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I was proud of the sportsmen, clubs and businesses that pledged support for the DNR’s proposed access site on Eagle/Juno lakes at the Ontwa Township public hearing last week.

The hall was filled with supporters, and according to an unofficial tally, 26 people spoke in favor and 13 lake residents spoke against it. Several letters and signed petitions of support also were presented to the board.

The DNR has the option to buy land that it wants to develop north of the Juno Chain channel and across from Eagle Lake. It calls for a new Eagle Lake ramp with safer access than a former site, a ramp into the channel going to Juno Chain, restroom facilities and shore fishing area.

Every sportsman that addressed the board spoke respectfully and followed the rules of conduct the township set for the meeting; some lake residents opposed to the access were less respectful, using their time the microphone to chastise anglers and the DNR for threatening “their” lake.

Spokesperson for the Eagle Lake Improvement Association said her group respected angler rights and wants to work with everyone on an equitable plan. However, it wants the 16 parking spots the DNR proposes cut in half; a park environment, boat cleaning station and additional environmental restrictions.

It appears as though Ol’ Man Winter is going to give us a good ice fishing season for a change.

A check of Michiana bait shops Thursday indicates anglers are starting to move around on most lakes in northern Indiana and southern Michigan lakes.

However, the snow cover still makes it a guessing game, especially on those deeper, slower freezing lakes and those where the geese and swans have worked hard to maintain some open areas in the middle. Anglers are strongly urged to tread carefully when walking on lakes they haven’t tested.

Ice thicknesses being reported range from as little as 4 inches to as much as 10 in areas where people are fishing.

Just when ice fishing season was gaining momentum we got hit with a rain and a warm-up.

Welcome to Michiana weather.

However, colder weather coming in prior to and during the holidays could make conditions even better.

“When it gets cold again, I expect an awesome ice fishing season, but it depends upon how much damage this rain does to the ice we have now,” said Darrin Schaap of Clear H20 Tackle in Edwardsburg.

Prior to the rain, fishing had been pretty good across northern Indiana and southern Michigan, although ice conditions remained mediocre at best. Many of the channels and bays were getting hit hard but only a few anglers were venturing onto the main lake areas.

The winter steelhead movement on the St. Joseph River continues.

Lake Michigan biologist Brian Breidert said although falling water temperatures (river was 38 degrees last week of November) have slowed things down, a few fish continue to move.

Bridert said 88 steelhead passed through the South Bend fish ladder between Nov. 21-27, but only nine have ventured upstream since Nov. 24. The steelhead are a mixture of Skamania and Michigan’s winter steelhead.

Last week’s rain and cool weather attracted more steelhead into the Indiana stretches of the St. Joseph River.

Another 584 steelhead, 10 coho and 3 kings moved through the South Bend ladder last week alone. That brings this fall’s total into Mishawaka waters 6,900 steelhead, 442 kings and 459 coho.