Yes, Indiana skamania steelhead are a big reason to travel here to fish.
Quite some time ago, before Walton Rods really had its footing, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about states that have terrible fishing opportunities compared to other states. I listed Indiana as the worst. The piece was meant to be funny and get clicks for the publisher I was writing for. Since then, I’ve come to find out that as it pertains to Indiana skamania, there may not be a better place in the world to catch one of these freshwater bullets than right there in the Hoosier state.
I’ve always known that there were Northern Indiana skamania, or perhaps more commonly known as just a steelhead, but I never really gave it any attention. Besides, It’s Indiana. How productive could a steelhead fishery really be anyways? Well, the state of Indiana has really put the work into St. Joe, Trail Creek, and a few other Indiana tribs to make these bodies of water a skamania destination to rival anything in the US.
Since 1971, Indiana has been pouring skamania into their tributary waters to the tune of hundreds of thousands of fish. For example, just in the St. Joe, 240,000 fish are put in every year. The other tribs of Indiana get 180,000 skamania steelhead. These are mixed of both fall and spring run fish. Most anglers enjoy the spring run as they are there when it’s nice and warm out. The fall run tend to hang out all winter with the best fishing taking place during cold spells and snow storms.
This past spring was the first time I ever chased some Indiana skamania. We showed up right after a recent snow and really got into some fish. Coming up over labor day, we are going to go at it again, but this time for some of the summer run.
Crowds are an issue on these waters though, so that is something to keep in mind. If you are fly fishing, you’ll be few and far between. Most fishermen are pinners or spinners and float skein. Those loud presentations make the fish very skittish. Sneaking into a hole with a quiet fly presentation will put you on fish.
Once again, I must humbly apologize to the good folks of Indiana. This fishery is truly something to behold.