|The industrial shoreline in Indiana was the
first place salmon were caught in the
One year old, fingerling coho salmon were stocked into the Great Lakes in northern Lake Michigan in 1966. If they would live and prosper was unknown. Where the salmon would go was unknown. As far as anyone could guess, their fate could possibly remain unknown for two more years when any that did survive would hopefully return to where they were stocked as mature adults. It didn’t take that long.
In early spring of 1968 anglers fishing shoreline areas at Michigan City, East Chicago and Whiting, Indiana started hooking these “funny looking trout” instead of the perch, panfish or whatever other fish they hoped to catch. Some of the lucky anglers took the fish to Indiana’s DNR - Lake Michigan office where biologists identified them as coho salmon.
With a minor amount of sleuthing, the mystery was solved. These were the “experimental” salmon stocked by Michigan. They were alive, healthy and growing well. Eventually, they did return to their stocking site and hundreds or thousands of them were caught up there. But they were here in Indiana first.
These initial catches were newsworthy and I soon learned the news. I was on spring break of my freshmen year at Purdue so a friend and I grabbed what fishing gear we owned and headed for the lake. We were unsuccessful in actually catching one. I know now where, when and how we were fishing was unlikely to produce for us, but it really didn't matter. We were salmon fishing right here in Indiana and for me, it became a lifelong obsession.
|Indiana and other states races to build salmon
hatcheries for to stock the Great Lakes
From an angler’s perspective, Great Lakes salmon fishing started here in Indiana and even after a half century it continues. What has been established is each year most of the coho salmon in Lake Michigan, now annually stocked by Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, show up along Indiana’s shoreline in late winter and crowd the shallows through most of the spring months.