Top 18 Indiana Game Fish Species

Indiana game fish species

Top 18 Indiana Game Fish Species – Tips and Spots

This post will list the top 18 Indiana game fish species. Indiana is a land locked state, offering anglers a variety of freshwater fishing opportunities. These species will be highlighted along with tips and locations.

The top 18 Indiana game fish species are;

  • Largemouth bass

  • Smallmouth bass

  • Crappie

  • Walleye

  • Bluegill and sunfish

  • Striped bass

  • Hybrid bass

  • White bass

  • Musky

  • Spotted bass

  • Northern pike

  • Channel catfish

  • Blue catfish

  • Flathead catfish

  • Salmon

  • Lake trout

  • Rainbow trout

  • Brown trout

There are certainly other species that Indiana anglers will encounter when fishing the Hoosier state. These include carp, drum, sauger, and other species. However, these are the species that we consider to be the top 18 Indiana game fish.

largemouth bass fishing in Florida

Top 18 Indiana game fish species

This is our list of the top 18 Indiana game fish species. Pictures, habits, techniques, and locations will be included for most species.

Largemouth bass

best 13 bass lures for pond fishing

The largemouth bass is the undisputed king of all fish in the state. It is number one on the list of top 18 Indiana game fish species. They are found in just about every body of water in the state. The state record largemouth bass is 14 pounds, 12 ounces. It was caught in 1991 in a Harrison county lake.

Read this detailed article on largemouth bass fishing by Capt Jim

There are many different techniques that anglers can use to catch largemouth bass. Soft plastic lures are extremely effective all year long. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and chatterbaits work well in the spring and fall when fish are more active. Bass move deep in the summer and winter, a worm on a Carolina rig or drop shot rig works well. Patoka Lake, Lake Monroe, and Webster Lake are spots to catch a trophy. West Boggs is an excellent spot for action and numbers.

Smallmouth bass

Pennsylvania smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass are not as plentiful and widely distributed as their largemouth bass cousins. However, they are a terrific game fish! Smallmouth bass prefer cool, clear water. The lakes in the northern part of the state have better populations. Lake Webster is an excellent smallmouth bass lake. The Indiana state record is a 7 pound 4 ounce fish caught in Twin Lake in 1992.

check out my post on the best freshwater fishing tackle and lures

Smallmouth will hit scaled down versions of the same lures used for largemouth bass. They also have an affinity for moving water and are found in many Indiana rivers. Live baits such as crayfish, nightcrawlers, and helgramites catch plenty of fish as well. Some larger fish are found in Lake Michigan as well.


fishing for crappie bluegill and panfish

Crappie are an extremely popular species for anglers throughout the United States. They are arguably the second most popular Indiana game fish species, right behind largemouth bass. There are two species of crappie; white crappie and black crappie. They are similar enough to be covered together.

The Indiana state record crappie is a 4 pound 11 ounce monster caught in a private lake in Jennings County. Most crappie are caught in spring as they move shallow to spawn. Fallen trees and boat docks are top spots. Live minnows and tiny jigs catch the vast majority of crappie. Salamonie Reservoir is considered the top lake for crappie fishing.


walleye fishing tackle and lures

Walleye are fourth on the list of top 18 Indiana game fish species. They are increasing in numbers due to aggressive stocking programs in lakes such as Freeman. They put up a respectable tussle, but are highly regarded for their tasty fillets. The Indiana state record walleye is 14 pounds, 4 ounces.

Comprehensive article by Capt Jim on walleye fishing

Walleye prefer deeper, cooler lakes. They are mostly caught on or near the bottom. A live nightcrawler on a harness bounced along the bottom is tough to beat. Anglers also catch them trolling deep diving plugs and jigging. Anglers catch them ice fishing as well. Brookville Reservoir is the top walleye lake in the state.

Bluegill and sunfish


Bluegill and other sunfish are highly sought after in Indiana, and everywhere else. They fight hard for their size when caught on appropriate tackle. Bluegill are aggressive and school up in large numbers, especially in summer when spawning. The state record is a 3 pound 4 ounce fish caught in a Greene County pond.

Bluegill and sunfish fishing is not complicated, that is part of the attraction. A worm or cricket under a bobber fished near a dock, fallen tree, or vegetation will catch them. Tiny lures will catch them as well. Panfish are terrific eating and fun to catch. West Boggs is a good bluegill lake, though most Indiana lakes offer decent to excellent fishing for bluegill and sunfish.

Striped bass

top 25 carolina game fish

Striped bass have been introduced to some Indians lakes, with great success! These are fish that grow large, feeding on schools of herring and shad. Larger lakes such as Monroe and Patoka are best. The record striped bass is 39 pounds 8 ounces caught in Cecil B. Harding Lake in 2010.

