River Smallies & The Hippie…
With my younger brother Josh and I both having a day off during the week this past Monday, we made plans to float my favorite section of a local river together. I had been on this float trip last year with my wife and friend of mine, and I knew my brother would enjoy the trip. He was up for it and I was excited to spend the day with him on the water.
After dropping off my truck at the take out spot, we headed back to the put in and launched our kayaks. I was running the river in my 14.5 foot Native Watercraft Slayer. While many people prefer smaller kayaks for river floats, my 14.5 foot ride handled the trip just fine and maneuvered easily around the downed trees, boulders and sandbars that dotted the river throughout the day. Marc at Wildcat Creek Outfitters (www.wildcatcreekoutfitters.com) had told me that floating rivers in Indiana wouldn’t be a problem with the longer kayaks and he was right.
It wasn’t too long into the trip before I had my first fish of the day, a little smallmouth bass that was of average length for this section of the river. We were using our ultralight rods so even the small fish provided a decent fight and lots of fun. Tossing a 1/8 ounce white buzzbait and fishing it just under the water’s surface near structure proved to work for me the first half of the trip. Later in the day I switched over to a beetle spin lure with a black body with red and yellow striping, and caught just as many fish as I did on the buzzbait. I found that letting the lures drop just for a second along the edge of logs or downed trees really enticed fish to strike.
Josh was also catching some fish during the trip including his first smallmouth bass, rock bass and a tiny carp. If I remember correctly, he caught some of those fish on the same type of buzzbait I was throwing, but he also had luck on small white and purple spinnerbaits.
The highlight of our day, besides just spending time together on such a beautiful river, was seeing a pair of bald eagles. It wasn’t that long ago that bald eagles were no where to be seen here in the Hoosier state, but now it’s not uncommon to find them along our many rivers and lakes. No matter how many times I see one of these majestic birds, I am always in awe of them and the conservation efforts that have brought them back to this part of the country.
As the day went on, we stopped a few times to stretch our legs and make a few casts from shore, including one stop on a sandbar for lunch. Cold chicken sandwiches and Mountain Dew hit the spot after a morning of paddling.
Last year, when floating the final stretch of this trip, my friend Kevin got a good look at some river otters where a creek spills into the river. Unfortunately, they were no where to be found as Josh and I approached the area, but there was plenty of sign such as the muddy slides along the river banks. Along with the eagles, we did see plenty of turtles, blue herons, ducks, geese and many really big carp. As huge carp after huge carp swam past my kayak, I longed for my bowfishing gear.
We ended the day with less fish than I had caught last year, but that didn’t bother either of us at all. Josh agreed that it was a fantastic day and the time together was very much appreciated. As we loaded up the kayaks and headed our separate ways, we agreed it wouldn’t be long before we returned to float the river again together.
I was able to get plenty of video footage, including some underwater footage for my first time, on this trip with my Go Pro camera and made this video of our day. Enjoy!