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Fishing Around The Bend

Grab your rod and reel — The Bend is one of the best places to fish in the Midwest thanks to the St. Joseph River, its tributaries and some surrounding lakes.

Anglers know the St. Joseph River, which flows through Mishawaka and South Bend before emptying into Lake Michigan, as one of the Midwest's most underrated fisheries. King and Coho salmon, steelhead, smallmouth bass, trout and walleye are among the popular species in the river. Worster Lake at Potato Creek State Park highlights the options for fishing on inland waters. 

Ready to start reeling them in? Use our guide for everything you need to know before heading out on the water. 

Fishing Licenses & Resources 

First things first, you'll need a license. Indiana licenses can be purchased online through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. DNR provides regularly updated fishing reports and detailed information on fishing around the state.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides licenses for that state. It also puts together a weekly fishing report detailed by region and several other key resources

Indiana Free Fishing Days

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources puts on Free Fishing Days throughout the year. On these days, Indiana residents don't need a license to fish the state's public waters. Many parks host events to introduce kids or newcomers to fishing. Free Fishing Days for 2024 are May 12, June 1-2 and Sept. 28. 

St. Joseph River 

Thanks in large part to its emptying into Lake Michigan, the St. Joseph River makes for fantastic fishing. Spawning runs for salmon are a big draw during the fall and steelhead are the major attraction in late winter and early spring. But the St. Joe is popular with anglers all the time. There are several public boat launches and some hotspots for casting from the bank or wading in.

Boat Launches

  • Baugo Bay - 56581 Eastvue Dr., Osceola 
  • Keller Park - 1858 Riverside Dr., South Bend 
  • Lincoln Park - 1004 Lincolnway W., Mishawaka
  • Merrifield Park - 1000 E Mishawaka Ave., South Bend 
  • Miami "Monkey" Island - 801 N. State St., Mishawaka 
  • Pinhook Park - 2801 Riverside Dr., South Bend 
  • Prickett Marina Park - 13084 Jefferson Rd., Mishawaka 
  • Riverside Park - 4010 Riverside Dr., South Bend 
  • St. Patrick's County Park - 50651 Laurel Rd., South Bend 

Bank fishing

There are public waters all along the St. Joseph River where anglers can fish from the banks. Keep in mind that this should be done only from public waters and NOT from bridges. Some much-loved local spots include Pinhook Park, Leeper Park, Baugo Bay and along the Mishawaka Riverwalk. 

Potato Creek State Park 

Worster Lake is the centerpiece of Potato Creek State Park in North Liberty for good reason. It covers 327 acres and welcomes any outdoor enthusiast that loves to canoe, kayak and fish. Anglers can bring their own boat (electric trolling motor only) and launch from one of two ramps. Rental options include kayaks, canoes, paddleboats and row boats. You can also fish from the shore.

Fish caught in the lake include bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass (known as wipers), channel catfish and bullheads and perch.

Pleasant Lake 

Located in Lakeville, this small lake is notable for panfish like bluegill and crappie. There is a concrete boat ramp that offers access to the lake. Kelley's Bait & Tackle is right next to Pleasant Lake for any gear needs you might have before heading out on the water.