By Louie Stout
You better re-string those river rods and reels with new line and load up on spinners and spawn.
The South Bend and Mishawaka sections of the St. Joseph River are filling up with trout and salmon.
That’s right…salmon. Coho, to be exact.
The steelhead appearance is no surprise. They’ve been trickling in since early June. We have about 2,500 in the upper river now, which is pretty good compared to previous years.
But the early showing of coho - and big numbers of ‘em - has been a surprise to both anglers and fish managers.
“We’ve counted 3,600 coho move into South Bend the first 15 days of September,” said Lake Michigan biologist Brian Breidert. “That’s pretty remarkable.”
It sure is. You will have to go all the way back to 1997 to see coho numbers like that entering Indiana waters at such an early stage.
(Provided by Michigan DNR)
Lake Michigan has had a tough couple of years, especially as it relates to fishing for salmon. After a few years with a low population, fishing really picked up this past spring. Anglers on the lake experienced limit catches of coho and Chinook salmon thanks to some improvement in the numbers of bait fish available.
Lake Michigan has experienced some historic low bait levels in recent years due to harsh winter conditions, less available nutrients resulting from invasive quagga mussels, and over predation from salmon and trout. But Mother Nature, working as she normally does, provided more moderate temperatures the last couple of winters that have allowed bait fish like alewife, smelt, bloaters and lake herring to reproduce and survive.
"The 2015 and 2016 year classes of bait are much better than previous years," said the DNR's Lake Michigan Basin Coordinator Jay Wesley. "These bait fish are helping to support the improved salmon fishery this year."
(Provided by MDNR)
The Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved fishing regulation changes regarding lake trout and splake in lakes Michigan and Huron and Type F drowned river mouth lakes.
The regulation changes, which are now in effect, will result in expanded angling opportunities, including: