Outdoors: Better than summer

Rich Jendrzejczyk of Westville with his State Stream Tournament winning 15-pound, seven-ounce steelhead caught on Dec. 9.

Rich Jendrzejczyk of Westville landed a whopping 15-pound, seven-ounce steelhead to win the 32nd annual Indiana State Stream Tournament on Saturday.

Remarkably, it was heavier than the 13-10 champion of this summer's Skamania Mania contest, the other signature fishing event sponsored by the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders.

"What a fight," Jendrzejczyk said. "It blew through a log jam right away, then took another 20 minutes to tire."

The big hen steelie bit a silver, No. 2 Mepps spinner on Salt Creek in Porter County, according to Jendrzejczyk.

"I caught two other smaller fish, but this is the biggest I've ever caught this time of year," he said. "I'm going to get it mounted."

The 15-7 beauty appears to be a holdover summer-run fish, which means it surely was several pounds heavier when it entered Salt earlier this year. Skamania do not feed enough, if at all, to maintain their body weight after returning to streams in June and July. Like all steelhead, Skamania spawn in spring.

"Just about everybody caught a fish or two," Mike Ryan, who manned the scales at Chief's Bait, said. "There were a lot of seven and eight pound winter-runs caught, mostly from Trail (Creek)."

Impressive fishing given the wind chills and white-out conditions assaulting anglers on Saturday. Also underscores there is some world-class steelhead fishing available to shore anglers around here.

Medals were awarded for the six largest steelhead or brown trout. Complete results are at www.nwisteelheaders.org.

Drifting spawn sacks with bobber and split shot set to deliver the bait near bottom is the time-honored tactic for catching the most steelhead on local streams. Waxworms work well, too, as do jigs tipped with waxies or a bit of spawn or shrimp.

Spinners often attract the biggest fish, if you can withstand the elements.

Another contest sponsored by Chief's bait and the Steelheader's is set for Jan. 6. Stop by the tackle shop or call 874-4086 for more details.

• Perch Tubes: I was mesmerized the first time I saw this video, which shows more perch packed in one location than I would have imagined. A couple underwater recordings on YouTube showcase how many perch were and — according to current fish reports — still are, crowded along the harbors and canals of the Chicago shoreline.

Check them out at; www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCAobdG3fh4 and www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYiB0jryJTw.

Biologists figure those areas hold warmer water later into the fall than other areas on the lake. And those are gizzard shad mixed in with the thousands of yellow perch.

• Hunting dates: Canada goose season reopens in the North Zone on Saturday and continues through Feb. 11. Ducks are done at the moment, before reopening Dec. 23-31.

Deer-muzzleloader season continues through Dec. 24 and a special antlerless-only firearms season (most counties, including LaPorte and Porter) runs Dec. 26-Jan. 7. The deer-archery and turkey-archery seasons continue through Jan. 7

Pheasant and quail seasons close today.

• Best in Bass: Top pros including Mike Iconelli and television hosts like Mark Zona headline the two-day Bass University program on Jan. 13-14 in Kokomo, Ind. Tickets are $99 for one day, $198 for both and student discounts are available. For more information, see www.thebassuniversity.com.

• Ice fishing contests: All events are subject to safe ice being available, but here are a few dates to mark:The Spring Lake (Hobart) chapter of the Izaak Walton League will host a contest on Jan. 13 — contact Bryan (740) 338-1940. Friends of Fishing and the Valparaiso Parks Department will hold a contest at Loomis Lake on Jan. 20 — contact Mark (219) 746-2960 or Randy (219) 730-1566. The annual Fish Lake Ice Fishing Derby is Feb. 3 — contact Dave (219) 369-1235.

• Birdwatching: An Indiana Birding Crash Course is set for Jan. 27 at Potato Creek State Park near North Liberty. There is a small fee for the afternoon class. For more information, see events at indianaaudubon.org

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