Read more about fishing for striped bass

Carolina game fish

Striped bass are an open water fish. They relate to structure breaks in deep water, especially if bait is present. Slow trolling live herring is a very effective technique. Deep jigging will produce as well. Stripers will be found feeding ion the surface at times, and this is an exciting way to catch them as just about any lure will be attacked.

Hybrid bass

striped bass hybrid

Hybrid bass are a cross between the striped bass and white bass. The Indiana state record is 22 pounds 2 ounces caught in the Tippecanoe River. Hybrids are sterile and do not spawn. They grow quickly. The same lakes and lures (scaled down) used to striped bass will catch hybrid bass.

White bass

best 13 white bass fishing lures

White bass are smaller versions of striped bass. They do not grow large, the record is 4 pounds, 3 ounces, but school up in big numbers and are quite aggressive. Small plugs, spoons, and other lures will catch them. White bass are notorious for feeding aggressively on the surface on small bait fish. On a calm day, this can be seen from far away.


top 18 Indiana game fish species

Musky are next on the list of top 18 Indiana game fish species. They are not widely dispersed or numerous. Musky are challenging anywhere that they are fished for. They are an apex predator, the record fish is 42 pounds 8 ounces caught in James Lake. Musky fishing takes dedication as anglers cast large lures for hours in search of a bite. Webster Lake is the top musky lake in Indiana.

Spotted bass

10 essential spotted bass fishing lures

Spotted bass are a bit of a mix between largemouth bass and spotted bass. They prefer cool, deep bodies of water. Most fish are caught in deeper water, often using a vertical presentation. They are not huge, the Indiana state record is 5 pounds 5 ounces. Larger bodies of water are best.

Northern pike

top 11 freshwater fishing spoons

Northern pike are not abundant in the state, though they are available. Cool lakes in the northern part of Indiana are best. Pike prefer shallow, weedy bays with little current. Most pike are caught by anglers casting spoons, plugs, and spinners as the appeal to their aggressive nature.

Channel catfish

channel catfish bait

Channel catfish are next on the list of top 18 Indiana game fish species. Perhaps they should be closer to the top? Channel catfish are widely distributed, fight hard, taste great, and are fairly easy to catch. What more could an angler ask for? The state record is 37 pounds, 8 ounces caught in Vanderburg County. Fishing for channel catfish is not difficult. Live worms and nightcrawlers as well as fresh cut bait, livers, and prepared baits will all produce catfish.

Blue catfish

blue catfish tips

Blue catfish are a large alpha predator. They were introduced into larger lake and river systems. In some cases, this has been controversial since they grow so large and eat a lot. The Indiana state record is 104 pounds caught in the Ohio River. Blue catfish feed primarily on bait fish. Therefore, fresh cut herring, shad, and sucker are the top baits.

Flathead catfish

top 18 Indiana game fish species

Flathead catfish, also known as yellow catfish, are the least numerous of the three major catfish. They grow large and most are caught by dedicated anglers using large live sunfish and other bait fish. The Indiana record is 79 pounds, 8 ounces caught in the White River. They are solitary fish they prefer sluggish current areas.


Great Lakes salmon fishing

Salmon are found in Indiana in Lake Michigan. This is a specialized type of fishing that is probably best experienced on a professional charter. Special trolling gear is used on larger boats. Coho and chinook salmon are the two salmon species caught by Indiana anglers. The chinook record is 38 pounds and the coho record is 20 pounds, 12 ounces.

Lake trout

lake trout fishing tips

Lake trout are next on the list of top 18 Indiana game fish species. Most lake trout are caught by anglers trolling in Lake Michigan. However, there are some lakers in the deeper lakes, particularly in the northern part of the state. The Indiana record is 37 pounds, 8 ounces caught in Lake Michigan.

Rainbow trout

fishing for rainbow trout

Indiana is not known as the Mecca of trout fishing. However, there are some rainbow trout to be caught in the state. The Indiana record rainbow is a whopping 18 ponds, 8 ounces caught in Clear Lake. Deep, cool lakes will hold some trout, but the best rainbow trout fishing is found in the tailwaters flowing from dams.

Brown trout

best 13 brown trout fishing lures

Brown trout are more tolerant of warmer water than some other trout species. Therefore, they are more widely available. Brown trout are found in the cooler lakes, rivers, and in Lake Michigan. The Indiana record brown trout is just over 29 pounds and caught in Lake Michigan.

In conclusion, this article on the top 18 Indiana game fish species will help anglers catch more fish in the Hoosier state!




Recent Posts