Will Fish Bite This Spring?
Written by The News-Dispatch   
Friday, 07 March 2008 11:39

There is always hope, although reality is Michigan City coho anglers are likely in for another spotty spring.

Then again, all it takes is one school of the silvery salmon to wander into the harbor for a few weeks and everyone will be happy. Better yet would be for one big school of alewives to take up residence and keep the coho around even longer.

"There are fewer coho out there, but the fishing really depends on the weather," Indiana's Lake Michigan biologist Brian Briedert said.

About one-third less coho were stocked lakewide for a couple years due primarily to budget shortfalls in Michigan. Those cutbacks will affect coho numbers this spring and next with a slight improvement for 2010. Beyond that, coho stocking plans are back on schedule.

Despite the stocking decline, there still are plenty of coho out there if conditions set up right. Mostly, that will depend on where they can find baitfish, paricularly the favored alewife.

"The good news is alewive numbers are up," Briedert said. "The (2007) USGS survey showed an 18 percent increase last year."

The annual lakewide index identified an overall decline in prey species (including chubs, shiners and smelt) abundance - with the exception of alewives, which were particularly better off in the southern part of Lake Michigan.

For trollers, the best coho fishing during the April contests the past three years has been on the beaches followed by 70 to 100 feet down over 100 to 150 feet of water then near shore along the Illinois/Wisconsin border last year.

Shore anglers have to wait for the salmon to come to them, and that has rarely happened in recent years. More brown trout and whitefish, if anything, have come off the Michigan City pier.

Fishing among the ice flows at Michigan City was poor at mid-week.

One angler spent five hours on the pier without a bump or bite on Wednesday. And the half-dozen anglers that visited the harbor on Thursday produced one single coho.

Better catches had been coming from the extreme lower reaches of Trail Creek during the previous couple weeks. Anglers were reporting fair success for coho, steelhead and the occasional brown trout, although that action slowed at mid-week.

When the coho and steelhead were biting, shrimp, nightcrawlers, spawn and jigs or flies tipped with waxworms all caught fish.

One more thaw should prompt a quick spawn from the steelies remaining in local tributaries.

Perhaps, a big run of fresh, winter-runs could arrive, but it becomes less likely the further we get into March. Many Skamania dropped eggs during warm-ups in January and February and are out of the system.

Up to 10 inches of solid ice is still on area lakes. Perch remain good on the LaPorte lakes, although bluegill and crappie have been hit-and-miss. Pike action generally perks up as ice starts to come off the lakes.
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