The 27th annual Skamania Mania free fishing contest is set for July 1 and 2 in Michigan City, and for certain, pyrotechnics won't be the only thing exploding into the air next weekend.
Stick a hook in one of Indiana's famed summer-run steelhead and you're in for a dazzling display of dashes, spins and, of course, explosive leaps. Skamania anglers regularly witness eye-high jumps with many clearing the water five, 10 and sometimes a dozen times.
And they come in silvery-bright packages weighing six to 10 pounds, with enough bruisers pushing into the teens to keep fishermen dreaming.
Skamania Mania is organized by the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders and awards prizes for the 13 largest steelhead caught over the two days. The top 12 get Cabelas gift cards, starting with $200 for first place and going down to $25. The lucky 13th biggest steelie wins a $200 rod and reel combo.
The contest starts at 12:01 a.m. on July 1 (Saturday) and concludes at 3 p.m. on July 2 (Sunday). Weigh in times are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day at the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders tent on the south side of the Michigan City harbor at the DNR public access site.
All of Lake Michigan and its tributaries may be fished. Again, its all free and there is no preregistration — just go fish.
Complete rules are at www.nwisteelheaders.org.
As for the Skamania fishing in recent weeks, it been really good when its good with plenty of fishless days mixed in. Trollers at both Michigan City and Burns Ditch have had some 10 steelie trips, followed by skunks and about everything in between. Same goes for pier and harbor guys - its hit and miss like fishing for big fish typically is.
Trail Creek numbers keep improving.
Ben Dickinson of the IDNR posted 110 Skamania were captured at the Springland Avenue weir on Thursday, as part of the annual broodstock collection of 700 summer-run steelies. Hundreds more have jumped over the barrier on their own and are thrilling anglers upstream.
Stream guys have been hooking steel on shrimp, spawn, waxworms and large butterworms. It’s mostly shrimp under a bobber for pier guys.
Trollers were taking steelies inside 50 feet of water on spoons with some red or orange in the pattern like Double-orange Crush, Bumble Bee and Big Red. Plugs like Thin Fins and jointed Rapalas were also getting hit.
Charters were slamming coho limits, again, at mid week in 95 to 105 feet of water with the salmon striking 20 to 50 feet down on a variety of spoons, particularly Toxic Toad, Mixed Veggie and Bumble Bee patterns.
Caveat is the coho are on the move and haven't been good every day in the past week. Plus is a few Skamania and bruiser kings have been mixed in with the coho.
• CCD results: Rich Shreiber of Michigan City and Bill Pearce of LaPorte claimed overall champion fish, and $600 apiece, in the recently completed Coho Capital Derby.
Sponsored by the La Porte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the free, May 13 through June 18 CCD awarded $500 for the largest salmon and trout overall plus $100 for the heaviest salmon and trout caught each of the five weeks.
Schreiber landed his large chinook on June 2 aboard his own boat while trolling in 55 feet of water off Black Ditch. Pearce's huge lake trout was pulled in aboard Michigan City charter boat Fin Fire on May 22.
Weekly winners were: Week 1 — Sarah Caudill, Fishers, Ind. 8.1 pound chinook and Andrew Kreighbaum, Michigan City, 15.9 lake trout; Week 2 — Craig Koepke, Michigan City, 13.5 chinook and Bill Pearce, LaPorte, 18.95 lake trout; Week 3 — Rich Shreiber, Michigan City, 14.8 chinook and Todd Albert, Valparaiso, 10.95 steelhead; Week 4 — no salmon and Jim Brahos, Valparaiso, 18.7 lake trout; Week 5 — Joe Dabkowski Jr., Fillmore, Ind., 11.3 chinook and Bud Roche, Grand Beach, Mich., 17.3 lake trout.
• Hoosier Coho Derby: A Hoosier Coho Club derby (weigh best five salmon or trout over two days) is set for July 1-2. Entry is $50 and there is a $25 Big Fish side pot. For more information, visit www.hoosiercohoclub.org.