Clear Lake: Ice thickness is 8 to 11 inches. The warm weather has melted all the snow off the ice. Ice cleats are recommended. Yellow Bass - Good: Use a small jig or jigging spoon tipped with several spikes. You have to be mobile to stay on fish. Yellow Perch - Good: Lots of small fish are being caught. Black Crappie - Fair: Try a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow head in the early morning. Walleye – Slow: Best bite is early morning and evening.
Beeds Lake: Ice thickness is 6 inches on the east end of the lake. The geese have a hole open on the west end of the lake.
Crystal Lake: Ice thickness is 6 to 8 inches. Avoid the pressure ridge near the center of the lake and a hole kept open by waterfowl by the east fishing jetty. Bluegill - Good: Use small jigs tipped with waxworms in the evening. Black Crappie - Good: Try small jigs tipped with a minnow in the evening. Yellow Perch - Good: Lots of small fish are being caught.
Lake Smith: Ice thickness is 7 to 9 inches. Bluegill - Fair: Use small ice jig tipped with insect larvae; best bite is early morning and evening.
Lower Pine Lake: Ice fishing is not recommended. Warm temperatures have deteriorated what ice was here and there is still significant open water on the west end of the lake.
Rice Lake: Ice thickness is 10 to 11 inches.Yellow Perch - Slow: Best bite is early morning and evening. You have to stay mobile to find fish.
Upper Pine Lake: Ice fishing is not advised.
Cedar River (above Nashua): Check ice depths often, especially where there is current. Flows remain high. Go with a buddy. Let someone know where you are going and when you will return. Backwaters have 4 inches of ice. Anglers are catching a variety of fish. Black Crappie - Fair: Use a small jig tipped with a waxworm or colored spike. Yellow Perch - Slow: Catch perch up to 10 inches on a waxworm. Bounce a jig off the bottom for fun action.
Cedar River (Nashua to La Porte City): Reports of anglers catching walleye on the river; most reports are from Bremer County. Walleye - Good: Anglers are catching walleye using lead heads and plastic baits tipped with or without a minnow.
Shell Rock River (Greene to Shell Rock): No reports this past week on the Shell Rock River, but walleye angling should be favorable.
Arrowhead Lake: Ice is around 4-5 inches thick in front of the boat ramp. Anglers are making their way out. Ice conditions have deteriorated since last week; use caution. Bluegill - Fair: Some bluegill have been picked up near the east shoreline. Find fish in submerged structure.
Black Hawk Lake: Ice thickness near the boat ramp at Ice House Point was 5-6 inches. Bluegill - Fair: Bluegills are being caught from open water under the inlet bridge out front of Gunshot Hill at the rock pile north of Cottonwood Point and from the fishing shelter off of Ice House Point.. Black Crappie - Fair: Crappie are being picked up from the open water under the inlet bridge. Yellow Perch - Fair: Catch perch under the inlet bridge and off the shoreline of Gunshot Hill. Walleye – Fair.
Black Hawk Pits: Ice is around 5 inches thick off of the boat ramp. There are areas of open water and thin ice in some areas near shore. Use caution and test ice thickness often. Bluegill - Fair: Use waxworms; sorting is needed. Yellow Perch - Fair: Try waxworms fished near the bottom.
Brushy Creek Lake: Ice conditions have deteriorated with the recent warmer temperatures and rains. Bluegill - Fair: A few bluegill have been picked up through the ice in the northeast arm of the lake with waxworms. Walleye - Fair: Walleye are being picked up near structure in the northeast arm using minnows and jigging spoons.
Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake): Ice is variable from 5 to 8 inches in most areas. Some areas have deteriorated during the warmer temperatures. Use caution if venturing out and check ice thickness often. Walleye - Fair: Use minnows and jigging spoons. Yellow Perch - Fair: Try waxworms and minnows.
East Okoboji Lake: Open areas on the south end of the lake. Some ice fishing activity observed.
Lost Island Lake: Ice conditions are variable; foot traffic only. Open water areas has capped over, but there is extreme thin ice in these areas.
Scharnberg Pond: Rainbow Trout - Good: Next trout stocking will be Jan. 19.
Silver Lake (Dickinson): Poor ice conditions continue; thin ice conditions on the east side of the lake.
Silver Lake (Palo Alto): Yellow Perch - Fair: Anglers report catching some fish from the lake.
Spirit Lake: Ice conditions remain variable. Foot traffic only is advised. 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. Bluegill - Good: Report of good numbers of fish being caught from the Anglers Bay area.
Trumbull Lake: Yellow Perch - Fair: Report of fish being caught from the lake; action is slow, but anglers will be pleased by the quality of the fish caught.
Upper Gar Lake: Limited ice condition continue; there are open water areas on the lake due to the flow.
Virgin Lake: Ice conditions are variable on the lake; foot traffic only is advised. Walleye - Good: Good numbers of fish averaging 16 inches are being caught from the lake. Yellow Perch - Good: Fish averaging 8 inches are being caught.
West Okoboji Lake: Ice fishing activity observed at Emerson, Little Emerson and the canals. Very thin ice on the main lake; no fishing activity observed on the main lake.
Decorah District Streams: Brown Trout - Good: Use larger flies or lures mimicking minnows. Rainbow Trout - Good: Fish near the bottom if no hatches are occurring. Use a weighted caddis stonefly or mayfly nymph. Brook Trout - Good: Try nymphs, emerger or aquatic bug patterns when hatches slow. Fish the calm area next to to a fast channel of water at the head of a pool.
Lake Hendricks: Ice depths average 7 inches. Use caution on ice. Open water around the aerator; keep away from the aerator. Bluegill - Fair: Early evening 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 is 5 to 6 inches. Check ice depths often, especially near springs. Caution recommended. The bite slowed earlier in week with the recent weather change. Bluegill - Good: Early evening is best. Use small teardrop shaped jigs tipped with waxworm in brush piles in 12-15 feet of water. Black Crappie – Slow.
Volga Lake: Ice fishing not recommended. An angler fell through the ice Dec.13. Edges are thin. Warmer weather this next week will weaken ice. Most activity is around the dock up from parking lot. Bluegill - Fair: Fish the brush piles.
Maquoketa River (above Monticello): Anglers have taken a few walleye on the Maquoketa River, mainly in Delaware County. Walleye - Fair: Anglers are catching walleye using lead heads and plastic baits tipped with or without a minnow.
Wapsipinicon River (Tripoli to Troy Mills): No reports this past week on the Wapsipinicon River, but walleye angling should be favorable.
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.