Aside from the fact that the arrival of summer puts us smack in the
middle of the reproduction season for everything about us, the hot months
are special for me because of one facet of the big picture.
It brings streams and rivers down to "wadeable" levels and creates ideal
fishing conditions for many species, including smallmouth bass, goggle-eyes
(rock bass), and many others.
What it does is crowd all of the fish--and other critters that live
in streams and rivers--into the deep holes, the undercut banks, log jams
and other forms of natural (even man-made) cover.
This makes the fish easier to locate, which may indicate that there
are some lazy bones in my body. Be that as it may, when summer comes, the
angler can read streams and rivers better and pass up the unproductive
spots that hold no fish.
Incidentally, if you are looking for quality outdoor experiences (fishing,
hunting or what have you), streams and rivers are the place to go. In the
view of many, it is a pity that our state, our nation, has allowed the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other supposed do-gooders to cover up
thousands of miles of moving water in the name of flood control, or "multipurpose"
in limited amounts.
But we still have thousands of miles of moving waters in the state,
including some 5,000 miles or more of streams and rivers that hold many
species of fish. All of them support some forms of aquatic life.
One highly-respected scientist of the state, after lengthy studies,
says he doubts that any Hoosier stream or river is free of pollution now,
but some of them are in pretty good shape.
Some streams and rivers are large enough to float with a small boat
or canoe, and this is not a bad way to go . . . if you are willing to get
out now and then to give extra attention to the good spots. Generally,
though, the best way to fish rivers and streams--especially the smaller
ones--is to wear old clothing (including shoes) and get as close as waist-deep,
Ultra light sinning tackle probably serves more anglers better than
any other angling paraphernalia, but a fly rod--even a very light fly rod--is
not a bad way to go, and a simple pole and line will do the job.
Natural baits such as the all-American night crawler or garden worm
are the favorite of many, but there are hundreds of other naturals that
will take fish, including soft crayfish, hard crayfish, or parts thereof.
But artificial lures and flies also bring good results.
Always a good bet are such larger streams and rivers as the Tippecanoe
and Wabash rivers in the north, White River and numerous smaller streams
across the central part of the state, and the southern Blue River, the
Muscatatuck and several others in the South. But their little-known tributaries
can be just as good . . . at times better.
Some of these streams and creeks may be well known locally, but don't
expect their followers to sing their praises loud enough for you to hear.
It is a little like expecting a friend to share the location of a favorite
spring mushroom patch. Finding these spots is most often a matter of getting
wet before you know whether or not the fishing will be good.
In this business of outdoor-columning, I learned many years ago that
you can't be real specific about the location of great fishing spots .
. . if you want them to remain great.
I hadn't been in the big city long before I started looking for a fishing
stream that would be something like my old Muscatatuck River in good ol'
Jackson County. I found one . . . full of smallmouth and goggle-eyes and
it was no more than half an hour or 45 minutes from Monument Circle.
It was so good, in fact, that I thought I should tell others about it
in a column. That I did, and the sports editor liked my column so much
that he put a big headline on it: "Smallmouth Bass in XXXXXXXXXX."
Soon there were strange human tracks in the mud at the edge of my favorite
spots. They would be followed by pop bottles and assorted other junk, not
to mention fewer bronzebacks and goggle-eyes.
It's not a bad place to fish now, but I just can't seem to remember
the name of that little gem.