As the spring days warm, kayakers and canoeists will be flocking to Indiana’s rivers and streams for some time on the water, paddle in hand and enjoying Mother Nature.

Nothing is more pleasurable and relaxing than a cruise down a favorite stream or river, but danger waits for the inexperienced in regards to high water and spring runoff. High water can turn the most placid stream into a raging torrent with impassable rapids and dangerous “sweepers.”

Running a river or stream during high water may sound exciting and challenging, but it is a fool’s outing.

Downed trees across the river or stream channel are called “sweepers.” The limbs sweep up canoes and kayaks, flip them over and pin the occupants under water ensnarled in the branches. An encounter with a sweeper leaves little chance for escape even for the most experienced.

Another grave danger on Indiana rivers are low head dams. They are structures built to back up water and have water flowing over them. On the downstream side of the dam are powerful rolling currents which grab boats and occupants in a continual push back towards the wall of the dam.

Many years ago, I lost a good friend who was a conservation officer in charge of a river rescue practice operation for the IDNR Law Enforcement Division.

First Sergeant Karl Kelley died from injuries suffered during a training exercise on the East Fork of the White River at the Williams Dam in Lawrence County.

A boat containing two other conservation officers had overturned in turbulent waters; and when First Sergeant Kelley and another conservation officer attempted a rescue, their boat capsized as well.

Years ago, there was a rescue/recovery operation on Big Flatrock River when a young man attempted to run the river when it was high and out of its banks. The boat he was in capsized, and his body wasn’t found for several days.

In searching for the body, Indiana Conservation Officer Dean Shadley and a close friend of mine, Tim Kuhn, retrieved the body from a large growth of willow trees well over a mile from where the boat capsized.

Running high water is no place for adventure. My advice is wear your personal flotation device and don’t attempt to navigate a swollen river or stream. If the water is high and brown, turn around… don’t drown.

Indiana Has Something To Trout About

The DNR fisheries staff has been busy in recent days stocking thousands of trout in preparation for the inland stream trout season which opened April 25.

By opening day, the Indiana DNR will have stocked over 23,000 rainbow trout in 17 streams in 12 different counties. To find a stocked stream near you, see the 2020 Trout Stocking Plan at wildlife.IN.gov/5457.htm.

The stocked trout come from Curtis Creek Trout Rearing Station near Howe in LaGrange County and average roughly 11 inches in length.

Trout will bite on a variety of different artificial baits such as spinners and flies, but natural baits such as worms and bee moths tend to be the most popular.

The bag limit for trout in inland waters, other than Lake Michigan and its tributaries, is five fish per day with a minimum size of 7 inches. No more than one of the catch may be a brown trout. Any brown trout kept from the Whitewater River must be at least 18 inches in length.

Anglers 18 years of age and older need an Indiana fishing license and a Trout/Salmon Stamp to fish for trout. Per Indiana Executive Order, 2019-20 annual licenses and stamps, including fishing licenses and Trout/Salmon Stamp Privileges, are valid until May 22, 2020.

Hoosiers should follow posted restrictions and practice social distancing while outdoors. For the most up-to-date information regarding DNR and COVID-19, visit on.IN.gov/dnrcovid19.

Urban Catfish Stocking Postponed

Indiana DNR’s urban catfish stocking program will postpone some catfish stocking scheduled for April until late September.

The urban catfish program stocks catchable-size channel catfish ranging from 14-18 inches into 10 water bodies located in designated urban areas around the state. For a list of the water bodies, see wildlife.IN.gov/7508.htm.

An estimated total of 5,000 channel catfish will be stocked this year, with 10 lakes scheduled to receive 2,000 fish in late April-early May and 1,000 fish in early June. The other 2,000 fish will be stocked in late September.

East Fork State Fish Hatchery (SFH) has extra resources available after the DNR’s cancellation of the 2020 muskie and walleye egg collection. East Fork SFH usually houses the muskie and walleye eggs and fry.

The stocking of the 2,000 catfish will coincide with the third and final free fishing day of this year on September 26. Because the catfish will be withheld from stocking longer, they will also be larger at the time of stocking.

New Wild Turkey Harvest Website

The Indiana DNR has launched a new interactive website allowing hunters of wild turkey to access spring turkey harvest data as it is accumulated by the state.

Data is supplied by the CheckIN Game harvest reporting system. During the check-in process, hunters report the county of harvest and type of equipment used to harvest turkey. Harvest data is updated daily during the spring turkey season.

The data can now be accessed and viewed at wildlife.IN.gov/10340.htm, where visitors can also compare information regarding individual or multiple counties across the past five years.

Hunters have asked for more detailed harvest data and comparisons between years, and creation of the new website is a direct result of their feedback to Indiana’s DNR.

Readers can contact the author by e-mail at jackspaulding@hughes.net

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