Robert Peters of Crown Pt., Indiana has been on some awfully big muskie these past two years. He recently sent me some pics of a couple he caught over the past month. The measurements on the first one (two pics) were 57.75" by 28.5" You can look that up on any of the online weight calculators to get an estimate. Since the fish was caught from a C&R only lake, there was no good way to get a certified weight. I'll just leave my final comment as mentioning the current state record Indiana muskie is 42-08 caught back in 2002.
DNR STOCKS LARGER MUSKIES IN LAKE WEBSTER
On May 19, biologists released 1,500 muskies into Lake Webster that were 12-14 inches long. Normally, the fish would have been part of a group stocked last October when they were 8-10 inches long.
Instead, the 1,500 fish were held at the Fawn River State Hatchery in Orland over winter and fed minnows. The minnows were purchased from a commercial source and paid for by the Hoosier Muskie Hunters.
By stocking larger muskies in spring, biologists hope to overcome factors that reduced muskie survival in recent years.
“We’ve seen a big drop in muskie fishing at Webster during the past 10 years,” said Jed Pearson, DNR biologist. “Holding half of the muskies we stock each year for a longer period in the hatchery should help reverse the trend.”
To compare survival of the larger spring-stocked muskies, each fingerling was tagged with a transponder before release. A similar group of 1,500 smaller muskies scheduled to be stocked this fall also will be tagged.
“The tags will allow us to test which group survives better,” Pearson said. “If the spring-stocked muskies win out, we’ll probably switch the stockings at Webster entirely to the spring.”
Pearson said studies in Iowa proved spring-stocked muskies survive better than muskies stocked in the fall because more food and cover are available during summer than winter. Larger fingerlings can also avoid more predators.
Muskies were first stocked into Lake Webster in 1981. By the mid-1990s, the lake developed into a fishing hotspot that attracted muskie anglers from throughout the Midwest.
As muskie fishing interest increased, so did muskie numbers. By 2005, biologists estimated 5,000 adult muskies were present in the lake. That year anglers spent 65,000 hours fishing for the species.
In a move to improve stocking efficiency, the length of time muskie fingerlings were fed minnows before release was shortened to 30 days. As a result, the fingerlings were smaller and less robust.
Additionally, weed control altered muskie habitat and reduced the amount of cover where fingerlings could hide.
Pearson also thinks the large population of adult muskies preyed on the newly stocked fingerlings.
Because of these changes, survival of stocked fingerlings took a nosedive. Eventually the number of adult muskies dropped too.
In 2005, anglers caught 2,200 muskies. Last year, they caught 560. Fishing efforts directed at muskies dropped by 50 percent over the same period.
“We estimate there are now fewer than 500 muskies in the lake,” Pearson said. “That’s a huge decline from the 5,000 we had 10 years ago. We’re hoping the switch to a spring-stocking program will get the number back up somewhere in the middle.”
Muskie anglers hope so too.
MUSKIE RANGE EXPANDING IN NORTHERN INDIANA
The list of northern Indiana waters where muskies can now be found continues to expand — a trend DNR biologists say is not necessarily a good thing.
Although muskie fingerlings are stocked each year into eight lakes in the region to provide muskie fishing, muskies are now showing up in waters where no DNR stockings or legally permitted private stockings have occurred.
Not all lakes are suitable for muskies, a large predatory sport fish. The DNR stocks them in lakes with an overabundance of forage fish, such as gizzard shad. In lakes where forage fish aren’t abundant, muskies could outcompete native sport fish such as largemouth bass and Northern pike for food.
“Our biggest concern is that some fish may find suitable spawning habitat, reproduce, and eventually compete with other fish,” said Jeremy Price, northern Indiana fisheries supervisor. “So far muskie reproduction has been limited in Indiana. We would like to keep them where they are.”
In March biologists captured a 37-inch muskie in Lake Wawasee in Kosciusko County while sampling for Northern pike.
Last month an angler caught a 46-inch muskie at Simonton Lake in Elkhart County.
Another muskie was spotted moving through the South Bend fish ladder on the St. Joseph River near the Bodine State Fish Hatchery in Mishawaka. Hatchery personnel say this is a rare occurrence.
So where are these muskies coming from?
“There are two possibilities,” Price said. “Some may be moving from waters where stockings occur and others may be the result of illegal transfers by fishermen.”
