The Wonder Of The Indiana Strip Mine Pits

Years ago, coal strip mining was taking place in the southwest corner of Indiana. The coal is located in a relatively narrow strip and is mined by scraping or digging up the "cover" above the coal layer. That cover is dumped to the side of the developing pit which could be anywhere from 15 to 75 feet in depth. After the mining is completed, most of the pits will fill up with water, usually because of natural springs in the area. Over time nature does some wonderful healing and you end up with a lush hilly forest surrounding a cool clear water lake.

This summer, I had another opportunity to visit a family property in Indiana which has a lake which was once a coal strip mine. As you can see from the picture, it is quite a beautiful place and just begging for a line to be cast into it.

Indiana Strip Mine

The water in this lake is very clean and when swimming in it you can feel the really cool upwells from the natural springs. The lake has several beaver families, some otters, varieties of frogs and turtles, carp, catfish, bass, bluegill, and crappie. At nighttime the fireflies come and light up the place. There are some deep and shallow areas around the lake. In the shallows you can see the nests of the Bluegills.

Indiana strip mine pit

I had the opportunity to try my hand at fishing the lake four times while I was visiting in Indiana on this trip. Several times we went out on the boat and the other times I just fished off the swimming dock. There was not much difference. In both cases, within twenty seconds of the line hitting the water, I either got a good bite or had a fish on. No exaggeration! During one session, after catching over 30 bluegill in less than two hours, I actually had to take a break; my arms were getting tired.

The bass were a bit harder to catch, but I still was able to land three or four per session. To catch my largest bass, I used a bait that bass love to eat; bluegill. I had never tried that technique, but my brother in law insisted that it would work. While standing on the pier, I noticed several really large bass making continual passes near the end of the dock. The bluegill swimming there seemed not to care one bit. I caught a bluegill and then lowered it back into the water to see what the bass would do. It was interesting to see that the bass seemed to be able to differentiate between the bluegill that were free swimming and the bluegill that was captive on my hook. They immediately went after the hooked bluegill. the bass grabbed it sideways into his huge mouth and tried to run with it, but then released it. Then he went after it more from the end side and engulfed the whole bluegill in its mouth. I immediately hoisted it up and got it on the dock. (Meanwhile the bluegill fell off the hook and swam away!) It was really interesting how the bass went after the bluegill that it knew was disadvantaged in some way. I used lures to catch the other bass but using the bluegill was definitely the most interesting way.

Bass caught on bluegill

If you ever are in Indiana and have some time, check out the old coal mine strip pits. You can do some research online and find out where some public ones are located.