Wasn't intending to fish bluegills on Monday, but stormy weather curtailed perch plans and the excessive rain muddied steelhead hopes.

So it was off to a favorite lake for a few flings with a black Beetle Spin, which is a solid panfish search bait, or school locator.

However, after 40 minutes, one small bass. a couple dink 'gills and 100 yards of shoreline, I was ready to check the "nice try" box. You know, at least I went fishing and at least Bo, the lab-mix, enjoyed a good swim.

I was close to the proverbial "last cast" when a solid thump spiked interest. Soon a broad-shouldered, milt-squirting male was slid up the bank with a splashing assist from the pup. Then another bit, followed quickly by another.

I'd stumbled upon a group of spawning 'gills. They were close to where I'd caught spawners a month prior, but this time they were in five or six feet of (presumably cooler) water on the outside of a spatterdock patch compared to being on the shore side in barely one foot of water in early June.

The large 'gills lost interest in the high-riding Beetle Spin and I tied on ol' Sponge Bug, as sure-fire a bluegill killer as there ever was.

Sponge Bug is your typical black, white-legged sponge spider used by fly-flingers, but with spinning gear and four-pound line, I pinch a lead shot, about half the size of a BB, eight inches ahead of the No. 8-sized bug. The creature sinks slowly and is death on jumbo 'gills, especially with a waxworm attached.

No baloney, Sponge Bug caught 'gills on two dozen consecutive casts. Maybe more, because I eventually lost count.

Most grabbed the bug on the tantalizing drop, some shortly after it settled and a few after dragging it along bottom for a couple feet. A juicy, wiggling worm may have done as well, but fishing Sponge Bug was too easy.

It also seemed like every big bluegill in the lake was packed in this 10-yard long spawning colony.

And it goes to show bluegills and their ilk spawn multiple times around here and almost always, provided reasonably stable weather, in sync with a full moon during summer. The previous big spawn was centered around the June 9 full moon. This month's full was July 8. (note; moon phases are listed in The News-Dispatch weather section).

In other fishing, perch continue to be perplexing. Some good catches have been made both east and west of Michigan City, but mostly short of limits (15 per angler) and, frustratingly according to reports, they're not in the same depths or areas from day to day.

Stable weather and south winds always help steady the perch bite. Catches have been reported from 15 to 40 feet of water this week.

Trollers were reporting fair catches in 80 to 120 feet of water for a mixed bag of lakers, coho and steelhead with an occasional big king thrilling anglers.

Pier and harbor anglers are catching sheepshead (freshwater drum), catfish and the occasional steelhead.

Plenty of steelies are in Trail Creek — and biting whenever the water clears in between rains.

Inland, best bass, crappie and bluegill catches are concentrated along the edges of deep weeds, especially early and late in the day for the bass and crappie.

• Youth fishing contest: The Michigan City Fish & Game Club's annual Kid's Fishing Contest is set for 7 a.m. to noon on Saturday at the club property at 107 Chapala Pkwy. (just off Michigan Blvd east of Johnson Rd.).

The event is open to the public and free for youngsters age 14 and under. Youth must be accompanied by an adult. Prizes will be awarded for the top three fish in bluegill, crappie, bass and catfish categories. Bait is provided, just bring the kids and their fishing poles. For more information, call (219) 879-9741.

• Powder Puff: The annual Hoosier Coho Club Powder Puff Derby, where only the girls may fish and win prizes, is set for July 22 in Michigan City.

One hundred percent of the $20 per-person entry fee will be paid back to the individuals catching one of the 10 biggest salmon or trout. Food and plenty of additional prizes provided. For more details, contact Laurie Wiesemann at slip 7004 in Washington Park, at laurie@fishingoncloudnine.com or (219) 879-7852.

• Contest results: Youth medal winners (largest steelhead) in the July 1-2 Skamania Mania contest were Will Marshall of Michigan City and Georgia McLacklan of La Porte.

Bruce Brown and his Color Blind crew swept the July 1-2 Hoosier Coho Club Derby with an impressive 60-plus pound catch (five fish) which included big fish for the derby, a 20-pound lake trout.

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