Thursday, February 25, 2016

Iowa Fishing Reports

Ice drill used in winter fishing.
Ice drill used in winter fishing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
NORTHWEST
Brushy Creek Lake
Ice is pulling away from the shoreline and is unsafe for ice fishing. Anglers can begin preparation for the open water season.

Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake)
As of Feb. 24th, anglers were out on the main basin of the lake. If you do venture out, use extreme caution as ice conditions will only continue to deteriorate every day. There are areas of open water near shore, near the islands, and the inlet.

Black Hawk Lake
Aerators in Town Bay are in operation; there are areas of open water and thin ice. Test holes drilled on Thursday, Feb. 25th near the Ice House Point boat ramp showed 8 inches of clear ice under 4 inches of cloudy ice. Ice conditions will continue to deteriorate over the weekend so use extra caution if venturing out and test ice depths frequently.

Arrowhead Lake
As of Thursday Feb. 25th, test holes drilled near the boat ramp showed 6 inches of clear ice under 5 inches of cloudy ice. With warmer temperatures coming up, use caution near shorelines and inflows where weak ice and open water may be present. Bluegill - Fair: Fish for bluegills using wax worms in areas containing structure and contour.

Black Hawk Pits
As of Thursday Feb. 25th, there were areas of open water near the north and west shore. Ice right around the East side boat ramp contained 4 inches of clear ice under 5 inches of cloudy ice. Conditions worsen as you go further north or west from the ramp. Existing ice will likely be unfit for ice fishing by the weekend.

Some larger area lakes have slush or open water near shorelines and inflows but are holding onto 8-11 inches of ice in the main basin. Most small bodies of water are unsafe for ice fishing. There are a lot of unsafe conditions in our area and ice conditions will continue to deteriorate over the weekend. Use extreme caution and check ice depths frequently if venturing out. For more information, contact the Black Hawk District Office at 712-657-2638.

Beeds Lake
Bluegill - Good: Most of the action is between 4-6 p.m. Most of the catch is bluegills with an occasional nice 8 inch; crappies most 8-9 inch and a few nicer 10 inch fish. A few yellow bass are in the mix.

Lake Smith
Bluegill - Slow: Bluegills (mostly 6.5-7.25 inch, with a few larger ones) are biting the last hour or so of daylight near the deeper structure.

Clear Lake
Clear Lake has around 16-18 inches of ice but the warm weather coming this weekend will make water run down the access on the little lake and melt ice quickly. There is a little bit of current flowing into the little lake from Ventura Marsh; be aware of possible thin ice on the south side of the little lake. This week and beyond will likely be great for portable or open ice fishing. Yellow Bass - Fair: Baptist camp to the west edge of the aerator was one of the better spots last week again. Anglers moving around near Farmers Beach did ok. Walleye - Good: Anglers have had good success on structure on the east end of the lake this (East aerator, Hy-Vee Reef, Fisherman’s Reef, Gilmore Reef). An occasional walleye is being caught near the aerator or west to Baptist camp. Use jigging spoons, small lipless cranks, or 1/8 oz. jigs with minnows. Crappie - Good: Some crappies caught in 16 feet of water on the little lake on minnows. Yellow Perch - Fair: Occasional larger perch (9.5-10 inches) have been caught on the little lake. Channel Catfish - Good: No reports, but catfish activity picks up during late ice conditions. Use light jigs tipped with a small piece of cut bait or three to four spikes or wax worms. Farmers Beach and the island have been good in the past.

Blue Pit
Approximately 1,400 trout (rainbow and brook) were stocked on Jan. 16th. Rainbow Trout - Fair: One report of people having some success in the southeast corner. Trout seem to move in groups, so you may need to move up and down the shoreline to find them. Limit is 5 trout per trout stamp.

Bluebill Lake
Some activity reported with a few crappies being caught.

Most of the lakes in Cerro Gordo County north should be good for a little while yet. There is 12 inches of ice on most lakes.

For lake updates and fishing information in the north central area, contact the Clear Lake Fish and Wildlife office at 641-357-3517.

