Clear Lake: The ice has several inches of snow on it. Yellow Bass - Fair: Start shallow with a small jig or jigging spoon tipped with several spikes or a waxworm near the Baptist camp and in the Little Lake. You have to keep moving to stay on fish. Yellow Perch - Fair: Lots of small fish are being caught. If you’re not going to use the fish you catch, release them. Black Crappie - Slow: Use jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head in the early morning. Walleye - Slow: Best bite is early morning and evening.
Lower Pine Lake: Bluegill – Slow.
Arrowhead Lake: There is around 10 inches of ice near the boat ramp. Bluegill - Slow: Catch keeper bluegills in the middle of the lake and along the east side with a small jig tipped with a waxworm fished in 10-15 feet of water.
Black Hawk Lake: The winter aeration system in Town Bay is in operation. There is around 14 inches of ice off the boat ramp of Ice House Point. Be aware of thin ice or open water near Ice House Point, along the Denison Beach area, and in the east basin near the outlet. Bluegill - Fair: Use a small jig tipped with waxworm in the rock pile out front of Gunshot Hill. Black Crappie - Fair: Use a small jig tipped with waxworm near the Ice House Point boat ramp.
Black Hawk Pits: There is around 10 inches of ice near the boat ramp. Ice is variable; check ice thickness often when venturing out. Bluegill - Fair: Use waxworms fished near the bottom.
Brushy Creek Lake: Anglers are fishing mostly near the north boat ramp, in the northeast arm of the lake, and near the southeast boat ramp near the big island. Look out for thin ice near the beach and in the main lake. Bluegill - Fair: Try waxworms fished on a small jig in the northeast arm of the lake. Black Crappie – Fair: Use a minnow and spoon in about 20-30 feet of water near submerged structure. Try also waxworms and spikes on a small jig. Yellow Perch - Slow: Anglers are picking up a few yellow perch while fishing for crappie.
Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake): Ice conditions are still variable. Most areas of the lake have 15-18 inches of ice. Avoid ice along pressure seams, in the middle of the lake near the big island, and any other off-colored ice. Walleye - Fair: Use minnows and jigging spoons in the dredge cuts on the east side of the lake in about 10-14 feet of water. Low light conditions are best. Yellow Perch - Slow: Use a small spoon and waxworm in the east end of the lake. White Bass - Fair: Anglers are picking up some white bass in the east end of the lake and deeper dredged areas while fishing for walleye.
East Okoboji Lake: Yellow Bass - Good: Anglers are catching large yellow bass from the basin. Move often to stay on the school of active fish. Bluegill - Good: Numbers of fish are being caught from the south end of the lake; sorting is needed.
Five Island Lake: Yellow Bass - Good: Some activity reported on the lake; you need to search to find active fish. Walleye - Fair: Report of fish being caught during the evening hours with traditional baits.
Lake Pahoja: Bluegill - Good: Recent surveys show good numbers of angler acceptable size bluegill in the lake with large fish over 8 inches not uncommon.
Lost Island Lake: Yellow Bass - Fair: Yellow bass activity has slowed, but persistent anglers can catch good numbers of fish.
Spirit Lake: Yellow Perch - Good: Good numbers of angler acceptable size fish continue to be caught from the basin in 18-20 feet of water; the bite improves through the day. Sorting is needed with numbers of small fish also in the catch.Bluegill - Fair: Report of bluegill action fishing traditional sites.
Trumbull Lake: Yellow Perch - Good: Yellow perch continue to be harvested from the lake; anglers are very pleased with the quality of the fish caught.
Virgin Lake: Walleye - Good: Good opportunities to catch fish averaging 16 inches; best action is half hour before sunset to half hour after sunset. Yellow Perch - Good: Fish averaging 8 inches are common.
West Okoboji Lake: Bluegill - Good: Action has improved; persistent anglers will catch good numbers of large bluegills from the lake.
Decorah District Streams: Gravel roads are rough after thawing. Ice and packed snow on roads make travel slow. Think spring. Brown Trout - Fair: Melt water cooled and muddied streams. Find springs and fish this area; water will be warmer. Rainbow Trout - Fair: Fish areas trout are seeking food and protection. Move a fly along a current break. Brook Trout - Fair: If you match the right insect hatch switch pattern.
Lake Hendricks: Open water around the aerator; use caution in this area. No motorized vehicles allowed here. Bluegill - Slow.
Lake Meyer: Visibility is improving after last week’s melt. Melt water slowed fish activity. Ice depth is 10 inches under an inch of snow. Few anglers have been out. Bluegill - Slow. Largemouth Bass - Slow.
Volga Lake: Freeze and thaw cycles are causing variable ice conditions around edges. Use caution getting on the ice. Water clarity is improving. Few anglers have been out. Yellow Perch - Slow: Use a small jig tipped with a spike or waxworm. Bluegill - Slow.
Alice Wyth Lake: Reports of anglers catching bluegill and crappie. Some sorting may be needed. Bluegill - Fair: Try fishing a jig tipped with a waxworm just off of the bottom. Black Crappie - Fair: Use a jig tipped with a waxworm or crappie minnow. Look for suspended fish or near the bottom.
Photos: Big fish caught in North Iowa
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.