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Much of my fishing lately has been on the fly and focused on fish that some a lot of people consider to be trash. After an exciting trip for snakeheads near D.C, I decided that it was time to go after some a fish that are considered a rainbow trout on steroids - steelhead. I got a hold of my good buddy Sam and started planning.

Sam has a pretty good feel on the Indiana trout and salmon fishing world, so when he suggested hitting the harbor in Michigan City I didn't argue. So grabbed a couple of set ups that I haven't used in quite a while, but was quite familiar with - spinning reels, bobbers, and bait. Our plan/goal was to catch a few fish with the bait and bobber method and then grab the fly rods and see if we could get a few that way.

When we got out to the harbor, the winds were blowing very hard and we knew that casting a fly would be challenge. Once we reached the actual fishing spot, we knew it would be impossible so we left the fly rods in the truck. As we walked, I noticed that there were at least forty other fisherman spread all along the harbor wall and their bobbers were no more than ten feet from the next guy. This was a classic example of the type of fishing that I usually can't stand and that I had hoped to avoid by going on a Monday. As we walked the wall, looking for a spot that had room for us to fish, we noticed a couple guys packing up so we took over. The folks that just left did so empty handed so I wasn't too optimistic about catching anything. As I scanned the wall, I noticed that pretty much everybody was empty handed so that really made me leery about wasting a gorgeous day here. Nevertheless, I had made the hour and a half drive so we decided that we would give it an an hour and if we got nothing, we would go hit the creeks.

First of the day! 
With that, I adjusted the depth of my bobber, hooked a shrimp, cast it out there, and then put the rod down so I could set up my casting combo. After I got the reel mounted on the pole, I started to run the line through the guides when I heard my spinning rod scrape across the ground. "Did I just bump that?" I wondered. All of the sudden, a huge fish shot out of the water right where my bobber was. "Where's my...Oh crap!" I exclaimed, "FISH ON!!!" I dropped the casting rod I was working on and grabbed the spinning rod and started the fight. After about a minute, the fish was netted and brought to shore. I have to admit that while it gave me a couple decent pulls and even took some line, I really expected more from a fish this size in open water on medium action spinning gear. Regardless, it still got my heart racing! As I was unhooking the fish, I could feel the stares from the others who had been out there a lot longer than the five minutes that I was, yet were still fishless. I made nice by offering the fish to one of my neighbors who was there with his two boys.

Number two!
I threw another shrimp on the hook, cast it out, and started working on my casting set up again. Finally, I had it all rigged up and was just about ready to grab a shrimp to put on the hook when my bobber disappeared! I reeled in the slack, set the hook, and once again exclaimed, "FISH ON!!!" This fish gave me what the other fish didn't....long and fast runs that made my drag scream. The combination of the sound of the drag and the braided line being pulled across the guides is so harmonious and exciting. It's one of those things that I dream about. We landed the fish, unhooked it, snapped a photo, and offered it to the others. A couple of the other anglers came over this time to see what we were doing and I happily told them, "It's all about the depth." The magic number seemed to be about six and half to seven feet.

Fish three - time spent fishing so far..about 30 minutes
I baited both set ups, cast them out, and waited. Eight minutes had gone by now and I said to Sam, "It's been eight minutes since I caught a fish; I think the bite is dead." We laughed, Sam called me an a-hole and we continued to wait. About four minutes later, I again got say my favorite words, "FISH ON!!!" Sam reeled up his line and jumped on my second line to get it out of the way. A couple of minutes later, fish number three was on shore. Now I was starting to feel bad; I was "that guy". You know the one that you hate; the one with the horseshoe up his butt as Sam kept telling me I had. Sam was just as perplexed as everyone else out there.

