Brookville Lake is one of Indiana’s premier destinations for outdoor recreation. There are three Department of Natural Resources properties Mounds State Recreation Area, Quakertown State Recreation Area and Whitewater Memorial State Park surrounding the 5,260-acre lake.
All told, the Brookville Lake complex of DNR properties, including land and water, totals more than 16,000 acres, so it’s easy to understand why Brookville is one of the most popular outdoor destinations in Indiana.
The lake offers incredible fishing for numerous species. Bass, walleye, catfish, panfish and more species are pursued.
But one aspect of the fishery makes Brookville very unique in the state of Indiana, and that is its tailwater trout fishery. Below the dam, there is a two-mile stretch of river holding great numbers of brown and rainbow trout. The water being released from the dam is cold enough to sustain trout year round, so anglers are able to chase trout here during every season.
Tailwater fishing can be tough. At times, trout eat bugs so small you can barely see them with your own eyes. It can be technical fishing and a lesson in frustration. This isn’t the greatest fish to pursue with worms under a bobber. When you see dozens of trout swimming in the stream but can’t convince one of them to crack their tight-lipped jaw, you may want to throw in the towel and return to pursuing simpler fish to catch, like bluegill. But persistence pays off and the reward of landing a trout in Indiana is worth the effort.
Anglers may pursue these trout with any legal method of fishing, but this is a fine opportunity for fly fishing. Everyone from fly fishing novices to the most experienced among us should find pleasure in catching trout on a fly rod. These trout are smart, but they aren’t rocket scientists. You can catch them on about anything, but taking trout on a fly is a special treat.
On my latest trip to the tailwater, I arrived at the Brookville City Park on Fairfield Avenue late in the afternoon. I assembled my four-piece fly rod and tied on a pair of nymphs, a size 16 Pheasant Tail on top with a size 20 black Zebra Midge dropper. Once rigged and ready to go, I made my way upstream to the first pool. With polarized sunglasses on, I was able to quickly locate a few trout holding right next to a boulder near the center of the pool. Knowing I was going to have to present my flies right on the bottom, I added a small split shot to my leader a foot above the Pheasant Tail.
The plan worked and before long I had a 13-inch rainbow flipping and flopping in my net. Trout are finicky fish that require delicate handling. Before touching one, wet your hand. This makes the contact with their skin less invasive. I personally try to not even touch the fish without the barrier of my net between my hand and them unless I’m going to take a picture.
When fishing this tailwater, or most others for that matter, subsurface flies, including nymphs, wet flies and streamers are usually the most consistent producers. However, you can catch tailwater trout on dry flies. Little midges and small mayflies, like Blue Winged Olives, will come off and can be matched to produce fish on the surface. The occasional trout will eat a stimulator pattern like a Royal Wulff or a hopper.
Streamer fishing is a favorite of mine. I like the action of casting and retrieving a fly. Throwing a Wooly Bugger or Clouser Minnow in low light conditions is a good way to entice one of the big boys to bite.
See you down the trail …
Brandon Butler writes an outdoors column for The Tribune. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.