Indiana Freshwater Fishing
Fishing and hunting have a long history in Indiana, and Hoosiers have contributed to conservation since the first fishing license was sold in the early 1900s.
With future generations in mind, regulated fishing and hunting was established to protect fish and wildlife species from being overharvested.
Ever since, proceeds generated from licenses, including habitat and fish stamps, have gone directly into managing those species and their habitats, furthering conservation and recreation. The success of conserving our natural resources would not have been possible without this user-pay, user-benefit model, which remains in effect today.
In addition to licenses, an excise tax on fishing equipment, boat engines, motorboat fuel, and hunting equipment is collected for the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers WSFR funds that are dedicated solely to the conservation of fish and wildlife.
The WSFR program began in 1937 and has distributed more than $18 billion across the nation for the conservation of fish and wildlife species and their habitats, and associated recreational opportunities. Indiana has received more than $300 million, including more than $16.5 million in 2016 alone.
The DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife relies on the revenue generated from these dedicated funding programs.
License sales and WSFR funds currently contribute about 87 percent of the Division’s funding. In total, roughly 96 percent of all funding for the Division is from sources exclusive for fish and wildlife resources.
The majority of funds are generated from fishing and hunting activities, but the conservation programs benefit everyone. Whether it’s launching a canoe at a public access site, viewing sandhill cranes, or the public benefits gained from fish and habitat surveys to improve the quality of aquatic habitats, these are all supported by the license and WSFR funds.
Recreation related to fish and wildlife (including wildlife watching) is a $1.7 billion industry in Indiana that benefits businesses and contributes to the quality of life that Hoosiers desire.
Support from anglers and hunters is critical to sustaining healthy fish and wildlife populations and to providing recreational opportunities for current and future generations of Hoosiers.
Midway between Logansport and Monticello on U.S. 24 is Lake Cicott and the small Cass County village of the same name. Laid out as Lakeville in 1868, it was renamed Lake Cicott a decade later in honor of George Cicott (pronounced SEE-kutt), a pioneer fur trader in the area.
The village has a post office that dates to 1873, and the lake frequently is referred to as the southernmost glacial lake in Indiana, although Lake Galatia in Grant County makes the same claim.
What can’t be disputed is Lake Cicott (the lake) has one of the DNR’s newest public access sites.
In 2015, the DNR acquired 20 acres along the south shore of the lake that was a former campground. Buildings and debris were removed that summer, and in 2016 the public access site began to take shape.
It includes a concrete ramp for loading and unloading boats, an accessible floating dock and parking pad that meet federal Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and a small parking lot.
“There’s room for about seven or eight vehicles with trailers,” said Jamie Smyth, public access program manager for the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. “The remaining section of the property is being left to return to its natural state. It’s a really nice addition to our public access program.”
DNR surveys of the 65-acre lake in 2008 and 2016 found bluegill the most abundant species at close to 70 percent. Largemouth bass ranked second in number.
Fisheries biologist Tom Bacula, who conducted the 2016 survey, said the bluegill are below average compared to other glacial lakes but the largemouth bass are slightly above average.
The DNR also added new public access sites at Bixler Lake (Noble County), Kruger Lake (Jefferson County), on the Eel River near Mexico in Miami County, and in Deer Creek Park on Salt Creek in Brown County.
Three previously opened sites were improved in 2016 – Beaver Dam Lake (Kosciusko County), Brush Creek Reservoir (Jennings County), and on the East Fork White River at Medora (Jackson County).
The Public Access Program started in 1953 and strives to provide free access to Indiana waters for anglers and boaters. It is funded through the sale of fishing and hunting licenses and from federal aid the Wildlife & Sportfish Restoration Fund.
The program has acquired, developed and maintained 421 public access sites across Indiana and operates an additional 25 public fishing areas.
Public access sites managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s do not require a lake-use permit.
Sites are purchased from willing sellers at fair market value. The Division of Fish & Wildlife also leases sites from organizations and local government agencies and accepts donations of suitable properties along lakes and streams.
Sites are developed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife using their North or South Public Access units. Anyone who has suitable waterfront land to sell on waters that lack public access may contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife at (812) 526-2051.
Where to Fish
Looking for a place to fish?
The DNR can get you there with Where to Fish, an online interactive map that provides a wealth of information on hundreds of public access sites in Indiana.
The toolbar features a number of functions that allow you to search for locations by waterbody, county or DNR property; find driving directions; and print your findings.
Clicking on a specific site provides additional information about motor restrictions, ADA accessibility, shoreline fishing opportunities, applicable fees, what species of fish are common, and the site’s latitude and longitude (great for GPS users!).
Check it out.