The state record for lake whitefish has been broken twice in two weeks by anglers fishing Lake Michigan.
Josh Pisowicz was targeting whitefish on Feb. 19 on the Michigan City pier and caught a 5-pound, 9-ounce specimen. Pisowicz submitted a record fish application to DNR officials, and they certified the next day that his fish beat the previous record, set in 2015 by Dan Rostecki, by 1 ounce.
Then, on Feb. 28, Alexander Ciesielski submitted a record fish application for a 5-pound, 13-ounce whitefish he caught near Portage Lakefront Park on Jan. 21. Ciesielski was not targeting whitefish but knew as soon as he landed it that he had a record contender. DNR officials certified Ciesielski’s record on March 3.
Ciesielski’s fish marks the fifth record lake whitefish since the state established a category for the species in 2012.
Assistant Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Ben Dickinson thinks the Ciesielski record may not last long either.
“We consistently see whitefish over 6 pounds in our netting assessments, and last year we had several weighing over 7 pounds,” Dickinson said. “There are probably hundreds of fish swimming around Indiana waters right now that would break the record.”
Whitefish have long been targets of commercial fishing operations in northern Lake Michigan due to demand for their flaky white flesh. Recently, sport anglers started targeting them in southern Lake Michigan.
Whitefish are a great resource for Hoosiers because they are abundant, delicious and accessible to shore anglers, according to DNR Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert.
“And they can be caught using simple techniques, such as bottom fishing with a 1- to 2-ounce weight, a 12- to 24-inch leader, and a small hook baited with waxworms, salmon eggs or bits of night crawler,” Breidert said.
Whitefish can be caught from most of Indiana’s shore access on Lake Michigan, especially the piers at Portage Lakefront Park and Michigan City, and the Port of Indiana shore-fishing site.
Typically, the best fishing occurs between November and April, when nearshore water temperatures are below 50 degrees. Whitefish spawn near shore in late fall and stay during winter and early spring to feed on crustaceans, small fish, invertebrates and mussels.
More on Lake Michigan fishing, including shore access points and tips for fishing for a variety of species, is at wildlife.IN.gov/3625.htm.