Clear Lake: The Lake is about fifty percent ice free. No fishing activity reported this week.
Lower Pine Lake: The lake is ice free. The docks are not in.
Winnebago River: The river level is currently two feet high. Now is the time to target pike. Fish areas with current breaks.
Cedar River (above Nashua): Levels falling with improved clarity. Rain chance through weekend with temperatures variable 40's to 50's and breezy. Area streams and rivers are falling with clarity improving as majority of snow is melted. Channel Catfish - Good: Use dead chubs fished in the impoundments or slack water areas. Keep bait on river bottom. Walleye - Fair: A few keeper size walleyes taking bait. Try a jig tipped a nightcrawler for best luck.
Black Hawk Lake: Water temperatures are in the low 40's. Open water fishing has just begun. Town Bay, Ice House Point, the inlet bridge, and areas near the outlet are popular shore fishing areas to try as water temperatures warm up.
Black Hawk Pits: Open water fishing has just started. Water temperatures are in the low 40's. Look for shore fishing action with warming water temperatures. Black Crappie - Fair: Anglers have been picking up some crappie. Black Hawk pits are open.
Brushy Creek Lake: Open water fishing has just started. Water temperatures are in the low 40's. Look for shore fishing action with warming water temperatures.
Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake): Storm Lake is ice free with water temperatures in the low 40's. Open water fishing has just begun. Look for shore fishing action to pick up as water temperatures warm. White Bass - Fair. Black Crappie - Fair: Picking up crappie in the marina. Walleye - Fair: A few are being caught. Walleye action will pick up as water temperatures warm and fish move close to shore. Expect walleye spawning activity starting next week.
East Okoboji Lake: No fishing activity, some lakes remain ice covered, look for ice free conditions soon. Channel Catfish - Good: Prime time is here as ice out provides an excellent bite using traditional CC baits. Fish twilight and after dark as the fish will be on the feed bag and will provide plenty of "pole bending" action that is sure to satisfy the angler.
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Decorah District Streams: Rain chance through weekend with temperatures variable 40's to 50's and breezy. Area streams and rivers are falling with clarity improving as majority of snow is melted. Brook Trout - Good: Midges hatching on sunny afternoons. If trout chasing minnows at tails of riffles, try using a streamer or minnow imitating lure. Brown Trout - Good: Blue wing olives hatching mid-afternoon. Fish hitting just below surface. Nymph fishing might work best for these fish. Rainbow Trout - Excellent: Many stocked rainbows from last season waiting to be caught. Use a minnow or worm under a bobber for best luck. Trout streams are in good condition. Gravel roads soft by afternoon as frost comes out. Catchable trout stocking season in full swing. Trucks stock as many spots as possible.
Lake Hendricks: Open water quickly taking over ice. Rain chance through weekend with temperatures variable 40's to 50's and breezy. Area streams and rivers are falling with clarity improving as majority of snow is melted. Fishing from shoreline is best especially in shallow areas.
Lake Meyer: The lake is about two-thirds covered with ice and opening more every day. Open areas from boat ramp to the jetty. Anglers catching a variety of fish. Black Crappie - Slow: Fish shallow, rocky shoreline using small plastic lures.
Turkey River (above Clermont): Rain chance through weekend with temperatures variable 40's to 50's and breezy. Water levels and flows slowly falling. Clarity improving. Walleye - Slow: Fish the slack water areas below dams with a jig tipped with minnow or shallow water crankbait. White Sucker - Fair: Use a worm fished off the bottom for best luck.
Upper Iowa River (above Decorah): Flows remain elevated but levels are falling. Clarity improving. White Sucker - Fair: Suckers beginning to bite. Use worm fished on bottom. May have to use a bit more weight to keep line down due to elevated flows. Walleye - Fair: Walleye biting. Try jigs tipped with minnow or crankbaits.
Volga Lake: The lake is ice-free. Concentrate efforts along the shoreline and shallow warmer water. Bluegill - Slow: Fish the shallow areas first for best luck. Use small jigs tipped with waxworms or spikes under a bobber.
The lake is ice-free. Concentrate efforts along the shoreline and shallow warmer water.
Photos: Big fish caught in North Iowa
Kathryn Barton - muskie
Steve Young muskie 1
Kid catches muskie
Houston muskie in East Park
Logan Conway and Muskie
Steve Ibarra 2
Sea Wall muskie
Clear Lake muskie
Redig's big fish
12th Street cat
Tom Caswell's Muskie
Big fish in St. Ansgar
Santee's northern pike
Richards' river monster
Mike Uhlenhopp's northern pike
Lenz lands a big one
Georgia Hanford cat
Frank and the fish
Echelbarger's northern pike
East Park walleye
Mom and son muskie
2 for one on Clear Lake
Big muskie caught on Clear Lake in January, 2016
Jeff Lutcavish with giant northern
Catfish in Clear Lake
Fall Classic walleye
Jensen's Fishing the Midwest: Fall can be the best time for trophy fish
Depending on where you live, the young people and their teachers are getting ready to go back to school, football season is either here or just around the corner, and the fall fishing season is not far off. Some folks may not like this progression of seasons, but many anglers do. They know that autumn can provide the best fishing of the year for both numbers of fish and trophy fish. Many anglers have caught the biggest fish of their life in the fall. If we want to take full advantage of fall fishing, now is a good time to make preparations to do so. Following are some things to keep in mind as we prepare for fall fishing.
