Indiana Fishing: The Complete Guide for 2024

Mar 5, 2024 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Let’s dive right into the heart of the Midwest, where the angling scene is alive and kicking with variety. Fishing in Indiana is incredible wherever you cast your line, be it from the shores of Lake Michigan, around Patoka Lake, or along the currents of the Ohio River. 

An aerial view of Saugany Lake, shaped like a heart, in Indiana during fall, with orange-brown trees visible around the shores of the water

But why does Indiana stand out? Well, it’s the unique fishing adventures this state promises. Whether you’re a fly fisherman patiently waiting for that perfect Trout to bite or a Bass hunter in Monroe Lake, Indiana offers a perfect setting that changes with the seasons, each better than the last.

And this guide is your ticket to mastering these rich waters. We’ll walk you through the top fish species, the best spots to find them, and how to catch them. Plus, we’ll cover the nitty-gritty of fishing rules and the best seasons to cast your line. Ready to reel in the good stuff? Let’s get going.

Best Fish to Catch in Indiana

So, what kind of prizes make the waves – literally – in the Hoosier State? From Walleye that play hard to get to Largemouth Bass ready to rumble at the flick of a lure, Indiana’s waters are teeming with life. Here are the top species that make things interesting here: 

Largemouth Bass

Three men in baseball caps, sunglasses, and life vests, holding up two Largemouth Basses each after a successful fishing trip in Indiana
Photo courtesy of Shelldivers Guide Service

When it comes to Bass fishing in Indiana, you’re in for a real treat. Largemouth Bass are the stars of the local waters, known for their “hit it hard and fight it out” attitude. Spotting a 2–5 lb Largie shouldn’t be too hard, but trophies over 8 pounds are also common. These Bass love to hang out where they’ve got some cover to ambush their next meal, so check out weedy hideouts or around sunken logs and boulders.

Now, if you’re itching to bag one of these bad boys, remember, timing is everything. The crack of dawn or twilight hours are your golden tickets. This is when Largemouth Bass turn into feeding machines. Plastic worms, buzzing spinnerbaits, and diving crankbaits can help you get an explosive bite. And if you’re wondering where to cast your line, the Monroe and Patoka Lakes are center stage for Bass in Indiana!

Walleye

A man in a red baseball cap smiles as he holds a Walleye back on shore and in the shade of some green trees on a bright day
Photo courtesy of Flip’n Jigz Crappie Guides

Next are Walleye – elusive, toothy critters with a taste that’s just as memorable as the fight they put up. Spotting them is tricky, despite their tell-tale white tail tip and mysterious dusky spot near their rear. They’re the deep water aficionados, with a knack for moderate veggie diets and a love of nightlife. Which, lucky for you, means some prime nighttime fishing!

To reel in a Walleye, you’ve got to think like a Walleye. Jigs and minnows are like candy to them and, when the sun goes down, they’re ready to party in the shallows. Places like the Tippecanoe River or Lake Michigan are where Walleye are at – ranging from 1 to over 10 pounds. Plus, hooking one of these during their springtime spawn is like hitting the jackpot!

Bluegill

A man and teenage boy pose with two small Bluegills, which they're holding by their fishing lines aboard a fishing charter on a day with sunny intervals
Photo courtesy of Unwrapped Outdoors

Bluegill fishing is pretty much a rite of passage in Indiana. These little warriors are typically small, ranging from 6 to 10 inches in length, although you can find them just about everywhere. They’re not picky about their homes as long as it’s shallow and there’s enough vegetation to keep them hidden from predators – and anglers!

Getting a Bluegill to bite is pretty easy – a bit of worm or a tiny cricket on a light setup, and you’re in business. They might not break any records size-wise, but they put up a scrappy fight. Morse Reservoir and Eagle Creek Reservoir are chock full of Bluegill, with families often heading here to get the young ones hooked. 

Catfish

A man waist-high in the waters of a river or lake in Indiana struggling to hold a large Catfish over his shoulder on a bright day
Photo courtesy of Big Cat Safaris

Catfish in Indiana are also everywhere, and everyone’s got a story. Channel and Flathead Catfish are the main acts, both with their own fan bases. Channels are sleek and spotted, usually weighing between 2 and 10 pounds. Meanwhile, deep-loving Flatheads can tip the scales at over 30 pounds! 

Baiting a Catfish is where the fun begins. Channel Cats can’t resist a stinky buffet, whereas Flatheads are all about a live dining experience. When it comes to the where part, the Ohio and Wabash Rivers are the places to be. Fishing for Catfish under a starlit sky, with the anticipation of a massive tug at any moment, is the kind of thrill that keeps the fish stories flowing in Indiana.

