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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Suzuki's two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki's Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
TACKLE TOTE VEST
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you're standing in deeper waters. It's adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
Honda Marine's BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
FLEX 'N GO TACKLE SATCHEL
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano's new Flex 'N Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela's Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There's enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
The new AV Micro is a complete underwater camera system that is the same size as a smart phone. On the boat or off the dock, use it to see where fish are hanging out. 3 1/2-inch diagonal display. Built-in rechargea-ble lithium ion batteries.
BERKLEY TRILENE XL
Berkley says they've improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.
ABU GARCIA REVO SX
Abu Garcia's Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
SIMMS WEATHER GEAR
MSRP, jacket $349, bibs $299.
Simms designed its Contender Gore-Tex jacket and bibs for anglers who need reliability when they are motor-ing on the water at 70 mph in rain and wind. Waterproof and breathable. Cuffs are water tight and adjustable.
Anglers like their tools close by. And it's even better if it's connected to you so it doesn't go in the drink. T-Reign retractable gear tethers hold onto your pliers, hemostats or landing net. Several size options. Carabiner connects to D-ring, belt loop or strap, or use the stainless steel clip on belt or pack.