Big Spirit Lake
Ice conditions: 16 inches of ice but thickness varied. Use caution while on the ice. Yellow Perch - Slow: The perch bite has slowed some the past week. Anglers are still picking up some nice perch off of Bakers point and north of marble beach in 20 feet of water. Try small silver spoons or gold tear drops tipped with maggots or wax worms.

Center Lake
Ice conditions: 15-16 inches of ice but conditions varied. The aeration system is in use. Use caution while on the ice. Fishing activity was minimal the past week.

East Okoboji Lake
Ice condition: 15-16 inches of ice but thickness varied. Use caution while on the ice. Yellow Bass - Good: Some nice yellow bass have been caught on the north end of the lake off of Peppermint point and in front of Parks Marina. Bright tungsten jigs tipped with wax worms work well. Yellow Perch - Fair: Anglers have been picking up some nice perch on the drop of Gingles point and in front of Parks Marina. Pilkie type lures tipped with maggots work well.

Minnewashta Lake
Ice conditions: 15-17 inches of ice. Use caution while on the ice. Yellow Bass - Slow: Christys point has been producing some nice yellows in 10-12 feet of water. Try small tungsten jigs tipped with wax worms or maggots.

Silver Lake (Dickinson)
Ice conditions: 14-16 inches of ice but thickness varied. Use extreme caution during ice activities. The aeration system is in use. Walleye - Slow: A few walleyes have been caught along the south shore line. Evenings seems to be the best bite. Try glow spoons tipped with minnow heads.

West Okoboji Lake
Ice conditions: 14-16 inches of ice but thickness varied. Use caution while on the ice. Bluegill - Good: The north shoreline in Millers bay has been producing some nice bluegills in 8-10 feet of water. The north end of Haywards bay has also been producing some nice bluegills along with nice crappies. Gold tear drops or small tungsten jigs tipped with wax worms work well. Yellow Perch - Fair: Anglers are finding some nice perch on the north hump in Millers bay. Mornings seem to be the best bite. Manhattan point has also been producing some perch in 30-35 feet of water.

Ingham Lake
Ice conditions: 14-16 inches of ice but conditions varied. The aeration system is in use. Use caution while on the ice. Fishing activity has been minimal.

Five Island Lake
Ice conditions: 14-16 inches of ice but conditions varied. Use caution while on the ice. The aeration system is in use.

Lost Island Lake
Ice condition: 14-16 inches of ice. Ice conditions can vary. Use caution while on the ice. Yellow Bass - Good: Multiple reports of a hot yellow bite. Keep moving until you find the schools of fish. Use small tungsten jigs tipped with wax worms.

Upper Gar Lake
Ice conditions: 12-14 inches of ice. Use caution while on the ice. Fishing activity has been minimal.

Silver Lake (Palo Alto)
Ice Conditions: 14-16 inches of ice. Ice conditions varied. Use caution while on the ice. Fishing activity has been minimal.

Area lakes have some slush pockets near shore. Walleye season is closed on Big Spirit, West and East lakes.

NORTHEAST
Volga Lake
Volga Lake has 8 plus inches which is starting to get slushy on top. Use caution when going out on ice. Driving on ice is not recommended at this time. Warmer weather forecast for the weekend can change ice conditions quickly. Fish seem to be hanging around brush piles and other structure. Crappie - Slow: Crappie can be found hanging around brush. More aggressive fish are hanging around above the brush. Tip a jig with a wax worm and golden rod wasp larvae. Bluegill - Slow: Try dropping your jig tipped with a wax worm slowly down to the bottom keeping it about a foot off the bottom. Jiggle your line for a short bit and stop. Repeat.

Lake Hendricks
Lake Hendricks has 6 plus inches of ice under 2 inches of slush. Ice conditions will change quickly with warmer temperatures. Use care when going out on ice. The edges are starting to get soft. The hole around the aerator is opening more so be careful around that area. A reminder to ice anglers, Howard County Conservation Board does not allow permanent shacks or motorized vehicles on the ice. Bluegill - Fair: Anglers are catching quite a few small bluegills. Much of angling has been off the pine tree point in about 10 feet of water. Use small jigs tipped with wax worms. If fish don’t bite, take the wax worm off and just use the jig. Crappie - Slow: Crappie are generally found suspended higher off the bottom than bluegills. Jiggle a jig tipped with a wax worm for a short time than let it rest. Repeat but don’t forget to set the hook especially for the light biters.

