Skamania return means spirited fishers
Written by Michigan City News   
Sunday, 26 June 2005 17:18
High-flying, hard-fighting fun gripped area anglers this week.? Skamania steelhead - the craziest battlers in Lake Michigan - have returned to entertain pier, boat and stream fishermen.

"There were probably two dozen caught (on the pier) this morning," Mike Ryan, a fishing retiree from Chesterton, said on Wednesday.

"They're almost all 'cookie cutter size' - seven and eight pounders with just a few 12s."

There's always a chance for a real brute. Ryan landed a 38-incher in the harbor last week, which would have easily been in the high teens.

Nearly all the Wednesday steelies bit on shrimp (50-60 count) soaked under a bobber, according to Ryan.

Anglers tossing orange "wobbler" spoons or Oslo spinners have taken fish at times and nightcrawlers are a good backup to the shrimp.

"Hey, there was one day when you had to have a shrimp and a 'crawler on the hook to get bit," Ryan said, adding, "Today, we caught several really nice perch on shrimp, too."

Few trollers have been targeting the steelies near Michigan City, although Skamania reportedly are staged at all the other primary stocking sites from St. Joseph, Mich., to Burns Harbor to Racine, Wis.

Local trollers have been plucking chinook and a mixture of the other salmon and trout from 55 feet of water. Most of those fish are hitting near bottom on a variety of magnum spoons and Spin Doctors.

At Burns Ditch, where several boats notched double-digit catches this week, magnum "Big Red" spoons and red Thin Fins behind surface planers were taking a lot of the fish at Little Calumet River mouth. At Racine, a Coyote spoon similar to Fuzzy Bear's Smashmouth pattern (blue/green/motor oil finish with a red ladder back) was reported to be the hot bait.

And Tim Mills, who landed six steelies out of his small boat at New Buffalo, said the Bumble Bee and Orange Crush patterns were a good 26 and 28 feet down in 50 feet of water.

Some steelies have barreled up Trail Creek as well. Spinners, spawn and shrimp were tempting scattered batches of fresh runs from Liberty Trail upstream to U.S. 20.

Perch anglers at Michigan City have had their minnow baits assaulted by Skamania on several occasions, but mostly they've been taking home limits of decent-sized perch. Catches were coming as shallow as 15 feet.

And on the inland lakes, a full moon prompted another binge of bluegill spawning. Catches of the largest 'gills in a given body of water were coming from two to five feet of water on wigglers, small leeches and waxworms.

Crappie and perch were fair outside the weed edges on twister tail jigs, minnows and the bluegill baits. Bass were gulping tube baits and other soft plastic stuff inside and outside the weed lines along with a few surface baits late in the evening.

Skamania Mania '05, the area's largest free fishing contest is set for July 9-10.

Hosted by the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders, gift certificates to Lake Michigan Tackle (starting at $100 for 1st place) are awarded for the 10 biggest steelhead. The angler landing the lucky 13th best steelie gets a $175 rod and reel.

The contest features no entry fee, no preregistration and no limits on where you can go. All you have to do is go fish - and be lucky enough to land a steelhead.

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