written & published in June 2005)
The thing I like best about June revolves around
the fact that by this time streams are nearing summer normal levels and
usually are clear--all of which translates into good fishing for a variety
Still, in a not-so-dark corner of this ancient
head, I see green wild black raspberries turning red, then black, frog
hunting, and dozens of other early-summer outdoor activities jockeying
for my attention. Fishing standing waters for bass with surface lures late
in the afternoon or early evening rates high among the others with me.
As you may suspect, getting my attention is not
a choresome thing for June.
I think the aspect of early-summer stream fishing
that is most attractive to me lies in the fact that by this time water
and air temperatures are warm enough to make it comfortable to wear old
shoes and clothing, get in the water, and stay there through a few miles
of a stream (it used to be many miles) to absorb the joys of fishing and
Sure, a small boat (even an inner tube float)
will produce roughly the same circumstances and opportunities, but I get
the feeling that I am closer to everything if I have my feet in the blue
Take, for example, the fishing trips I used to
take on the South (Muddy) Fork of Salt Creek downstream from the town of
Kurtz (northwestern Jackson County).
In the years following the construction of Monroe
Reservoir, the creek teemed with many species of fish, including largemouth
bass, rock bass, bluegills and crappies.
I would park near one of the bridges downstream
from Kurtz and fish upstream or downstream to the next bridge, or until
late afternoon when the failing day would make it necessary to backtrack
to my car.
I like to start a stream-fishing trip about noon
or shortly thereafter and fish downstream until the sun is sinking. I am
trying to catch fish as I go downstream, but in my mind I also catalog
best holes and spots for attention on my upstream trip as I fish my way
back to my car.
I like upstream fishing better than downstream
because any disturbance (roiled or muddy) that I create in wading is behind
Salt Creek was full of fish from one end to the
other in those days, especially in the deeper holes and the fast water
(riffles). There were some holes that would float an angler’s hat, but
these could be skirted. Or, if necessary, I would take to scrambling along
the banks at water’s edge.
I did not find hellgrammites on Salt Creek, but
small pieces of night crawler or large garden worms fished on a short-shanked
wire hook behind a single-bladed spinner always produced well with a variety
On my first trip to Salt Creek, when I stepped
into the water I was no more than 10 feet from a collection of driftwood
on the far bank. Where I stood the water was only ankle deep, but the channel
of the creek hugged the far bank and left four or five feet of water under
the collection of driftwood.
By swinging five feet of loose line pendulum style
and releasing line art the right time, I shot my spinner/worm rig near
the bank at the upper end of the driftwood, and allowed it to drift into
the deep water under the driftwood.
Every “cast” brought action, and I was much impressed
when my first four drifts produced a keeper of four different species--largemouth
bass, crappie, rock bass, and bluegill.
Little wonder that I was impressed by Salt Creek.
In the early days of the Monroe Reservoir bass
bonanza--the late ‘60s and early ‘70s--this 10,000-acre-plus waterland
hosted more largemouth bass than any other Hoosier water ever has known.
When many of the lake’s largemouth bass headed upstream in times of late-winter
and early-spring high water, the stage was being set for some extraordinary
early-summer bassin’ on the three forks of Salt Creek.
It didn’t make much difference which of the three
forks (North, Middle, or South) you fished--or where you fished them—Monroe’s
robust largemouth population spilled over into the upstream forks of Salt
Creek, and the fishing was great for bass that ranged from 14 inches (the
minimum size limit) to three pounds.
The bass, like other species, congregated in the
potholes, especially around good woody cover and in the inundated root
wads of trees that bordered the creek.
At one such pool, a sizeable maple tree had fallen,
leaving its entire root system in four or five feet of water. The water
was shallow on the opposite side of the creek and there was a small sandbar
there. It was an ideal place to stand and flip a spinner-worm combo, or
a surface lure, to the edge of the roots. I could always count on two or
three bass from that hole, at times even a few crappies.
Like the old gray mare, the middle fork of Salt
Creek is not what it used to be. And the same probably can be said about
many other mid-sized streams of the state. What happened to the middle
fork can only be a matter of speculation. But as summer comes on now there
is not enough water in the creek to hold fish. And this condition no doubt
exists on many other mid-sized streams.
Still, there are many mid-sized streams and creeks
that hold water during early summer--even mid-summer months--and they offer
great fishing and other outdoor experiences.
Then, of course, the state is laced together by
many other steams and rivers that are slightly larger, but still small
enough to wade. Many of these waters hold enough water even in the dry,
drought days of summer to hold fish.
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) people used
to say Indiana had some 5,000 miles of rivers and streams that offered
recreational fishing. That figure probably has been revised now, and pollution
probably has been at least partially responsible.
Still, there are many streams and small rivers
in the state that can be waded for successful angling efforts.
The wild black raspberry crop does not appear to
be quite as good as usual this year--probably because the cold weather
of spring--but there will be plenty of ripe berries in the last 10 days
of June (they were green when June bowed in).
Populations of bullfrogs
are not what they once were. A burgeoning population of raccoons probably
can be blamed, at least partially, for that.
Still, scouting efforts on hot dark nights will
reveal good frog waters for those who listen for the “BARUMPH! BARUMPH!”of
the big guys as they sit high and dry. The frog-hunting season opens June
Those interested in either the black raspberries
or frog hunting will find my writings from the past on these subjects by
using the search engine at the
bottom of the homepage of this web site.
Bass fishing with surface lures late in the afternoon or
early evening is good this month on standing waters--especially small lakes
and ponds--for several reasons.
First, bass have completed nesting soon after
June arrives and are returning to normal activities.
Second, bass are sensitive to strong sunlight
and spend a lot of the war, bright days in deep water. When the sun starts
sinking at dusk, and when darkness comes, they move into shallow water
. . . often very close to the banks.
This kind of fishing is best from a small boat,
but a bank stalker or wader can find plenty of action by casting surface
lures to the shallow water well ahead of his/her position. In this kind
of bass fishing, slow-and-easy is the way to go.
An observant, slow-moving angler often will be
able to interpret the movement of fish by observing the activities of baitfish
and “swells" on the surface of shallow water.
And just as movement of the angler is important,
so is movement of a surface lure.
On many occasions I have observed bass in such
situations, and have determined that a bass often will be attracted when
a surface lure hits the water, but will often be in no rush to strike.
Instead, the bass moves slowly to a lure that
is allowed to sit motionless, its nose only inches from the bait.
The slightest twitch of the lure will often bring
a smashing strike, but this fish also may simply suck the lure into its
mouth. Either way, a sharp lift of the rod tip will touch off an explosion.