Brown trout good alternative
Written by Post-Tribune   
Saturday, 22 January 2005 10:33
Anglers looking for an opportunity to whet a line are limited this time of year, especially if they don?t like to ice-fish.

However, should Mother Nature cooperate and the fisherman doesn?t mind going the ?extra-mile,? he or she might be rewarded with one of the most beautiful fish species: a brown trout.

Brown trout or a ?brown? as a sage fisherman would refer to them, are known to move close to the shoreline of Lake Michigan as winter sets in.

Arguably the best brown action comes from warm-water discharges such as that found at the ISG Burns Harbor Steel Plant. However, that location in the southeast corner of the Port of Indiana is only accessible to plant employees. Yet, fishermen working the waters of the Edison Plant at the state line or the Amoco Plant also know that a good number of brown trout swim those waters as well.

Brown trout move into shallow water during the peak of winter either to spawn or find warmer water, noted Indiana Lake Michigan Fishery Biologist Brian Briedert.

?The bigger brown trout are moving into the shallow water to spawn,? Briedert explained. ?But at the same time, we find smaller browns that are just under two years of age also moving in as they follow the warmer water temperatures.?

As an example, Briedert pointed out that up until earlier this week when the mouth of Trail Creek in Michigan City froze over, brown trout in the 18- to 20-inch range were plentiful.

?Those fish are from the 2003 stocking class and run from three to five pounds,? Briedert said. ?The anglers that we interviewed said that the hottest lure that was catching browns was an orange and silver Little Cleo.?

Briedert explained that with a string of days with mild temperatures accompanied with south winds could push the ice away from the mouth of Trail Creek. That would allow for fishermen to be able to cast their favorite spoon or other artificial lure. But if the cold weather continues and Trail Creek remains froze over tighter than a drum, there is an alternative method to be able to drop a line in the water for a brown trout.

Fishermen who want to catch the early spring coho salmon along the wall near the U.S. Coast Guard Station along Trail Creek have long practiced this technique that allows them to dangle a line even if ice is still present.

Due to the flow of the current of the tributary, the ice-build up generally does not accumulate to great thickness. Thus fishermen will take an eight or 10-foot long 2 X 4 and punch a hole in the ice close to the wall. A cement block tied to a length of rope also will create an opening in the ice large enough to both drop in your presentation and also to be able to bring the fish to the hard water surface.

A medium action rod and reel filled with 6 or 8 pound test line is sufficient for this kind of outdoor endeavor. One item that is essential is a long handled net as trying to haul a fish up without netting will generally result in a snapped line. The best bait for winter browns fished in this manner is a medium sized golden roach minnow.

As a plus, within the first or second week of February, Briedert said that there is a good chance that the small coho jacks will begin to start showing up in locales such as the mouth of Trail Creek.

Anyone who has savored the meat of a winter run salmon or trout knows what makes fishermen tick and why they will brave the cold for a chance to put a fish or two on the table.

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