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Salmon fishing going strong

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Updated: January 23, 2012 4:02AM

On a Saturday
afternoon in October, Dan Sims of
Evergreen Park took his boys to ply two of the Lake Michigan tributaries in northwest Indiana.

‘‘The boys were tickled pink just to see moving salmon in this small river system; that alone would have made the trip well worth it!’’ Sims e-mailed.

But it was more than watching for Sims, sons Aidan, 10, and Calum , 9, and father-in-law Tony Simanis, as it has been for many salmon fishermen this fall around southern Lake Michigan.

On the Chicago lakefront, multiple 20-pound-plus kings were landed before the northerly gales. The 26-pound, 3-ounce king caught by Teddy ‘‘Papo’’ Ruiz in September at Jackson Park was the best.

The Indiana streams have continued that good fishing deep into the fall.

‘‘I would have to categorize this as one of the better runs [returns] to the northwest Indiana streams in the last five years,’’ said Brian Breidert, the Lake Michigan fisheries biologist for Indiana.

‘‘There are certainly more people out, which leads to more catching. .  .  . The weather conditions and stream flows have been near-perfect for the entire season. We have seen more fish enter the West Branch of the Little Calumet than we have seen in about a decade.’’

The Sims clan made family history on a hole along Salt Creek. Sims said it took only about three drifts for Aidan.

‘‘Nice king came up and nipped at his floating spawn — Fish on!’’ Sims e-mailed. ‘‘He was ECSTATIC! After a five-minute battle and multiple drag screaming runs, he reaches down and lands his very first king salmon!’’

I understand Sims’ exclamation points. Sims added his own when he caught a nice steelhead from the same hole the next day. That’s one of the beautiful things this fall on the Indiana streams: It’s kings, steelhead and coho.

‘‘The fish have moved all over the system in good numbers, which has attracted some new anglers and also brought some others back to the area,’’ Breidert said. ‘‘This can be both good and bad. The fish size is also part of this. When there are big fish, you see more people out.’’

Lee Sczepanski, a fishing friend from Valparaiso, Ind., asked that I write about the impact of all those fishermen. With more people flow, it becomes more essential to ‘‘tread lightly,’’ as he put it.

That’s good advice, especially with a fishery that might extend well beyond early fall.

‘‘Since we had a good alewife spawn in 2010 and they made it through the winter, the fish had a good supply of food, which allowed for good growth,’’ Breidert said. ‘‘I am really pleased to have been here for that. It has made for an exciting season, with some kings in the stream reaching 20 pounds, as well as large coho and steelhead. Our steelhead returns should continue into the spring, which should make an interesting fishery to start off in 2012.’’

Hunting notes

Illinois bowhunters had harvested 17,744 deer through Sunday, ahead of the 17,008 in the same period last year, forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton said. The gender ratio shifts toward bucks as the rut builds. .  .  . At Mazonia/Braidwood SFWA, 94 hunters bagged 48 ducks and five geese at Braidwood. The Mazonia lakes were very slow. William W. Powers SRA (13 geese shot) and Heidecke Lake SFWA (14 mallards shot) were slow. .  .  . Hunting for white-fronted geese opens Wednesday in the north zone.

Stray cast

Theo Epstein? A native brook trout parachuted into the North Branch.

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