Nearly a year after Iowa’s newest lake opened to the public, Lost Grove Lake is at full crest. Heavy rains earlier this summer completed the fill of this popular eastern Iowa lake.
“People starting recreating on the lake as soon as it was open,” said Chad Dolan, fisheries management biologist for southeast Iowa.
“There’s a lot of angling activity,” said Dolan. “We have received numerous reports of 10-11-inch crappies, 6½-7-inch bluegill, 16-17-inch channel catfish and 10-13-inch walleyes. “
DNR fisheries staff began stocking the lake with bluegill, bass, crappies and redear sunfish in 2012. Channel catfish, walleye and muskellunge were added in 2013.
“Some species have reached maturity while others are still growing,” said Dolan.
Lost Grove Lake has three ADA-compliant fishing trails accessible by wheelchair.
One trail follows the lakeshore from the middle ramp parking lot 3,200 feet to a significant pine tree-covered point developed for boat and shore angling.
Another is from the shoreline fishing access about mid-lake on the north side 1,000 feet to the east and west. The third, on the south side at 230th Avenue, runs 350 feet to the west.
Fish attracting habitat such as spawning beds and brush piles have been placed within casting distance of the trail.
Three 50-foot parallel fishing structures extending 12 feet from shore are located around the lake providing access to deeper water. The structures are built with sheet pilings driven in to the ground, filled with dirt and topped with gravel. These structures are also ADA compliant.
Special canoe and kayak accesses are located along the shore fishing accesses.
“There are tons of people canoeing and kayaking this summer,” Dolan said. “Forty trailers were parked at the main boat ramp recently.”
Courtesy docks will be installed at all three boat ramps yet this recreational season; restrooms will be added later this summer or early this fall. Fish-cleaning stations will be added next spring.
Plans to establish Lost Grove Lake began in 1987. Work began almost immediately after the site, about halfway between Eldridge and Princeton, was selected.
The DNR began purchasing land from willing sellers in 1988 and by 1995 had nearly every piece, but it wasn’t until 2003 when the final parcel was secured.
Construction began on the dam in July 2010 and the gate was officially closed two years later. The following July, as the dam was nearing completion, two four-foot risers were added to culverts under Utica Ridge Road to slow down and filter sediment, nutrients and chemicals from runoff before the water enters the lake.
The construction of Lost Grove Lake involved many local partners, including the Hawkeye Fly Fishers and other local fishing clubs, local quarries that donated rock, local haulers that donated rock hauling, the Scott County Waste Commission for assistance with tire removal, local landowners for various assistance, Scott County Secondary Roads and more.
Iowa State University Center for Agriculture and Rural Development research indicates that a lake of this size with good water quality will annually provide for 350,000 visits and create about $20 million in local spending, supporting 175 jobs.