Fishing Report: SE Indiana smallmouth bite heats up on rivers and streams

If you spent the second week of March sitting on the couch drinking beer you missed the first great smallmouth bite of the year. The first of the week was perfect, sunny and warm with south and southwest winds. I fished the first Friday of March and caught three fish, one 15-incher and a couple of dinks. The wind was out of the north and had a sting to it.The rivers in southeast Indiana were still a little high and muddy. After the weekend conditions improved, the big smallmouth reacted accordingly. Monday I fished with my friend Aaron Jenkins. We fished a sweet little stream that in some places an eight foot 2”x4” would have spanned the creek.


We landed four smallies over
18 inches, plus numerous fish slightly smaller. In all fairness Aaron caught 3 of the largest. Tuesday my friend Rick Cockrum and I fished on one of our larger rivers. It was a bit high and tough wading. I caught a few decent fish but Rick nailed his personal best, a pig of a fish measuring 21”.Wednesday I reunited with my long-time fishing partner Bill Baumbauer. Bill caught his personal best smallmouth on a big black wooly bugger, 19” of pure fun. I landed one just slightly smaller to finish the day

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This week we didn’t catch large numbers of fish as we sometimes do, but we made up for it in size. If big smallmouth are your thing you have to give winter stream fishing a try.All of my buddies I fished with this week are fly fisherman. We were using 5wt or 6wt rods equipped with a sink tip line. We tried a variety of flys but my favorite fly, a chartreuse and orange Clouser, accounted for most of the fish.


However, the two biggest smallmouth were taken on big brown or black wooly buggers. Don’t wait for spring before you start fishing. If you do you’ll miss your best chance to catch big smallmouth that can be difficult to find the rest of the year.Interested in submitting fishing reports? Email us at to learn how.

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Dean Shadley
Shadley’s interest in hunting, fishing and a ton of other outdoor activities started at a very young age. He was hunting and fly-fishing on his own when he was eleven; it’s always been his passion. He was employed by the Indiana DNR as a conservation officer for 34 years. For the first 17 years, Shadley worked southeastern Indiana as a field officer. For the last 17 years he was in charge of Indiana’s Turn In a Poacher program (TIP) and was the chief public relations officer for the law enforcement division. Since his retirement he’s spent most of his time fly-fishing, shooting sporting clays, hunting and photographing wildlife. Shadley is Fishing Editor of Sportsman Magazine


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