A lot of learning on White River

This weekend was a whirlwind of activity of which a small portion included some fishing.  I only fished for just shy of 5 hours, but it was packed with learning experience for me.

On Saturday, my daughter and her friend were going to GenCon in downtown Indianapolis, so rather than drop them off and make the round trip twice, I decided to pack up my fishing gear, load the kayak, and do some fishing on White River while I was in Indy.  Since there’s not a very good non-interstate route to downtown Indy from Muncie, and I’m not comfortable using my trailer on the interstate, I loaded the kayak onto the roof rack of my Trailblazer.  This detail becomes important later in the story.

On Friday, a good friend reached out to me and provided some good information on the area I was planning to fish.  I altered my gear a bit due to this information, mapped out the location I needed to reach, and planned my day on the water.

A gorgeous day on the White River

A gorgeous day on the White River

I dropped off the kids and headed towards Broad Ripple Park. This was my first time here and my first time fishing the river any further downstream than Yorktown.  I am still amazed at how much different the water is here versus Muncie and Yorktown, considering the relatively small distance between the two locations.  The river in Indy is MUCH bigger, deeper, and lined with docks and boats, something you’ll never see in Muncie.  I’ve never fished water like this before, so I was very thankful for the advice provided by my friend on Friday as it helped me get focused on particular water and patterns, something I struggle with in unfamiliar territory.

Talking kayak fishing, GoPro cameras, and politics with a gentleman at the boat ramp.

Talking kayak fishing, GoPro cameras, and politics with a gentleman at the boat ramp.

After unloading and gearing up the kayak, I spent 20 minutes or so chatting with a random stranger who was asking questions about my kayak and my GoPro.  Soon I was heading upstream, paddling to the location I had plotted out the night before, about 1.5 miles upstream.  Though I found it difficult to force myself to go straight to that location since all of the water looked good to me, I controlled myself and made my way there.  Paddling up the current wasn’t an issue, though the headwind did slow me down a bit.

A little fishing chat on the water.

A little fishing chat on the water.

I spent the next 3 hours or so working the rocky shoreline without a single good bite.  I even resorted to some other lures that have been successful in Muncie recently, but had no luck with those, either.  While frustrating, I was enjoying the beautiful day, talking to other fisherman in big boats about the area, their history, and answering their questions regarding my kayak setup.  Additionally, the White River Yacht Club nearby was having a public open house party, so I was treated to some music and got to observe many flights from the helicopter giving tours over the river.

The chopper taking off for another tour.

The chopper taking off for another tour.

I finally decided I wanted to fish some of the docks on the opposite side of the river on my way back to the ramp, so I made my way downstream a bit and crossed over.  I threw everything I had setup to no avail.  Frustrated, I cut off my wacky-rigged Senko and tied on my old school, tried-and-true fallback rig, a Yamamoto Double-Tail Hula Grub on a 1/8 oz. jig head.  This was a case where I wanted to catch fish so bad that I didn’t trust my OWN judgement.  It only took a few pitches to the dock before I landed my first solid smallmouth.  Over the next 30 minutes, I caught one slightly bigger than the first, and lost one to a giant leap at the kayak. At that point, time was up, and I had to pack up and head in.  Though it’s always hard for me to get off the water, at least I ended it on a good note.

Here are some non-fishing things I learned on this day:

  • My kayak, while only being an entry-level sit-on-top, is amazingly stable.  While many of the boaters on the water were kind and courteous, there were also many that weren’t.  I must say I’m MUCH more comfortable in busy water after the trials of this day.  I took water over the sides from wakes more than once, including one particular instance where not only was I unsure if the driver of the pontoon saw me sitting a mere 5 feet from the end of the docks, but when she finally did (thanks to me waving my white paddle in the air) she didn’t bother to slow down before veering just a few feet to her left to miss me.  My kayak took it all in stride and I never once felt unstable.  However, methinks I need to save my pennies for a YakAttack Visicarbon Pro.
  • I need to be more vigilant in ensuring my GoPro hasn’t shut down due to a dead battery.  I carry plenty of fresh batteries, but sometimes I don’t hear the audible shutdown alert.  On this particular day, it was likely due to the frequent percussion of the Huey overhead.  I failed to capture any of my catches or my kayak vs pontoon chicken victory.
  • I LOVE my new Buff. This was my first trip in a while that didn’t end in slight sunburn on my neck and ears.  I’m glad I spent some birthday money on it.
  • If you want superb parking in a downtown Indy parking garage, drive an SUV and strap a kayak to the top.  When picking up the kids, I decided to park and go inside to get them though I hadn’t considered the height restrictions in the parking garages.  I drove slowly under the hanging gauge tubes, clearing it by mere inches.  The kind attendant told me to back into a spot reserved for employees, right there by the booth, so that I didn’t have to make my way through the entire garage that was nearly full.