Indiana’s fish of the year continues to grow and provides a good excuse to seek out unexpected and unfamiliar fish; plus the Stray Cast.

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Anthony Talarico Jr. caught three of Indiana’s Fish of the Year in 2021.

“Once he discovered the Indiana fish of the year, he started measuring everything. . . lol,” his dad sent a message. ”He caught the monkfish on a little chartreuse blade bait [while] jigging for lake trout in November. The creek chub was on a spawn bag in Salt Creek. ”

The three FOTYs of Talarico, a sophomore at Marian Catholic, were yellow perch (13.5 inches caught in Lake Michigan in Lake County), burbot (29 inches, Lake Michigan, LaPorte) and chub of creek (10.5 inches, Salt Creek, Porter).

His three FOTYs pale in comparison to Joe Johnson’s six species caught in the Ohio and Wabash rivers.

Ron Anderson caught the smallest winner of 2021 with his 4-inch brindle madtom, a small member of the catfish family (Sugar Creek, Parke). It was one of four fish appearing for the first time, along with the minnow, mooneye, and Talarico burbot.

Brindle Madtom, Indiana’s 2021 Fish of the Year.
Provided by Indiana DNR

Fish like the Brindle Madtom are the reason I like to browse the list every year. I’m talking about the kind of fish I should be looking for.

I mean things like Log (6 inches, Robert Bradley, Boggs Creek, Martin), Red Pike (10.9 inches, Joe Loewe, Loomis Lake, Porter), Horned Chub (7.5 inches, Liu He , Salt Creek, Porter), miller blue (28 inches, He, Tippecanoe River, White), silver chub (6.3 inches, Johnson, Wabash River, Tippecanoe) and mooneye (11.3 inches, Anderson, White River, Jackson).

Olaf Nelson, who holds the Illinois Shorthead Knight record and is the founder of moxostoma.com, once asked me if I had ever heard of someone who had caught a blue sucker. Now I could answer, “Why, yes, I did.”

Looking at the horny chub, I discovered that it’s not what my younger brother and I used to catch once in a while when we were very young, barefoot and wading through Lapp Run. The chub we caught were more likely to spawn male brook chub, which have curious spawning rituals (you can research it).

Hornyhead chub, Indiana's 2021 fish of the year.  Provided by Indiana DNR

Hornyhead chub, Indiana’s 2021 fish of the year.
Provided by Indiana DNR

The program recorded a record number of entries for the fifth consecutive year, as well as a record 54 species. This is the kind of program that makes me happy, in part because of the recognition given to a multitude of fish species.

I’m not amazed by those who complain: ”I caught a bigger one than that.” You have to enter to be recognized. No one entered a Chinook this year. You could have won with a 16 inch, for example.

FOTYs are judged by photos of the full length measurement (full side view on a measuring board or next to a tape measure). No weight is needed. Some anglers must also include a copy of their fishing license. Forms and details are at in.gov/dnr/fish-and-wildlife/fishing/indiana-record-fish-program.

Hunting in Illinois

By Tuesday, any hunter with a windshield card for public sites must submit a declaration online.

To show

the Henry Decoy Show is Sunday at Exposition Gardens in Peoria.

wild things

It’s February, which means it’s peak time for the bucks to shed their antlers. The shed of the week restarts on Saturday.

In memory

Captain Mike Hanson of Starved Rock Guide Service, a patient teacher on the water, died Tuesday.

Misplaced cast

It may be a bad decision on my part, but if Joe West fell through the ice, I hesitated, then pretended to help.

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