By Louie Stout
The Indiana portion of the St. Joseph River steelhead run is off to an amazing and early start.
As of March 3, more than 3,500 steelhead have been recorded passing over the South Bend Dam ladder since Jan. 1 with most of those coming the last week of February.
We typically don’t see that kind of run until mid-March.
“We have been seeing about 200 fish a day come through the ladder,” said Bodine Assistant Hatchery Manager Bob Bell.
Bell said the recent cold weather could slow the run down, which could be a good thing.
“We don’t want it to peak too soon or before anglers can get out,” he said. “It’s normally April before the run peaks, but I’m confident we’re going to have a very good spring fishery providing the river doesn’t get high and muddy.”
The steelhead will spawn in the river before heading back down stream to Lake Michigan.
As good as this spring run has been so far, it’s unlikely to approach the record of more than 11,000 fish that ran up-river in the spring of 2000.