By Louie Stout
The ice is disappearing on Lake Michigan and the cohos are pushing into the shoreline and the mouths of tributaries.
Indiana Lake Michigan Biologist Ben Dickinson said anglers were catching quite a few coho at pier heads around the southern end of Lake Michigan.
“The ice is gone now and the boats are starting to get out and have success at creek mouths and near shore,” he said. “Coho, lake trout, browns and an occasional king has been caught. It’s sporadic, but the fish are there.”
The spring St. Joseph River steelhead run into Indiana waters is a week or so away because the water temperature remains cold due to the snow runoff.
However, the steelhead will get going again when the water temp creeps into the 40s.
“I look to see movement next week with some rain and warmer temperatures in the forecast,” Dickinson said.
Anglers should expect to see a good spring run again this year. The fall run has been lagging the past few years as those fish that should run up river in the fall have been holding back until spring.
Statistics bear that out.
The average numbers of steelhead that run into South Bend during the fall since 2008 has been about 3,500 fish. Last year, it was 2,000.
Meanwhile, the long-term average for the spring run has been just under 7,000 fish but its averaged 10,600 the past four years.
“People around the lake have noticed the fall run seems to be dwindling but the spring run is rising,” said Dickinson. “It could be weather or lake conditions dependent. It seems like a lot of fish are holding off and running into the river in the spring.”
Dickinson noted that November used to be a good month for pier fishing for steelhead, but “the late fall and winter surf fishing has been poor in recent years.”
So, gear up for a good spring steelhead fishery that will last through April.
Although a few brave souls are still venturing out onto the ice, many lakes are starting to show open water and the quality of ice is diminishing.
“There is open water on Wawasee and some guys are catching crappie from shore at Webster,” said Jim Housman of the Tackle Box in North Webster, Ind.
Meanwhile, several boat anglers have turned their attention to the St. Joseph River. Anglers were catching smallmouth and some walleyes along the main channel edges on blade baits, Ned rigs and swimbaits.