SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – Now for an update for all anglers. The Saint-Joseph River is scorching with rainbow trout right now.
However, this has not always been the case. In fact, steelheads aren’t even native to our part of the United States.
Trout and salmon hatchery programs allow these fish to be brought back without having to travel west.
16 News Now reporter Jack Springgate tells us about a day in the life of one of the Indiana DNR employees who supply the St. Joseph River with these fish.
While it’s not a glamorous job, it’s the reason some people can catch trout and salmon hundreds of miles from their streams.
The staff at Richard Clay Bodine State Fish Hatchery ensures that these fish are not only ready for a long swim back to Lake Michigan, but also for the swim upstream home.
It’s not quite the deadliest hold, but it could be called the most slippery hold.
These rainbow trout began their journey at the Bodine State Hatchery in Mishawaka, where MNR staff have been rearing them from eggs for the past 15 months.
“Spawning habitat in the Great Lakes region is not conducive to natural reproduction. These fish evolved in the crystal clear mountain waters of the Pacific Northwest and you just don’t get that here. So it’s sort of hatchery-based,” said Dave Meuninck, director of Bodine State Fish Hatchery.
Once all the tails have been counted, the fish loaded into this truck will head to one of the stocking sites along the St. Joseph River to begin their life in the wild.
“Now the intention is for them to hang out in the river until late April, early May. During this time they will imprint the scent of the St. Joseph River before migrating to Lake Michigan,” said Meuninck.
Trout and salmon spend 2-3 years maturing on the lake, which is why some of the fish from Hoosier State hatcheries can be fished as far away as Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Here are some of the coho salmon our photojournalist Tyler Woods caught off Michigan City.
Fish that don’t end up on the wrong side of a fishing rod on the lake will find their way back to the Saint-Joseph River.
They will have to navigate upstream through a series of dams at five different locations along the Saint-Joseph River.
They have to go through fish ladders like this in South Bend to get to the next part of the river.
This gives researchers a chance to monitor fish populations by tracking which fish are swimming near that window using a camera.
“We can count the number of fish species moving around. We are doing fin clips to identify specific strains or stocks of fish to assess how well they are surviving and doing using that information,” said Lake Fisheries Biologist Ben Dickinson. Michigan.
Using this information, Indiana Fish and Wildlife counted more than 7,000 rainbow trout swimming through their fish ladders last month.
With all these fish, here are some of the best places to find them in St. Joseph County. MNR staff told me that some of their favorite places to fish were near the shallow gravel beds of Leeper Park and Central Park.
And a big reminder before heading to the river, you must have a fishing license. Most people only have to pay $23 for the basic license and an additional $11 for the trout and salmon stamp.
follow this link to learn more about the different types of licenses.
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