lot of fun to catch.

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I also saw many alligators on the trip. It was really cool to see gators in the wild.

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I recommend doing your research before hiring a guide. I like to call around to a few people to see if I get a good vibe. There are hundreds of fishing guides in Florida that will gladly take you on a trip, but finding one that can really take you to where the fish are is what really counts.  This was a trip that I will never forget.

 

Fishing Trips · Tips

Camp Ernst Lake

Camp Ernst Lake is a very popular place to fish in Northern Kentucky. I have learned that just because a lake is constantly fished by dozens of other anglers, it doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish there.

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On my most recent trip to Camp Ernst I caught over 20 bass. Most of the bass were small, but I did manage to catch few keeper bass over 15 inches.

On this trip I used an ultralight St. Croix rod, with 6 pound test line. I caught all the fish on a  Rapala Skitter Pop topwater lure. Using light tackle and using very light line really helped me catch quite a few fish.  Downsizing helps catch more fish on busy lakes.  These fish are used to seeing lures and line.

This trip turned out much better than I expected. I love catching fish on topwater lures. Going out and catching over 20 bass in just a couple of hours all on topwater makes for a fun day.

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