2018 Indiana Family Fishing Destinations

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You can book a room in a lodge at many fishing destinations in Indiana, or the whole family can enjoy a night of "roughing it" when you choose a campsite to share after a day of fishing fun. Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

Families who like to fish often plan their trips to destinations where the fishing is fun and awesome adventures await them!


Summer is the favorite time of year for a lot of Indianans. In the coming weeks, many families plan vacations and weekend getaways, and families who like to fish often plan those trips to destinations where fishing is fun and other adventures suitable for the whole family lie nearby.

Getting away for a while is always fun, but it does not always have to be a major undertaking with a trip hundreds or thousands of miles from home. Those trips are fun, too, but there are plenty of great destinations right here in the Hoosier State to get away for a weekend or an entire week where you can find activities and other sites the whole family will enjoy, not to mention some excellent fishing opportunities. 


A lot of changes have been completed at Spring Mill State Park to enhance local fishing success. Fishing quality at the 26-acre Spring Mill Lake had declined due to many years of silt deposits from three different tributaries and runoff from its greater watershed. The lake was dredged in 2015, which not only increased the overall depth but also greatly improved the fishing.

Anglers have always enjoyed catching largemouth bass, bluegills and other sunfish at Spring Mill Lake, and those species are definitely still in play. But after discontinuing the stocking of rainbow trout in 2006, stockings were resumed last year by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Trout anglers must carry a state fishing license, of course, but they also must purchase an additional trout permit. Bank-fishing will soon be expanded to include boating access when the boat ramp under construction is completed. Fishing piers and other amenities are also planned.

The lake at Spring Mill SP is not the only fishing option for a vacation in this area. Nearby, the White River offers several angling options including some great fishing for channel catfish. The larger nearby Patoka Lake is an excellent site for fishing for bass, crappies, catfish and panfish, and is used by many visitors for plenty of other water recreation.

Lodging and camping is available Spring Mill SP, and there are also plenty of motel options nearby. Cave tours, boating, swimming, biking and a nature center are just a few of the bonuses of arranging your stay in the park. The park also offers lots of fantastic hiking trails, and Pioneer Village is a must-see attraction.

Along the Way: Several attractions lay within an hour drive of Spring Mill State Park, including Bluesprings Caverns, Devils Backbone, Minerals Springs, Avoca Fish Hatchery and the Indiana Railway Museum. Marengo Cave is just a bit farther down the road but well worth the drive. Other great day trips to consider include Gasthof Amish Village in nearby Daviess County or a visit to Nashville (yes, Indiana) for all kinds of shopping, dining, entertainment and other activities.


Families look for different things when shopping for a vacation or weekend getaway. Some look for quiet and relaxing sites, while others look for big and diverse activities. Brookville Lake definitely has the size and opportunity for the latter; but planned properly, a trip to this huge reservoir near Indiana's eastern border meets most any vacation needs or expectations.

Brookville Lake's expanse makes it best suited for adults and older children. Fishing for black bass is nothing short of awesome. In fact, Brookville is one of Indiana's top bass-fishing destinations. Largemouth bass are abundant throughout the lake and are frequently caught up to 5 pounds with plenty of larger fish present. Local anglers say the lake's shallow northern portion is often the best area to fish.

Brookville also holds smallmouth bass. Most are found by those who fish the lower half of the lake, especially below the Fairfield Causeway. Riprap, slab rock and even some submerged road beds and building foundations provide plenty of the kind of habitat preferred by smallmouths.

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Walleyes, striped bass, muskies and crappies add much to the local fishing options. Crappies are abundant, with good size distribution and plenty of individual "slabs" to please most any crappie angler. Bluegills please young anglers and make great targets for fishing from the bank in spring and early summer while they are shallow and spawning. Once summer is in full swing, look for the larger 'gills to move out to deeper water around aquatic vegetation, stake beds or other cover in 6 to 10 feet of water.

The lake also is chocked full of channel catfish. Anglers of all ages enjoy catching "whiskerfish" which are found in abundance whenever the IDNR samples Brookville's fish population. Live or natural baits, stink-baits and dip-baits are all great choices for enticing channel cats from bank or boat.

