Spring fishing in Indiana has never been better. Whether you’re angling for coho salmon or planning on slamming slabs, these are the best places to hit.
The southern waters of Lake Michigan will be teeming with schools of coho salmon in March, and once the boat ramps and harbors are ice-free there will be lots of boats waiting to launch. The weather may still be cold, but this is the time of year when limit catches (5 salmon per person) are common.
Indiana’s warm water attracts both baitfish and salmon from all around the lake, and most boaters set up their trolling spreads less than a mile from shore. In many cases, boats are trolling within casting distance of shore! Cohos usually cruise near the surface in March, so use shallow-running lures when targeting them.
Early spring anglers can also try Bluegrass Fish & Wildlife Area in Warrick County for some excellent early-season crappie action. Sauger should still be running on the Ohio River, so head for the river to cash-in on that action, too.
Patoka Lake in southern Indiana is a huge 8,800-acre impoundment surrounded by Hoosier National Forest lands. Its extensive bays and creek arms are home to vast numbers of crappies, and excellent papermouth habitat is everywhere. There are weedy flats, timber-choked coves, submerged brushpiles and creek channels lined with stumps and flooded timber.
Big crappies can be hiding almost anywhere. According to local fishing guide Tim Gibson (812-936-3382), heading upstream into the Patoka River can be a good idea in April. “The water in the river can be several degrees warmer than it is on the main lake,” he said. “That can make a big difference in the early spring.” Look for submerged timber near the creek channels for the best action.
In addition to the crappie action on Patoka, anglers can also expect to find large numbers of big crappies biting on Lake Monroe near Bloomington. Muskie fishermen will find it worthwhile to make the trip to Bass Lake in Greene-Sullivan state forest.
Bluegill anglers in northeast Indiana should consider visiting Blue Lake in Whitley County this year. Located near the town of Churubusco, just 15 miles northwest of Fort Wayne, Blue Lake is a 239-acre natural lake that boasts some great fishing for panfish.
DNR District 3 Fisheries Biologist Jed Pearson oversees the fishery at Blue Lake, and he conducted a survey here last summer. “The lake always had a good reputation for bluegill fishing,” he said. “The largest bluegills we caught during the survey were 8.5 inches long.” Although bluegills can be found spawning along the shallow shoreline areas in May, Pearson pointed to the southwest bay as a good place to fish.
Largemouth bass fishermen can find some excellent action in the coves and bays at southern Indiana’s Patoka Lake in May. Panfish anglers should try Cook Lake near Plymouth in the north-central part of the state for some tremendous redear sunfish action.
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