By Louie Stout
Just when we thought the steelhead run might be drawing to a disappointing close, here comes another slug of fish.
Bodine Hatchery Manager Dave Meuninck said about 275 steelhead pushed through the South Bend ladder last week, renewing hope that perhaps a good run might be salvaged after all.
Of the 275 trout recorded going through the ladder from Oct. 23-30, about 40 percent were Michigans winter run variety and the rest were Skamania, the latter of which should have been here a month or more ago.
Furthermore, the last weeks run included 21 kings, 7 coho and 3 browns.
The salmon were getting pretty dark but the steelhead were fresh and healthy, said Meuninck.
He noted that there have been weekly spikes this fall and wouldnt be surprised to see another one.
Its possible we could see another large group move in this week or next, he added. The water temperature is still around 50 and theyll keep coming until it gets down in the low 40s.
The 2012 counts have improved to 1,364 steelhead which still ranks better than 2010 (749) and 2008 (1,282) during the same period. As of Nov. 1, 2011, more than 3,000 steelhead roamed the upper river.
Dick Parker of Central Park in Mishawaka said steelhead are being caught by anglers targeting them.
Its still pretty good at Twin Branch and Central Park for the shore guys, he said. I recently saw a 14 pounder, which is the biggest this year, caught at Twin Branch.
A variety of natural baits (mostly spawn and nightcrawlers) account for the majority of fish being caught but inline spinner anglers are doing well, too.
Parker said hes not received many reports of angler success below the South Bend dam, but the fish should be there as well. Fall action at Leeper Park, normally a hotbed, has been hampered by low water.
More fish have moved into Trail Creek, too. Lake Michigan Biologist Brian Breidert said the Michigan City stream has seen an influx of winter steelhead, kings and coho moving upstream.
In Michigan, Bryan Williams of Trailhead Mercantile said steelhead are still being caught at Pucker Street in Niles and below Berrien Springs by boat anglers.
Walleye fishing is picking up, too, added Williams, noting he had received fair reports from Berrien Springs angler catching them on fathead minnows.
Inland lake fishing has been slow, largely due to the weather keeping anglers off the water. Some bluegills are being caught deep and the perch are starting to get active on the flats.
Nows when you need to be up on the flats in 6 to 8 feet of water fishing with either minnows or water wigglers, said Kevin Claire of Lunkers. They are roaming around in schools so you either have to chase them or sit in one spot and wait for that school to come back by again.
There have been good reports of pike being caught on the flats with large jerkbaits or big minnows, and muskies are getting active in some Kosciusko County lakes.
Theyre catching quite a few muskies on big suckers and large spinners, said Dave Garber at the Tackle Box in North Webster, Ind. Most of the success Im hearing is coming from Barbee and Tippecanoe lakes.
Garber says there are plenty of muskies in Webster Lake, but due to stained water and a major weed kill, the lakes reputation has been hurt and its not getting fished as hard.
Deer update: Bucks are starting to chase does, a clear sign that the mating season has begun.
Deer reports are spotty, though, as hunters report seeing a lot of deer and bucks in one area and not many in another.
Of course, the EHD virus has taken its toll, especially in southwest Michigan. Hardest hit areas appear east of Cassopolis to Marcellus and along the Cass/St. Joseph county line.
However, Dave Brauer of Crane Pond in Jones, Mich. said there are still to be hunted in southern Michigan.
Although we dont start out check station until the gun season, some guys have brought in a few nice bucks already, he said. EHD has taken its toll, but there are still deer out there.
Ron Lorman at Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area near LaPorte, Ind. said the harvest is running normal in LaPorte County.
Weve not experienced any EHD issues this way, he noted.
Thats not the case in LaGrange and Steuben counties, where EHD is prevalent.
Nate Levitte at Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area in Mongo, Ind. said the harvest and number of hunters are way down because of the virus, but not down substantially.
I went hunting the other night and saw about 6 bucks, he offered. On the other hand, that was the first live deer Id seen in eight trips, but at least it proved to me theyre out there and moving around.