Brookville Lake stretches about 17 miles long and totals 5,260 surface acres. Nine launching ramps and three marinas are in place on the lake. Visitors also find two state recreation areas, two beaches, more than 400 campsites, and more than 25 miles of hiking trails. Horseshoes, swimming, playgrounds, picnic shelters, paddleboat rentals and more round out the fun found at Brookville Lake.

Along the Way: Brookville Lake is conveniently positioned between interstates 70 and 74. Both highways head into Indianapolis, where the options for family fun are almost limitless. Closer to Brookville Lake, vacationers may want to venture up to the New Castle area and check out the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame or the Wilbur Wright State Historic Site. If a trip across the state line is of interest, Cincinnati is less than a half-hour drive from the city of Brookville.


Turkey Run State Park is conveniently located west of Indianapolis and about halfway between Terre Haute and Lafayette. The park contains almost 2,400 acres in Parke County and is not only very scenic; it also is a great example of living history. Gorges that cut through sandstone ridges, and hemlock groves and old-growth forest are just some of the natural wonders on the property '¦ and, of course, the great local fishing!

Sugar Creek flows through the park and is one of the most popular canoe spots in the state. Canoe access ramps are in place at the Cox Ford Covered Bridge and at Brush Creek. Families with children old enough to fish from a canoe find float-fishing trips fun and productive for smallmouth bass and other game fish. Simply float along and cast curly-tailed grubs, inline spinners grubs and natural baits with lightweight spinning tackle. The action can be excellent and be prepared for a tremendous fight if you hook the bigger bass (upward of 3 pounds) on the light tackle. Wear a personal floatation device (PFD) and canoe safely. Swimming is not allowed in the creek.

Canoes are not required for good fishing. Areas of the park provide great shoreline fishing. Much of the creek is relatively shallow and calm. Good numbers of bluegills and rock bass are easily caught by young anglers. Most of the sunfish are found in the pools and still-water areas of the creek. Channel catfish are also plentiful.

Family lodging choices abound at nearby cities, but Turkey Run State Park also offers lodging. Book a room at the Turkey Run Inn — complete with a restaurant and swimming pool — or reserve a cabin or campsite for your RV or tent set-up.

Along the Way: You'll find great family outings and activities at the larger cities nearby. A short drive lands you at Cecil M. Hardin Lake. Or stay put and enjoy Turkey Run's swimming pool, tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic shelters, nature center, horseback riding and miles of great hiking trails. The park also holds several historic sites to explore including Lieber Cabin, Lusk Home, Narrows Covered Bridge (circa 1882) and Log Church (built in 1871).


With more than 3,200 surface acres, Mississinewa Lake presents families with big-water boating and fishing experiences and a host of diverse activities. The surrounding landscape is massive, stretching across more than 14,000 acres where you'll find four state recreation areas, more than 400 campsites, plenty of cabins, two fishing piers, four boat ramps and a marina.

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Fishing at Mississinewa is excellent. Bluegills and other sunfish are available for the youngest members of the family, but many adults enjoy the fast fishing action too. Bluegills can be caught from the shoreline all summer long, although spring and early summer provides the most action and best chance at quality fish. During summer the largest bluegills move to deeper water and are best accessed from boats.

White bass bite readily throughout the summer and provides a lot of exciting fishing, especially when they are feeding on or near the surface. Cast almost any surface or subsurface lure resembling a shad or minnow into a surface feeding frenzy, and it is quickly gobbled up by a hungry white bass.

Channel catfish also are abundant and easy to catch in summertime and are a favorite for fish fries. And you never know '¦ you might hook into one of Mississinewa's huge flathead catfish and the fight of a lifetime! Largemouth and smallmouth bass are present in good numbers and a variety of sizes. Walleyes and crappies provide even more fishing options.

Along the Way: Other great fishing destinations lay close to Mississinewa Lake for families who want to add diversity to the trip. Try Salamonie and Huntington lakes (northeast of Mississinewa) or the Wabash, Mississinewa and Salamonie rivers.

Take in other local lake activities including hiking, playgrounds, swimming and much more. And short drives lead you to Grissom Air Museum (at Grissom Air Force Base) in Fort Wayne; the Elwood Haynes Museum and Seiberling Mansion, both in Kokomo; and the Circus Hall of Fame, near Peru. 

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