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Bite Me! Jigheads

By Louie Stout

As we inch farther into spring weather, fishing conditions improve with each warmer day.

In fact, today would be a good day to get out as it’s a free fishing day in Indiana for residents only. That means you won’t need a license (today only).

Although the steelhead run is winding down, there are still plenty of fish in the St. Joseph River. Coho, lake trout and kings are being caught by boaters and some pier anglers on Lake Michigan between East Chicago and St. Joseph, Mich.

And while the crappie spawning season is tailing off, bluegills are starting to get active between the shallows and the nearest drop-off. The muskie lakes are producing and some big bass are being caught as they move around on spawning flats.

Of course, so much remains weather dependent. North winds hamper Lake Michigan fishing while cold fronts slow down inland lake fish progression.

“I’m seeing pictures of kings being caught that weigh in the high teens and a few in the high 20s,” said Indiana DNR Lake Michigan Biologist Ben Dickinson. “Most anglers are staying relatively shallow, between 30 and 50 feet and fishing with regular and mag-size spoons on copper and leadcore lines. Several are still running body baits and a few are starting to get fish on dodgers and flies as the water warms up.”

Dickinson said another 372 steelhead moved through the South Bend ladder between April 23 and 29th, bringing the spring run total to 11,354 fish.”

“We’re around 440 fish short of the all-time spring run record,” said Dickinson. “With things slowing down, my guess is we will wind up between 100-200 fish shy of the record. But it’s still been a great run.”

Inland lakes are beginning to warm and fishing has been pretty good. Bonnie Kelley at Kelley’s Bait in Lakeville said the crappie fishing – which was excellent the past two weeks – has begun to slow down.

“Now the guys are catching bluegill on flies and black ants under bubble bobbers or on wax worms,” she said.

Panfishing appears to be good shallow and deep. The fish are starting to move out of winter holes and wander onto flats near spawning areas. Late in the day, you may find them around lily pad roots or close to shore.

“If it’s not blowing or raining, it’s not too difficult to catch bluegills right now,” said Darrin Schaap of Clear H2o in Edwardsburg. “On a sunny day, look for a dark or mud bottom on the north side of the lake, where the water warms faster. If you see bugs on the water, the bluegills will be there.”

Jim Housman of The Tackle Box in North Webster, Ind. said muskie fishing has been pretty good and getting better on the lakes in his area. Live suckers have been producing some of the better catches.