Small Water Angler- If It’s April, It Must Be Trout


Ok, this is the April/May issue and I told WildIndiana Publisher Brent Wheat that I would do the trout installment of Small Water Angler.

I mean, it’s April, right? You have to cover trout fishing. This is Small Water Angler, I have to do a trout installment. Only problem is, its 65 degrees today for the first time since November. Six inches of late season snow just melted off the yard. I just finished writing the Morel Festival article…and I only have two things on my mind; bluegill and morels. I guess that’s only one thing, actually, as bluegill & morels are my all-time favorite fresh-from-the-field meal! I can’t fathom one without the other in the springtime. And cabin fever has me craving early season outdoor activities. Oh yeah, trout.

The thing about trout fishing in Indiana is (far north region excluded) it is not a native sport. It is practiced by the natives, but the fish are non-native release fish. I do not say this in a negative manner, just in a matter-of-fact way. We lack the natural habitat to support wildly reproducing native fisheries. And, with this lack of natural habitat, comes the largest downfall: overcrowding, because there are but few locations to fish for trout in Indiana.

Many people hone their skills here, only to go on to more famous waters elsewhere, but it remains crowded here. Fortunately, if you want to learn to trout fish, there are several different opportunities. There are kid’s days at several lakes around the state to introduce young fishers to the sport, there are inland lakes stocked with trout scattered throughout Indiana and there are enough streams to fulfill those small water guys’ needs.

Unfortunately, the streams can be very crowded at the season’s onset. I have seen literal lines in each hole on the Pigeon River up north as well as the creek in Yellowwood State Forest when trout were released there. More than once I have seen a trout take a hook in those holes only to dart all around and turn all those lines into one big macramé knot spanning the stream as a dozen guys all think they have the same fish!

The fly guys have to find an out-of-the-way piece of water where we can stretch out and cast or come in on a weekday after the crowds have gone back to their day jobs. With the “stockers” (released) fish, drifting a yellow egg pattern seems to be the standard as these fish are accustomed to seeing food pellets in the water at the hatcheries. It is not classic dry fly fishing by any means but it will fill the void.

For those who don’t enjoy drifting egg patterns past rattled fish, there are other options. The tail water of Brookville Reservoir is a tiny oasis in a land of warm water fishing. The cold flows that supply the Whitewater River run for approximately 2 miles from the base of the dam to the main river and this little stretch is a real small water trout stream where fish rise to tiny dry flies. Small zebra midges and tiny black ant patterns seem to draw rises with the most frequency. You will have to share the stream and possibly wait your turn, but it can be well worth the patience. Respectable rainbows and chunky browns are regularly found here.

As for me, I will be doing as I do every year, loading up on bluegills and morels every chance I get, and making at least one pilgrimage to the trout stream because, after all, they are trout…

May the outside of your waders be often wet and the inside be always dry. See you on the creek!


For more information about Indiana trout fishing check the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website at

We want to hear from you! Please email me at with your comments about the state of trout fishing in Indiana.

Don Cranfill
A native Hoosier, and son of a tournament fisherman, Don literally grew up on the water. Early in life he developed a passion for two things, paddling and fly fishing. Don can often be found stalking the limestone creeks of southern Indiana for Smallmouth Bass, while the off seasons are spent crafting custom hardwood canoe and kayak paddles, making figured-wood fly tying bases and developing the ultimate fly. Contact: or at


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here