Brown trout abundant in area
Written by Gary Post-Tribune   
Saturday, 21 January 2006 14:03

Fishermen working the warm water discharges, piers or trolling the shallow waters of Lake Michigan or its tributaries are finding a good number of brown trout. The increase in the number of browns is directly related to the quantity of the popular species of the trout family being stocked, said Indiana Lake Michigan fishery biologist Brian Briedert.

"Four years ago, Indiana began to stock brown trout after an absence of 20 years," Briedert said. "We began to restock browns due to questionnaires filled out by anglers who requested that more trout be stocked."

Briedert said the brown trout that Indiana stocks are part of a program with adjoining Lake Michigan states where different salmon and trout species are traded. Last year, 45,000 browns were released in Indiana waters with the same amount earmarked to be placed in the big lake again this year.

Brown trout, which have a body 41Ú2 times as long as deep also display beautiful colors with the stream-run fish possessing orange-red spots on their sides.

Those placed in Lake Michigan have black 'X’ marks on the sides.

While Indiana stopped stocking brown trout in the 1980s, Indiana anglers still caught brown trout, however, not in great numbers. Briedert said that most of the brown trout caught on the west side of Indiana’s portion of Lake Michigan were likely stocked in Illinois.

Fin-tagged brown trout caught from the Port of Indiana east to Michigan City were most probably castoffs from the Galien River in New Buffalo, where the Michigan DNR had a viable brown stocking program.

According to Briedert, brown trout are attracted to the southern Indiana shoreline.

During the winter months, browns follow baitfish into harbors, discharges and tributaries much like the spring coho salmon do in March and April.

However, unlike salmon who move deep once the water warms, brown trout are more tolerant of warm water and thus stay closer to the shoreline.

Yet when summer hits and the water temperature rises, the browns will move out to deeper water.

This winter, brown trout appear to be more abundant in tributaries, with most of the fish being two years of age and weighing between two and six pounds.

Biedert said that stomach samplings conducted over the past few years have indicated the reason that the browns are larger is due to their foraging on an unlikely species.

"We attribute the rapid growth to their penchant for round gobies," Briedert said. "Since they like to feed shallow, they can gorge on the gobies. If this trend continues, we could see some huge brown trout in the next few years."

The state record brown trout was set in 2001 when Mitchell Bollek landed a 25.8-pound brown in the southern waters of Lake Michigan near the Michigan City harbor.

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