Monday, February 25, 2013

Lake Michigan Fishing Spots

On a cold, January day, cabin fever kicked in. So I grabbed a fishing pole and a hand full of tackle and set my sights on the Lake Michigan shore line to scout places to fish. Its been years since I've fished Lake Michigan, so this would be a trip to see if the old places are still open and if there are any new places to be found. Besides, the temperature was 10 degrees with a 25 mph north wind, too cold to fish.

Indiana DNR shelter and parking area

My first stop was a Indiana Department of Natural Resources Restoration Area on the east branch of the Little Calumet River.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources Restoration Area
Little Calumet River East Branch

I was hoping to find a river access spot where I could launch my canoe. The parking here is a little to far from the river to drag a canoe. At the time the river was low and looking good. Lots of deadfalls along the shoreline, good places for the big ones to hide.

Little Calumet River facing East

This bridge and the road leading to the river are closed to vehicular traffic. To the left (south) of the bridge about a half mile is an undeveloped parking area. You can walk in from there. After a rain, the road leading to the unofficial parking area  would be a mud hole.  So, it would be best to park at the picnic shelter provided by the DNR and pictured above. The walk to the river is just a wee bit longer.

Old Bridge over Little  Calumet River facing West

The above photo is facing west. Two or so miles is a public marina. I've fished near the marina before, so it looks like the marina would be the best place to put in the canoe and paddle the river. By launching at the marina, I will be able to float, not only the east branch of the Little Cal, but also the west branch and paddle north to Portage Bay and Lake Michigan.  

Somebody's  watching me

Walking back to where I parked, I got the feeling I was being watched. There on the naturally overgrown Oak-Maple Forest floor was a young White-Tail Deer, a doe, watching my every move. 

White-Tail Deer

Yep, if you feel as though you are being watched, chances are, you are being watched. I moved forward a bit and found a clearing in the brush, for a less wild photo. The doe stared me down until I gave in and vacated her woods.

Fox Squirrel

At the DNR picnic shelter, I encountered a Fox Squirrel. The largest of the North America tree squirrels. He's hanging out at the shelter, looking for an easy meal, sorry, I'm a firm believer in "Do not feed the animals". Squirrels in particular, if they eat soft food instead of cutting hard shelled nuts, their upper and lower front teeth will not be worn down and will continue to grow, causing the squirrel to starve . 

Indiana DNR Public Fish Site, Port of Indiana

A few miles north of the Little Cal is the Port of Indiana. This is another Indiana DNR public fishing site. Don't let the sunshine and calm water fool you, this was a cold, windy day.   

Large flock of Common Mergansers

On the waters of the port, was a large flock of waterfowl. This photo was cropped, there are actually three times as many bird on the water. This is a flock of Common Mergansers aka Sawbills aka Fish Ducks. Mergansers dive under the water to catch fish. Every few minutes, the entire flock would dive, proving to me that the fish were in the harbor, but like I said before, it was too cold to fish.    

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore,  National Park Service

Due west of the Port is a section the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the Portage Riverwalk Park. Located where the Little Calumet River enters Lake Michigan.  

Wind pruned Pin Oak and Pine trees

The dunes meet the river where wind pruned pines and pin oak anchor the high banks of the river. About fifty feet below these stunted trees is the river. Shore decks are placed along the river bank from which you can fish or just watch the pleasure boats make there way to the lake from the marina.

Pine Cones

Old pine cones that dropped their seed long ago. The harsh conditions of the dunes environment causes the trees to be stunted. They may not be large trees but they are very old. (And you thought man 'invented' bonsai trees) 

Ice on the Rocks

Lake Michigan is at a low water stage. These rocks would be under water at normal water levels. Look at the ice on the rocks, another good reason not to fish. 

Black Mussel

A freshwater mussel in the sand. I wonder if there's a pearl inside of it? Mussels have a interesting life cycle. The female is fertilized by the male. She retains the eggs until they are hatched. the larvae are released into the water and actively search out fish. When a fish is found the larvae attach themselves to the fins or gills of the fish until they become juveniles. Then drop off onto the lake bottom and grow to adults.  

Western Grebe at Portage Harbor

What's this? The Loch Michigan Monster! No, just a bad photo of a Western Grebe in Portage Harbor. Another diving bird that will winter here as long as it can find open water and fish. This area is where the Little Calumet River meets Lake Michigan. 

Chicago Beyond the Horizon

Right about now, I'm at the point where I can't take this cold any more. A couple more shots and I'm out of here. So here's "Chicago Beyond the Horizon". 

Portage Dunes

After all is said and done, it was a good day. I found a few places to fish and float my canoe. Visited some new scenery and got a few pic to boot. When the Coho run in March, you know where I can be found. 

(Click on any photo to see an enlarged photo slideshow)