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2015 Fish of the year

Fishing Regulations Indiana Freshwater Fishing

ANNUAL BIG FISH WINNERS NAMED

In 2013, Tristan Weaver caught a 33-inch steelhead trout from Salt Creek in Porter County. He entered it in the DNR Fish of the Year Contest and won.

In 2014, he pulled a 36.3-inch steelhead out of Trail Creek in LaPorte County. Again, he entered and won.

In 2015, Weaver hooked a 35.3-inch steelhead in the St. Joseph River, and sure enough, it made him a Fish of the Year winner for the third straight year.

That’s three steelhead, three winners, three different bodies of water.

You could say Weaver gets around.

“Yeah, I pretty much fish all over northwest Indiana,” he said. “Salt Creek, the Calumet, Trail Creek, the St. Joe River – pretty much every steelhead water we have in Indiana.”

Weaver, 20, is a student at Indiana University-South Bend, where he is working toward a degree in fisheries biology with ambitions of becoming an Indiana Conservation Officer.

Until then, he has taken up being a fishing guide as a hobby, which helps get him to the places he finds big steelhead trout.

And when it comes to Fish of the Year contenders, he targets Skamania steelhead during their summer spawning migration into Lake Michigan tributaries.

“Skamania typically are really long, and the award goes on length not weight,” Weaver said. “Once you get into the winter-run steelhead, they turn into footballs. They have shoulders on them.”

Weaver was introduced to steelhead trout as a 6th-grader when a friend invited him on a family fishing trip to Michigan.

“I had no clue what steelhead were,” Weaver said. “I’d caught rainbow trout in Tennessee, but I had no idea how big steelhead got. The first one I caught on a fly (rod) was a 16 pound, 38-inch female. After that I was hooked.”

Weaver isn’t a single species angler either. He shared Fish of the Year honors for brown trout with a 33-incher caught on the St. Joseph River in South Bend. Steve Trinkle of Schererville caught his 33-inch brown trout in Lake Michigan.

The Fish of the Year Contest is one of two programs the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife manages to recognize big fish caught in Indiana waters. While the State Record Fish Program uses weight as the determining measurement, Fish of the Year winners are selected by length.

Here are some of the other notable Fish of the Year winners in 2015:

  • Jeff Carlin of Crown Point recorded three winners: Lake trout (39 inches), Coho salmon (32 inches), and yellow perch (14.5 inches). All three were caught in Lake Michigan.
  • Robert Ecenbarger of Fort Wayne caught the top cisco for the fifth straight year. All five of his winners have come from Little Crooked Lake in Whitley County.
  • Raymond Welch’s largemouth bass (25.5 inches) deserves mention for where it was caught – Pigeon River. Only one of the previous 15 winners was caught in a river or stream. Most came from private ponds.

Entering the annual Fish of the Year contest is easy, and the rules are simple to follow. Visit Wildlife.IN.gov/3577.htm for more information and an entry form.

If you think you’ve caught a winner:

  • Measure the length of the fish.
  • Have at least one person who is not a relative witness the measurement and include his/her contact information.
  • Mail the completed entry form, photos, and a copy of your fishing license (if required) to Record Fish Program, Division of Fish & Wildlife, 402 W. Washington St., Room W273, Indianapolis, IN, 46204 or submit by email to recordfish@dnr.IN.gov. and a copy of your fishing license (if required) to Record Fish Program, Division of Fish & Wildlife, 402 W. Washington St., Room W273, Indianapolis, IN, 46204 or submit by email to recordfish@dnr.IN.gov

2015 Fish of the year contest winners

Species

Length

Winner

Body of Water

County Caught

Blue catfish

53.0

Brent Woods Sr.

Ohio River

Perry

Bluegill

10.3

Brian Waldman

Heritage Lake

Putnam

Bowfin

24.5

Grace Cooper

Dixon Lake

Marshall

Brown trout

33.0

Steve Trinkle

Lake Michigan

Porter

33.0

Tristan Weaver

St. Joseph River

St. Joseph

Buffalo

36.0

Joseph Bickel

Wabash River

Huntington

Bullhead

14.3

Kay Isaac

Goose Pond FWA

Greene

Channel catfish

32.0

Marian Hughes

Cecil M. Harden Reservoir

Parke

32.0

David Krott

Koontz Lake

Starke

Cisco

14.9

Robert Ecenbarger

Little Crooked Lake

Whitley

Coho salmon

32.0

Jeff Carlin

Lake Michigan

Lake

Common carp

35.5

Kyle Van Eekeren

Burns Ditch

Porter

Crappie

17.8

Jason Cox

Private pond

Scott

17.8

Ronnie Rhoades

Patoka Reservoir

Crawford

Flathead catfish

43.5

Tom Stevens

Tippecanoe River

White

Freshwater drum

12.0

Patrick Bates

White River

Marion

Goldeye

16.5

David Ben Mullen

Ohio River

Harrison

Grass carp

48.0

Brian Waldman

Boone’s Pond

Boone

Green sunfish

10.0

Jeff Thompson

Private lake

Clay

Hybrid striped bass

34.0

Nathaniel Wade

Whitewater River

Franklin

Lake trout

39.0

Jeff Carlin

Lake Michigan

Porter

Largemouth bass

25.5

Raymond Welch

Pigeon River

Steuben

Northern pike

42.0

Mark Stevens

Clear Lake

Steuben

Rainbow trout

24.6

Gary Sheets

Oliver Lake

LaGrange

Redear sunfish

11.8

Sherry Greenwalt

Bethel Pit

Pike

Sauger

22.0

Kent Stouder

Tippecanoe River

Marshall

Smallmouth bass

22.5

Keith Zachrich

St. Joseph River

St. Joseph

Spotted bass

12.0

Robert Lee

White River

Martin

Steelhead trout

35.3

Tristan Weaver

St. Joseph River

St. Joseph

Striped bass

39.0

Phillip Springer Jr.

Hardy Lake

Scott

Sucker

17.5

Allen Cooper

Kankakee River

Starke

White bass

17.8

Gary Mathis

Wabash River

Tippecanoe

Yellow bass

9.0

Patrick Bates

White River

Marion

Yellow perch

14.5

Jeff Carlin

Lake Michigan

Porter