Skamania Steelhead—the craziest battlers in Lake Michigan—returned again this year to entertain pier, boat, and stream fishermen.


On the weekend of Saturday, July 1 and Sunday, July 2 anglers from around the Midwest gathered along streams and the lake.

I spotted a few trollers targeting steelies near the pier at Michigan City when I first arrived. Skamania Steelhead fishing is reportedly staged at primary stocking sites all the way from St. Joseph, Michigan, to Burns Harbor to Racine, Wisconsin.

Two types of steelhead trout reside in Lake Michigan. The summer-run trout, named Skamania, is an elongated fish that was the first to be stocked in Lake Michigan tributaries.

In June and July, especially around the 4th of July, Skamania travel up Trail and Salt Creek, as well as the east branch of the Little Calumet River, to spawn.

The second strain, dubbed “Michigan Football,” was a steelhead introduced by Michigan fishery biologists that swims up Lake Michigan tributaries in the fall to spawn.

Both strains of fish are known for their fighting prowess and leaping abilities.

The Indiana tributaries of Lake Michigan were in great shape. Low flows were the norm with good visibility throughout the entire stream lengths. I was fishing mainly the Trail Creek area with salmon egg, shrimp, and I also tossed a lot of hardware with orange and silver.

The local bait shop owner in Michigan City reported that steelhead action had finally picked up this past week and he just landed 5 steelies an hour ago along Friendship Garden area. He said, “You can catch ’em all along Trail Creek with shrimp (50-60 count) soaked under a bobber.”

Anglers entering the bait store also reported that spawn, shrimp and waxworms were working for them. Anglers who liked to toss hardware reported that silver or orange spinners had been successful. Fly anglers are reporting that egg imitations and streamers were producing.

A Skamania Steelhead fishing contest was held sponsored by Northwest Indiana Steelheaders this weekend. The contest featured no entry fee, no pre-registration and no limits on where you could fish. All you had to do is go fish and land a steelhead, the bigger the better –which by the way, I couldn’t do, but it sure was fun trying. Gift certificates starting at $100 for first place were awarded for the 10 biggest steelhead. The “Grand Daddy” of prizes, however in this contest, went to the 13th heaviest steelhead, a $150 Steelheader rod/reel combination.

The largest steelhead ever weighed in at the event was a 22.8 pound lunker caught in 1999 by Chirs Pumroy of LaPorte.


IF YOU ARE OUT THERE FISHING BE ON THE LOOKOUT…for coho salmon with a missing adipose fin. This indicates the presence of a microscopic coded wire tag in the heads of these fish. Data from these tags will help provide needed information for better trout and salmon management in the Great Lakes. If you catch a fish missing only its adipose fin, please record its length, weight and the location where the fish was caught. Freeze the heads and drop them off at the LM Fisheries Research Station 100 W. Water Street, Michigan City, IN 46360 or give it to one of our IDNR creel clerks. Water temperature is around 45 in both the harbor and Trail Creek. As of Saturday, July 1, a portion of Trail Creek and east branch of the Calumet River will be closed to fishing.

The Waynedale News Staff

Cindy Cornwell

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