By Louie Stout
Since Michiana ice fishing remains on hold, winter fishing options are limited to late-season panfishing and steelhead angling.
Darrin Schaap of Clear H2o Tackle said diehard anglers are catching some crappies on minnows and walleye fishermen are getting a few nice walleyes from the St. Joseph River in Indiana and Michigan on soft plastics, jerkbaits and minnows.
Steelhead angling in the streams, especially the lower St. Joe, has been decent, he added.
Guys are using spawn and plugs,” said Schaap. “The Mag Lip 3.5 has been a hot bait for steelhead anglers and appears to be working pretty well.”
In Indiana, Lake Michigan biologist Ben Dickinson said the steelhead run through the South Bend ladder has been above average in November and December.
“The overall fall run (September through December) has been average but we’ve seen an uptick in winter steelhead, probably due to the warmer weather,” he said. “The steelhead tend to stop using fish ladders when the water temp gets below 40 degrees.”
The steelhead run has been down in other Michigan rivers although the St. Joseph River appears to be holding its own.
“The St. Joe runs have stayed pretty strong compared to anecdotal reports coming in from some of the other Michigan rivers,” Dickinson noted.
In fact, the Michigan DNR has lowered the bag limit from three to one in Bear Creek, Manistee River, Pere Marquette, Muskegon River, Manistique and Carp River.
Dickinson said some lake anglers have been catching a few lake trout near shore around Port of Indiana and some whitefish are being caught near Michigan City – when boaters can get out.