• Starboard Choice Marine
  • Moore Boats

Indiana DNR Director Dan Bortner announced that organizations in 23 Indiana counties across the state will receive $864,610 in grants to fund 34 lake and stream projects through the Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) program.

“Indiana’s lakes and streams are a cherished natural resource for all Hoosiers, providing outstanding recreational and fishing opportunities across our state,” said Bortner. “Through Indiana’s LARE program, Hoosiers who get out on the water continue to make a splash in conserving and protecting these waterways, funding more than $20 million in dredging, logjam and aquatic vegetation management projects for Indiana’s lakes and streams over the last two decades. This creates a lasting impact for our state now and for generations to come.”

The grants are funded through the LARE fee paid annually by boat owners when they register their crafts with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. This user funded program benefits boaters all over the state. The grants allow for the completion of lake and stream projects that would be difficult for local organizations to fund on their own. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis, and local sponsors share at least 20% of the cost.

By Louie Stout

Willow Slough Lake Bed

Anglers looking for a place to fish avoid boat traffic and get away from the crowd should put J.C. Murphy Lake on their to-do list for 2024 and beyond.

The electric-motor only lake covers about 1,000 acres on the Willow Slough Fish and Game Area near Morocco, Ind., close to the Illinois state line. It’s about a two-hour drive from South Bend.

You won’t be able to fish there this year as the lake is in the midst of a DNR renovation, but should be full and ready to go by the summer of 2024. It was drained last year and will be refilled this fall.

Murphy’s renovation occurs about every 12 years because it lies in shallow, wetland habitat and tends to silt in. The lake averages 3 feet with the deepest areas around 10 feet.

According to award-winning District Fisheries Biologist Tom Bacula, who has been spearheading the renovation, the lake is capable of producing a lot of big bass and redear in the coming years, as several hundred of those were salvaged when the lake was drawn down last year.

IDNR Report

The Indiana DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife and Division of Nature Preserves recently presented awards to employees who have provided outstanding contributions to conservation, mentoring, and teamwork during the previous year.

District Fish Biologists Tom Bacula, Matt Linn and Tyler Delauder were among state award winners to include Denise Reust, Tom Despot, Scott Namestnik, Sandy Clark-Kolaks, Emily McCallen, Joe Caudell, and Karl Eliason.

The Indiana Hellbender Partnership, represented during the awards ceremony by Nate Engbrecht, state herpetologist, also received recognition.

Bacula, district 1 fisheries biologist, received the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Champion Award. It recognizes employees who have made outstanding contributions to conservation. Bacula has provided instrumental leadership in the effort to rehabilitate J.C. Murphey Lake at Willow Slough FWA.

The team that produced the 2022-2023 Licensed Angler Survey received the Fish & Wildlife Director’s Team of the Year award, which recognizes a team’s significant contribution to conservation. Clark-Kolaks (south region fisheries research biologist), Linn (north region fisheries research biologist), Bacula, McCallen (biometrician), Caudell (deer biologist), Delauder (district 3 fisheries management biologist) and Eliason (business systems senior consultant) all received awards for their contribution to the 2022-2023 License Angler Survey, which was the largest-ever public input effort by the DFW fisheries program. The survey yielded data about angler concerns and fish consumption habits from nearly 17,000 licensed anglers. Results from the survey effort can be seen at on.IN.gov/angler-survey.

Despot, northwest public lands supervisor, received the Fish & Wildlife Mentor of the Year Award, which recognizes an exceptional ability to mentor others. Despot leads by example, promotes staff communication and collaboration, and ensures that everyone understands expectations and the resources available to them.

By Louie Stout

Indiana Habitat Info

The Indiana DNR has made some changes to its website to include real-time tracking of fishing stockings and locations of planted brush on Hoosier reservoirs.

The stocking site lists every fish that has been stocked in modern times. You can search by species, county, lake and year.

“If you catch a fish in a lake and didn’t know if that specie was in that lake, you can look it up and see when the last stocking occurred,” said District Fisheries Biologist Tyler Delauder.

IDNR Report

Brown Trout

The DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife stocked roughly 4,500 brown trout into northern Indiana streams in early January.  

Most fish ranged between 8 to 14 inches at the time of release. Indiana obtained the trout from Illinois last year when they were approximately 3 inches long. Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery in Walkerton raised the trout until they were close to an average of 10 inches long. 

The six streams stocked included Pigeon River (Steuben/LaGrange counties), Solomon Creek (Elkhart County), Little Elkhart River (LaGrange/Elkhart counties), Rowe Eden Ditch (LaGrange/Elkhart counties), Cobus Creek (Elkhart County), and Little Kankakee River (LaPorte County).