How about a Lake Michigan fishing trip for that best-ever Christmas gift?

Big blue water, super salmon and trout fishing and fun with friends or family — just minutes from where you're reading The News-Dispatch.

"We're at $650 for the full day, for up to six anglers," captain Bill Wiesemann of Cloud Nine charters in Michigan City, said. "That's pretty much the going rate."

A chartered, boat trip isn't cheap, but what value can you place on memories?

All of the boats in the local fleet are spacious, 30-foot or longer craft which provide comfortable, front-row seats to the fish-catching. Many first-time clients relate big boat chartering to taking the living room out for a troll compared to other types of fishing they've done.

Basically, just get your crew to the lakefront with simple stuff like suitable clothing, snacks, licenses and a cooler to carry your cleaned and packaged fish home. All fishing tackle and gear is provided.

Lake Michigan fishing isn't quite what it use to be, but there are trophy, 10- to 20-pound lake trout caught every day, as well as sporty, premium-eating coho salmon and high-flying steelhead trout. Big fish last year was a 37.55-pound laker caught aboard Tyler Kreighbaum's Tight Line.

Captains in the Michigan City Charter Boat Association average better than 30 years of experience fishing the big lake, which says a lot because you don't last that long in a "people business" if you don't provide top-notch service. Check them out at www.mccba.org. Keep in mind, prime weekend dates fill up fast.

If your holiday list includes a bit more of a "hands-on" angler, you may want to check out Trail Creek Guide Service. Justin Nguyen provides expert tutoring for challenging, close-quarters steelhead fishing.

"(Guides teach) introduction tosteelheading, casting lesson, reading waters, rigging, presentation and more," Nguyen said in a message. "Full day rates for stream fishing, with all equipment included for a single angler, is $275, An additional angler is $100 and each guide can accommodate a maximum of two anglers."

Again, there is a bit of sticker shock with the price, but the experience and information garnered would take months to pick up on your own, if ever. Contact Nguyen at justin@trailcreekguideservice.com or (219) 263-3474.

• Outdoors report: Ice fishermen and deer hunters may be the only outdoors folk appreciating the recent shot of winter weather. Water temps are suddenly at the freezing point inland and hopefully the chill is enough to get the local deer herd off their nocturnal patterns.

Deer-muzzleloader season continues through Dec. 18. The late, antlerless-only season is Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

Duck season closes in the North Zone on Sunday before reopening Dec. 24 to Jan. 1. Canada geese reopen Saturday and are legal through Feb. 12. Pheasant close Dec. 15.

Steelhead fishing is fair on area tributaries, albeit it can be hit and miss this time of year. Last week, immediately on the heels of some rain, the catches were good with a lot of anglers landing multiple steelies. That was at mid-week. On Saturday, only three fish were weighed by a dozen or so anglers in the Indiana State Stream Tournament.

George Wolf took first place with a 10-pounder caught on the Little Calumet River system.

If the wind quits howling and temps warm up enough to de-ice the pier, whitefish should still be available. Otherwise there should be steelies cruising the harbor looking for a bait snack under a bobber.

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