Packing the Michigan City pier in Indiana to try for skamania steelhead

Skamania steelhead are drawing crowds to the Michigan City pier in Indiana; plus the Stray Cast.

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Anglers packed the iconic pier at Michigan City Saturday while fishing for skamania steelhead.

Anglers packed the iconic pier at Michigan City Saturday while fishing for skamania steelhead.

Dale Bowman

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — Two guys in camouflage jackets lounged by the high wall on the Michigan City pier Saturday talking, as anglers do during lulls. Suddenly the guy next me hollered, “Fish on!”

The loungers dashed toward the edge. One grabbed his fishing rod, the other the net. Those of us nearby reeled our lines in.

When the rod was picked up, a skamania steelhead cartwheeled, flashing silver in the early sunlight. It made six water-clearing leaps before before being perfectly netted.

A skamania steelhead leaps out of the water Saturday while an angler reels it in on the iconic Michigan City pier.

A skamania steelhead leaps out of the water Saturday while an angler reels it in on the iconic Michigan City pier.

Dale Bowman

Nothing like a holiday weekend morning on the pier when the steelhead are in at Michigan City.

I did my own lounging, getting off at 4:30 instead of the 3:30 as I had planned. Big mistake. When I arrived after dawn, the pier was packed with anglers spaced roughly 15 yards apart.

But I had barely had taken a dozen steps out toward the lighthouse when an angler battled a steelhead, only to have it break the line. Kind of a good sign, depending how you read it.

When I found a slight opening, I asked a guy if I could set up next to him. He grunted. Since he didn’t say something unprintable, I took the grunt as yes.

Most used shrimp or the Michigan City special of shrimp and a crawler under a float or bobber. I had shrimp and a crawler piece on a stripped down tinsel fly. The grunting angler also cast a lure on a second rod while his shrimp floated.

It was years since I was on the Michigan City pier, the last time with Lee Sczepanski. Doing anything with Sczepanski is like being a spectator/participant in real life improv comedy.

Saturday I wanted to be by myself to ponder life, maybe luck into a fish.

Some small boats fished near the pier. A kayaker paddled by the harbor. Charters and pleasure boats spread wakes. Remnant waves from the overnight blow occasionally slopped the high wall.

Biologist Ben Dickinson messaged that the “ongoing coded wire tag program will have some neat data on strain mixes by season and mode of fishing.” If heads are dropped at the Michigan City DNR office, tags will be extracted and read, then the information sent to anglers.

An hour or so in Saturday the guy two spots down landed his steelhead. As the sun climbed, anglers thinned out.

It was time.

On my way to the parking lot, I saw the kayaker at the boat launch. With a smile, he told of two steelhead lost

Even at 9 a.m., families gathered for Memorial Day weekend time on the beach.

If you haven’t bought your non-resident Indiana fishing license yet, be aware it’s now $60 plus $11 for the trout and salmon stamp.

ILLINOIS HUNTING

Illinois hunters harvested 13,701 wild turkeys during the spring seasons, up slightly from the 13,613 in 2021. ... Woodchuck season opens today, June 1.

IN MEMORY

Eugene “Gene” Laulunen, 85, who founded the publishing company MidWest Outdoors with his wife Gail, died May 24, according to Modell Funeral Home. Memorials or donations may be sent in his name to the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois chapter.

WILD THINGS

Am I the only one who wonders if wild critters, while monkeying around, grouse about being buffaloed by the variability of this late spring?

STRAY CAST

The White Sox made me look up the legend of the Flying Dutchman.

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