Portage (Burns Ditch)

Portage (Burns Ditch)

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The mouth of the Little Calumet River, or Burns Waterway in Portage, is another great place to fish for skamania steelhead. Like Trail Creek, the Little Calumet also receives a large steelhead stocking every year, so returning fish seek the creek mouth each July.

 The best way to fish the Portage area is by boat. There are a couple of marinas on Burns Waterway where you may launch , and then it is just a short run north to the mouth of the creek. Once you hit the lake, you can troll east or west in the shallow water along the beach, or you can head straight out into the lake and troll the 40- to 60-foot depths. Some trollers prefer to head east toward the rocky breakwall that protects the Port of Indiana. Boats are prohibited from entering the port, but they can still troll along the outer walls.  Normally, skamania show up in Portage around the Fourth of July and stage for a couple of weeks before heading upstream. During very dry years, the fish might stick around for three or four weeks, and then anglers experience fantastic trolling action. It’s not always that easy, though. One of the most popular skamania lures used by Portage fishermen is a large fluorescent red spoon. It’s not just big, it’s really big. Some trollers run it deep with downriggers, while others let it probe the near-surface waters on a flat line. This type of spoon catches lots of fish every year, too. Other productive lures here include smaller trolling spoons (silver and orange) and fluorescent orange crankbaits and plugs. For me the most productive lure is the ever popular floating J-9 Rapala , color fluorescent/orange.

Here is what a well known fishing guide had to say about fishing for Lakers on the reef at Portage, Indiana in November:

 “Yup!….. Catching Lakers on the reef gets expensive FAST.. You WILL lose a TON of gear if you are fishing right.”

“The key is to stay up on top of the reef and troll down close to 1.5 mph. Run a  smoke and fire dot dodger with a Spin N  Glo, in yellow and white to start.  Try to run everything right off the the top of the reef. You will be bumping bottom,  which is why you lose so much gear. Run dipsys out 20-30 feet, riggers down around 15 feet and  three colors of  core off planer boards close to the boat.

Pull up  lines often and check for nicks in the line  to help save you some $$$.
Run some lures out on boards out to the sides of the reef for bonus fish like Steelheads and Browns.
Watch your gear!  I heard of a guy that hit the reef with his four downriggers  and it ripped off  his trolling board,  taking with it a ton of rods and all four riggers.”

 If you have the bucks, I would hire a guide  for at least one trip before you venture out on a trip  of your own. It’s well worth the money just in tackle savings alone…..Good Luck!