Sixty days of ducks and 74 of Canada geese with an October 24 opener.
That's what is in store for local waterfowlers after the Indiana Department of Natural Resources announced the regular season dates and bag limits for 2015.
The length of seasons are the maximum allowed per U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service regulations.
The annual USFWS spring breeding survey showed overall duck numbers well above the long-term average and comparable to last year.
Total estimate was 49.5 million breeding ducks (49.2 last year), which is 43-percent above the 1955-2015 average. Individually, mallards were at 11.6 million (51 percent above average), blue-winged Teal 8.5 million (plus 73 percent), scaup 4.4 million (minus 13 percent), green-winged Teal 4.1 million (plus 19 percent) and gadwall 3.8 million (plus 100 percent).
For Canadas, production of both the Mississippi Valley birds, the primary population migrating through Indiana, and resident geese was also up slightly from recent years.
As always, local conditions and weather during the season determine success around here, but its good to know the birds are out there. Area swamps and marshes are holding plenty of water at the moment.
Duck dates in the North Zone are Oct. 24 through Dec. 13 and Dec. 19-27.
Bag limit is six with restrictions of no more than four mallards (only two hens), three wood duck or scaup, two pintail, canvasback or redhead and one black duck or mottled duck.
North Zone Canada geese dates are Oct. 24-Nov. 22 and Dec. 12-Jan. 24. Bag limit is three Canadas during the regular season.
The possession limit for both ducks and geese is three times the daily bag.
Youth waterfowl weekend in the North Zone is Oct. 17-18.
In addition to the regular waterfowl dates announced this week, there is a statewide early-Canada goose season Sept. 1-15 with a five-goose bag, a statewide early-teal season Sept.6-21 with a six-teal bag and a late-Canada goose season in LaPorte Co (and 29 other counties) Feb. 1-15 with a three-goose bag.
Complete zone descriptions, seasons and regulations are available at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild.
The DNR site also contains links to goose processing and duck cooking videos along with cleaning and cooking just about every other game or fish from Indiana.
Salmon Slam: The last big fishing tournament of the season on Lake Michigan - the Salmon Slam - fishes on Sept. 12 out of Michigan City and Portage.
The Salmon Slam has a guaranteed first place pay-out of $1,200 and a low, $100 per team entry. Big fish is guaranteed $300, too.
Teams must weigh in at Portage and may transport their catch by boat or vehicle. This is a weigh your best five salmon and/or trout contest. Complete rules and registration form are at www.hoosiercohoclub.org. For more details, call Rich at (219) 762-4362.
Pheasants Forever: The Northwest Indiana chapter of Pheasants Forever' annual fundraising banquet is Sept. 12 in LaPorte. Buy your ticket ($50) before August 31 and you are entered in a shotgun raffle as well as receive $200 in raffle tickets for the price of $100. Ticket price also includes annual membership and subscription to PF magazine.
For more information, call Roger at (219) 362-7620.
Fishing report: Feels like steelhead. A string of cool August nights is what it used to take to finish up the Skamania run on Trail Creek.
Could be happening right now. Or, we might be continuing to wonder if they'll ever return at this same time next week.
Steelhead and a few salmon were on the move and biting a bit better early in the week before rain roiled Trail.
Perch action picked up a bit early in the week, too, before strong winds kept anglers off Lake Michigan on Wednesday and Thursday.
Lake trout action, along with the occasional steelhead and salmon was fair in depths of 90 to 105 feet when trollers were out last. Big winds likely have piled up more warm water on our end of the lake and may have pushed the thermocline deeper than the 60-foot level it was at last week.