“You never know what you’re gonna catch out of the St. Joseph River.”
It’s been said many times, and likely similar sentiments were shared with the Potawatomi and Miami Indians who once roamed its shores.
An orange fish. A Koi to be exact.
The kind people put in their aquariums or their ponds.
In all likelihood, this rascal got too big for his surroundings and got dumped into the river, the way a lot of strange fish find their way into the system.
It’s against the law, you know, but some people don’t care.
Scott caught the 18-inch fish he estimates to be around five pounds on a chunk of bread recently.
“I was casting a spinner for steelhead when I saw this colorful fish swimming around near me,” recalled Scott. “Anytime I go down there steelheading, I carry a chunk of bread in case the steelhead aren’t cooperating. I can always catch a carp on a chunk of bread.”
After tempting the fish a few times, it took the bait that he rigged on a small hook and ultra-light outfit.
Koi are an ornamental version of carp. In fact, they will reproduce with common carp that are prominent in the river, according to Elkhart River biologist Daragh Deegan.
“We run into Koi and big goldfish every once in a while, particularly in South Bend, during our surveys,” the biologist said. “They are usually the result of an aquarium/pond release.”
Although it’s against the law and there is always concern about non-native fish being introduced into a waterway, Deegan said, the colorful fish don’t last long in the river.
“Because they are easy to see, they standout to predators and usually get eaten pretty quickly,” he explained.
Scott’s fish was put in a plastic tub at his home until he figures out what to do with it. He hopes to find it a home in someone’s private pond.
And he may get another. Scott said the orange fish was swimming with a similar shaped fish that was white-colored and had large, flowing fins.
“I’m gonna try to catch that one, too,” he said.
Fly club event
The St. Joseph River Valley Fly Fishers Club is having its annual Fundraiser on Wednesday at the Waterford Estates Lodge in South Bend.