Blue Pit: The DNR stocked trout Jan. 12.
Clear Lake: Ice thickness is 8 to 10 inches in the little lake. Use extreme caution if you venture out on the main lake as areas that were open water are starting to freeze over and are now covered with snow. Yellow Bass - Fair: Start shallow using a small jig or jigging spoon tipped with several spikes or a waxworm. You have to keep moving to stay on fish. Yellow Perch - Good: Lots of small fish are being caught. If you’re not going to use the fish you catch, please release them. Black Crappie - Fair: Try a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow head in the early morning. Walleye – Fair: A few walleyes are being caught fishing the rock reefs. Best bite is early morning and evening.
Lake Cornelia: Ice thickness is 6 to 8 inches. A fair number of 6-7 inch yellow bass and a few 9 inch crappies are being caught off the north shore.
Rice Lake: Ice thickness is 10 to 11 inches.Yellow Perch - Fair: Best bite is early morning and evening. You have to keep moving to find fish. Walleye - Slow: Dead stick a minnow while you’re jigging for panfish.
Silver Lake (Worth): Ice thickness is 8 to 10 inches. Bluegills are biting on small jigs tipped with waxworms or spikes. Best bite is in the evening.
Cedar River (above Nashua): Fish backwaters and off channel areas with little to no current. Use caution as ice conditions vary and can change fast. Edges may be soft in some areas.Black Crappie - Slow: Use a small jig tipped with a minnow below the dam.
Arrowhead Lake: 5 inches of ice near the boat ramp.
Bacon Creek Lake: About 1500 rainbow trout will be stocked Jan. 26.
Black Hawk Lake: 7-8 inches of ice off the boat ramp of Ice House Point. Be aware of open water near Ice House Point, Denison Beach area, and in the east basin near the outlet. Conditions are improving, but they are still variable throughout the lake; look out for thin areas that may have just recently frozen. Check ice thickness often. 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: 4 inches of ice near the boat ramp.
Brushy Creek Lake: Anglers are fishing near the north boat ramp and in the northeast arm of the lake. There has been some activity near the south ramp and around the big island. All other ice is variable. Open water near the beach and in the main lake. Be cautious of thin areas that recently froze over. Ice conditions will likely improve over the weekend; check ice thickness often. Float coats and ice picks are always good safety items.
Moorland Pond: The trout stocking and family fishing event rescheduled for Feb. 9.
Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake): Most of the lake has around 9-13 inches of ice. Be aware of a pressure seam running along the west portion of the lake and an open area near the big island. Use caution if venturing out and check ice thickness often. 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: Ice fishing activity has been concentrated on the south end of the 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: Move often and drill many holes to stay on the school of active fish; sorting is needed.
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 rescheduled for Feb. 2.
Silver Lake (Dickinson): Extreme open water and thin ice conditions exists 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 are being caught; 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; anglers will catch good numbers of bluegills from the lake.
Decorah District Streams: Stream clarity is excellent. Watch for midges hatches on sunny days. Trout are actively attaching these as they emerge. 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: Use egg patterns in the calm area next to to a fast channel of water at the head of a pool.
Lake Hendricks: No motorized vehicles allowed on the ice. Ice depths are 8-10 inches. Open water zone around the aerator; keep away from this area. Use caution on the ice. Water clarity is improved. Bluegill - Slow: Early bite is best. For clear ice and water be set-up quiet and ready early. Use small jigs tipped with waxworm or spike near deeper water drop offs. Black Crappie – Slow. Largemouth Bass - Slow: Anglers are catching a few small bass.
Lake Meyer: Ice depth is 8 to 9 inches. Check ice depths often, especially near springs. Water clarity is improved. Use caution. The bite remains slow. 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 8 inches. Use care getting on ice around the boat ramp. Ice around edges are a bit crusty. Bluegill - Slow: Fish the brush piles. Black Crappie - Slow: Find Crappie in 1-12 feet water. Use waxworms with bright colored jigheads in the brush piles and west side of the lake.
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.