Sporting shiny, pinkish-red sides and a contrasting olive-green back, the seven pound coho seemed better suited for a brightly-lit aquarium than the drab surroundings of a mud-banked Trail Creek.
Besides being a beautiful fish, the hook-nosed male provided a spirited, hard-charging fight which left me believing coho are the ideal size for a stream the size of Trail. They are a comfortable, yet exciting catch.
Not so bruisingly big (nor ugly) as spawn-bound chinook, which often require disproportionately heavy-tackle to land and not quite so wild and panic-inspiring as Skamania steelhead.
I like a crazed, summer steelhead battle as well as the next angler, but you have to admit it is hardly relaxing fishing. There are bigger waters to thoroughly enjoy Skamania.
Like all the above, coho and Indiana's Lake Michigan tributaries are an unnatural fit. Local streams are too warm, slow and silty. Except by the grace of the DNR and a well-run hatchery system they would not be here.
But they are here, in a big way, right now.
On Wednesday, in barely one hour of flipping spinners, I saw two dozen assorted salmonids splash, porpoise or scoot past on their way upstream. Dozens, perhaps hundreds more surely lurked unseen.
It was a tad exacerbating to not hook more fish, given the narrow corridors they travel in a creek as small as Trail. I suspect water temps in the mid-60s on Wednesday, which is generally uncomfortable for salmon, had more to do with the lack of bites than my angling skill.. At least that is the story I'm sticking with.
I did lose one other fish, a female coho, that quickly spun free at the surface after a few head shakes on the strikes. Both fish clamped down a brass-bladed spinner with a slash of kelly-green tape on the underside of the No. 3 blade. It's always been a good one in slightly-stained water.
My go-to spinner for coho, a hot pink blade, went bite-less on Wednesday. Other anglers have been landing stream salmon on plugs, with Hot-N-Tots, Wiggler Warts and Mag Lips some good ones. Best bait of all this time of year is a big gob (think golf ball sized) of spawn skein plunked on bottom in the deeper, slower holes.
Rain on Thursday should keep the salmon moving through the weekend on all area streams.
• Chili Cook-Off: The Hoosier Coho Club will host a chili cook-off (open to public) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at 121 Skwiat Legion Ave. in Michigan City. First place pays $77.77, second $33.33. Contest entry is free, admission to sample and judge the chilis is $2. A swap meet for unused or slightly-used fishing gear will also be held.
And there are fish stories to be heard, including, hopefully, the latest announcements on lake-wide chinook stocking reductions for next year. As of Thursday, Michigan and Wisconsin has not publicized their plans, although Indiana endorsed the Lake Michigan Committee's recommendation of a 50 percent chinook reduction in conjunction with a lesser cut in lake trout stocks back in August.
• Fishing report: Trolled into a nice bunch of immature salmon aboard Tom Riley's boat on Thursday. Missed a lot of bites but landed a handful of "next year's" coho and a couple of small kings in 70 feet of water with most the bites within 15 feet of the bottom on spoons, with a green dolphin Super Slim being the top producer.
Noteworthy is that each of the salmon had several young-of-year alewives in their stomachs.
Talked to one boater skunked on perch on Tuesday and did not see many guys out on Wednesday and Thursday.
Lakefront salmon are very slow as its likely the large majority of spawn-bound chinook and coho went upstream with rain and cooler temps last week.