Bass fishing is an obsession that I have had for some time now and it seems to grow a little deeper as each year passes by. One of my long time favorite ways to catch fish has been wading the local creek catching smallmouth in skinny moving water. From that point it was all bass boats until my introduction to the kayak fishing world back in 2013. It was pictures from some of the original Jackson Kayak fishing team members that pulled me into the sport. The photo’s showed these beautiful river backdrops filled with fish that seemed to be on steroids. It pushed me into getting my first kayak just to see what all the fuss was about.
Being from southern Indiana people including myself don’t typically think about river fishing. White River East Fork flows just 5 minutes from my house and is probably one of the places I have fished the least. Growing up I can remember adults talking about the river being gross. Kids joked not to get to close to the river or you might catch something. Fishing wise our stretch of river is known mostly for monster flathead catfish. Accessibility is pretty limited as most of the surrounding area is all privately owned farm land which leaves most of us using the concrete launch ramps that stretch miles apart.
This past year I became involved with the River Bassin Tournament Trail to host a local qualifier event in our home town. The event pushed me to get out and learn more about our local stretch of river. After a decent practice our event went off great and we had stellar condition with some good clean water. 3 weeks on the river had me looking to explore further so I packed up and headed to the River Bassin Regional stop in Bristol, Indiana.
For the Bristol event there was no time for me to practice, I went in blind not having a clue what to expect other than what I had found online. Google earth, YouTube, flow gauges and the Indiana DNR site was the only information I had available for the event. Viewing the information it looked like the Elkhart River in Goshen, Indiana had some really neat features to offer and based on the size it reminded me of my creek just off the White River.
Upon arrival at the Elkhart River I hooked up and was able to get my day started on the second cast. The unfortunate part was that we only found one stretch of river that was producing fish and not the fish we needed. After a couple runs up and down from the put-in we made a move to the St. Joseph River closer to our check in and Jackson Kayak dealer Fluid Fun. The St. Joseph River was crystal clear compared to what I am used to. As luck would have it I was able to cap my limit for the event in just a few cast and it was time look for to upgrades.
Fishing around the bend I landed on a sand flat that was ankle to knee deep with a channel swing on the outside edge. I lost a giant on my first couple of cast into the channel that really could have changed my day. A few cast later I landed a decent smallmouth that brought all the excitement rushing back. It happened in amazing fashion as I was able to jump out and wade around the channel with my Big Rig floating behind me on the clear river water. It’s a moment I won’t soon forget.
While the day was not the most stellar of my fishing career I do realize that there is so many more opportunities to catch fish in these wild waters. It’s one thing to be bass crazy 365 days a year but I think Drew may have me hooked on wild waters now. It was fun to apply what little moving water knowledge I had and put together a pattern that worked for me. It’s also been really fun to take my Big Rig out and see just how well she moves out on a river. That kayak just keeps impressing me as our relationship moves forward. She has been drug over logs, pushed through areas where I literally should have gotten stuck and most of all how that little bit of rocker handles the current like a boss.
I’m looking forward to hitting that river just down the road a lot more and finding out more about those river bass that live there.