"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Muddy Water Fishing/Black Raspberries
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Scifres

A recent column on fishing a clear rise whetted the angling appetite of several readers, but some posed yet another problem (if fishing can be anything other than sheer joy): How about high, muddy water?," they ask.

Well, there is plenty of high, muddy water out there now, (thanks to the weekend rains and their predecessors, but that is no reason for curtailing angling activities--especially so far as the catfish species are concerned.

And while the whiskered denizens characteristically like muddy water better than most other species, all species (even the so-called game fish) are activated by high, muddy water. True, fishing for bass or other game fish on artificial lures is a greater test in cloudy water situations, but it is not impossible.

I don't know how those who take the scientific route explain it (I have never read or heard their explanations). But the old folks (anglers all) at Crothersville, my old home town, believed game fish (especially bass) fed by sight and sound, and the others (including the catfish) fed by scent and sensation, the latter being conveyed to the fish through its whiskers.

"That's the reason," my father, an ardent and knowledgeable catfish fan, used to say, "when you see catfish in water, their heads are always moving from side to side."

I checked that out at a place called the Millpond. Late in the afternoon I would wade into the pond to stir up the mucky bottom and this would bring every bullhead catfish to the surface. And every single one of them hung straight down in the muddy water, their heads on the surface and moving from side to side. I think this may be natural movement for a swimming catfish, but those whiskers always are out there, and they most assuredly are used in finding food.

Pete Johns, one of my river-rat friends on the Tippecanoe River, is a strong advocate of high, muddy-water fishing. Pete lives on the banks of the Tippe, half a mile or so below Oakdale Dam (Lake Freeman).

When the river is high and muddy, Pete shuns the fast-flowing water of the channel to place his natural/live baits in inundated weeds very close to the edge of the water.

"Right in the weeds," Pete says . . . "that's where the fish are." They dine on channel cat filets often at Pete's place.

Pete likes a No. 4 light wire hook (it has a gap--distance between point and shank--a bit less than half an inch). And while shad entrails are the all-time favorite bait for forktails, Pete likes red worms . . . three or four gobbed (hooked several times to create a "gob" that covers most of the hook).

I had my first "lesson" in fishing in-close weeds covered by muddy water as a kid on the Little Dredge Ditch west of my hometown in the flood plain of the Vernon (West) Fork of the Muscatatuck River. However coincidental it may have been, it still was a lesson of value.

The creek was probably six feet above normal and running fast. Everyone in the crowd had long poles and could place their baits (garden worms and night crawlers) beyond the weeds in he swift water. The pole I was using (this was hook-and line stuff) wouldn't permit me to get my bait beyond the weeds, so I fished in them.

I caught the largest bullhead of the day, not to mention several others, and the weeds became the place to fish.


First stage of the wild black raspberry season is here (the central part of the state), This translates into the height of the season in the southern third of the state, and "coming soon" in northern tier counties.

One of the best black raspberry applications I know is the cobbler recipe on the "Wild Recipes" page of this website. But this beautiful berry--found everywhere in Hoosierland--can be the prime ingredient for everything from pies to jelly, jam, and wine. In their most simple application, half a cup of chilled berries floating in the half-and-half or sweet cream that is drowning my morning cereal is not a thing that I view through jaundiced eyes.

Click thumbnail image to see enlarged view.

blackraspcobb.jpg (52154 bytes) cereal.JPG (38703 bytes)
There are many applictions for wild black raspberries . . . This simply made, tasty cobbler is one of the best. Half a cup of chilled berries with morning cereal is not a bad way to breakfast . . . or even lunch . . . 

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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