Lake Meyer
Lake Meyer has 6 plus inches of ice under about 6 inches of slushy snow. The edges are starting to get soft. Use caution when going on ice especially around cracks and fissures. Water is tinted brown but still clear. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Anglers may have to drill a few holes to find fish. Bluegill - Fair: Small bluegill are biting. Use a very small jig with small rubber tail.

Upper Iowa River (above Decorah)
We have received no information regarding fishing on this water body this week.

Upper Iowa River (below Decorah)
We have received no information regarding fishing on this water body this week.

Turkey River (above Clermont)
The only places that have ice are in the impoundments. Going on the ice is not recommended at this time. The river is open below the dams. The river is up about a foot.

Cedar River (above Nashua)
Use extreme caution when going on river ice especially with increased flows, fluctuating water levels. The only ice left on the river is in the backwaters and above impoundments. The Cedar River is up about 2.5 feet and is now receding.

Decorah District Streams
Trout streams are in excellent condition but continued snow melt could cause some streams to cloud up. This is an excellent time of year to hook into a brown trout. Look for sporadic midge hatches on warmer days. For these hatches, use #18 or 20 emergers or nymphs with a #22 or #24 drop hook gnarly midge. Use more streamers or scuds as prey availability has changed and fish are looking for something meatier. Anglers using minnows and dark flashy hair jigs will catch fish. Brook Trout - Good: Overhead movement and shadows will scare a wily brook trout. Take care when approaching streams with exceptionally clear water. Use larger jigs or streamers that imitate minnows or small trout. Brown Trout - Fair: Sny Magill and North Cedar Fish and Wildlife areas were the first private lands purchased for the purpose of trout stream management open to the public, according to the 1975 Job Completion Report by Fisheries Management Section to the State Conservation Commission. Rainbow Trout - Good: Anglers will find larger rainbows moving upstream this time of year. Try using baits imitating minnows and small trout.

This may be the last weekend for many ice anglers. Temperatures are forecast for the mid-50's over the weekend. Ice conditions will change quickly as the day warms and sun shines. River levels are up 1 to 3 feet. Clarity is good on most area waters. For more information, please call the Decorah Fish Hatchery at 563-382-8324.

Contacts in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area are reporting poor ice conditions, ice fishing is not recommended at this time. Anglers are beginning to gear toward open water walleye angling on the interior rivers as spring spawn nears. Trout streams are in excellent condition as most of the snow cover has been lost. For further information, contact the N.E. Iowa District Office at 563-927-3276.

MISSISSIPPI RIVER
Mississippi River Pool 9
Mississippi River level at Lansing has fallen back to 8.1 feet and may begin to rise slightly over the next week. With warmer temperatures predicted over the next few days, ice fishing is not recommended.

Mississippi River Pool 10
Mississippi River level at Lynxville has dropped about a foot to 15.6 feet and may begin to rise slightly over the next week. With warmer temperatures predicted over the next few days, ice fishing is not recommended. The boat ramp at Lynxville is open but anglers may have to deal with lots of ice flows. Sauger - Good: Mixed reports on sauger because of water level changes, but some nice fish have been caught. Walleye - Fair: A few nice walleyes reported, but mixed results due to water level changes.

Mississippi River Pool 11
Mississippi River level at Guttenberg has dropped about 1.5 feet to 15.6 feet and may begin to rise slightly over the next week. With warmer temperatures predicted over the next few days, ice fishing is not recommended. The Guttenberg City ramp is now open but anglers may have to deal with lots of ice flows. Walleye - Fair: A few walleyes being caught in the tailwaters on jig and minnow. Sauger - Good: Sauger bite can be good but many are smaller with a few nice sized fish.

