Fly Fishing Sugar Creek

It’s no secret…Sugar Creek is, in my opinion, Indiana’s finest fishery for smallmouth bass. Not only is it a great place to catch smallies but the scenery is for sure, second to none. Unfortunately, due to the many heavy rains…I haven’t been able to fish the ‘creek’ until just the past couple of weeks; actually I would bet that 2015 has probably been the wettest or at least at the top for the amount of rain in the Crawfordsville area.

The last week of July found me and dad packed up and ready to drive the hour and a half north to Sugar Creek when, as the night went on, I sat and watched thunderstorms roll in…then checked as the USGS gauge in Crawfordsville went from a peaceful 327 to almost 10,000 CFS by the next morning. If you aren’t familiar with CFS (cubic feet per second) Sugar Creek usually should run between 100 and 200 on a normal day in late July; thus it is obvious that 10,000 was too high, in fact it would’ve been both unsafe and absurd to even think about fishing.
Blue Heron on Sugar Creek
I told dad I would watch the gauge and watch I did. Through the week it fell and fell and finally leveled off at 657 by Friday, July 31st; so north we did go. I fished from Davis Bridge down to the Deer’s Mill Bridge…and I can only describe it with one word, EPIC!

As I pulled into the pick-up point that day I told dad that I would be a liar unless I had recorded my day on video…and I did. I always have my camera gear along and as the creek took its first left hand turn it created a wash where the water had dug out a depression…this depression was stacked with smallmouth bass. I stood up between the seat and foot peg of my Creek Company Voyager and made a long cast with an upstream mend. What followed was spectacular and a bit hard to believe. Without moving my feet I caught 13 smallies in a row…and often had more than one fish fighting to get to my silver streamer. Like I said…without video you might grin and shrug it off but if you’d like to see the video you can click here.

Eight days later we would once again mosey our way up 231 and take a left on Indiana 234 towards the new Sugar Creek Access area that sits about 3 miles south of Indiana 32. I pushed off at 10am and told dad I would be in at Davis Bridge by 3pm…I hadn’t gone but a few yards when my fly line tangled, it took a few seconds to unwind and when I lifted my rod I was hooked up to a very nice smallie. A couple of big strips and the fish bolted towards cover and the fly popped loose; but it was a sign of things to come.

I knew the fishing would be good what I didn’t know was whether or not I could tolerate the kayakers, canoers, tubers, etc…that would be traversing down the creek. Now I realize its public water and I’m all for that…what gets frustrating is my quiet time turns into a loud thrashing, banging and frankly, riotous (at times) fishing trip.

From 10am to 11am I didn’t see another soul and then I heard it…as I looked back there was a cavalcade of floating objects coming down the river towards me. I moved over to the edge, continued to fish (and catch) and fortunately the day went well with only one mildly annoying teen who decided to pound his canoe paddle on the water for what seemed like 24 hours. So it goes…guess one has to choose; fish or stay at home…I’ll take fishing even with some annoyances.
Smallmouth Bass and Reel
Inch by inch I casted my 6 weight rod/line down the stream and everywhere that there should’ve been a fish, there was. Once again the creek was very good to me. Not only was the fishing good but the scenery on Sugar Creek is simply out of this world. Honestly, the views and surroundings are more like something you’d see in one of our western states.

My GoPro was getting a workout and if you’d like to see the second Sugar Creek video you can watch it here. If you’re interested in fishing the creek then google Sugar Creek maps and you can find a couple of sources for access points. If just kayaking or canoeing the creek is something that interests you then contact the folks at Clements which is located at Deer’s Mill Bridge (just east of Shades State Park). They provide a myriad of services whereby you can choose how and how long you want to be on the creek. One tip would be to watch the USGS gauge at Crawfordsville or call the folks at Clements and ask about river height…too much or too little can both be a problem. Too much water and it is clearly unsafe, too little and you may have to drag and scrape your way down the creek.

If you’re looking for a nice place to camp then look no further than Shades State Park; while it is rustic camping, it is a great campground. If you are in need of electric and water then you can make your way downstream and stay at Turkey Run State Park. Both campgrounds have access to Sugar Creek and are within a half hour of Crawfordsville.

Truth is we have a hidden gem in Sugar Creek and it is less than two hours away…north you go, you will indeed find one of the most beautiful places in Indiana and I know you will Enjoy the Great Outdoors.


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