Given the number of muskies now present in the St. Joseph River, Price thinks the bulk of them may be coming from Skinner Lake in Noble County at the headwaters of the Elkhart River. Skinner is a lake that the DNR stocks with muskies.
The muskie, or muskies, now in Lake Wawasee also may have come from Skinner Lake.
“Wawasee drains through Turkey Creek into the Elkhart River, so a fish may be able to swim downstream out of Skinner, make a left turn, and then back upstream to Wawasee,” Price said. “It’s possible but not likely.”
Instead Price thinks muskies may be caught by anglers in nearby Webster, Tippecanoe or Barbee lakes, hauled in a livewell, and then released into Wawasee. The DNR has stocked Webster, Tippecanoe and Barbee lakes with muskies for several decades.
A separation between watersheds, however, does not allow fish to swim directly from these lakes to Wawasee.
Likewise, the outlet of Simonton Lake is small and not conducive to fish migration.
Transferring fish from one lake or stream to another is illegal in Indiana. The regulation is designed to prevent introductions of fish that may have adverse effects on the native fish population.
Price says a variety of other fish species are showing up in waters where they could only get there by illegal stockings.
This likely goes back to the late 1960s or perhaps early 1970s. Taken from some short video clips they filmed, the one and only Buck Perry, along with Don and Marge Nichols, and Terry O'Malley with bass they caught from Cataract Lake, a place they used to come down and visit to hang out, fish and film. Buck and his crew made a big pass through the state in 1968, mapping all the major reservoirs of the time including Monroe, Geist, Morse, Huntington, Salamonie and Prairie Cr. The effort was to support a large training program in the state, but a lightning strike a couple years later destroyed all the maps and related paperwork, along with a large part of his manufacturing facility.
Insights from BASS Elite Pro Matt Herren
EUFAULA, AL (April 4, 2016) - Spring is in the air, and with it comes the most enjoyable season for fishing. As everything comes alive, hungry bass take note, prowling the shallows in preparation for the spawn. Step one on their list is to eat everything in sight, and bass anglers enjoy taking advantage of the gluttony.
Matt Herren is a tournament champion with a history of high finishes all across the country. A 6-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, Herren has proven he’s got what it takes to fish in all seasons, coast to coast. His favorite time to fish, though, is during the spring across the mid-south regions of the US, specifically the famous string of reservoirs along the Tennessee River system.
These bass factories, with names like Guntersville, Wheeler and Kentucky, are well-known to bass fishermen around the world for the ability to crank out endless stringers of big bass. With such reputations, one would think that scoring big during the pre-spawn and spawning season would be a breeze. However, through decades of experience, Herren has discovered many understated intricacies that are needed to find the springtime motherlode.
First, it’s important to understand that these bodies of water have vast areas of shallow water, often conducive to springtime staging and spawning, that are unlike those found in most lakes. To further explain, Herren breaks down spawning habitat into two types: typical protected coves and shoreline areas, and offshore areas we’ll call “intermediate ledges.” Like main river ledges—those structures often highlighted in discussions of summertime hotspots—intermediate ledges are flat areas on the edges of submerged creek channels. However, in this case, Herren keys on those ledges that top out at fairly shallow water depths - usually under 8 feet. There, fish interested in spawning can group up and stage prior to moving, or even complete the cycle on the ledge itself.
To start, Herren narrows down his search by selecting areas somewhat protected from current: ledges downstream from major points or other structural elements, or on inside turns of the main channel. However, a quick look at any LakeMaster chip often reveals dozens of areas that match this criteria. How, then, is Herren able to isolate the protective spots?
The key is the efficient use of his electronics. In today’s age of depthfinders that look down, out and all around the boat, Herren has found it necessary to get intimately familiar with such technology in order to stay one step ahead of his competition.
The first and most important step, he says, is to locate areas with hard bottoms. Herren does so by selecting several intermediate ledges that fit his criteria based on lake level, water color and temperature, and graphing with the Side Imaging feature on his Humminbird ONIX. But, rather than do so utilizing the factory default setting, Herren first makes one small, but important, display change. “I always set my unit on Amber 1 color mode” he says. Doing so allows hard-bottomed areas to brightly glow on the screen, easily revealing key spots.
Herren’s user-customization doesn’t end with a quick display change. “I also play with frequency changes (on his depthfinder) a bunch” he points out. Herren has found that the best 2D SONAR frequency setting on his ONIX often changes as he moves from lake to lake. Whether such an oddity is the result of a chemical change in the water, or the amount of small particles floating within, is not totally understood by Herren; he just knows that changing frequency (say, from 83 to 200 kHz) often reveals the best set-up on a day-by-day basis.
