Indiana DNR biologists have been analyzing the data from their 2017 survey on the White River, West Fork, and have reported some interesting results. After sampling over 200 fish for the survey, the oldest was a 12 year old largemouth bass measuring 18.7 inches. The biggest fish was a 20.2 inch largemouth bass that was 9 years old. A 19 inch smallmouth bass weighing 3.30 lb. was 10 years old.
This brings up some interesting premises.
I've spent a lot of time on the water over a lot of years, but this afternoon, I had one of the coolest things I've seen happen on the water in a long time. We've been toying with ice-up conditions here in central Indiana for the past week or so. Yesterday, a pond near me that I drove by was 95% iced over even though the air temps hit 40+ degrees. Today however, when I drove past it coming home, the pond was 95% open water. I grabbed a rod and walked over to the pond with about an hour of light still left.
The air temp was 31 degrees, and there was not a stitch of wind. I knew something was a little different when I walked up to the pond and saw a small group of geese in the far corner. The small waves they made swimming to the bank and trying to get out of the water looked like they were moving across the pond in slow motion - liquid ice. I walked to the back end of the pond toward the deepest water and started fishing. There was a little bit of ice still edging the bank a few inches out, but not much. I was able to catch a couple bass, which made the trip worthwhile in itself (it's never too cold). However, as the sun set and the air temp started to drop even more, a super cool thing happened...the pond started to freeze over right before my eyes.
At first, it started out as just a patch or two of ice floating just off the bank. I didn't think much of it. But as the minutes passed, those little ice islands grew bigger, and in greater numbers. Then I noticed the small shoreline ice lining the bank had grown, now extending in feet, not inches off the shoreline. Soon, whole corners of the pond were basically skimmed in, all this within about 20-25 minutes. I was able to hook a bass as this was going down on a long cast toward the middle of the pond, and the last 15+ yards of bring him in was like pulling him through a slush mug (giving my age up with that one). He actually made a path through the skim ice.
It finally got to the point where I couldn't cast without my line freezing every time I lifted the rod tip and raised the line above the waters surface. It was super-cooling the lake water to the line on exposure, almost like ice on a power line. At that point, I simply walked away with a grin.
A quick comment to pass along related to my frozen line story from yesterday. You'll read a lot of posts in various places on the internet mentioning that braid absorbs water and can be really bad in freezing weather. The truth is more a 'yes' and 'no' answer. Yes, braided line can become more unmanageable in freezing weather, but no, it isn't because of water absorption. If you look at the physical properties of either Dyneema or Spectra, the two most common trade names associated with superlines, both of which are part of a class of plastics referred to as Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE), you see that their water absorbtion is practically nil. You can basically state that they simply don't absorb any. So what is happening?
Braided line, including the newer fused superlines, are comprised of "carriers" or bundles comprised of many, many individual microfilaments, which are then woven or 'braided' into a single filament. In the case of fused lines, the microfilaments are usually more like one large bundle that all gets fused together. Often these lines will be coated with some type covering to enhance some particular characteristic of the line.
In any case, what is actually happening is water penetrating or getting trapped and/or adhering to the tiny spaces in the weave, fibers or coating of the line. The more abraded the line from use, the more likely it is to have some broken microfilaments or patchy surface coating. Anglers often refer to their line "looking fuzzy" when this occurs. The more wear, the more spaces and surface area for water to try and adhere to. This ends up dragging the water into your guides, onto your spool, and then as the water freezes, the line starts becoming unmanageable, made worse by the fact that water expands as it freezes.
So the next time you read someone saying that braid absorbs water, simply realize the terminology used is not quite actually what's happening.
I've got limits, but the fish don't. They're already cold and wet. Notice all the ice on the small lake I stopped at today, as well as the water temperature. Got a double on my first bite of the day, and managed 8 fish total. Not anything big, but most were "scoreable" - LOL. I was pretty content with them today.