May is the month fishermen dream about all year long.
The action heats up across the state as many fish species begin their annual spawn.
As an angler not intensely focused on catching a certain species, choosing what to fish for on any given day in May is tougher for me than choosing just one thing off an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet.
All across Indiana, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, rivers and creeks offer anglers a plethora of opportunity. Whether you fish from a boat or the bank, there are many places for you to go.
Here are a few of my top picks for fishing in May.
Lake Monroe // wipers
Lurking in the depths of Lake Monroe are some of the hardest-fighting predator fish known to freshwater.
Hybrid striped bass, or “wipers,” fight like a freight train. They are the result of a genetic cross between striped bass and white bass. Wipers are aggressive carnivores, feeding heavily on baitfish, especially shad. The typical Monroe wiper falls in the 5- to 10-pound range. Larger fish, 15-pounders, are not uncommon.
Wipers stack up around the dam when water temperatures are between 60 and 70 degrees. Also, the beach at Fairfax SRA and all along Kelly Point are top producing areas. All of these areas are accessible to the public and offer safe wading. Anglers with a boat can find wipers in open water.
Lake Michigan tributaries // steelhead
Steelhead are anadromous, meaning they are born or released into a river and then migrate to a lake or ocean. In this case it’s Lake Michigan. They then return to the river of their birth to spawn, and then head back to the lake.
Assuming they survive the journey, they make this spawning run a number of times. The northern Indiana creeks and rivers that experience summer and fall returns of Skamania are: Trail Creek, Salt Creek, the East Branch of the Little Calumet River and the St. Joseph River.
You can wade-fish the tributaries or fish from the shore. For fishing the lake, booking a charter is worth the money if you are determined to take a limit home. Taking your own boat is also an option, but be prepared for the big water.
Fishing the Michigan City Lighthouse in late evening or early morning often provides some great action.
Shakamak State Park // bluegill
Shakamak State Park has three lakes totaling 400 acres. All of the lakes are full of bluegill. They are restricted to electric motors only.
Lake Kickapoo is the largest lake at around 300 acres, with Lake Lenape and Lake Shakamak each consisting of around 50 acres.
All three lakes are full of structure. Lily pads and aquatic weeds aid in creating wonderful fish habit around the shore, so anglers don’t necessarily need a boat to find prime fishing on these three lakes. However, there are boat ramps on all three lakes and boat rentals are available.
Driftwood River // smallmouth bass
At only 16 miles long, the Driftwood River is an action-packed stretch of water.
It’s formed by the confluence of the Big Blue River and Sugar Creek, then terminates at its own confluence with the Flatrock River forming the East Fork of the White River. It’s home to a number of fish species, but smallmouth bass are the reason to visit.
Tactics for fishing Driftwood River smallmouth vary by angler. You can catch them on spinners, crankbaits, topwater and jigs. Fly fishing is another great way to fish the river.
Webster Lake // muskie
Indiana’s best-known and most-productive muskie waters are located in the northeast portion of the state.
Although a number of other lakes and rivers hold and produce muskie, Webster Lake is the must-fish muskie lake in the state. It boasts astonishing muskie densities.
Muskies are known as “the fish of 10,000 casts.” If you want the reward and excitement of landing one of these solitary predators, you are going to have to work for one.
I can’t tell you specifically how, where and when to go catch one. Muskies roam. You’re going to have to cast a lot, try a lot of different patterns, fish different structures, different depths, multiple days, and maybe, just maybe, it’ll all come together for you and across your arms will be draped a fish longer than your leg.
See you down the trail.