Once hard-bottomed areas are located, Herren keeps a careful eye on his water temperature read-out, knowing such plays a major factor in the stage of the spawn. With water temps in the mid-fifties, bass often group up and stage; spawning beginning when the thermometer passes sixty. Herren notes that bass utilizing main lake areas for spawning often do so several weeks after those in protected bays, lengthening the springtime bonanza associated with this season.
Whereas summertime fish will often school on a bare-spot, like a small shellbed, Herren finds springtime fish prefer objects, likely due to these spawning tendencies. “They want to protect their blindside” Herren mentions of the tendency of spawning bass to nest up against and object like a stump or seawall. This behavior applies to open-water areas as much or more to those near the shoreline, as a bit of cover helps bass guard against nest predators.
When a potentially productive area is located through Side Imaging, Herren scrolls across the ONIX screen and marks each with a waypoint. Then, he deploys his trolling motor and utilizes a different electronic approach to investigate the spot, using both 360 Imaging® and Down Imaging.
First, it’s important to understand Herren’s view on each of Humminbird’s technologies. “360 Imaging is a fishing application, not a search tool, ” he says. By this, Herren means that he utilizes 360 only when on the bow and casting, not for idling purposes, as the 360 sweep time is most conducive as a fishing application. In addition, Herren often isolates the sweep of 360 to reveal objects directly in front of him, within casting distance, making the update time on his screen display much quicker. As credit to the effectiveness of this technology, Herren noted that he’s often found new, key areas in spots he’s fished for decades by utilizing 360, opening his eyes to a vast new world.
Side Imaging is Herren’s bread and butter for fine tuning a spot. While he uses the new Humminbird HELIX units primarily for mapping, Herren sticks with ONIX for depthfinding, especially Side Imaging. “There’s nothing like it” he states, adding “I’ve seen things with that unit that I’d never see with any other.”
As Herren fine-tunes a chosen spot on the trolling motor, he’s constantly continuing his search for small, hard-bottomed areas, or isolated objects that could yield a big bass or two. Herren mentions that he often finds fish on the exact same spot, year after year, during the spring season.
Once “on the juice” Herren’s approach to fishing is fairly basic, using an arrangement of tried-and-true springtime lures. “I like a rattlebait a lot, as well as a chatterbait or spinnerbait.” After getting dialed-in to specific pieces of cover, Herren often wields his trademark Santone Jig to mop up on the competition.
But just what makes a good spot great? “It’s a combination of things. Bottom type and cover matter, but maybe so do things like unknown current patterns,” says Herren. It’s a big mystery, it seems, and one Herren admits to constantly trying to better understand. Perhaps we’ll never solve the case, but, with advancements each year in technology, we’re drastically closer all the time.
This August, 1957 article in the Saturday Evening Post details the story behind what we now know as Lake Lemon. Built nearly a decade before Lake Monroe would be completed, the lake was a political struggle to get approved. Previous reservoir attempts in the area had failed, and critics argued you could simply raise the height of the dam at Griffy Res. to provide enough water to Bloomington. As of the published story date, the lake name hadn't been changed to "Lemon" yet (after mayor Thomas L. Lemon) and was referred to as Bean Blossom Lake after the creek that was impounded. A compromise name was even considered, Lake Lemon Blossom. The area lake helped sell over 2,000 fishing licenses, had a 25 mile per hour speed limit, and swimming was prohibited. Learn more about the lake's history at the article link below.
Nine years and 1.42 million views later, I have finally reached a point where I don't have a whole lot left to say :) As such, I have decided to take a break from posting and archive the site. The site will stay up and functioning, there will just be nothing new added in the way of posts. With 2,350 posts and another 2,766 comments worth of research, articles, pictures and reports, there is plenty of stuff to read or revisit. This will only affect the web page and not the Big Indiana Bass Facebook Page. I plan to route most stuff through there for the foreseeable future and will keep it active and updated regularly. If you aren't over there already, be sure to drop in.
To everyone who has supported the site - a HUGE Thank You! It's been a blast and lasted much longer than I ever expected. Time to kick back and go fishing. Feel free to keep in touch or message me stuff via the FB Page or through the BIB e-mail address which will also still remain active.