Trout

An elderly angler in an orange baseball cap and sunglasses, crouching down next to a river while holding his Brown Trout catch
Photo courtesy of Thank Goodness I Fly Fish

Last but definitely not least, we have Trout – the cool, sophisticated members of Indiana’s fishing lineup. Rainbow and Brown Trout are the celebrities of the cooler waters, stocked in select spots for anglers looking for a bit of a challenge. Rainbows are flashy, while Browns have that understated elegance – especially those who dwell in streams.

Fly fishing for these guys is where it’s at. Whether you’re drifting nymphs or swinging streamers, it’s all about the technique. And when you find yourself in the middle of a hatch, it’s like the fish are putting on a private show just for you. For a taste of this action, head over to places like Brookville Reservoir or certain stretches of the East Fork White River. 

How to Go Fishing in Indiana

When it comes to fishing in Indiana, there’s more than one way to snag a trophy or fill your cooler. Now that you know what to go for, let’s tackle this adventure head-on and get a bit more technical:

Shore Fishing

A group of anglers lined up on the shore of a quiet creek among green trees, casting into the water
Photo courtesy of Thank Goodness I Fly Fish

For a laid-back day with your rod, nothing beats the simplicity of bank fishing in Indiana. This is angling at its most fundamental, with just you, a rod, and the peaceful shores of the state’s rivers and lakes. You can target a wide range of species from the shore, from Carp to Catfish, making it perfect for anglers of all ages and experience levels.

Popular spots like the banks of the White River or the shores of Eagle Creek Reservoir are perfectly accessible to everyone. With minimal gear required – a rod, some bait, and maybe a comfy chair – you can soak in the beauty of Indiana’s natural landscapes while waiting for the next bite. Sometimes, the best fishing stories are borne from the simplest moments by the water!

Fly Fishing in Indiana

A closeup of a man in a baseball cap and sunglasses, trying to hook his fly while going fishing in Indiana in spring
Photo courtesy of Eye On The Fly Expeditions

Fly fishing in Indiana is closer to an art than angling, as any expert will tell you. It’s you, your favorite fly rod, and a hand-tied fly against Trout and more. The state’s rivers and streams, such as Brookville Tailwater or the scenic stretches of Sugar Creek, are perfect spots to cast for Rainbow and Brown Trout.

The key to success here is precision and patience. Casting a fly requires a blend of skill and finesse, aiming to mimic natural insects that Trout prey on. Spring and fall are particularly magical times to wade into the cool waters, with hatches bringing fish to the surface in a feeding frenzy. 

Indiana Ice Fishing

A view across a frozen lake in Michigan on a bleak day, with some flags visible above the ice in the distance

When the mercury drops and Indiana’s lakes turn into icy playgrounds, it’s time to drill a hole and drop a line. When it’s safe to do so, that is. Ice fishing is a cherished winter pastime here, offering the chance to target species like Bluegill, Perch, and the elusive Northern Pike. Places like Lake Maxinkuckee and Lake Wawasee are well-known winter wonderlands, where anglers huddle in shanties, sharing stories, and waiting for the flag to pop.

Equipped with simple jigging rods, tip-ups, and a selection of jigs and live bait, ice fishermen enjoy the simplicity and challenge of luring fish from beneath the ice. Safety is paramount, of course, with the best action happening once the ice thickens enough in mid to late winter. 

Indiana Fishing Charters

A child struggles with a bent rod over the side of a fishing charter on a river in Indiana, as a man assists behind him with a net, while another child looks on in the foreground on a clear day
Photo courtesy of River Valley Charter Service

Booking an Indiana fishing charter is your ticket to the big leagues. Whether you’re chasing the Ohio River’s Cats or Lake Michigan’s Trout, guided trips offer an unmatched experience. With seasoned captains and guides at the helm, they come packed with local knowledge and tips to increase your chances of earning those bragging rights.

Undoubtedly, Lake Michigan charters are a highlight. They offer the chance to tangle with Steelhead, Coho, and King Salmon, while river charters focus on the brute strength of Catfish and Bass. Each trip is a unique adventure, tailored to the preferences and skill levels of all the anglers on board. It’s an opportunity to learn, laugh, and, hopefully, land the catch of a lifetime!