Sam's first of the day
The difference between him and everyone else is that he was using the exact same bait that I was but still hadn't caught one, so why three fish for me but none for Sam? We compared the depths on the bobber and we saw that he was a bit deeper so he matched his depth to mine, cast it out, and about two minutes later....FISH ON!!! This time it was me who was reeling up lines and grabbing the net; something that I was very happy to do. We took some pictures and answered more questions from other fishermen who were willing to ask. We happily answered..."It's all about the depth!" "Set your bobbers at six and half to seven feet deep." I have no idea if anyone listened or not but I do know that more and more bobbers started to be cast right where we were fishing. I chuckled and cast my lines out.

I was really hoping that my baitcasting set up would get hit because I wanted to test a theory of mine. Last fall, I had hooked several king salmon on that set up but could never land them. It felt as if the rod was a bit too stiff for them and kept either breaking line or ripping the hooks out of the fishes mouths. About five minutes later, I got to put that theory to the test when my bobber went down, and I exclaimed for the fourth time in less than an hour, "FISH ON!!!" The fish took off and was absolutely ripping yards of line when I felt the dreaded but expected pop. I reeled the line in and noticed the line hadn't broke but the hook had pulled out. My suspicions were confirmed and that rod was put away immediately.

Sam's second!
I cast my spinning set up for another run and a few minutes later, it was Sam's turn again. This fish turned out to be the most exciting one of the day!! The wall the were fishing from was about four feet above the waters surface and I am about five foot ten inches tall. The excitement came when Sam's fish jumped and was pretty much at eye level with me! I swear to Gumby; I could have reached out and caught this fish mid air!!! It was absolutely crazy! After the massive leap of faith, the fish took off and caused that harmonious sound I talked about earlier. A few minutes later, the fish was in the net and made the fifth landed fish for us in about fifty minutes. This crazy fish catching sure seemed to cause a crowd to gather around.

Number four for me!
At this point, we decided that as much fun as it was catching these things, we wanted more of a challenge and less of a crowd, so we would give it ten more minutes no matter what. We cast our lines,  and a few minutes later as we figured out where we wanted to go, it was bobber down for me and FISH ON!!! We got the fish landed and started packing up. As we did, I motioned for the two kids that were there with their Dad to come over to our spot. I adjusted the first kid's bobber depth and Sam put one of our shrimp on his hook while I adjusted and baited the second kid's set up. I told them to fish exactly where we were fishing and they cast their lines as began our journey back to the truck.

As awesome as I felt about the fish, I felt even better knowing that those two kids were about to hook into a fish and exclaim, "FISH ON!!!


  1. Very well done, even better that you got a put a kid in the position to catch some fish. That will surely help the sport going forward.

    1. I sure hope so! I have been wondering if they got one or not...sure hope they did!

  2. Wish I was that close to salmon and steelhead action again...

  3. I have always heard that the question "How deep?" is a lot more important than "What are they biting on?". Your story takes that point to the next level. I am really surprised that no one else listened to you when you said it. It sounds like you guys had a blast! and good job on helping those kids to catch some fish. Did you guys hang out long enough to see them catch one? I would love to get into some fishing like that some time! Thanks for the story.

    1. I was too...The solution for most people seemed to be to cast their bobbers as close to ours. Oh well....you can only lead a horse to water, right?

      I did not stick around to see if they caught one....I really do hope that they did, though.

  4. Awesome! lol your the kinda guy i usually hate on at the stream side... joking. Way to figure them out and show the others how its done!

    1. LOL Trust me...I understand!! I am pretty sure there were many people who hated me that day. I tried to make peace by giving them my fish

  5. Now these sound like they'd be fun to catch! I can only imagine how fun they would be to land on the fly! Kuddo's to you for hooking those kids up also. That'll be something they remember for years to come, even if they didn't happen to catch anything (which I'm sure they did since you seemed to have it figured out pretty well)! :)

    1. They are really quite fun and often times they provide a great aerial show. I stick to the creeks and rivers when I pursuit them on the fly. Watching these things make some blistering runs in shallow water is an absolute blast.

      I sure hope the kids caught some and hope that they remember to help others as they get older and progress as fishermen.


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