Whether you’re fishing a lake, river, or reservoir, at some point in the fall the fish will school up. In the summer they’ll be loosely schooled more of the time, but when the fish feel the water temperatures drop and notice the days getting shorter, they’ll group up. Therefore, it works well to keep moving with an eye on your sonar until you find where the fish are hanging out.
The importance of paying attention to your sonar was once again driven home on a fall trip to Lake Kabetogama a couple of years ago. Kab is known for its walleyes, but it’s also a world-class smallmouth fishery. We were fishing for the smallmouth on deep structures. We located the structures on the maps in our sonar units, then cruised over them looking for fish. The first two spots were fishless, the third showed fish.
We dropped jigs and dropshot rigs to them and had immediate action. Just for the heck of it, we tried similar looking structures that didn’t show fish on the sonar, and that’s what we caught: Nothing. The fact that you’ve got to fish where the fish are if you want to catch fish was reinforced that day. We were using Raymarine sonar at the time: I can’t remember which units we had, but the Axiom series of sonar from Raymarine that we’re using now does an amazing job of showing fish, and they have the other features necessary that make fish-catching so much more consistent.
Start the autumn season off with fresh line. Just as we start the season with fresh line, we want to be sure our connection to the fish is in good shape in the fall. Be sure that when that fish-of-a-lifetime eats your bait, your line will be ready to handle it. There are lots of line choices out there, and they all have a purpose. With that said, day-in and day-out, I use P-Line CX or CXX Premium. These are kind of like monofilament line, and I’ve developed a lot of trust in them. If I want more sensitivity and better hooksetting ability, I use XTCB braid with a Tactical fluorocarbon leader. This set-up provides the ultimate in strength and minimal stretch, yet allows for a very natural presentation.
In the fall, fish like larger lures. Even the smaller fish eat bigger baits in the autumn. Mother Nature tells the fish that it’s better to eat one large meal instead of several smaller ones. Use big bait for big fish.
There are lots of options for recreation in the fall. Football and hunting take up lots of folk’s time. But if you like to fish, reserve some time for doing-so. The weather is pleasant, the scenery is nice, and the catching can be outstanding. Discover that for yourself when the leaves on the trees turn colorful.
Muskies: Mitchell County Conservation intern explains 'the mystery fish' (with photos)
OSAGE | Local anglers had an opportunity to hear about the “mystery fish" -- also known more commonly as the muskie, from Levi Nettleton, recent naturalist intern with Mitchell County Conservation.
Nettleton, who will be a senior science education major at the University of Northern Iowa this fall, told attendees muskies are known as the mystery fish because of their unpredictability.
“Muskies are very unpredictable,” he said. “You can find them in waters that are 6 inches to a 100 feet deep. They look like a pike, but they have six teeth instead of five teeth like northern, and northern are spotted.”
Nettleton said a female Muskie can lay up to 265,000 eggs, but their survival rate is very low. They spawn best in water temps of 55 to 65 degrees, laying their eggs randomly in shallow waters where predators can consume the eggs.
“Many fishermen believe the muskie is a major consumer of other game fish such as bass and walleye, but they are apt to eat softer fish like bullheads and minnows,” Nettleton said, noting they also eat insects, crayfish, small mammals and waterfowl.
"Many believe they are aggressive, but that isn’t true, unless they are feeding," he said. "They are complicated for naturalists to study.”
Nettleton said Muskies’ habitats also vary, meaning they can be found in weeds like tobacco cabbage or 30 feet deep in open water. He said fisherman can find them in different places throughout the year.
Nettleton shared his enthusiasm for catching the large game fish, something he started four years ago.
“Once you do it, it can become an addiction," he said. "There's a lot of skill in muskie fishing, and sometimes, muskies are called the fish of a 100,000 casts.”
Nettleton’s study has rewarded him well, as he caught and released 36 muskies last year and 12 so far this year.
Fishermen seeking muskies typically use 7- to 10-foot rods, according to Nettleton. He uses a 300- to 400-foot reel with 22 pounds of drag, with 50-100 braid line and steel or fluorocarbon leaders.
He also carries needle-nosed pliers longer than 8 inches and a rubberized net, so he doesn't harm the Muskie.
He gave some additional pointers:
• Leave the catch in the water and support and release it when the fish is calm.
• Cut the hook if the fish has been deep-hooked.
• Don't fish over 80 degrees.
• If trolling, start at 2 mph, increasing to 4 mph.
• Do figure-eights to attract muskies.
Nettleton, who whose biggest catch was 53 inches long, said there are Muskies in the Cedar, Iowa, Shell Rock, and Winnebago rivers, as well as in Clear Lake.
The largest populations of muskies are in Minnesota, according to Nettleton, where the largest caught was 56 inches long and weighed 54 pounds.