Finding Hidden Fishing Treasures

How to find fishing treasures

There are plenty of known places to catch bass, places where others have explored before. The experience of anticipation, thrill, and joy in bass fishing where very few have fished before is well worth the time invested to locate these bass fishing oases.

Where do we start to look? The easiest place to begin is merely opening our eyes to all we see. How many times have you driven to a lake or river and crossed over a tiny creek or ditch alongside the road? There’s an untapped resource that’s been overlooked for years!

Alot of ditches that parallel roads and intersect farm fields eventually connect up to a creek or a river and in the Spring or during times of flooding the fish escape the rivers to the safety of these tiny bodies of water, and there they’ll stay until they’re caught or due to high water conditions return to the river from where they came.

One of the easiest ways to search out these ditches and creeks is to take a drive in the country, but another simple way is to get a Rand McNally County Map, or a DeLorme Statewide by County Topographical Map. These maps not only will show you where a ditch or creek connects to the river, but they’ll show you the available routes to access them. Some states have had geological surveys done, in which case they may or may not have aerial photographs of the areas you’re researching. I quite often refer to an Indiana Sportsman’s Atlas, which not only shows a lot of overlooked spots, but also contains information about specific small bodies of water, back roads, other recreational activities that are available; along with motels and miscellaneous attractions. You can even talk to farmers, DNR officers, and local bait shops to get additional information regarding these little gems.

Geological and Water Assessments are done by most states, and their findings are usually published in booklets or journals. I have journals of this nature from Illinois and Indiana and not only get insight as to new places to fish, but also there’s a lot of information regarding the flora/fauna, the quality of the watershed, the amount of flow, depth at specific locations. In the case of my Indiana surveys, they even go into the quality of fishing per section of the river surveyed. For me, this is a real find because the stream they surveyed just happens to be one of the trout streams I frequent.

Go to your library and search every avenue for old maps of the area you plan to research if you need help doing this type of research the librarians are usually more than happy to assist you.

Should you find yourself parking off road make sure that where you park is not preventing a farmer from gaining access to his fields? If there are signs stating that the area is posted, the farmer has probably had problems in the past so please respect his wishes and find another location to access the water. Be prepared to take long hikes in some cases to search out, verify and gain access to these untapped resources.

Other hidden gems include where a river changes it’s course and creates an oxbow. These oxbows should never be overlooked. Backwater areas connected to rivers should be explored to the full extent of all accessible water.

Municipalities often times create parks with ponds, which they stock for children to fish in. Sometimes, there are really big bass in these ponds that have been growing for years. County Parks usually create fishing areas for youths and adults alike and are usually stocked on a regular basis.

Along most highways, you’ll see tiny ponds. For example, along 80/94 in Northern Indiana, there are lots of small ponds along both sides of the road where they removed gravel to build the road. I’m not going to explain how the fish got in these ponds, but I will tell you that almost every one that I’ve fished is loaded with bass and receives very little in the way of fishing pressure.

Strip mines that have been flooded to create recreational areas are also often overlooked. Gravel pits, which seem to be all over this state, are known for their slab-sized crappie and quality bass. Some golf courses allow fishing too, but make sure you secure permission before fishing on their property.

The State sometimes has a list available of lesser know access points to rivers, refuges, and fish & game preserves that don’t appear on maps, or are newly created. Bait shops and small tackle shops sometimes know of small bodies of water that don’t receive too much pressure and they’re willing to give you a lead every now and then because they want your business.

Things to remember. Keep a journal of locations you have found, noting the best route to their access and where the most secure parking is available. Sometimes, it’s helpful to bring a compass or a GPS unit along and to make notations on your maps, anything that will allow you easy return to any given area.

Although it’s sometimes tempting, never go on to someone’s property to fish without securing their permission. If the area you want to explore is posted, respect the wishes of the land owner and try another location. Respect the property of others as if it were your own. If you see litter on the ground, pick it up and carry it out with you.

Mark Toth

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