Whitefish, winter-run steelies and perhaps a walleye.

Time for the "W" fish on the lakefront.

"They (anglers) destroyed them yesterday," Charlie Broadhurst at the Fishin' Hole in St. Joseph, Mich., said on Thursday about the local whitefish bite. "Nobody out today with the wind barreling out of the west."

So goes fishing for whitefish — hot one day, nothing the next. Have to get out whenever the weather cooperates to stay ahead of the "should-of-been-here-yesterday" curse.

The whitefish bite at St. Joe is important because fast action up there generally precedes increased catches in Michigan City by a week or two. At least it use to.

Also key is water temperature. After a generally balmy fall, water temps finally dipped into the 40s this past week.

Whitefish have been caught on the Michigan City pier since Thanksgiving.

"There have been some guys out regularly, and they're getting whitefish," Chad Childress at Chief's Bait, 1114 W. 4th St. (U.S. Hwy. 12), Michigan City, said. "They're buying waxworms."

Standard whitefish rig is a slip-sinker, light leader (4 to 8 lb. test) and tiny hooks (No. 8 or smaller). They're fall spawners and congregate near the rocks or wall this time of year, so keep rigs relatively close.

Besides waxworms, single salmon eggs, small chunks of skein and pieces of nightcrawler or shrimp catch whitefish, too.

Don't be surprised if you tie into a winter-run steelhead while plunking those baits on bottom. Better yet for lakefront steelies is a shrimp or nightcrawler suspended four to eight feet beneath a bobber.

Recent rains and dropping temps have brought fresh, winter-runs into Trail Creek and the harbor the past couple of weeks. Stream anglers prefer spawn, shrimp, jig-and-waxworm and spinners — in about that order until the creek starts to ice up.

Should be plenty of steelhead around for the Indiana State Stream Fishing Tournament which takes place on Saturday with the big fish weigh-in set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Chief's Bait. Might be worth the stop to pick up some steelheading tips.

And don't forget about those lunker walleyes which occasionally show in the harbor before freeze-up. The DNR netted one weighing in the low-teens a few weeks ago. Casting plugs like the Rapala Husky Jerk after dark on a slow, steady retrieve has worked in the past.

Other than the "W" fish, lake trout have been steady at Burns Ditch and New Buffalo. Might be a few hanging around the Michigan City pier, too.

Perch have been good further west at Gary and along the Chicago shoreline.

• Deer, oh dear: Sure is a lot of hand-wringing going on about few deer being seen during the Nov. 12-27 firearms season. Some huge bucks were downed, but many hunters were thoroughly discouraged about the lack of deer activity in their neck of the woods.

Hopefully, colder weather during the Dec. 3-18 muzzleloader season will get the deer moving. Archery season for deer and turkey reopen Saturday and continue through Jan. 1.

Despite the local griping, the statewide deer harvest was at 105,041 on Thursday, which doesn't seem too far down from recent years.

• Ice Fishing bug? The West Michigan Ice Fishing Show is set for Saturday and Sunday at D&R Sports in Kalamazoo. All the big name manufacturers, seminar speakers and special pre-season deals are promised. Admission is free. See www.dandrsports.com for details.

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