Fishing Trips · Tips

Downsize to Get More Topwater Bites

If you are like most bass fisherman, we all have a soft spot for topwater fishing. There is something magical about seeing a big bass explode on your favorite lure.

A lot of topwater baits are fairly large. There is no argument that these lures can produce some of the biggest fish of the year. These baits are a staple in any angler’s box. With that being said, I’ve seen times where smaller bass will not strike at these large baits, but are more than willing to strike a smaller version of the same bait.

Often times in tournament situations you are looking for 5 keeper bites. Going with finesse topwater baits will help put some of those barely keeper-sized bass in the boat, whereas larger profile baits may have gone by them without a strike. Some anglers don’t realize that big bass love these smaller presentations as well.

Most manufacturers make your favorite topwater lure in a smaller size. Some of my favorites are the Rapala Ultra Light Pop, 1.75 Live Target Frog, 2.25 Live Target Field Mouse, and Strike King Mini Pro Buzz.

I would really suggest you try some of these smaller lures and see how they work for you. It just may surprise you how many more topwater strikes you get. I think we all can agree that getting a ton of top water bites equals a great day on the water.

Fishing Trips · Tips

An Evening at Saxony Beach

Saxony Lake & Beach in Fishers, Indiana is a very popular summer hang-out for people who want to spend some time outdoors. They have a large recreational area where you can play on the beach, walk around the lake on the paved trail, rent a kayak, or do some fishing. I prefer the latter.

The lake is about 20 acres and is stocked with the usual species you expect most lakes to have such as bass, bluegill, and catfish. I have fished this lake a handful of times this year and have been very surprised with how many bass are in Saxony.

The lake gets a ton of fishing activity. There are always numerous anglers walking the bank or fishing from a kayak. Saxony offers a large pier for fishing. However, I would suggest not spending too much time fishing around the pier. That is usually one of the most fished locations, so you might not have as much luck. Try it, but if you aren’t getting any bites, move to another area. There is a small portion by the clubhouse you cannot fish, but everything else is accessible by foot.

I have had good success on 7.5 inch Culprit worms and Senko style baits. I have caught multiple bass out of Saxony weighing up to five pounds, but most fish average around a pound. One thing I have noticed is the fish seem to spook very easily, so give the area some time to rest before fishing that spot after a previous fisherman has left.

The water clarity is very clear at Saxony. I would suggest using lighter weight line. Lighter line is harder for a fish to see and allows most baits to perform better, and look more natural.

If you are in the Indianapolis area and are looking for some bank fishing, Saxony may be a good option for you. I hope these tips and lures work for you there too.

Fishing Trips · Tips

Cold Water Smallmouth

Winter or early spring is the most challenging time to fish. When the water temperature is in the 30s to low 40s, there are only a few lures in your box that will work.

One of my favorite baits is the suspending jerkbait. These lures can be fished extremely slow and suspended right in front of the fish enticing a bite. Suspending jerkbaits come in all sizes and colors. They can be effectively fished in many different depths of the water column.

The key to selecting a size and color boils down to two things.

One, what depth range do you anticipate the fish to be holding in? The size of the bill dictates the lure’s depth. The bigger the bill the deeper it will dive. Even in very cold water, bass will come up to the lure. I would rather have a jerkbait above the fish than have one that dives under the fish. For example, if the fish are sitting in 10 feet of water, I would select a jerkbait that dives 6 to 8 feet. You can really play with your line size to help you get the depth you want out of your lure. The lighter the line the deeper the bait will go, and the heavier the line the shallower it will run.

Two, what forage are the fish feeding on? I like a shad color in clear water for the majority of my fishing, but if the water has some stain to it I will go with a chartreuse color. If you are fishing in a natural lake with perch, then a perch color lure may be the ticket.

This time of year bites may be few and far between, so tie a lure on you have confidence in and stick with it. I think you may be surprised how many fish a suspending jerkbait can put in the boat for you when nothing else will seem to work. Go buy some of these lures and give them a shot.

Fishing Trips · Tips

Small Creek Fishing

I spent about an hour this past weekend walking a local small creek to see what I could catch. Having never fished this creek before I wasn’t sure what to expect. The creek is no wider than a one lane highway and is very shallow. The deepest water I found was about 4 foot.

I used 6 pound test Berkly Trilene XL on an ultra light rod made by St. Croix. My lure of choice on this trip was a Slider grub, but I also really like a Mepps spinner.

Like any other creek in Indiana, I quickly found out the creek has bluegill, bass, sunfish, and carp. I’m sure there are many other species living in this creek too, but these are the fish I caught in my short time.

This is a great way to introduce new fisherman to the sport. The fish may be small, but they are usually very aggressive and easy to catch.

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.