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Bait Fuel

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.

Ice thickness ranged from as little as two to nine inches on some of the channels prior to the rain.

So far, bluegills and red ears have dominated the catches in shallower water. A few crappies are being caught on lakes that have good populations, but the best crappie action will occur once anglers can fish safely over deeper water.

Here’s what the tackle shops were reporting prior to the rain:

Bonnie Kelley, Kelley’s Bait, Lakeville: “It’s been good for bluegill on Pleasant Lake where I’ve seen a few guys fishing off-shore. They’ve also been fishing at Potato Creek, Lake of the Woods, Fish Lake, Koontz and Maxinkuckee. They’re catching crappie and bluegill, with spikes and minnows being the dominate baits.”

Mike McNulty, Midway Bait, Osceola: “A lot of guys were going out but I’m not hearing many reports of catches. They were fishing channels and Mosquito Glenn on the river where there were 4 to 6 inches of ice in some places. I’ve heard of some nice red ears caught at Simonton Lake (Elkhart), too.”

Jim Housman, Tackle Box, North Webster, Ind.: “Most of the fishing has been on the channels (Webster, Wawasee and Irish lakes) and the bays, including the Slip at Wawasee and Nellie’s Bay on Chapman. Spikes were the best bait but mousies were hot when we can get them. Some bass were being caught on Jigging Rapalas.”

Bryan Williams, Trailhead Mercantile, Niles: “There was 2 to 3 inches of ice on some channels but I heard Lily Lake near Jones had five inches. Guys who were getting out were catching fish, but some were falling through the ice, too.”

Dick Manesmith, Lunker’s, Edwardsburg: “The best fishing had been in the channels and some guys were starting to venture out on the lakes. I was told there was 2 to 3 inches on Diamond and Eagle, but I’d be awful careful. There are a lot of springs that can weaken the ice and make it unsafe. The best bait has been wigglers if you can get them. Otherwise, they are tipping ice jigs with wax worms.”

Schaap, Clear H2O Tackle, Edwardsburg: I wasn’t hearing of more than 2 to 3 inches on local lakes. Eagle and Juno channels have was producing a few fish and some guys are on Lewis Lake. I hear they were fishing everywhere farther up north.”

River fishing

On the bright side, the warmer weather has thawed some of the frozen areas of the St. Joseph River and anglers were getting out. Dick Parker of Central Park Bait in Mishawaka said some steelhead are being caught at Zappia Park.

Williams said the walleyes were getting active below the Berrien Springs Dam.

“Winter walleye fishing can be good, especially during warm-ups,” he said. “Grubs and minnows have been the best baits.”

Bait Fuel

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