Column: Return to Bluegrass well worth the trip

By Larry LaGrange

My son Justin and I did a return trip to Bluegrass Fish and Wildlife Area recently. We had tried Loon Lake in May without much success but this time we fished the biggest lake, Bluegrass, located on a beautiful property of reclaimed coal pits just northeast of Evansville.

There were very few trailers in the parking lot as we pulled in on a hot Sunday afternoon. Bluebird skies, north wind, and high temps were our pre-trip excuses for not doing well and the conditions had apparently kept some other fishermen and boaters away.

I stared in amazement at the party in front of us at the ramp. Three good-sized adults and a whining child of about four years were launching a narrow 12-foot canoe-type boat that barely held all four of them. They all had life jackets on, which meant they were incredibly uncomfortable in the heat, but at least when the boat capsized they might have a chance to make it to shore. I felt sure they would eventually all topple in, but as far as I know, they survived. We watched them hug the shoreline for awhile, and then we motored on up the lake. The child’s safety really concerned me, but apparently their little boating adventure didn’t end in tragedy. I felt somewhat guilty as my son and I motored away in our comfortable, roomy Bass Tracker. Then I felt grateful.

I had not really seen this lake in its entirety. A couple of years ago Justin and I tried our luck there but the wind gave us fits and we left for smaller, more protected waters. Now I got a good look at it as we motored around. This is a gorgeous lake, with plenty of cover on the west bank and lots of grass beds on the east bank. It looked bassy. The lake covers 195 acres and the entire Bluegrass area has 600 acres of water in 28 pits. Bluegrass Lake, the largest, has plenty of room. Loon across the road has 184 acres. The two are connected by a culvert pipe under the road. There are no access fees and the lakes have a idle speed requirement. Minimum bass length for a keeper is 18 inches with a limit of two. An interesting feature of Bluegrass and Loon is that musky are stocked regularly. According to a DNR fisheries person, a survey was done in 2017 in which a 40-inch musky was taken. These toothy guys have been stocked since 2006. Justin had caught a small one on an earlier trip to Loon. Otter Pit is also close by and is connected to the other two by a pipe. It might get a little less pressure, and it has a launch ramp. Fishing is prohibited on any of the lakes during waterfowl season.

We found some shade on the west bank so we could cast in comfort, but nothing doing there. I spotted a lone fisherman in a decked-out kayak and we moved over to have some conversation and maybe gain some insights on how to catch bass in this lake. I do this frequently on the water and I’ve found most of the time I learn something. Fishermen are usually a friendly, generous lot who willingly share with a newcomer some information about how to get bites.

This gentleman was more than willing to tell us all about Bluegrass, including stories of giant bass this place has produced. He talked about eight and nine-pounders which got my attention. He then mentioned he had heard of a 14-pounder being caught. That one was hard to believe. If it’s true, it would be close to Jennifer Schultz’s 14-12 state record caught out of the Lake of Seven Springs over near Corydon in 1991. (Yes, that’s right. The state record bass was caught by a Jennifer, not a Joe, Bill, George, or Sam). I’ll dig into Jennifer’s story and tell you about the catch in a future column. I do know that she walked down to the bank of their home on the lake, fired out a cast using a Pop-R surface bait, and the rest is history. That record will most likely never be broken. Indiana does not normally produce that size. Texas, California, and Florida do, but not that often.

The kayaker said that he had seen nice fish on his graph earlier, but he couldn’t get them to bite. He pointed out an area on the east side that usually held fish, and he welcomed us to go over and give it a try. We thanked him and moved out into a baking sun and over to the east side in the general area he described.

My last column was about mistakes. The error on this trip was forgetting my fish finder. Without it, we were flying blind as far as structure went. So we didn’t locate the 15-foot deep spot he was telling us about.

I finally hooked a nice two-pounder, and then we moved to a windblown, grassy point where we had a minor flurry of good fishing. I caught five or six small bass on a worm and Justin caught one on a swimbait. He and I discussed coming back to this lake in the early spring when the abundant grass and wood along the bank would hold those eight or nine-pounders. Or maybe that 14-pounder.

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