Weather and willing fish is making it look a lot like an open water holiday.
December’s bi-polar weather disorder is expected to go positive on Sunday with a week’s worth of highs near 50 degrees in the forecast. The only thing better than the mild temps right now might be the perch fishing.
“Lots of limits today, 87th Street was on fire,” Mark Radvonausky at Mik Lurch Tackle said on Thursday. “Navy Pier was limits earlier, its been a day-to-day thing, though.”
That’s Chicago, if you wondering. Perch fishing has been great there since the middle of November. One acquaintance talks about the “Thanksgiving Day Massacre,” where hundreds of boats and hundreds more shore anglers enjoyed a perch-catching melee at the 87th Street shipping canal.
Closer to home, limits of nice-sized perch have been caught near Burns Ditch and the reliable Gary Lighthouse when wind has allowed small boats to get out.
Typical minnow rigs are taking most of the perch, but many guys are jigging blade baits and small spoons with big perch results.
At the Michigan City lakefront, catches are atypically slow. Very few steelhead or whitefish have been caught, although fishing for both could improve any day, especially for the whites.
Whitefish catches have been good, when weather has allowed, at the St. Joseph pier. Two things are important when fishing for whites — they’re bottom feeders and their mouths are relatively small.
A single, “soft-boiled” salmon egg is the preferred bait up and down the Michigan coast, although local anglers have done well with bits of spawn skein, a waxworm, or a piece of shrimp or nightcrawler plunked on bottom.
As always in December, there is sure to be a few trophy walleye lurking in the Michigan City harbor as well as the mouth of the Galien River at New Buffalo.
Lake trout continue to be caught at Burns Ditch, mainly on top of and aroud the submerged breakwall outside the Port of Indiana. Spin-N-Glo plugs behind dodgers or “six-pack” flops are the “go to” laker bait. Lightweight spoons also take a toll on the post-spawn trout. The key is keeping lures within a couple feet of bottom.
Steelhead catches in area tributaries has been spotty, although there are some steelhead available throughout Trail Creek.
Inland lake catches continue to be remarkably productive for this time of year.
Normally, anglers would be ice fishing by now, but are re-booting spring fishing tactics. Waxworms and spikes pinned on a plain hook, ice-fishing jig or fly are taking bluegill and crappie.
It takes a lot of patience with sluggish panfish this time of year, but three or foot down at the edge of the drop-off outside former weed beds and lily pad fields seems like the best place. I’ve seen social media posts with 10 to 20 fat bluegills, crappie and the occasional perch from our local lakes in the past few weeks.
I even caught some catfish at a pond this week. The ole cocktail shrimp under a bobber, following a handful chummed across the water, resulted in some firm-fleshed, cold-water beauties.
Hunting notes: Duck season reopens on Saturday in the North Zone for the final Dec. 19-27 split for the year. Canada geese are legal through Jan. 24.
Crow season opened Dec. 13 and continues through March 1. I wish I would have checked the date before waterfowl hunting last Sunday because we saw a hundred crows, which was 97 more than the three ducks we shot at.
Deer-muzzleloader season closes Sunday. The special late-antlerless season deer is Dec. 26 through Jan. 3 in LaPorte County. Deer-archery and turkey-archery are open statewide through Jan. 3.