Suddenly, steelhead big and plentiful

A huge catch of yard-long Skamania steelhead was taken last weekend by the group of anglers aboard Jeff Carlin's Reel Dirty. 

MICHIGAN CITY – A massive surge of Skamania steelhead last weekend added another "wow" moment to a season of wows for Lake Michigan trollers.

On Friday, things were relatively quiet, but good. Most boats were into coho to the tune of five to 10 chunky salmon plus a couple steelies per boat, which is far better than recent summers, particularly in Indiana waters.

Saturday, the Skamania went bonkers.

Multiple boats, including Jeff Carlin (Reel Dirty), Bruce Brown (Color Blind), Steve Kreighbaum (Crorkindill) and Carl Schultz (Hoosier Daddy) landed 15 or more of the yard-long, silver missiles. All the action was within a mile or two of the shoreline at Michigan City or Burns Ditch.

"Best fishing ever," Carlin, whose crew landed 17 one day, then 23 the next, said. "Tremendous aerial antics, and they're big."

Lots of Skamania in the low teens were weighed at a Hoosier Coho Club contest on Saturday and Sunday. Brown won the best-five event with 72 pounds – an impressive 14.4-pound average. Carlin claimed big fish honors with a trophy 17-pounder. Full results are available at hoosiercohoclub.org.

"Anything bright, anything orange," Carlin said. "Magnum and regular spoons, a few Thin Fins (plugs)."

The big steelhead catches were mainly in the top 30 feet over depths of 40 to 60 feet of water.

Of course, steelies being steelies, they virtually disappeared by midweek, although high waves kept most boats in port. On Thursday they were back. Reports were of steady Skamania action on the Michigan City pier while trollers hooked up to 10 or so of the wild leapers.

Chaos on the creeks could get cranking any moment, too, particularly with precipitation in the forecast.

If rain and the inherent rush of fresh Skamania into Trail Creek doesn't happen this weekend, stream fishing fans can console themselves knowing there is a beast of a run coming to join the hundreds which have already trickled into Trail.

The phenomenal Skamania fishing last weekend added another chapter to a stellar season on the big lake. Certainly, there have been plenty of slow days, but who wants to remember those?

April offered some quick limits of excellent-eating young coho; May brought a couple weeks of great fishing for the biggest spring kings in decades; June saw outstanding offshore coho action and July is bringing back memories of Skamania seasons past.

Nobody knows what may happen from here on out, but I'd keep those hooks sharp and drags loose.

Salmon-a-Rama

The largest freshwater fishing contest in the country, typically attracting 3,000 or more entrants to the Racine, Wisconsin-based event, offers an excellent index of fish size roaming Lake Michigan.

This year's July 14-22 derby hasn't disappointed, although, so far, a truly mammoth king has yet to be turned in. As of Thursday, a trio of 30-pound Chinook are on top of the leader board and 40 chinook over 25 pounds have been registered.

Equally impressive, 10 brown trout over 20 pounds have been weighed, topped by a 24.53-pound brute. Other leaders include a 23-pound laker, 15-pound coho and 16-pound steelhead.

Current standings can be viewed at salmon-a-rama.com.

Casting championships

The American Casting Association's National Championship is in Valparaiso July 25-28. Distance competitions take place at 2700 Valparaiso St. on Wednesday and Thursday; the accuracy events are at Rogers-Lakewood Park, 5502 Campbell St. on Friday and Saturday.

For more information, see americancastingassoc.org, or contact John Seroczynski at j.sero@icloud.com or 219-405-4288.

State Fair steelies

Michigan City steelhead, captured and donated during Skamania Mania then processed by the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders, provide a rare taste treat for Indiana State Fair-goers.

The DNR's Taste of the Wild cookout starts at 11 a.m. on August 4 and features plenty of free samples. Past menus have included barbecued beaver, muskrat hams, turtle stew, turkey kabobs, Asian carp and a variety of venison dishes.

For a complete list of DNR events during the Aug. 3-19 State Fair, see in.gov/dnr/5524.htm.

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