Much of the snow in Northeast Iowa has melted and the river levels have dropped again after the initial rise. Warmer temperatures and snow melt have weakened ice. Although thicker ice remains out in the middle of protected backwaters, the edges are weakening. With warmer temperatures predicted over the next few days, ice fishing is not recommended. Tailwater fishing opportunities are opening up with mixed results due to water level changes.

Mississippi River Pool 12
Water level at Dubuque tailwater is 6.6 feet and 9.0 feet at the RR bridge. This is up slightly from last week. It is expected to stay somewhat steady. Ice fishing is taking place in Pool 12, but many places have marginal ice. Access to the tailwater is available at times from Hawthorne Street boat ramp but some ice flows were reported that can make putting in or taking out difficult. Yellow Perch - Fair: Not catching many but some "wall mounter" type yellow perch have been reported to us. Black Crappie - Fair: An occasional nice crappie has been reported but it is generally slow. Sauger - Slow: Fishing reported as slower than expected but a few fish are being caught.  Most anglers are using a jig and minnow.

Mississippi River Pool 13
Water level at Bellevue is 9.0 feet which is up from last week. Expect water to rise slightly this week. Some sauger fishing is taking place in the tailwater but reports are mixed. Ice fishing is taking place in a few select locations but use caution, bad ice is reported nearly everywhere.  Yellow Perch - Fair: Yellow perch fishing has been only fair but the rewards can be great.  Some very large "ring perch" have been reported approaching the state record.  If you feel you might have the state record, it needs to be over 15 inches and very plump.  The state record fish was 16 inches long and weighed 2 pounds 7 ounces.  If you think you have the new record, have it weighed on a certified scale immediately (such as in a meat department) and contact the DNR. Sauger - Fair: The Bellevue ramp is open for boat launching.  Some scattered good reports but most anglers are reporting catching only a few fish, mostly on a jig and minnow.

Mississippi River Pool 14
Water level at Fulton is at 6.9 feet, 10.8 feet at Camanche and 5.7 feet at Le Claire. These readings are all up from last week and the river water levels are expected to remain steady.  Backwater ice fishing is nearly done in Pool 14 as backwaters have large open water pockets.  Walleye - Good: Some nice walleyes were reported from the tailwaters on jigs and minnows.  Recent winds have curtailed a lot of angling.

Mississippi River Pool 15
Water levels at Rock Island are around 8.0 feet, which is up from last week. Expect water levels to stay somewhat steady this week. Boat ramps in the upper parts of Pool 15, like at Pigeon Creek, were open to most boats.  No fishing was reported to us from Pool 15. 

Some ice fishing is still taking place especially in Pool 12 but use caution. Bad ice is present in a lot of places. Paddlefish snagging season starts March 1 and will run through April 15. Please review paddlefish rules or call the DNR station if uncertain. All snagging on the Mississippi is restricted to the area within 500 yards below navigation dams and their spillways. There are also restrictions on the numbers that can be snagged and hook size used.

Mississippi River Pool 16
Tailwater stage at Lock and Dam 15 is 8.02 feet. Tailwater stage has risen close to 2 feet since last week. Ice conditions are unsafe with the warmer temperatures and melting snow. The Marquette St. boat ramp is open. Sauger - Fair: Some fish are being caught by the dam. Try vertical jigging with plastics and minnows. Walleye – Slow.

Mississippi River Pool 17
Tailwater stage at Lock and Dam 16 above Muscatine is 6.65 feet. Tailwater stages have risen over the past weekend making fishing for walleyes and saugers tough below the dam. Ice conditions are unsafe with the warmer temperature and melting snow. Boats are able to launch in Muscatine. Sauger - No Report: Fishing is slow with the recent rise in river levels. The river has muddied up some with the recent rise in river level. There were no boats out as of Thursday, Feb.  25.

Mississippi River Pool 18
Tailwater stage at Lock and Dam 17 at New Boston is 9.30 feet and has risen 2-3 feet since this past weekend. The gates at the lock and dam are out of the water. Boats are able to launch at Toolsboro. Sauger - Slow: Fishing has been slow with the recent rise in river levels. Walleye – Slow.

Mississippi River Pool 19
Tailwater stage at Lock and Dam 19 above Burlington is 6.08 feet. We have not received any reports on tailwater fishing. Ice conditions are unsafe with the warmer weather and melting snow.

