"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Recent Rambles
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Scifres
June (written June 2004)

Aside from the fact that June usually is the mildest and most peaceful month of the year in terms of weather, there is much to be said and done about/during the month.

First, I see June as be best fishing month of the year on small and mid-sized streams. Secondly, June turns green black raspberries red, then black, to the delight of little ol' wine, jelly, jam and pie/cobbler makers. And, there is much, much more.

Taking first things first, I like the June fishing on small and mid-sized streams because they have been "restocked" by high waters during March, April and May.

Fish are not reputed to have nomadic tendencies, but most species turn their noses upstream with the spring equinox. When spring rains bring high, muddy water, they follow their noses, en masse. I saw my first case of this natural phenomenon in my early teens at good ol' Crothersville in Southern Indiana.

My dad, the late Jacob W. Scifres, and I were well into bass fishing (mostly largemouth) with artificial lures, and the two forks (East and Vernon, a k a West Fork) were our stomping grounds. Having no boat, we were bank walkers and waders, actually the best way to fish a river or stream.

Bass were seldom congregated along the two forks of the river, although deep holes below riffles always held good numbers of fish. But generally, we caught a few bass here, a few bass there. Still, the fishing was good because in an afternoon we could cover several miles of stream while leapfrogging unproductive spots.

But late one summer, when the East Fork (Graham's Creek) was low, a vegetable-canning company took it upon itself to put a rock dam in the river (apparently without any right to do so, other than the fact that the owner was a good political contributor). The dam was designed to hold more water in the riverbed to provide water for the company's canning operation.

My dad, and other members of our little group of bassers figured the dam--completed in late summer--would be a collection point for bass. But it didn't happen late in the summer, or in the fall.

However, on the following Easter Sunday, a beautiful day of sunshine and mild temperature, Dick Cartwright, Alton Cain, my dad and I (I am the only survivor now), had to try our luck. We didn't expect to catch a lot of fish and our expectations were becoming reality. So--since we were in the area--we decided to go take a close look at the dam.

It was a wild sight, a little scary for me--a deep hole above the dam and the clear water of the Ol' Muscatatuck (Peaceful Water to the Indians in the 1800s) cascading over the boulders to form a raceway of white, frothy water below.

As we stood in awe of this totally unnatural thing, I got the urge to flip an artificial lure into the swift water below the damn.

"Probably no fish there," the older anglers told me, but being a kid I had to act like one. I picked my way gingerly over the boulders until I was standing on a big flat rock with white water gushing past a few inches from my feet.

At this point I know you must be speculating that I will flip my old favorite No. 3 Hawaiian Wiggler into the frothy water and run smack into a mother lode of frisky, flouncing Muscatatuck bass. You speculate well.

As I wound the peppermint-striped lure to the tip of my old tubular-steel bait-casting rod, I thought a small bass had followed it but had shied away at the last moment. I didn't mention it, but the next cast found me fast to a 12-incher, and the cast after that put another bass on the rocks.

By then I was joined by the three older anglers and before we left my dad's homemade fish bag (he knitted them from a strong twine he called stagen) held a double limit of bass. The other two anglers kept no fish.

We kept the place secret. But as spring turned to summer, then fall, I would ride my old fenderless bike to the dam often and would catch bass until it turned to boredom. The fast water below the dam was a bass convention. But in the long hole of deep water above the dam the fishing remained spotty. I may have been the originator of catch-and-release thinking. If I didn't catch my limit of six bass, or if my mother was tiring of fixing fish dinners, I put them back.

As a bass fishing hole, in a lifetime of bass fishing the dam rates second only to Monroe Reservoir in the first year or so after it was opened to fishing on January 1, 1967.

But a stream or river doesn't need a dam to offer good fishing in June.

Streams may be a bit high this year as June rolls in because of a round of heavy rains in the waning days of May. But small streams are forgiving elements of the water drainage system. High waters soon recede and clear up to return such streams to languid pools separated by riffles and their complement of game fish will hit high points for the year. 

