Exploring Ferdinand State Forest

I've fished Ferdinand State Forest a few times when I was younger with my father, but these trips have always focused on catching Largemouth Bass and I've always wanted to know what else lives out in this park. So Friday after work I started packing up all of my fishing and camping gear so that I could leave first thing Saturday morning. When I go on trips like this I always like to set myself a goal to help keep me motivated, this trip I decided that my goal would be to catch 10 different species. Saturday morning I got up with the sun, packed the last of my food and jumped in my suv to start the drive. I got to the park before the ranger at the station did and was able to secure the best camping location in the whole park. After struggling with the tent for a half hour my campsite was set up and I unloaded the rods to do a little fishing.

I started by exploring the overflow creek from the lake and tried to target some of the gar that kept surfacing. After many failed hook sets I gave up on that quest and put on my rubber boots and started microfishing my way down the creek (well as close to microfishing as you can get with a size 22 hook). My efforts were quickly rewarded with a lovely Blackstripe Topminnow.

Blackstripe Topminnow

At the next pool I was happy to find a large number of creek chubs.

After working through a good number of chubs I found what I think is a Striped Shiner


At this point I switched over to the top lake and took the canoe out to target a few evening largemouth. It didn't take long to find a Largemouth Bass willing to hit a top water lure.          

As sunset approached I set out to find some firewood and get dinner ready. I had hoped to fish for catfish once the sun had set, but after making supper I was surprisingly tired so I went ahead and settled down in my tent for the night.

Once again I woke up as the sun was just starting to come up, I decided to go back to the over flow creek and see if I could find a few more fish species before it got too hot. I started by jigging around the rocks and as I was hoping was able to tempt quite a few Warmouth.

I then started tossing the jig into some shallower water that was at the back end of the pool I was fishing was able to find a few very colorful Green Sunfish

But I had heard rumors of that this overflow was home to some crappie and I just couldn't seem to tempt them. Then I had the idea to start casting as far up the inflow pipe as I could. Surprisingly I started catching a lot of bluegill from this spot.

After working through a lot of bluegill I was incredibly excited to hook into a small Black Crappie (I may or may not have cheered when I landed this fish).

I tossed out a rod with some cutbait with hopes of a gar again, but this time I was lucky enough to hook into what I think is a Yellow Bullhead (I honestly have the hardest time telling the bullheads apart)

After this fish I returned to jigging, I found a small submerged tree branch and tossed my jig into it. I was incredibly excited to see this little Redear Sunfish come out of it. 


The last thing I wanted to include were a few of the strange catches I had as I was exploring the forest. The first is the very oddly colored Warmouth, at first I thought it was a rock bass but it appears to have the wrong number of spines on the anal fin.

And while I was micro fishing I was very surprised catch of what might be a newt in its aquatic stage (Thanks UpperMi roughangler for correcting me on that!)

Species List: 
Bass, Largemouth
Bullhead, Yellow
Chub, Creek
Crappie, Black
Shiner, Striped
Sunfish, Bluegill
Sunfish, Green
Sunfish, Redear
Sunfish, Warmouth
Topminnow, Blackstripe


UpperMi roughangler's picture

Nice mix of species there! That warmouth/rockbass thing sure is cool lookin. It has a nice rainbow reflection off its scales. Also, the amphibian looks to be a species of newt/salamander in its aquatic stage.

IsaacsFishingCorner's picture

Thanks for the help on identifying the amphibian! I thought that the warmouth/rockbass was really cool too

Graceclaw's picture

Wow, that warmouth and hybrid are absolutely gorgeous! Congrats on your 10 species, too.

You are correct about the bullhead; it is a Yellow. As far as I know, they are the only species to have distinctly white/pale whiskers, but I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

Looks like a weekend well spent!


2018 Goals:
Quillback (Check)
10#+ Flathead Catfish
5 New Standard Species (Current Count: 6 - Check)

IsaacsFishingCorner's picture

Thanks for the help on the bullhead catfish, I was a little thrown off by the light dusting of dark on the wiskers. It was a great weekend and one I hope to repeat

Eli's picture

Really diggin' those warmouth!

I like that oldschool-looking topwater plug, too. 




IsaacsFishingCorner's picture

Warmouth are quickly becoming one of my favorite fish to target, and I agree with you on that plug. Its one of the old school heddon zara spooks, this was its last trip before being retired 

Dan Morey's picture

Great trip and sweet pics...especially the warmouth!

IsaacsFishingCorner's picture

Thanks! The warmouth was the highlight of my trip for sure

Great pics, and beautiful fish! The cute amphibian looks possibly like a very young (recently morphed from gilled larva to terrestrial adult) Eastern Tiger salamander - one of my all-time favorite aquatic critters! Amazing catch on hook n line!!

IsaacsFishingCorner's picture

Thanks! Salamanders are a whole new thing when it comes to identifcation for me, but I think you might be right

Deftik's picture

Awesome story man, looking forward to hearing more from you. Thats a yellow bullhead for sure and thats a wicked rainbow colored warmouth!

Your momma fishes for lifers with Eagle Claws.
IsaacsFishingCorner's picture

Thanks! I'm glad to have found a website like this to share my adventures. Thanks for helping with the bullhead identification