Some of Indiana’s best bass fisheries are well-known, heavily fished reservoirs that just keep producing nice bass consistently, year after year. The other good fishing opportunities are diamonds in the rough and occur on more obscure rivers and tucked away lakes that might not have the same notoriety. Lakes and reservoirs, big and small, famous and anonymous, are capable of great bass fishing in the Hoosier State. It’s no surprise that Indiana anglers love their bass, and some of the fisheries mentioned here will undoubtedly make a few Hoosiers smile this upcoming season.
Any list of Indiana bass fishing would typically place Monroe Lake right at the top, whether the criterion is trophy largemouth, numbers of bass or just popularity points. The largest lake in Indiana at more than 10,750 acres, Monroe typically hosts several prestigious bass tournaments each season, for good reason. If your goal is to catch a true trophy largemouth bass in the state of Indiana, from 8 to 10 pounds, Monroe would be one of your best bets, year in and year out. Located just south of Bloomington, this reservoir receives its share of fishing pressure but, despite the notoriety, this lake is generally consistent for great bass fishing.
The trend over the past few years has been big soft plastics. Ten- to 11-inch, Texas-rigged worms are flipped into shallow shoreline weed growth or timber. Big brushhogs, beavertails and craws are also used with great success as well. Anglers start out the summer fishing shallow, but fish typically reposition along deeper structure, timber and channel edges as summer wears on. As the fish move deeper, the general presentation is often similar, with anglers sticking to the large worms and craws. Bass grow numerous and big on an abundance of gizzard shad, so many deeper structure patterns exist through the summer.
Top weights in bass tournaments on Monroe are typically impressive. Steve Sendleweck recently won the Indiana Bass Federation Open Individual this past September 11 with five-fish weighing 17.54 pounds. More information on fishing Monroe Lake along with accommodations, lake maps, fishing data and travel information, can be found online at www.lake-monroe.com
Patoka Lake is Indiana’s second-largest lake and also hosts several bass tournaments each season. This lake has a 15-inch size limit and annually produces bass up to 8 pounds. At over 8,880 acres, this lake is filled with abundant flooded timber.
During the springtime, several big bass typically get caught by anglers running up the Patoka River where timber and lay-downs are targeted in shallow water. When bass are concentrated in the river section of this reservoir, water temperature is often the deciding factor as this shallow upstream portion of the reservoir is often several degrees warmer than the primary lake. As spring progresses into summer and fish begin to pull off shallow timber and weed growth, bass often locate just above the thermocline, which is often around 20 to 25 feet of water. Top locations at this time include river and creek channels that concentrate schools of bass.
Primary forage is gizzard shad. When bass are shallow, traditional bass baits like jig-and-pigs or spinnerbaits work well, depending on the cover and mood of the fish. Later in the summer when bass set up on the deeper ledges and breaks, anglers often catch bass with drop-shot rigs and football jigs rigged with 10- to 11-inch worms or large creature baits.
Like Lake Monroe, several major bass fishing tournaments are held on Patoka each season and the weights required to win these tournaments tell the story. A recent USA Bassin National Tournament Trail Regional Tournament was held on Patoka on September 18 and five fish weighing 19.29 pounds caught by Scott Cox and Dan George won the tournament. The largest bass weighed during this particular tournament was a slob 6.76-pound bass caught by George Webb and Jarrod Kerber. Those weights would make a tournament bass angler a paycheck just about anywhere.
The Dubois County Vonvention & Vistors Bureau (CVB) has a Web site at www.patokalakeindiana.com, which is a great resource for anglers interested in fishing this water. On this site, access to accommodation listings, lake maps, business directories and other fishing information is available.
While both Monroe and Patoka are big-time bass fisheries, some excellent bass fishing also takes place on some of the smaller and quieter fisheries scattered throughout the state.