Angler Acrobats: St. Joseph River Salmon Run, Climb, Jump

Posted on October 18, 2011 by


Riverwalk Fish Ladder, Mishawaka

Need a break from studying? Get some fresh fall air and watch the salmon run! Just a short trek from IUSB’s campus, one of natures many phenomenons is occurring. South Bend Tribune published an article earlier this year about Indiana DNR stocking the St. Joseph River with 60,000 Coho Salmon this fall. Well, now that it is fall it’s time to drop a line or at least catch a glimpse. The 60,000 Coho will not be adults by at least 2013, but the 2011 adults are rushing upstream now. This particular fish population is expected to continue climbing. The article makes plain the anticipation of this fall’s release by stating,

Lake Michigan biologist Brian Breidert said his agency hopes the coho will bolster the fall steelhead fishery that has become a disappointment for St. Joe anglers the past few years. He expects to continue the coho stocking for three to five years.

Michiana anglers will surely appreciate this information considering the last five years have been dismal. Other salmonids including  Steelhead and Chinook are also running upstream, climbing ladders, and dodging hungry fisherman to get back to their breeding beds. This fish marathon can be observed from Benton Harbor to Mishawaka. For more information concerning the numbers involved, snag this article from the South Bend Tribune.

Where should you go to spy on this natural test of endurance? For starters, the real gem of the Riverwalk is the fish ladder located in it’s epicenter. This ladder and the four others in the area allow the salmon and trout to use their powerful tails to lunge upstream. The urban ladders simulate the obstacles these fish would face in a more natural setting. Downtown South Bend also showcases a couple ladders with the most notorious positioned next to the Century Center in the East Race.

These scaly acrobats are not only tasty, but a treat to watch. Last Spring, the Mishawaka Riverwalk is where I witnessed my first salmon run. Salmon were wading in the shallow pools desperately trying to reach their destination. One sharp snap of their tails and they were quickly over the ladders step. Going against the current, this step will likely be climbed many times by the same fish. I was deeply inspired by this marvel of nature and look forward to the Spring and Fall salmon runs. Fall runs, depending on water temperatures, can last until mid-November. Mishawaka’s Riverwalk is just one mile from IUSB’s campus; a three minute drive.  If the computer labs are filled on campus or Facebook is not curing your boredom, head down Northside Boulevard for free entertainment!