"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Bassin' Lesson
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

Hoosiers who fish for largemouth bass with artificial lures generally agree that bass seek cover during bright days. They fish for them accordingly.

Still, one aspect of this methodical kind of fishing often is overlooked. It revolves around the fact that all anglers tend to cast lures to large, obtrusive forms of cover (log jams, big rocks, inundated root wads, weed beds, and other aquatic havens) while bypassing smaller cover where fish may lurk.

I was subjected to my first lesson in this important aspect of bassin’ as an early “teener” on White Oak Creek which entered the Muscatatuck River from Scott County about two miles east of Crothersville, my old hometown.

Due to physical changes in the creek over the years, there is little remaining of the White Oak fishery, but it was great bass water in the early 1900s.

I was fishing the creek upstream from its confluence with the Muscatatuck when I came to the large, deep hole below a low-water bridge used by bottomland farmers to get their truly horse-powered equipment to the fields.

On my arrival three of Crothersville’s premier anglers were whipping the clear water to a rich creamy lather with a minimum of success. The three anglers were positioned in such a manner as to cover the pool well without my intervention. So I just stood and watched.

All of the anglers were casting artificial lures to the depths of the pool and to the inundated roots of a mammoth sycamore tree, but soon the angler on the far bank made a cast parallel to the bank and ran his lure (a No. 2 Hawaiian Wiggler, I believe) past a smattering of small sticks that had accumulated in the shallow water next to the bank.

I chanced to be watching the angler’s line as it cut through the water, and when the lure was passing close to the light cover the whole pool seemed to explode. 

A short time later the angler “wabashed” a husky bass onto the bank while emphatically telling his friends: “I couldn’t believe it  . . . he (the bass) came from beneath that little bunch of sticks."

For the record, the term “Wabash” is country lingo for lifting a fish out of the water with a flouncing flourish rather than slipping the thumb in the fish’s mouth and grasping the lower lip to land it. It is a practice generally used by neophyte and tournament anglers in their haste to land a fish.

It was a good lesson in bassin’. A lesson I still apply often.

Sure, I cast to deep water and to larger heavy cover. But I still keep my eyes open for small cover, and it often pays big dividends.

Why do bass--and other species--seek cover, however light it may be?

Fish, like people, are sensitive to light. During the hot part of the day, fish opt for the shady spot for two reasons. First, such places are more comfortable. Secondly, a nice shady spot is a pretty good place to wait for din-din to swim past.

HOW ABOUT MORELS--I always know the spring morel season is nigh when people start asking: “When will the morels be up? They are asking now.

There is, of course, no way to say the morels will pop on such and such a date because conditions (especially dampness in the earth, air temperatures and sunlight) vary greatly from spring to spring.

I always say that the earliest I have found--or heard of finds--of morels was March 27. That, of course, would have been an early spring.

My best advice is to look seriously for little gray morels when the forest floor is painted by the blossoms of spring beauty. As the season progresses there will be many other indicators of morel time. But I, like many other “morellers,” always start 10 days, or two weeks, early.

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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