By Louie Stout

Best Year Ever for River Steelhead?

This year’s St. Joseph River trout and salmon fishery is more like what fish managers envisioned when the ladders between Mishawaka and Lake Michigan were opened in 1993.

“It’s been one of the best fall runs, if not the very best for steelhead, going back to the 1990s,” said Lake Michigan biologist Brian Breidert.

The numbers bear that out. Through October, we’ve had 5,400 steelhead, 6,000 coho and a few kings and brown trout move above the South Bend dam. That’s more than 11,000 fish with a month to go in the fall/winter run.

During that same period in 2016, a total of 6,090 trout/salmon were in the upper St. Joe – about half as many as what we’re seeing this year.

And the fish are still coming. More than 1,000 fish ran through the South Bend ladder the last week of October alone.

Remember, says Breidert, November could be phenomenal.

“We average around 1,000 steelhead in November, so we should see that number climb even higher,” added Breidert. “We’re on track to have about 18,000 fish pass through South Bend before this fall/winter run ends.”

They’re being caught, too.