In spite of unruly weather, the Hoosier Coho Club Classic fishing tournament held in Michigan City last weekend was a good one.
A few numbers: 42, 54, .55 and 6,000 explain a lot.
Limit catches totaled 42 over the two days, which is an above average percentage compared to past tournaments. It is particularly good considering no more than half of the 10-fish limit could be lake trout. The best laker fishing was at least 10 miles from port, with coho concentrations an additional 10 miles out, which makes filling a limit a daunting task when there is only six hours in a fishing period.
The 54 is the entrees, which was an all-time low, due greatly to a miserable weekend forecast and a trio of blow-hard days prior to the Classic. A dozen or more boats likely stayed home. Last year's dreadful fishing certainly hurt, too.
The .55 is how close the weight was between first and second place in the Pro division which paid a $6,000 difference.
Arnie Arrendondo and crew aboard Phoenix, from Kenosha, Wisc., took home the first place $8,500 check by edging the Best Chance Too team and captain Dave Engel from Saugatuck, Mich., 140 pounds to 139.45.
"We caught our coho in 235 to 250 (feet of water) both days, then spent the rest of the time in 90 to 100 on lakers," Arrendondo, who also won the previous weekend's HCC Pro/Am, said.
"Best coho set-up was two and three 'cores (lengths of lead-core line) with spoons, particularly Steelie Stomper (red color pattern)," Arrendondo explained. "Best laker rigs were tin cans and Spin-N-Glo's on 'riggers and white Spin Doctor with white fly on a wire diver."
John Messina and his Nail Bender Too team from Nothpoint, Illinois, repeated as the Amateur division. A huge, 17.35 pound lake trout propelled Messina to the heaviest single-day catch in all divisions on Saturday, before holding on to beat Michigan City boat Salmon Hawk and captain Carter Elenz.
"160 (feet of water) north of New Buffalo," Messina said of the location of his winning haul. "The shiny ones (silver dodgers) worked better than the tin cans the first day, but regular cans did it today (Sunday)."
Jeremy Niemzyk and crew from St. Joseph, Mich. won the 24U (small boat division fishing northwest of New Buffalo.
Notably, it was strictly a deep-water contest, as a continued barrage of storms kept waters inside of 60 feet quite roiled. Despite the low visibility, some large kings and browns were caught in 30 to 50 feet of water prior to the Classic, but not at a fast enough pace to engage them while trying to fill a 10-fish limit in six hours of fishing.
Hopefully, the near-shore fishing will take off next week as the water clears and more baitfish move in to spawn.
• Lake Michigan updates: Brian Briedert, your Indiana Lake Michigan biologist,will be the featured speaker at the Hoosier Coho Club meeting at 7 p.m., Wednesday (May 11) at Skwiat American Legion Post, 121 Skwiat Legion Ave., Michigan City. The public is welcome to attend, ask questions and hear first-hand the status of the Lake Michigan fishery.
• Coho Capital Derby: The Salmon division of the free, CCD is open and waiting for you to claim a $100 weekly prize. As of Thursday, no salmon have been recorded, while the top trout is a 17-pound, 10-ounce laker caught by Joel DeVries of Goshen aboard the Fin Scout.
The April 30-June 5 CCD awards $100 each for the largest salmon and trout for five weeks plus $500 for the biggest of each overall. Weekly contests conclude on Sundays. Weigh station is the MC Port Authority gas dock. For additional information, see www.michigancitylaporte.com.
• Birding Festival: Birding vendors and various nature-based organizations will be on hand for a free, open-to-the-public "Migration Marketplace" from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Indiana Dunes Visitors Center in Porter. For more information on the event, which is part of the May 5-8 Indiana Dunes Birding Festival, call (219) 926-1390.