Clear Lake: Yellow Bass - Fair: Angling for yellow bass is sporadic. Use small jigging spoons with insect larvae. You have to keep moving to stay on fish. Black Crappie - Fair: Anglers are catching a few nice sized crappie fishing near aquatic plant beds and in the deeper dredge cuts on the west end of the lake. Walleye – Fair: Anglers are picking up a few walleye at sunset. The minimum size limit on Clear Lake is 14 inches.
Crystal Lake: Black Crappie - Slow: Anglers are getting a few crappie after sunset.
Rice Lake: Bluegill - Slow: Use small jigs tipped with insect larvae. Yellow Perch - Slow: Try small jigging spoons or small minnows. Angling success has been slow, but there are good numbers of yellow perch in Rice Lake.
Cedar River (above Nashua): Fish backwaters and off channel areas with little to no current. Anglers catching a mixed bag of fish. Black Crappie - Fair: Use a small jig tipped with a minnow or spike jigging aggressively.
Arrowhead Lake: On Jan. 24 there was 7 inches of ice near the boat ramp.
Bacon Creek Lake: The Bacon Creek trout stocking that was rescheduled for Jan. 26 has been postponed again due to unsafe frigid temperatures and wind chills.
Black Hawk Lake: 8 inches of ice off the boat ramp of Ice House Point. Conditions are improving, but they are still extremely variable throughout the lake. Bluegill - Fair: Bluegills have been picked up through the ice in between the boat ramp of Ice House Point and Gunshot Hill with a small jig tipped with waxworm. Black Crappie - Fair: Crappie are being picked up near the inlet bridge and through the ice near the Ice House Point boat ramp. Use a small jig tipped with waxworm. Yellow Perch - Fair: A few perch are being picked up in between the Ice House Point boat ramp and Gunshot Hill with jigs tipped with waxworm.
Black Hawk Pits: 6 inches of ice near the boat ramp. Ice is variable; check thickness often when venturing out.
Brushy Creek Lake: Anglers are fishing near the north boat ramp and in the northeast arm of the lake. All other ice is variable. Bluegill - Fair: Anglers have picked up some bluegill in the northeast arm of the lake using waxworms fished on a small jig.
Moorland Pond: The trout stocking and family fishing event has been rescheduled for Feb. 9.
North Twin Lake: Anglers have been out, but ice thickness is variable. Black Crappie - Fair: Anglers have picked up some crappie in the southwest part of the lake.
Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake): Ice conditions on Storm Lake are improving, but are still variable; use extreme caution. Some areas of the lake have up to 10-15 inches of ice and have seen lots of fishing activity. Walleye - Fair: Use minnows and jigging spoons during low light conditions. Anglers have had better luck on the east side of the lake. Yellow Perch - Fair: Try waxworms in 4-6 feet of water in mornings or evenings.
East Okoboji Lake: Bluegill - Good: Numbers of angler acceptable size fish are being caught; sorting is needed with small fish mixed in the catch. Yellow Bass - Good: Anglers are catching large yellow bass from the basin in 18 feet of water. Move often to stay on the school of active fish.
Five Island Lake: Yellow Perch - Good: Anglers report limited catches of black crappie and yellow perch; anglers will be pleased by the large size of fish harvested. Yellow Bass - Good: Some activity reported on the lake; you need to search to find active fish.
Lake Pahoja: Bluegill - 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 Perch - Good: Report of fish being caught from the lake with "bonus mixed bag" of bluegill and crappie in the catch. Yellow Bass - Good: Yellow bass activity has picked up with good numbers of fish "on the bite."
Scharnberg Pond: The trout stocking and family fishing event has been rescheduled for Feb. 2.
Silver Lake (Dickinson): Open water and thin ice conditions on the east side of the lake.
Spirit Lake: Walleye - Good: Angler acceptable size fish are being caught; best action is half hour before sunset to half hour after sunset. Yellow Perch - Good: Numbers of angler acceptable size fish continue to be caught from the basin in 18 - 20 feet of water; sorting is needed as numbers of small fish will also be in the catch.
Trumbull Lake: Yellow Perch - Fair: 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. Yellow Perch - Good: Fish averaging 8 inches are common.
West Okoboji Lake: Bluegill - Good: Action has slowed; persistent anglers will catch good numbers of bluegills from the lake. Yellow Perch - Good: Anglers report catching fish in 18 feet of water in Smiths Bay.
Decorah District Streams: A good quality trout stream will not freeze in the winter. Brown Trout - Fair: Use larger flies or lures mimicking minnows. Spin fishers using a small jig tipped with a minnow should find nice fish. Rainbow Trout - Fair: Rainbow Trout spawning is at its peak. Larger fish will move to headwaters to lay eggs. Use a weighted caddis stonefly or mayfly nymph. Brook Trout - Fair: Trout are actively attacking emerging midges on warm sunny afternoons.
Lake Hendricks: No motorized vehicles allowed on the ice. Ice depths are 8-10 inches with about 6-8 inches of snow. Bluegill - Fair: Early bite is best. Use small jigs tipped with waxworm or spike near deeper water drop offs. Black Crappie – Fair: Crappies 10-11 inches have been caught. Largemouth Bass - Slow: Anglers are catching a few small bass.
Lake Meyer: Ice depth is 8 to 9 inches. Ice depth is 10 inches under 14 inches of snow. Few anglers have been out. Bluegill - Slow: Early morning bite is best. Use small teardrop shaped jigs tipped with waxworm in brush piles in 12-15 feet of water. Black Crappie – Slow. Largemouth Bass - Slow: A few bass have been caught while fishing for panfish.
Volga Lake: Ice depths are about 10 inches with 2-3 inches of snow. Bluegill - Slow: Fish the brush piles. Black Crappie - Fair: Find Crappie in 1-12 feet water. Use waxworms with bright colored jigheads in the brush piles and drop off around the jetty on west side of lake.
Casey Lake (aka Hickory Hills Lake): Anglers are doing well on bluegill and some occasional crappie. Some sorting of bluegill, but some good ones as well. Bluegill - Good: Find structure near the east end of lake fishing jigs tipped with a waxworm. Black Crappie - Fair: Find structure and use electronics to find suspended fish. Fish ice jigs with a waxworm or a dead stick rig with a live crappie minnow.
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.