Lake Monroe and Tom's Guiding Service Review

Lake Monroe, Indiana at night A weekend outing with your child is a great way to enjoy fishing.  My son and I spent a weekend at Lake Monroe outside Bloomington Indiana with Tom’s Guide Service fishing for crappie.

Lake Monroe

Lake Monroe is a 10,750-acre lake just outside of Bloomington Indiana managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.  As a managed lake the shoreline is pristine and not littered with cottages and lake homes.  Lake Monroe is the largest lake completely within Indiana.

Map of Lake Monroe Indiana

According to Wikipedia

"Construction on the lake began in 1960 and was finished in 1965 at a cost of $16.5 million. Salt Creek was dammed south of Bloomington, Indiana and the reservoir fills the valley to the northeast of the dam extending into adjacent Brown County."

Another interesting and relevant fact is that almost 30% of the lake is "non-wake" so the wake boarders, skiing and fast boating is on separate part of the lake from where we fished.  Nice and calm.

The lake is known for:

  • Crappie
  • Largemouth bass
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Stripped and White bass
  • Catfish
  • Walleye
  • Spotted bass


Tom’s Guide Service

Tom Todd II, the owner of Tom’s Guide Service was whom we used for the day.  Tom took my son and I out for a full day of crappie fishing.

Tom has been on the lake since it opened in 1965.  Currently he is one of two guides working the lake full-time.   A fuel truck driver who retired, Tom has been guiding full-time for the past few years.

Alumacraft Tunnel Hull Boat

Tom had a great 18' Alumacraft Tunnel Hull Boat with a 50 HP Mercury motor that was nimble enough to get right into the weeds, brush and key spots where the Crappie were.  Tom also has his boat rigged with two fish finders.  The boat may seem small but with us being on the "non-wake" portion of the lake the boat was extremely stable and more than big enough for the three of us to fish comfortably.

Cost and What’s Included

We were out on the water from 9:00 AM to 6:00. The rate was $250 (single person rate) as children are free.  In my view, this this was more than a fair rate.

Tackle - Tom provided all the rods, live bait and artificial bait for the day.  I believe this is common for fishing guides although this was only my second guided trip.  We had spinning rods and reels and fished both crappie minnows and a special jig (insert image)

Food and Snacks

Tom's Guide Service 2008 18' Alumacraft Tunnel Hull Boat on shore for lunch



Lunch was provided and included sandwiches with fresh sliced ham water sodas and cookies.




The Day on the Lake

We stayed at the Fourwinds Resort and Marina which is right on the lake, but to save time for fishing, Tom met us at the Cutright Boat Launch to start the day.  This was about a 30-minute drive around the lake.

The Cutright Boat Launch is south of Bloomington right off of Old 446.   Cutright is only 1 of 3 marinas on the lake.

The weather was perfect, although a little cool when we started out.  The water temperature was approximately 51 degrees with the air temperature warming up into the 60 by the afternoon.

Tom's understanding of the lake was evident as we had a well laid out plan of attack for both technique and locations.  We moved around the lake to specific locations he knew and in such a way that we spent much more time fishing that moving between locations.  Also he let my son “drive the boat” which is always a fun thing. (insert image]

We were after crappie.  Tom really spent time with both my son and I showing us how to use the jigs, where to fish, and most importantly; worked the many snags we encountered.

The snag-less jigs we used INSERT PICTURES were good. On the surface you would think that using only 1 jig for the day would be constricting but I found it a positive.  With my 11 year old, and probably any kid, there is a tendency to constantly switch bait; lures and you end up spending more time with dry lines than wet ones.  Using 1 jig (and a live bait rig on the other rods) worked well.

Customer service

Tom's service was great and I found Tom to be really down to earth and authentic.  He is just a great guy to talk with and extremely patient with my son.  We decided on Wednesday (right before Easter) that we wanted to fish and filled out the information form on his website and he responded that night (right after he got off the water).  We set the day and time and that was it.

Lake Monroe water level high

The Lake had had over 1.4 inches of rain during the week so that much new, fresh water in the Lake played havoc with the fishing.  In spite of that we caught over 20 fish for the day.  Everyone was happy.





If you are new to Lake Monroe or want a guide to help you effectively fish the lake, I highly recommend using Tom's Fishing Guide service.  The overall experience was excellent and he is wonderful with children.