As the dog days of summer arrive, water levels of small streams will be lower and some of the fish probably will return to the larger waters from which they came. Others will be caught by anglers or eliminated by natural enemies. But there is plenty of water--and plenty of fish--in small streams in June.

My favorite method of fishing small streams in June--or as long as water levels remain at normal levels--is wading.

Old clothing is the uniform of the day and valuables are locked in the trunk of my car or hidden somewhere nearby. Chest-high waders or hip boots are fine, but they tire the angler and generally make wading cumbersome. 

Many years ago I developed special equipment for fishing small streams. I like a very light five-foot rod, a small open-face spinning reel loaded with four or six-pound-test monofilament line, and small lures (mostly spinner-bucktail combinations, and terminal tackle for fishing live/natural baits).

This gear includes a small fly reel with a light, level line in addition to leader material and a few flies. With this gear I can convert the spinning outfit to a fly rod of sorts. Fishing small streams does not require long casts.

Dan Gapen's Hairy Worm-plus (with "L" shaped spinner rig) and its stablemate, the Ugly Bug (also with spinner rig), are my favorites, but I carry many other miniature lures, including assortments of Mepps and other small spinner-bucktail combos. The Colorado spinner of Hildebrandt Corporation (Logansport) also is a good bet for the clear, deep pools of small streams, especially for smallmouth and rock bass.

Invaluable in my tackle kit are assortments of light wire hooks, split-shot sinkers, and small bottle stopper corks (split halfway so they can be slipped onto the line when wanted). Wrap on strips of lead flattened lead rifle bullets also make good sinkers.

If I want to drift bait through a stretch of fast water, I just slip one of the bottle corks onto the line a few inches in front of the bait. Fish often lie at the foot of a riffle in deep holes waiting for the current to carry food into the pool.

If I go the live and natural bait route, I will use whatever the insect world offers. But hellgrammites (larval stage of the dobsonfly found under stones on riffles), and soft crayfish (whole or in parts, or tail meat of hard craws) are my favorites. The big black crickets found under logs, or dry "cow pies" in pastures, also are very good--as are grasshoppers later in the summer and fall. If you can't find natural baits, pieces of live night crawler or garden worms will take fish.

For fishing natural baits, I often put a single willow leaf spinner (on a wire shaft) just ahead of the hook. The flutter of the spinner blade seems to attract fish at times, but most often this attractant is not necessary.

I like to fish downstream during he hot part of the day, learning as I go about the deep holes where fish are most likely to stay, and the best way to fish them. These holes usually are more productive on the way back upstream late in the afternoon.


As this column is being prepared early in June the crop of black raspberries is looking very good. Unless something drastic happens weatherwise, this year's crop will be very good.

Black raspberry canes have produced a bumper crop of green berries, and at this time some are tinged with hints of red . . . They will turn from red to black in a few days. 

Picking black raspberries is a bit of a misnomer. Berries are not really picked.

The berry picker simply places a hand palm up under a cluster of ripe berries and lightly twirls each individual berry from its stem with thumb and index finger. When the palm of the hand is loaded, the berries are placed in a container.

An important thing to remember about berry picking revolves around the fact that somebody forgot to tell small berries they are not just as sweet and tasty as their larger brethren. As a result, small berries continue to take their places in cobblers, pies, and the many other delicacies. So pick them as they come.

Look for black raspberries along brush-infested fence rows, stream banks, and roadsides, but remember that they will be where you find them.In the meantime, dewberries (the rambling vine that snakes through weeds and brush) will ripen when the raspberries are going over the hill later this month.   Blackberries will ripen early in July. 

Click on thumbnail photo to see enlarged image.
When June arrived black raspberry canes held a motherlode of green berries . . . they will turn red, then black when ripe . . .  The term picking berries is something of a misnomer. The best way to pick berries is to hold the hand, palm up, under a cluster of berries, and gently twist each berry off the cane with index finger and thumb . . . The crayfish is a good bait for small streams . . . it can be fished whole or in parts when it is soft (ourter shell has been shed). The white meat of the tail of hard craws is an excellent bait . . . it should be fished on  a small hook in small pieces.

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

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