It’s no big fish tale to say that the region is a wonderful place to go fishing. With Northwest Indiana’s proximity to Lake Michigan, there are plenty of fishing areas—those with access to the lake, as well as rivers that flow into the lake, so a variety of types of fish can be found at these various sites. So grab your tackle box and pole and head out to the region’s best fishing holes.
Rich Sleziak, owner of Slez’s Bait & Tackle, owner of Triplecatch charter service, and fishing department lead at Bass Pro Shops in Portage has spent his entire life in the fishing industry. He says “Lake Michigan is a great place to catch fish with a boat and you can go out of Michigan City, Indiana out of Washington Park, out of Burns Waterway, out of Pastrick Marina in East Chicago, or out of Hammond Marina.
Offshore, Portage Lakefront site of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The park is very accessible with a pier, and at Washington Park, the pier itself is very accessible. If you want to fish inland, Hobart’s Lake George is popular because it is so easy. There’s plenty of fishing off the bank and there’s fish galore in there so it’s easy to throw in and catch a fish. Deep River and Burns Ditch are great in the summer for catfish, and in Lake Station there’s a little spot called Grand Boulevard Lake that is a residential park that they cleaned up and it’s fabulous. Portage Lakefront Park is very accessible, and Washington Park, the pier itself is very accessible.”
Wolf Lake in Hammond is also an excellent fishing hole since it can be accessed by small boat or just fishing along the shoreline. This lake is known for its excellent walleye and northern pike and was stocked years ago to bring back a healthy balance in the lake. There is also muskie, yellow perch, blue gill, crappie, large and small-mouthed bass - and exotics like gobie’s and white perch.
Local angler Wendy Reigel of Chesterton says her favorite places to fish in Porter County include a spot on Old Porter Road on the border between Portage and Burns Harbor, under a bridge on the Salt Creek. “I like to put on my waders and get in the river when I’m fishing her because the salmon run in the fall and they go in the pools by the rocks. You can see them and you’ll want to chase them, and if you get snagged you can get out if better you’re in the river. But what I really like about this spot is what you hear—the waterfalls, the flowing water rushing over the rocks—even if the fish aren’t biting it feels good to be here,” Reigel says.
“Where else in Indiana can you find that kind of fish, a big fish in a small stream?” asks her husband John Reigel. “Maybe at the Pacific Ocean or in the state of Washington, but here we’re lucky to have access to the Great Lakes, and so they come in from Lake Michigan and travel up here to spawn. It’s really unique to this area,” he says. The Reigels say that the Salt Creek is such a treasure trove of fish and serenity that almost any bridge over the river will yield a good fishing spot, or places in Chesterton along the Little Calumet River. They say you can tell when it’s a good run by the cars parked along the sides of the road where a stream flows underneath. “When the fish are coming in, people will show up, wherever they’re at,” Wendy Reigel says.