Special fish deserve this special event

Ethan Rogers, age 6, poses with a 13.5-pound steelhead he caught recently in the Michigan City harbor.

Sometimes I forget how special Skamania steelhead are.

Then the pics and messages start popping each June.

None better this year than six-year-old Ethan Rogers hoisting a 13.5-pound steelie he caught at the Michigan City harbor recently.

In less than the proverbial 1,000 words, dad Chris Rogers' photo shows what makes these fish and fishing for them great.

There is sun, T-shirts and shorts. There is easy, out-the-back-of-the-truck access. And there is this really impressive trout which is just about as long as the kid who caught it.

Ethan is pretty impressive, too, showing remarkable casting skills and patience for his age. Landing a steelhead this size would make any angler proud.

The Skamania themselves may best be described as genetic brilliance.

They're big — most go six to 10 pounds, but enough grow into the teens to keep anglers dreaming. They're a blast to catch — strong, quick and amazingly agile for their size. And they return to stocking streams when weather is at its best.

More Skamania are stocked in Indiana and Trail Creek than anywhere in the country.

The Northwest Indiana Steelheader's annual free, no preregistration required fishing contest, Skamania Mania, is set for this weekend in Michigan City.

The 13 heaviest steelhead caught between 12:01 a.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday win prizes. First place gets a $200 Cabelas' gift card, the 13th-best fish wins a $200 rod and reel, and additional Cabelas' cards go to the places in between.

Weigh-in times are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day at the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders tent near the Coast Guard station on the Michigan City harbor. All of Lake Michigan and its tributaries may be fished. Complete rules are at www.nwisteelheaders.org, or call 221-1340 for more information.

Skamania Mania Champions

1991 Cecil Bailey, Greenwood, Ind., 16 pounds, 4 ounces; 1992 Joe Brennan, Portage, 18-14; 1993 Beverly Kierein, Michigan City, 21-10; 1994 Bob Ramsey, New Buffalo, 16-9; 1995 Bruce Weber, Portage, 21-4; 1996 Art Rozlap, Michigan City, 19-2; 1997 James Wagner, Bristol, Ind., 16-10; 1998 Dino Capitani, St. Charles, Ill., 15-12; 1999 Chris Pumroy, La Porte, 22-8; 2000 Bruce Weber, Portage, 13-10; 2001 Richard Lanting, Griffith, 17-12; 2002 Chad Robson, Frankfort, Ill., 16-8; 2003 Steve Turner, Michigan City, 17-0; 2004 Nate Krupko, Chicago, 21-0; 2005 Robert Bagley, South Bend, 15-15; 2006 Chris Rogers, Michigan City, 15-7; 2007 Danny Taylor, Elkhart, 16-0; 2008 Joe Gianetti, New Buffalo, 14-6; 2009 Brad Sandberg, Portage, 13-6; 2010 James Wagner, Jones, Mich., 13-13; 2011 Richard Bom, La Porte, 17-11; 2012 Dan Roths, Chesterton, 14-4; 2013 Brad Sandberg, Portage, 14-3; 2014 Jacob Gurney, Schererville, Ind., 13-12; 2015 Todd Hatfield, Union Pier, Mich., 12-2.

Bird-Hunting Dates

In an unprecedented move, the Indiana DNR has announced both the early-migratory bird and regular waterfowl season dates for this season. Previously, the early and regular seasons were proposed separately and much later in the summer in regards to the regular season. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service approval is still required and will come at a later date, although the Feds have never altered Indiana's proposals.

Here are the seasons listed by species, dates and daily bag limit;

Dove: Sept.1-Oct. 16, Nov. 1-13 and Dec. 10-Jan. 8 (limit 15).

Woodcock: Oct. 15-Nov. 28 (3).

Teal: Sept. 3-18 (6).

North Zone Ducks: Oct. 22-Dec. 11, Dec. 24-Jan.1 (6, but no more than 4 mallards or 3 wood ducks).

North Zone Canada Geese: Sept. 3-11, Oct. 22 to Nov. 20, and Dec. 10 to Feb. 12 (5 in Sept., 3 all other dates).

North Zone Youth Weekend is Oct. 15-16.

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