BY JACK SPAULDING
Friday the 13th proved lucky for a Crown Point angler who broke the record for the biggest lake whitefish caught in Indiana. Dustin Meeter landed the record 6-pound, 3-ounce lake whitefish on Lake Michigan near Burns Harbor in Portage on Friday, April 13. The fish measured 25.5 inches long.
Meeter’s fish marks the sixth record lake whitefish since the state established a category for the species in 2012. It bested the previous record, caught in 2017, by nearly a half-pound.
Meeter caught the whitefish from a boat while fishing with two friends. Earlier in the day, the friends had trolled for Coho salmon and caught their daily limit. They then headed toward shore to jig for lake trout.
“Within a minute, I caught that whitefish,” Meeter said. “It was the best day of fishing I’ve ever had.”
Last year, Meeter caught the first whitefish of his life in the same spot under similar circumstances. Unfamiliar with whitefish and unaware of the state record, Meeter simply took the large fish home. He didn’t bother to look up the record until a friend suggested he do so. But, he had already fileted the fish. Meeter thinks the 2017 fish also may have been a record breaker.
Nonetheless, “It was great eating,” Meeter said.
Meeter submitted his most recent whitefish to Indiana Department of Natural Resources staff for official weighing the Monday after he caught it. He said he plans to have the fish mounted for display.
Ready to catch your own whitefish?
Whitefish have long been targets of commercial fishing operations in northern Lake Michigan because of the demand for their flaky white flesh. Recently, sport anglers began targeting them in southern Lake Michigan, which prompted Indiana in 2011 to place a bag limit regulation of 12 fish.
Best fishing time and locations in Indiana waters have been from shore along marinas and breakwaters during March and April, and again during spawning in November. Fishing is best when water temperatures are below 50 F, according to DNR Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert.
“They can be caught using simple techniques,” Breidert said.
Shoreline anglers often bottom-fish using a small weight, a 12- to 24-inch leader, a small hook and single salmon egg or piece of night crawler. Jigging is productive for boat anglers in the spring. Lake Whitefish feed on the bottom on zebra mussels, bugs and worms.
Meeter said he isn’t sure how long his record will last.
“Will it be beat? I’m sure it will,” he said. “I’m just hoping it stands for a little while.”
Jack Spaulding is a state outdoors writer and a consumer of RushShelby Energy living along the Flatrock River in Moscow. Readers with questions or comments can write to him in care of Electric Consumer, P.O. Box 24517, Indianapolis, IN 46224; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.