• Starboard Choice Marine
  • Moore Boats

By Louie Stout

Recent rains may be what anglers need to rev up the fall fishing.

Fish are being caught, but not in the consistent or great numbers expected for this time of year.

The Indiana section of the St. Joseph River has needed the influx of fresh water to improve fishing conditions to spark the steelhead and salmon fishing.

The fish are there – more than 6,000 steelhead have moved above the South Bend dam since June 1 – but low, clear water has hampered angler success. In addition, 439 kings, 449 coho and 8 brown trout moved through South Bend this fall.

Those who know where and how to fish the river are catching a few steelhead each time out.

“The fish have been very spooky because of the clear water,” noted Dick Parker of Central Park Bait and Tackle in Osceola. “Until yesterday’s rain, you could count pebbles on the bottom in 6 feet of water.”

The best tactic has been to float wax worms and shrimp under bobbers, he added.

Parker and others believe stronger water currents from the rain should get trout and salmon more active and will draw more fish upstream.

Fishing had been better in the lower river at Niles and Berrien Springs, according to Bryan Williams of Trailhead Mercantile in Niles.

“They’ve been catching fish – and some fresh fish, too,” said Williams. “It seems like the boat fishermen are having more success than shore anglers.”

Williams said spawn and spinners have been the bait of choice for steelhead while walleye fishing has been improving on the lower river for those jigging with fathead minnows.

More trout and salmon should be coming to Indiana, especially the coho. This year’s coho run was expected to be much stronger than it’s been. The slower run could be attributed to the low water conditions prior to Thursday’s rain.

Darrin Schaap of Clear H20 near Edwardsburg said there are still fish hanging out on the Lake Michigan beaches and pier heads. He says November tends to be a good month to wade the beaches, casting spawn bags in the troughs along the shore.

“If you find the right trough, you can catch a lot of fish,” he said.

Inland lake fishing has been slow, due largely to the weather. Some shallower lakes have turned over; meaning the cold water from the bottom is mixing with the top. That tends to slow fishing temporarily, but the fish will resume eating a few days afterwards.

However, diehard bluegill anglers are picking up some fish deep and crappies are being caught around weed beds. Bass fishing has been spotty although some nice fish have been caught along the drop-offs on crankbaits and jigs.

Jim Housman of Tackle Box in North Webster said muskie fishing has been pretty good on Kosciusko County lakes. Suckers have been the best bait.

“They’re catching some perch on the sandy flats at Wawasee, James (Little Tippy) and Webster,” he added.