Clear Lake: Ice thickness is 8 to 10 inches. Yellow Bass - Fair: Start shallow using a small jig or jigging spoon tipped with several spikes or a waxworm. You have to be mobile 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.
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 - Fair: Use small jigs tipped with waxworms in the evening. Black Crappie - Slow: Try small jigs tipped with a minnow in the evening. Yellow Perch - Slow: Lots of small fish are being caught.
Lake Cornelia: Ice thickness is 6 to 8 inches. Yellow Bass - Good: Lots of 6.5 to 7 inch fish are being caught.
Lower Pine Lake: Significant open water on the west side of the lake. Fishing not recommended.
Rice Lake: Ice thickness is 10 to 11 inches.Yellow Perch - Fair: Best bite is early morning and evening. You have to stay mobile to find fish. Walleye - Fair: Dead stick a minnow while you’re jigging for panfish.
Upper Pine Lake: Ice thickness varies from 1 to 4 inches. A few small bluegills are being caught.
Cedar River (above Nashua): Water levels rose almost 5 feet with last rain event. Ice fishing is not recommended. Black Crappie - Slow: Use a small jig tipped with a waxworm or colored spike.
Cedar River (Nashua to La Porte City): Reports of anglers catching walleye on the river; the river is starting to clear. Access should be good with the warming trend ahead. Walleye - Fair: 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; the river is falling. Access should be good with the upcoming warming trend.
Arrowhead Lake: Ice is around 5-6 inches thick in front of the boat ramp. Bluegill - Fair: Some bluegill have been picked up near the west shoreline. Find fish in submerged structure. Fish near the bottom with a small jig tipped with waxworm.
Black Hawk Lake: Ice is variable. Most angling activity has been restricted to the area near Ice House Point boat ramp and in the bay near the inlet bridge. Ice thickness off the boat ramp of Ice House Point was 7 inches. Bluegill - Fair: Bluegills have been picked up from open water under the inlet bridge and through the ice between the Ice House Point boat ramp and Gunshot Hill. Use a small jig tipped with waxworm. Black Crappie - Fair: Crappie are being picked up through the ice in between the Ice House Point boat ramp and Gunshot Hill in about 4-5 feet of water. Use a small jig tipped with waxworm. Yellow Perch - Fair. Walleye – Fair.
Black Hawk Pits: Ice was 5-6 inches thick off the boat ramp. Bluegill - Fair: Anglers have picked up some bluegill using a small jig tipped with waxworm fished near the bottom.
Brushy Creek Lake: Ice conditions are variable. Anglers have been restricted to the north boat ramp and the northeast arm, and the south boat ramp around the island where there are reports of 5-7 inches of ice. Expect areas of open water and unsafe ice near the beach, in the main lake and near inflows. Use extreme caution as mild temperatures over the next week can change these conditions fast.
Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake): Ice is variable with 6-11 inches. With predicted mild temperatures the next few days, these conditions can change. Walleye - Fair: Use minnows and jigging spoons. With water clarity around 5 feet, most action has been during low light conditions in 5-6 feet of water. Yellow Perch - Fair: Try waxworms in 4-6 feet of water in mornings or evenings.
East Okoboji Lake: Some ice fishing activity observed 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.
Lake Pahoja: Bluegill - Good: Report of good numbers of angler acceptable size bluegill being caught with large fish over 8 inches not uncommon in the catch.
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.
Scharnberg Pond: Rainbow Trout - Good: Next trout stocking is Jan. 19 at noon.
Silver Lake (Dickinson): Lake aeration system on the east side of the lake is operational as of Jan 3. Use caution; thin ice and open water is common in this area.
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. Bluegill - Good: Report of a mixed bag of bluegill and crappie being caught from the Anglers Bay and Hales area.
Trumbull Lake: Yellow Perch - Fair: Report of fish being caught from the lake; anglers are very pleased with the quality of the fish that are caught. Northern Pike - Fair: Report of fish being caught; use tip ups for the best action.
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: Report of anglers catching good numbers of bluegills.
Decorah District Streams: Flows are high with rain and snow melt. Brown Trout - Fair: Use larger flies or lures mimicking minnows. Rainbow Trout - Fair: Rainbow Trout spawning is near. Larger fish will move to headwaters to lay eggs. Use a weighted caddis stonefly or mayfly nymph. Brook Trout - Fair: Try nymphs, emerger or aquatic bug patterns when hatches are slow. Fish the calm area next to to a fast channel of water at the head of a pool.
Lake Hendricks: No motorized vehicles allowed on ice. Ice depths average 7 inches. Open water around the aerator; keep away from the aerator. Use caution on ice. Water is dirty from last week’s rain. 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 is 5 to 6 inches. Edges may get soft with warmer temperatures. Check ice depths often, especially near springs. Water is dirty from last week’s rain. Use caution. The bite remains slow. Bluegill - Slow: Early 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 fishing is not recommended. Use extreme caution; edges are thin. Warmer weather and precipitation will weaken ice. Bluegill - Slow: Fish the brush piles.
Casey Lake (aka Hickory Hills Lake): Areas of both good and poor ice conditions. Good reports of crappie and bluegill being caught. Find structure near the dam and in the cove areas. Bluegill - Good: Try various ice jigs tipped with a waxworm fished near brush piles. Black Crappie - Good: Try many ice jigs tipped with a waxworm at various depths as crappie may be suspended. Try fishing a dead stick with a live minnow and bobber.
Manchester District Streams: Trout streams are in excellent condition; angling could be really good with a bit of runoff. Trout can be more susceptible when water is just off color. Brown Trout - Good: With the recent warm trend, there should be good hatches on area streams.
Maquoketa River (above Monticello): No reports this past week on the Maquoketa River; the river is falling. Try the whitewater park for walleye with the beautiful forecast ahead.
North Prairie Lake: Use extreme caution on the ice with the warm forecast ahead. Rainbow Trout - Good: Try ice fishing jigs tipped with a waxworm. With the warm weather ahead, move often to many holes to find active fish.
Wapsipinicon River (Tripoli to Troy Mills): No reports this past week on the Wapsipinicon River; the river falling but still remains high and turbid.
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.