"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Dog Days of August
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

The dog days of August bring interesting fishing conditions, including various forms of algae. One of the most interesting pond scums I have encountered occurred on a small creek near Crothersville, my old hometown.

The name of this creek was a secret then, because it was full of bass. The creek still hosts a good bass population, so it still is a deep, dark secret.

I canít remember the year--probably in the late Ď30s--I discovered this great bass population in the spring, and fished it regularly.

But at the height of dog days that summer my sweet fishing hole turned sour when this thick algae (scum) covered the surface waters of the creek.

At first there were little channels of open water, and putting an artificial lure in these opening was no problem for a kid with a bait-casting outfit. But when these channels were closed by a thicker, tougher scum (a good inch thick) my fishing came to a halt. Not even my Johnson Silver Spoon would penetrate the scum.

But in going through the strange assortment of soap dishes and other small boxes that contained my assorted artificial lures, I came up with weedless lure I called a Shannon Spinner because it resembled the Shannon Twin Spinner, probably the granddaddy of all spinnerbaits.

This lure weighed at least half an ounce, but it was bulky with red hair and a metal shaft protecting the hook and holding a single spinner blade. There may also have been another single spinner blade attached to the bend of the hook.

I hadnít used it much because I had never been able to hook a bass with it.

Still, I figured if the bait would not hook bass, it would not be fouled by the algae. I thought it might drop through the algae and give me a chance to catch a bass or two.

But when I cast the lure to a likely-looking spot, it plopped down on the thick algae and did not penetrate. I jiggled the lure a little, thinking it might drop through the scum, but it remained high and dry.

Another jiggle brought an exploding largemouth up through scum and suddenly my lure was gone. I had the bass on for a few seconds, but the fish did not get the hook and my retrieve brought the lure back on top of the scum. As I retrieved the lure across the top of the scum the bass made numerous attempts to get the lure, but never succeeded.

I found this interesting and entertaining as subsequent casts and retrieves created a trail of dinner-plate-size holes in the scum as bass tried to get my lure.

The crazy-looking contraption became the star of my stable of lures, especially when I encountered the thick algae or even big beds of surface weeds.

I spend many hours teasing bass with this lure, but I canít remember catching a bass with it.

Bill James, chief of the Division of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Section, identifies this scum as filamentous algae, explaining that it develops on the bottom of still, warm waters. As the algae develops little pockets of oxygen, it comes to the surface and form a thick blanket of green scum. As the scum ages it becomes darker, even black.

Hoosier waters host other forms of algae, James says, including duckweed and a planktonic algae that turns water dark green.

Incidentally, I have never found fishing to be great around those two forms of algae.

DONíT FORGET--The  annual wild game cookout free lunch is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday (August 13) at the Department of Natural Resources Building outside the west end of the race track at the State Fairgounds. Admission to the State Fair and parking fees are the only charges. The menu will include creek bank taters prepared by members of the Indiana Sportsmenís Roundtable.

Click on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

taters1.JPG (27562 bytes)
Creek Bank Taters, prepared by members of the Sportsmanís Roundtable, are one of the popular dishes at the cookout.

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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