Visit the Indiana Dunes for Great Fishing, Hunting


The Aukiki Wetland Conservation Area
The Aukiki Wetland Conservation Area is a 650-acre parcel that was donated by NiSource and conserves a mix of wetlands, black oak barrens and sand prairie. There is plenty of wildlife viewing, hiking and hunting here. Now jointly owned by The Nature Conservancy and the Indiana DNR, Aukiki is part of the Indiana Grand Kankakee Marsh Restoration Project. The Grand Kankakee Marsh was one of the largest freshwater wetland complexes in the country encompassing 500,000 acres in eight counties. To restore these lands, staff and volunteers have manually removed much of the woody understory in these areas to reduce canopy cover. They have also reintroduced fire through prescribed burns to restore oak barrens and prairie habitat.

The DNR and Ducks Unlimited have partnered to restore wetland areas to provide breeding and migration habitat for waterfowl along the Kankakee River, and have converted 200 acres of former farmland to grasses to improve wildlife habitat. This site has limited amenities, but is a great place to wander and explore. Aukiki is open to hunting too. Call 219-843-4841 to get information on hunting seasons and precautions to take. Aukiki is located at State Road 49, Wheatfield, IN 46392. You can reach them at 219-285-2184.

Chustak Public Fishing Area
This 76-acre public fishing area offers access to Salt Creek, where you’ll find excellent small-stream trout and salmon fishing as species leave Lake Michigan and head upstream on their seasonal spawning runs.

For non-anglers, this site provides a narrow trail that follows Salt Creek’s meanderings through a scenic riparian bottomland. Pick up Indiana Dunes Tourism’s fishing guide for additional details about fishing throughout the region. Chustak is located at West 600 N. Rd., South Haven, IN 46383.

Creek Ridge County Park
A series of accessible boardwalks allow visitors a chance to experience the entire trail system at Creek Ridge. This property is host to deer, fox, raccoons and rabbits that live in the park’s open-field prairies, wetlands and hardwood forests. An annual steelhead migration also occurs along Trail Creek. Creek Ridge is also a salmon fisheries tributary of Lake Michigan.

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The park also offers picnicking, shelter rentals, restrooms, well water, playground equipment, volleyball nets, horseshoe pits, fishing on Trail Creek, no-leash dog exercise area (for a small fee) and a nine-hole disc golf course (free), but you need to bring a disc. The amenities here include pet-friendly areas and public restrooms. Creek Ridge County Park is located at 7943 W 400 North, Michigan City, IN 4636. You can reach them at 219-325-8315.

Deer Trail Park
This small park opened in 2007 and offers many recreational activities, including hiking, cross-country skiing and fishing on the Little Calumet River. The City of Portage Park Department did extensive restoration work at this site removing non-native plants from the forest understory. Along the trail, you’ll see bottomland forest in a state of recovery. Interpretive panels along areas of the trail explain the restoration process and tell some of the park’s ecological stories. From this trail, you can access the Little Calumet River, which has notable runs of Skamania steelhead trout and bass and salmon, and popular among the fly anglers. Pick up Indiana Dunes Tourism’s fishing guide for additional details about fishing throughout the region.
Deer Trail is located at Ameriplex Dr., Portage, IN 46368. Call them at 219-762-1675 for more.

Kankakee Fish and Wildlife Area
Designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, the 4,199-acre Kankakee Fish and Wildlife Area is part of the Grand Kankakee Marsh region. A single-lane gravel road follows the levee along the south side of the Yellow River and offers excellent wildlife viewing into the bottomland swamps and Yellow River.

Ten-Mile Road is gated and offers foot access to the swamp and forest between the Yellow and Kankakee rivers. Watch for bald eagles here, which have nested in the area for many years. Two boat ramps access the Kankakee River. There are limited amenities, but it’s a great place to immerse yourself in nature. Kankakee Fish and Wildlife Area is at 4320 W. Toto Rd., North Judson, IN 46366. Call 574-896-3522 for more and call 219-896-3522 for hunting information.

Slez’s Bait & Tackle
Slez’s has been in business 26 years. Their secret: having the best bait selection around and never swaying from being a “mom and pop” bait shop. They are located at 2245 Randolph St., Lake Station, IN 46405. Call them at 219-588-5929 for hours.