Department of Natural Resources is urging anglers who’ve never caught a
steelhead trout to visit Northwest Indiana this spring.
record numbers of steelhead are migrating into the region’s trout streams
from Lake Michigan.
The region’s chief
trout streams: the St. Joseph River in the South Bend area, Trail Creek in
Michigan City, and the Little Calumet River near Portage.
migrate--or “run“--into streams to spawn. Depending on the strain of
steelhead, some run in the summer and some in the fall/winter. They
generally weigh six to 13 pounds, are known for fighting hard on the end of
the line, and make good table fare.
monitor the steelhead runs using motion-triggered cameras on a South Bend
fish ladder. Since June 1, 2013--roughly the beginning of the summer
run--the DNR has counted more than 16,000 fish passing through the ladder.
“The last time we
surpassed that was in the 1999 to 2000 period when we had 20,000 fish,” DNR
spokesman Brian Breidert said.
Spring is a
transition period between winter-run and summer-run steelhead, and sometimes
stream fishing for steelhead slows down. But not this year, Breidert said.
Biologists counted 8,006 steelhead moving through the South Bend fish ladder
in April, which was a record. Breidert expects another 900 in the first week
of May. The current record for May’s first week is 200.
“So this could end
up being the best May as well,” Breidert said. “There are some years where
we don’t even run in May.”
the numbers to near perfect water levels and temperatures for spawning as
well as cooler temperatures on Lake Michigan.
Steelhead trout are
native to the West Coast and were introduced to the Great Lakes by
surrounding states to provide an additional fishing opportunity for anglers
and help control invasive alewives. Indiana’s steelhead program dates to the
late 1970s and the fish population is supported by the state’s Bodine
Hatchery in Mishawaka and Mixsawbah Hatchery near Walkerton.
fishing conditions this year have resulted in an increase in anglers trying
their luck on all three streams,” the DNR said. “And those anglers are
supporting the local economy by buying gear, bait, food, fuel and sometimes
The daily bag limit
for steelhead is five. Catching steelhead for in-state residents requires a
$17 annual Indiana fishing license and an $11 salmon/trout stamp.
Breidert said the
fish can be caught with a seven- or eight-foot spincasting rod and
10-pound-test fishing line using spinners or bait such as night crawlers,
fish eggs, and shrimp.
“If you’ve never
caught steelhead, this is a great opportunity to give it a try, and
steelhead fishing could continue right into the summer with the cooler lake
conditions.” Breidert said.