"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
About Bayou Bill
Recent Rambles
DNR Doings
Wild Recipes





Fisherman's Luck
Copyright © 2009 by Bill Scifres

One of these days . . . if you are and angler and believe in fisherman’s luck . . . you may tangle with what you think is a little goggle eye (a k a rock bass), but isn’t.

You see, you may have caught a flier, a quasi rock bass look-alike that is rare in Indiana although this species is taken occasionally in the southwestern part of the state.

Bill James, chief of the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries section since they knocked the corners off of square wheels, says we don’t find the flier in Indiana often, but now and then this species is taken by someone who doesn’t know the fish is even here.

However, Bill says they are taken now and again in small streams of the southwest. Coloration is similar to that of rock bass.

State record, and the only fish ever entered in this category for fish, is a 3 ½-ouncer taken from the creek below the Driftwood Lake dam near Vallonia in Jackson County. Due to the mysterious conditions that surround the species, a category of the record books was established in 1980. The angler catching the state record was Harold H. Otte, who made his head-scratching catch from the creek that drains the lake and hatchery ponds there. The creek is tributary to the main stem of the Muscatatuck River.

Bill says that although the species is more rounded that the rock bass, the appearance of the flier could be mistaken for a goggle-eye. The shape of the flier’s body is more like a crappie.

Although the flier seldom tops six or seven inches in the south, its primary range, some anglers fish for them because of their sweet meat. They are found most often in acidic waters of oxbows, swamps and similar waters.

However happenstance Otte’s catch of the state record fish from little Mill Creek may have been, the taking was more than a 3 ½-ouncer (three and a half) to me. 

I have spent many days as an angler in the tail waters of the dam and the pools below drains from the hatchery pools flipping a variety of natural in various natural baits (and flies) to catch big strings of bluegills and other species. From the spillway to the river it is only a bit more than a mile.

One of my favorite live baits for the ‘gills above and below the dam – especially in spring and early summer was little toads. The toads nested along the earthen dam, and when they hatched they headed for shore. Hooking them lightly and fishing them like dry flies produce ‘gill as fast as I could unhook them.

They were just as good fished wet in the swift water below the dam . . . especially when the water was high after a good rain.

The only wheels available to me were on my old steer-handle bicycle, and Driftwood (a k a Starve Hollow) was too distant for me . . . unless I could con an older person, with a car, to go fishing there.

In those days we fished under a five-inch legal size limit for bluegills and the daily creel limit was 50. One day when I came back to civilization with a limit string of ‘gills there was a conservation officer at the spillway to check my string for length. “Good string," he said, “but you got two or three that need to be stepped on.”

The officer was Bob Thompson who was well aware of my outlaw tendencies.

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

 Return to beginning of document
Return to Bayou Bill's Home Page