What the Experts are Saying about Indiana Dunes Fishing


If you’re an angler who enjoys some serious rod-bending action, you need to fish the Indiana Dunes stretch of Lake Michigan and its tributaries. This water system provides an opportunity to catch a smorgasbord of gamefish—perch, cohos, chinooks, steelhead, Skamania, brown trout, lake trout and smallmouths.

On Lake Michigan, many troll and use downriggers, planer boards or perform flat-lining with leadcore line to get their lures into the view of the fish to draw a strike. Control drifting with minnow rigs is also a productive method when perch are on the bite. Fishing the mouth of a tributary with a spoon, inline spinner or live bait under a float when fish start their run, provide shoreline anglers plenty of chances. For Lake Michigan’s tributaries, anglers fish from the banks due to the narrow waterways and shallow water stretches. These areas provide opportunities hook into cohos, salmon, steelhead, Skamania and bonus brown trout.

The major runs start near the Dunes in early spring and again in early fall with the cohos, followed by the salmon and the steelhead. In midsummer there’s the Skamania run, and when you hook-up into one hang on, as they can jump 6 feet into the air and then immediately start blazing downstream.

These tributaries are quite the playground and offer anglers chances to test their abilities, especially with the steelhead. The key is to locate these and other fish and their holding areas that include “soft” water that gives fish relief from the current and a spot to rest for the next push upstream.

A couple experts have much to say about fishing the Indiana Dunes stretch of Lake Michigan and its tributaries.

Mike Ryan is a true steward of our water systems, and serves as the Indiana Sport Fishing advisor on the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, The Lamprey Assessment for Trail Creek, and is an active member with the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders, Hoosier Coho Club, Duneland Fly Fishers and St. Joseph Valley Fly Fishers.

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“Indiana’s Dunes is one of the few places in North America that you can catch steelhead all 12 months of year,” Ryan said. “There are very few places you can fish in shorts with 90-degree temperatures and catch steelhead. Also, Indiana has a great winter fishery for steelhead.”

He added that the perch fishing was last year was good.

“The way things are looking, the perch fishing the next few years should be even better.”

Rich Sleziak is the owner and operator of Slez’s Bait & Tackle Shop and Triple Catch Charters. Since 1987, Slez’s has been serving anglers’ needs. If you want the straight scoop on what’s biting and where, you need to speak with Rich.

“The fishing here is absolutely phenomenal—it’s just what it is. On the lake in early spring, we start off catching cohos and browns, and then boom—the salmon show up. Next, the steelhead are on the bite and after that we start catching lake trout.”

He says it’s that diverse here and that is part of the beauty of fishing Lake Michigan in Indiana’s waters.