By Louie Stout
With 2018 behind us, what will the New Year deliver for Michiana sportsmen?
As we look back at the previous year’s issues and ahead to a more promising year, we’re left with some questions of what sportsmen might encounter, including questions leftover from 2018.
Here are some of the things for you to ponder:
Perhaps one of the most burning questions – one that has lingered for nearly seven years – is whether the public will ever get a new boating access on Eagle Lake. Although land has been purchased and a DNR plan in place, the Eagle Lake Improvement Association has fought the Michigan agency in courts where the issue has festered for years. The lake association apparently is willing to spend whatever it takes to prevent the access and the DNR continues to drag its feet. Last summer, the DNR stopped parking on its grassy lot due to complaints from the township.
Have Lake of the Woods walleyes grown up? A DNR Survey two years ago showed a good population and those fish should be well above the keeper size this year.
Will we have an ice fishing season that lasts more than a couple weeks, or will we have a late winter that encroaches into a more desirable spring open-water fishery?
Can we be spared another major flood of Michiana cities and rivers this year like what was experienced early last year?
How long before chronic wasting disease finds its way into Michiana’s deer herd? The number of central Michigan’s confirmed cases continues to grow and Illinois has it on Indiana’s western border.
Shouldn’t anglers start exploring rivers and streams that get less fishing pressure? Like the Tippecanoe River, a northern Indiana river that biologists say is teaming with quality smallmouth, panfish and pike.
Have you sampled Indiana’s growing muskie program? Everyone knows about Webster Lake, Lake Tippecanoe and the Barbee Chain, but what about Skinner and Bruce in Kosciusko County?
And while we’re on the topic of overlooked fisheries, what about the St. Joseph River pike fishery? Everyone knows it’s good for bass, bluegill and walleye on the upper stretches, but the pike population has grown in recent years and produced trophy-size fish.
Could this be the year that the DNR starts stocking brown trout in the St. Joseph to complement the steelhead and coho runs?
Will we see another record-breaking whitefish caught in Indiana’s waters of Lake Michigan? The record has been broken five times in the last six years.
Last spring produced an amazing spawning bluegill fishery in Michiana. Can we expect more of the same this year?
Wouldn’t it be nice if Michiana and Indiana DNRs did more thorough investigations of the destruction of aquatic vegetation and lake association chemical treatments? Anglers who fish area lakes are seeing fish habitat destroyed at an alarming rate.
Could we see a new public access on Hudson Lake in the near future? It’s badly needed!
Some big muskies have been caught by shore anglers fishing Lake Michigan. Could we see more of that this year?
Can you imagine how good of a fishery Bass Lake could become if the aquatic vegetation ever returned? Lake residents would benefit as well by having clearer water to enjoy off their shores.
The St. Joseph River should provide good steelhead fishing from the Twin Branch dam to the Michigan line in late March and early April – if the weather gives us a break. Those fish that didn’t move up last fall are expected to spawn here in early spring.
Mishawaka and South Bend anglers enjoyed a fabulous coho fishery in the river last fall and next October should produce similar results as the river coho stockings are truly paying off.
Was last year’s improved king salmon fishery a fluke or a sign of things to come?
Will there be another bear sighting in northern Indiana this year?
Deer hunting license sales continue to fall in Michigan. Are hunters losing interest or is it because prospective new hunters are finding other things to do?