For The Tribune
With bass, crappie, walleye, bluegill and catfish occupying the majority of interest from Hoosier anglers, trout fishing is often overlooked — especially in the spring, when serious fishermen are thinking, ‘So many fish, so little time.’
This is a mistake for many reasons.
For one, trout fishing only lasts for a short window. The season is long, running from the last Saturday in April through Dec. 31, but the supply is limited. In most locations, the stocked trout are gone by summer. Either they end up in some lucky angler’s frying pan, or the water they were stocked in becomes too warm and they die. For a short time, though, trout are plentiful in certain waters across the state thanks to stockings performed by the DNR. By now, over 23,000 rainbow trout have been stocked in 17 streams in 12 different counties. And they’re not small. They average 11 inches in length.
The entire list of where the trout have been stocked and how many were released in each location is available on the DNR website (wildlife.IN.gov/5457.htm). I’ll highlight just a few of the locations you might want to try.
Potato Creek State Park is really where my love of nature exploded at an early age. I vividly remember sitting in the child seat on the back of my father’s bicycle riding along the trails looking for deer. This was before the state park hunts were instituted to control populations, so the number of deer we would see was incredible. Way, way too many for the landscape to maintain, but still, it left an impression.
The creek itself, aside from being the namesake of the park, is a beautiful, quaint little water where one could find real solace by trying to entice a trout with a dry fly. This location, with stocked fish ready to be caught, would be a great place to give fly fishing a go. It marries the intimacy of a tiny creek with a pristine natural setting.
The Pigeon River is really one of Indiana’s premier waters to try and pry a trout from. Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife Area includes 11,794 acres of land, 529 acres of lakes and 17 miles of free flowing river. It’s a great place to feel a sense of wilderness in Indiana. You could easily think you were trout fishing in northern Michigan.
Brookville offers a legitimate tailwater trout fishery. Below the dam, there is a 2-mile stretch of river holding great numbers of brown and rainbow trout. The water being released from the dam is cold enough to sustain trout year round, so anglers are able to chase trout here during the entire season. Tailwater fishing can be tough. At times, trout eat bugs so small you can barely see them with your own eyes. It can be technical fishing, and a lesson in frustration. But while the stockers are still plentiful, you can catch trout.
Anglers may pursue these trout with any legal method of fishing, but this is a fine opportunity to give fly fishing a try if you’ve never done so before. You don’t need a lot of equipment. A 5 weight fly rod combination is a perfect outfit. As for flies, the basics, like woolly buggers and caddis, work well. Everyone from fly fishing novices to the most experienced among us should find pleasure in catching trout on a fly rod.
According to a DNR press release, the bag limit for trout in inland waters, other than Lake Michigan and its tributaries, is five fish per day with a minimum size of 7 inches. No more than one of these can be a brown trout. In addition, brown trout taken from the Oliver Lake chain must be at least 18 inches in length. Anglers ages 18 years and older will need an Indiana fishing license and a trout/salmon stamp to fish for trout.
The great thing about Indiana’s Inland Trout Stocking Program is anyone, meaning any type of angler of any skill level, can catch trout. Families can enjoy fishing together and you can work with kids to build their interest in fishing. Anglers that want to catch fish and take a few trout home to eat can do so, and those looking just to have some fun with catch and release can do that also. If you like to catch trout, Indiana does provide opportunities. Most don’t last all year long, but few outdoor opportunities do.
See you down the trail …