Loads of tasty coho, a few good browns and some very impressive steelhead trout.
A free fishing contest hosted by Chief's Bait and the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders on Saturday provided a snapshot of how good fishing can be around here.
Winter, in spite of a continued string of sub-freezing nights, is officially over when the fish catching gets this great, and it has remained pretty good this week.
Limit catches of five-coho per angler have been caught in the harbor as well as the pier when the weather has allowed. There also are enough large steelies lurking in Trail Creek and other local tributaries to keep stream angling interesting.
Contest highlights included a double-win by Will Marshall, age 12, of Michigan City with a first-place coho and a second-place brown trout. Jarett Carlson of Darien, Ill., landed a brilliantly-colored bruiser of a steelhead for best fish overall.
Marshall bested a seven-pound, 13-ounce brown trout and a seven-pound, one-ounce coho, while also defeating a knifing wind chill aboard his dad's 16-foot open boat.
"We trolled around the Lighthouse, mostly," John Marshall, Will's father, said. "We took seven coho and a few browns - Thin Fins and Bandits (crankbait)." Marshall noted the Washington Park marina was iced over Saturday morning, but another boat had busted a path to the lake.
The top brown trout was an eight-pound, 11-ounce beauty caught by Tim Jones, Jr., while casting a Little Cleo at the Port of Indiana.
Carlson's champion steelie weighed in at 13 pounds, 15 ounces, and was as stunningly handsome as it was big.
"A chartreuse spawn sack," Carlson said. "I'm not sure how many we landed, but it was quite a few."
Anglers catching the top six steelhead, best three coho and the largest pair of browns received medals as well as merchandise prizes. No whitefish were registered. The complete results are at www.nwisteelheaders.org.
The caveat to the great fishing is that it's fishing, meaning there are no guarantees how long it will last. And coho are notorious for here-this-afternoon, gone the next morning behavior.
However, cold nights have been keeping the lake temperature down, which should keep the coho within range of shore anglers.
• Next up for contest fishing fans is Friends of Fishing's annual Winter Rebellion on March 31.
This is a shore fishing contest in Michigan City with boundaries the Franklin St. bridge to the Lighthouse. Entry is $20 per angler with winner determined by the total weight of their three best fish (salmon, trout and whitefish eligible). Contest time is 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. with registration/weigh-in near the Coast Guard Station.
Additionally, entry is free for kids (age 17 and under) and there will be prizes for the youth. Any questions, call Mark at (219) 476-5860.
• The Galena River chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will hold its annual fundraising banquet on March 24 at Best Western in LaPorte. For more information, contact John Haferkamp at (574) 276-8001. For more information on the national organization, see www.nwtf.org.
Indiana's wild turkey spring season is April 25-May 13. Youth-only spring turkey is April 21-22.