Fished for 4 1/2 hours yesterday ( Thursday ) trying to catch trout along the coal pile wall, the white railing of Rotary Park, and the open waters by the blue bridge. Had 2 bites total. netting a 16 1/2 inch winter brown that went 1 pound 14 ounces. Squid strips were the only bait used.
Water clarity was good everywhere and when the sun was out, details of the bottom could actually be made out most places I tried. There was not much fish traffic present. Most of the time the waters were empty. The few winter browns that did show up were single individuals or in pairs, and for the most part, weren't interested in the squid. There were also a few larger, darker, disinterested fish cruising around along bottom. Carp perhaps or post-spawn browns. Only one small school of bait fish was seen all day. The only trout seen at the discharge was a two-toned fish. Its head and torso had normal coloration but its tail section was dark, almost black in color.
Lake Michigan was totally frozen over all the way to the horizon with broken ice floes sticking up vertical almost everywhere. The ice was making booming and popping noises that sounded like distant gun fire. Many of the diving birds normally out on the lake were now in the harbor, including quite a few aggressive red-breasted mergansers. More uncommon pelagic species also were present such as common loons, long-tails ( old squaws ) , and scoters.
The red-breasted mergansers in the harbor were hunting for fish in coordinated packs. Groups of them would all paddle in the same direction, necks extended and heads beneath the surface, looking for fish to target. Unfortunately for them and for us fishermen, the only targets were the baits and lures. Each time one was sighted, especially moving, there was a frenzied rush , underwater and atop, to get to it. Some of the more distant birds would actually fly in to join the commotion. I saw more mergansers than fish netted. A hooked drake I helped net had close to a dozen of its buddies climbing on him and each other trying to get to the shiner still attached to the hook.
At times there were more birders than fishermen present on the coal pile dock. They were following the water fowl around with their tripods, scopes , and telephoto camera gear.
The power plant was pumping yesterday with a steam cloud coming out one of the stacks.
I personally think that all the diving activity put the winter browns into a DEFCON 1 mode. They were being spooked.