Indiana Fishing Spots

A view through the branches of a fellen log on the Tippecanoe River on a sunny summer's day, with green trees visible on the opposite shore

As you already know, Indiana’s not just about basketball and cornfields. So, how do you know you’ve cast your line in the right spot? Let’s break down some top-notch places where the fish are biting and the vibes are just right:

  • Lake Michigan. Indiana’s slice of this Great Lake might not be the biggest, but it’s mighty in fishing terms. Here, you can chase after some serious Salmon and Trout. Try your luck from the shores at the Port of Indiana or hit the open waters from a marina. Plus, when the rods are resting, you can enjoy the beaches or take a hike!
  • Tippecanoe River. Bass enthusiasts and those in search of the thrill of hooking a Northern Pike, this river has your name on it. The stretch below Winamac is an absolute Pike paradise. 
  • Brookville Lake. Mixing it up with Trout, Walleye, and Bass, Brookville Lake is a mixed bag that keeps things interesting. It’s a crowd-pleaser for anglers looking for variety and a picturesque day by the water.
  • Morse Reservoir. Just a quick drive from Indianapolis, Morse Reservoir is your go-to for a spontaneous fishing day. With a variety of targets like Catfish, Bass, and Crappie, it’s the perfect spot for when you just need to get away and cast a line.
  • Monroe Lake. Sprawling over 10,750 acres, Monroe Lake is a prime location for catching everything from Bluegill to Bass. And if you’re into ice fishing, winter here is something special.
  • Patoka Lake. Tucked away near Birdseye, this spot is where you go to fish and enjoy nature’s finest. Think Bass and Catfish with a side of bald eagle sightings! It’s the kind of place that makes you appreciate the great outdoors even more.
  • White River. Flowing through Southern Indiana, the White River offers great fishing for Bass and Catfish. It’s also a beautiful place to spend a day or more since camping is great here. 
  • Lake Maxinkuckee. Indiana’s second-largest lake shines in the winter for ice fishing enthusiasts. Close to Culver for convenience but surrounded by nature for that getaway feel, Lake Maxinkuckee is a must-try for anyone looking to drill a hole and just chill.

When to Go Fishing in Indiana

Timing is everything when it comes to fishing in Indiana. Knowing when to hit the water can be the difference between a good day and a great day. 

A view along a shoreline of the White River in Indiana at sunset, with fall colors dominating among the trees on the right of the image

As the ice melts and the waters warm, Indiana’s fish get serious spring fever. This is prime time for Bass lovers to hit spots like Monroe Lake and Patoka Lake, where Largemouth and Smallmouth start moving shallow for spawning. Crappie also get in on the action, making Morse Reservoir and Brookville Lake hotspots for anglers, too. And let’s not forget the Walleye run in the Tippecanoe River, a real treat for those in the know.

Summer fishing in Indiana means long days, warm nights, and fish that are ready to feed. Bluegill and Redear Sunfish become the stars of the show, especially in family-friendly spots like Wolf Lake and the lakes of Hoosier National Forest. For more adventurous anglers, night fishing for Catfish on the White River can make for some exciting stories.

Indiana’s fishing scene heats up even more in fall. This is the time for trophy hunting, as cooler temperatures bring big Bass back into the shallows at lakes like Monroe and Morse. Walleye and Northern Pike also become more active, and, for Trout enthusiasts, fall stocking in streams like Brookville Tailwater means that fly fishing is fantastic.

But it doesn’t end there. Ice fishing takes center stage in the Hoosier State come winter. Lake Maxinkuckee and Lake Wawasee become icy playgrounds for anglers targeting Bluegill and Perch. Just make sure to check the thickness before you venture out. 

Indiana Fishing Tournaments

For anglers keen on testing their skills in competitive settings, the Hoosier State offers a variety of fishing tournaments throughout the year. The Indiana Bass Federation and local fishing clubs often host these events, ranging from friendly, local competitions to more serious, statewide contests. 

Indiana Fishing Regulations

Can infographic featuring the Indiana state flag above a text that says "Indiana fishing regulations, what you need to know" and with an illustration of a boat underneath

Nobody wants their fishing trip to end with a surprise visit from a DNR officer! So, first things first, if you’re 18 or over and looking to fish in Indiana’s waters, you’re gonna need a license. You can get yours online through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website, grab it at a local bait shop, or on the DNR mobile app. 

Indiana also has different size and bag limits for different fish – and sometimes these rules can change depending on where you’re fishing. The golden rule here is to check the latest Indiana fishing regulations before you head out. Fishing with a guide will make sure that they take care of this for you.

Indiana: Casts and Catches across the Hoosier State

A view from the shore underneath a pier towards the Michigan City Lighthouse on Lake Michigan in Indiana on a cloudy night

So, there you have it – a comprehensive look into fishing in Indiana. This is a state where the lakes and rivers are as welcoming as the anglers you’ll meet along the shorelines. And, after all, fishing is often about the people you share it all with as much as what you catch. Whether you’re planning a solo trip, a family outing, or just looking for a new spot to explore, Indiana’s waters are ready to impress. Book a trip and see it yourself!

Have you ever been fishing in Indiana? Do you have a favorite spot? What about a favorite fish to go for? Let’s chat in the comments below!

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Lisa traded the lecture hall for the vast expanse of the world's waters, transforming her love of teaching into an insatiable passion for angling and storytelling. She would sail through oceans, lakes, and rivers, reeling in the world’s fish stories one catch at a time.

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