Last chance for a 25-pounder? Perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime 30?
Given the beastly size of the chinook salmon being wrestled aboard Lake Michigan boats this summer, along with the Indiana DNR's decision to abort chinook stockings, this fall may be the final chance for Michigan City's shorebound anglers to catch a trophy.
The DNR's move to suspend chinook rearing, while logical due to the precarious status of prey fish populations in the lake, will essentially end the fall fishery in Indiana for the big lake's largest salmon.
A DNR information meeting on chinook, which you are encouraged to attend, is set for 7 p.m. on August 10 at 121 Skwiat Legion Ave., Michigan City. A DNR-issued release on the matter can be viewed at www.dnr.IN.gov. Lots of fishing opinions to be shared before, at and after this meeting, but for now, the size of the chinook being caught along the Wisconsin shore is staggering.
How about a 34.32-pounder flopped on a scale at the Wharf in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Thursday morning?
According to Jeff, the store operator, a guy was letting out a flasher/fly combo in 30 feet of water when the monster hit.
"We have a ton of alewives here (at the mouth of the Sheboygan River) right now," Jeff said. "A lot of big kings are being caught. And some big browns, including a 35 (pounder) and a 32."
Various charterboat Facebook pages are plastered with big chinook, including at least six over 30 pounds by my reckoning. The recently completed Salmon-A-Rama contest out of Racine, Wisconsin, saw 17 kings over 25 pounds registered and 105 over 20 pounds.
In perspective, only seven over 20 pounds were weighed at the 2015 Salmon-A-Rama, which was one of the poorest chinook showings on record. The average size of the few returning kings at Michigan City was probably 13 to 16 pounds.
What gives with the extraordinary-sized salmon?
Part of it can be explained by chinook stocking reductions started in 2013, which simply may have allowed more baitfish per salmon. But the numbers of alewives/baitfish out there may have also been underestimated, which is certainly better than the alternative. Hopefully the biologists will have more intel to share at the Aug. 10 meeting.
For this year, the best and biggest is yet to come. Those already-burly chinook still have another month or so to put on poundage before returning to stocking sites.
I'll see you in September at the Michigan City harbor.
Perch Are In
"Lots of anglers out, fishing both east and west," Ashley at Chief's Bait in Michigan City said on Thursday. "I even had a family catch some nice-sized ones on the pier."
I haven't been out, but I've heard good reports from Mr. Baldy to Black Ditch, mostly 18-25 feet of water.
New Buffalo has been busy, too.
"Twenty-eight feet off the pump house," according to Cook's Sports in New Buffalo.
Great job, as always, by all involved getting youngsters outdoors at the annual Michigan City Fish & Game Club Kid's Fishing Contest on Saturday. All had a good time and everyone went home with something, according to club organizers.
The winners were - Catfish: 1. Marissa Selke, 17 and 3/4 inches (only cat caught). Bluegill: 1. Karen Kohler, 9 3/4; 2. William Marshall, 7 15/16; 3. T.J. Losiniecki, 7 1/4. Bass: 1. William Marshall, 11 1/2; 2. Marissa Selke, 10 1/2; 3. (tie) Jacob Warren and William Marshall, 8 3/4. Most fish caught was 16 by Jessie Brown.
The Hoosier Coho Club's Powder Puff Derby, where only the ladies may catch the fish, is set for Saturday. Entry is $20 with more than 100 percent payback. Registration starts at 6 a.m. at the 700 Dock pavilion in Washington Park Marina. Complete rules are at www.hoosiercohoclub.org. For details, contact organizer Laurie Wiesemann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The HCC's 30-30-30 lake trout event — $3,030.30 for the first 30-pound or larger lake trout caught by a club member or aboard a boat paying a $100 fee for the season — is also still on.