Although the end of summer is upon us, opportunities to experience the great outdoors are still plentiful. Northeast Indiana offers a plethora of outdoor adventures, many of which can be discovered in Wabash County, located just 45 miles Southwest of Fort Wayne. If you are a camping, fishing, or hunting enthusiast, a trip to Wabash County should be on your to-do list.
One of the most notable outdoor experiences in Wabash County is Salamonie Lake, an Indiana State Park. Consisting of 12,000 acres, visitors can experience 40 miles of hiking trails, snowmobiling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, biking and more. Interpretive Manager Teresa Rody has worked at Salamonie for over 30 years.
“Northern Indiana has a treasure in their backyard,” she says of the property.
One way to get the full experience at Salamonie is through camping. Campers can explore sites that range from primitive (class C) to electric (class A). Campsites can be reserved for as little as $12 a night.
Campers feeling extra adventurous may want to consider checking out the six primitive sites available exclusively by foot on the Bloodroot Trail, a 13-mile loop that starts at the Salamonie Interpretive Center. Rody describes the sites as well-loved by visitors and suggests reserving a spot ahead of time.
If primitive camping isn’t your style or if you’re looking for a longer getaway, CoCoJo’s, an exclusive seasonal RV campground located a mile and a half away from Salamonie, might be the stop for you. With 311 full-hookup sites, CoCoJo’s is a camper’s oasis.
Owners Tiffanie and Mike Weaver purchased the property in 2020 and renovated it to what it is today. Their motto, “strengthening families by creating memories that matter,” is illustrated through their incredible amenities, including a pool and splash pad for kids, an adult-only pool, a large pond for swimming and fishing, and a full restaurant and bar. While most amenities are only available to seasonal campers, the restaurant and bar are open to anyone. CoCoJo’s serves Chocolate Shoppe ice cream, based out of Madison, Wisconsin, and is very popular with families visiting Salamonie.
The camping season at CoCoJo’s runs from April to November with seasonal sites ranging in price from $3,500 to $6,000. As parents themselves, the Weavers wanted to ensure that their campground was family-friendly.
“We are a like-minded community of campers with an emphasis on kids,” Tiffanie says.
All campsites at CoCoJo’s sold out in 2023, but Tiffanie says open sites for 2024 will be available on the first of October.
While exploring the beautiful outdoors at Salamonie, one experience not to be overlooked is the fishing opportunity.
“Salamonie is known for a big diversity of fish including catfish, bass, and walleye,” Rody says.
And if you’re on the hunt for a fishing challenge, consider trying bow fishing which Rody says is a popular activity at the park. Bait can be purchased at Pirate’s Cove Marina, located on Salamonie Lake.
While a fishing license is required at Salamonie, there are occasional exceptions to the rule. Each year, there are free fishing days in Indiana. The next one is coming up on September 23, 2023. On Free Fishing Days, Indiana residents do not need a fishing license to fish at Salamonie. However, other rules, such as bag and size limits, do apply.
For information on fishing at Salamonie, prospective fishers can stop at the gatehouse, interpretive center, or main office for information on the various fishing access points throughout Salamonie.
If hunting is your preferred outdoor activity, Wabash County has you covered for that too. Salamonie is considered a premiere hunting location in the state of Indiana.
“There was a high water event in 2015 that resulted in a major renewal to the wildlife habitat,” says Rody. “The number of wild animals at Salamonie has exploded.”
Hunters can expect to encounter rabbits, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, and mourning doves.
Salamonie also offers hunting areas that are accessible by wheelchair via old roads now closed off to vehicle traffic.
Rody recommends picking up a property map upon arrival to determine the various hunting access points. All hunters must obtain a hunting permit card prior to beginning their hunt. These can be found at the main office or at any sign-in station. When finished hunting, the cards should be returned to a sign-in station.
“Returning the day card helps the wildlife biologists know what kind of wildlife people saw, what they hunted, and affects their future management of the property,” Rody says.
Ready to hunt at Salamonie but need some gear? Look no further than Bass & Bucks, Hunting and Archery Pro Shop, located in Wabash. Family-owned and operated, Bass & Bucks opened in 1999. Their 10,000 square foot showroom is stocked with everything a hunter would need including targets, knives, ammo, apolstors, and optics.
Josh Butcher, archery manager, says he is proud to work for his family’s store.
“Our customer base reaches more than four hours in every direction,” Butcher says. “That’s due to our customer service and having large inventory levels on site.”
Located on 182 acres, Bass & Bucks is more than just a retail store; customers can also use the various shooting ranges available. If you are a firearm hunter, Bass & Bucks has a 750-yard outdoor gun range. Hunters can pay just $20 to use the range all day. If archery is your specialty, there are two ranges available: a 50-yard indoor range and an outdoor 3D range. The indoor range can be used for just $5 an hour.
Each year, Bass & Bucks hosts a National Field Archery Association (NFAA) Midwest Classic Trail Shoot. 2023 was the 6th year for the competition with 26 states and Canada represented.
Bass & Bucks is also the host site for the Girvin Youth Archery Team. One of the Girvin Archery owners, April Girvin, is a level-three archery instructor and employee of Bass & Bucks. The season runs from January through June each year.
Butcher says one of his favorite things about working for Bass & Bucks is the sense of accomplishment he feels when a customer shares their success with the store’s products.
“We get to see harvest pictures where customers have been able to fill tags with the equipment they got from us or they’re shooting competitively with hardware from our store,” he says. “We were a small part of that, and it’s awesome.”
Connecting with the outdoors in Wabash County is easy. With fall on the way, don’t miss out on the many hunting, fishing, and camping opportunities right here in Northeast Indiana.
“Everyone should come out and see what we have here,” says Rody. “There’s something different to do in every season.”
Wabash is the focus of our Partner City series underwritten by Visit Wabash County. This series will capture the story of talent, creativity, investment, innovation, and emerging assets shaping the future of Wabash County, about an hour Southwest of Fort Wayne.