Hopefully, one will soon be zinging line off a reel near you. Big, brawling, 20-pound salmon, that is.
Chinook have been trickling into Trail Creek for a month now and the best may be yet to come. Or not.
"I use to figure the run would hit between September 10th and the 24th or so," veteran pier and harbor caster Dave Repya said. "But, things have changed so much, you don't know anymore."
Indiana chinook stockings have been slashed steadily over the past decade, due to dwindling prey fish reserves in Lake Michigan, and were down to 60,000 this spring, compared to over 500,000 chinook stocked annually in the past.
The largest fish returning now are 3.5-year olds from 2014 releases. And a lot of them are healthy brutes weighing 17 to 22-pounds.
"Size is definitely up, which is good to see," Repya said.
Importantly, the health of the fish may be more telling of the size of a run to come than stocking numbers. It hardly matters how many fish are put out there if they can't find enough food to survive, as anglers around the lake found out in 2015.
As for catching kings, low-light periods at dawn or dusk spark the best bite, then throughout the night. Day time hours can be tedious.
"I usually throw a Kastmaster spoon early in the season, then switch to plugs, like a Flicker Shad later," Repya said.
Green and glow patterns are the most popular with firetiger a good bet during the day.
And from the you-never-know what they'll bite category, Repya mentioned he netted one for a guy this week that grabbed a nightcrawler on bottom, which was intended for a catfish.
For boaters, slowing it down summertime trolling tactics is key.
"I'd say 1.2 (mph) for staging chinook, if I can get the boat speed down that far," Carl Schultz, who recently captured the Hoosier Coho Club Championship Series on Labor Day, said.
"Our winning fish came on a Yellow Tail (pattern) Super Slim (spoon)," Schultz added. "It (17-pounder) hit that spoon behind a Slide Diver and didn't stop until 450 feet of line was out."
Other top trolling lures for fall kings are J-13 Rapala and Silver Horde plugs as well as magnum spoons.
• Fishing report: Finally feels like perch with stable weather around here for nearly a week. Hope enough anglers can get out to round them up. Reports earlier in the week was all to mostly dinks (4-6") in the usual haunts east and west of the harbor in 25 to 42 feet of water.
Lots of coho, including a few up to 10 pounds, piled into Trail Creek and Salt Creek last week on the heels of the full moon. Some bruiser kings are mixed in with their smaller cousins. Spawn and spinners are the top baits, although when the fish were in full cruising mode they weren't slowing down to bite much of anything.
Note reports are there may be as many coho, kings and holdover Skamania in Salt Creek in Porter County as there are in Trail, but with about one-third of the angling pressure.
Charter boats report slow to fair lake trout action in 110 feet or so of water out of Michigan City with a few salmon and steelhead mixed in some days.
• Hunting: Indiana's Youth Deer Hunting Weekend is Sept. 23-24. See www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild for details.
The regular deer-archery season opens Oct. 1 and continues through Jan. 7. Turkey-archery also opens Oct. 1 and goes until Oct. 29.
Deer-reduction Zone hunting opens today and continues through Jan. 3. An additional 10 deer per hunter may be harvested in designated areas. The LaPorte County eradication area extends a wide swath from Lake Michigan to Kingsbury. See in interactive map at https://indnr.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Viewer/index.html?appid=968b21eecbb742fabae9f8cf8323543e, or a text description of the area is at http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/8534.htm.
Canada geese close Sunday (Sept. 17), teal continue to Sept. 24 and dove are legal through Oct. 15.