Mississippi River Pool 16-19: Ice conditions are unsafe with the warmer temperatures and melting snow. Tailwater stages have risen over the past weekend due to the snowmelt. The river has muddied up some making tailwater fishing for walleye and saugers difficult. If you have questions on fishing pools 16-19, contact the Fairport Fish Hatchery at 563-263-5062.

SOUTHEAST
Union Grove Lake
The lake is currently drained for the renovation project that will start this winter.

Hannen Lake
The ice is unsafe.

Rodgers Park Lake
The ice is unsafe.

Lake Macbride
The shorelines have eroded and the remaining ice is poor. There are a couple areas of open water. The ice is not safe.

Central Park Lake
There was 6-8 inches of ice on Monday, but the quality has deteriorated. Ice fishing is not recommended.

Pleasant Creek Lake
The lake is currently about 12' low for the upcoming restoration project. The ice here should be considered unsafe.

Diamond Lake
The shorelines are opening up and the ice is unsafe.

Otter Creek Lake
Some yellow bass were being caught last weekend, but the ice is deteriorating and should be considered unsafe.

Coralville Reservoir
Much of the ice has gone out. There was a small rise in water levels but now the spring drawdown has begun. Catfish anglers should start thinking about ice-out cats. Try shallow, muddy, windblown bays with dead shad.

Iowa River (Coralville Lake to River Junction)
There is 8000 CFS being released from the Coralville Dam.

Cedar River (La Porte City to Cedar Rapids)
The river is opening up and the water levels are high.

Cedar River (Cedar Rapids to Moscow)
The river is opening up and the water levels are high.

Wapsi River (Troy Mills to Oxford Junction)
The ice in the backwaters is unsafe and the river is opening up.

For more information, contact the Lake Macbride Fisheries Station at 319-624-3615.

Lake Geode
Unsafe ice conditions. 

Lake Belva Deer
Unsafe ice conditions.

Lake Darling
Unsafe ice conditions. About 1/3 of the lake is now open water.

Lost Grove Lake
Unsafe ice conditions. There wasn't anybody out on Saturday, Feb. 21.

Big Hollow Lake
Unsafe ice conditions.

For more information conditions on the above lakes and rivers, call the Lake Darling Fisheries Office at (319) 694-2430.

Lake Wapello
The ice thickness has deteriorated and the ice is not thick enough to support anglers.

Red Haw Lake
The ice is not thick enough to support anglers.

Lake Keomah
Lake Keomah State Park is undergoing a road construction project so access to the park is limited. The boat ramps are still accessible by using the entrance to the north and east of the park.

Lake Sugema
Ice thickness has deteriorated and is not thick enough to support anglers.

Bob White Lake
A complete fisheries renovation was completed in September. Fingerlings were stocked in the fall.

Rathbun Reservoir
The ice is not thick enough to support anglers. The current lake level is 906.17. Lake Rathbun contains zebra mussels so make sure to properly drain, clean, and dry equipment before transporting to another water body.

Lakes in south central Iowa do not have enough ice to support fishing activities. Take your trash with you so your favorite fishing spot is clean and litter free. Contact the Rathbun Fish Hatchery at 641-647-2406 with questions regarding angling in south central Iowa.

SOUTHWEST
Cold Springs District Farm Ponds
Ice out catfishing can be very good this time of year. Always get permission to fish private farm ponds. Channel Catfish - Good: Catfish actively feed after ice out on dead fish. Cast shad sides in the upper ends of ponds where water warms first for best success.

Ice conditions in the southwest district have deteriorated to the point that ice fishing is not recommended. Open water catfishing has been reported on farm ponds. For more information, call the Cold Springs District Office at 712-769-2587

Three Mile Lake
A public meeting to discuss proposed fish renovation is scheduled for March 15, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 900 of the Allied Health Building on the Southwest Iowa Community College campus in Creston.

Lakes south of HWY 34 are nearly 100% ice free. Lakes north of HWY 34 in the Mount Ayr district have variable ice coverage. For more information, please call 641-464-3108.