Clear Lake: Surface water temperature is 70 degrees. Walleye - Slow: Troll crankbaits in 6 to 10 feet of water. Channel Catfish - Good: Fish on the bottom with cut bait or crawlers after sunset. Black Crappie - Fair: Drift a jig and minnow over deeper submerged vegetation. Yellow Bass - Fair: Drift or troll a small jig tipped with cut bait or a minnow over the reefs until you find fish. Muskellunge - Fair: Fish the edge of the vegetation and near docks.
Beeds Lake: The park road will be closed Sept. 19th - 21st due to road construction; there will be no access to the boat ramp. Black Crappie - Fair: Drift fish or troll with a tube jig or small minnow. Yellow Bass - Fair: Drift fish or troll with a small jig. Shore anglers should fish a small piece of crawler or cut bait off the bottom.
Crystal Lake: Black Crappie - Fair: Drift or troll small tube jigs or a minnow in the dredge cut or on the edge of vegetation. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Use crankbaits.
Lake Smith: Black Crappie - Fair: Drift or troll a small jig or minnow in deeper near the outlet.
Cedar River (above Nashua): Water levels stabilized with improved clarity. Use caution when boating. Flows or current are still high. Visit the USGS Current Water Data website for current water level information. Walleye - Fair: A variety of baits are working; try a jig tipped with a minnow floated through an eddy. Channel Catfish - Good: The catfish bite is on; use chicken liver, stink bait or dead chubs.
Cedar River (Nashua to La Porte City): Channel Catfish - Good: Use crawlers, cut baits, dead minnows and stink baits. Smallmouth Bass - Fair: Try artificial lures near rocky shoreline areas. Walleye - Fair: Fish a jig tipped with plastic and crawler near the current breaks and bar drop-offs.
Shell Rock River (Greene to Shell Rock): The Shell Rock River received a fair amount of rain this past week; there have been no angling reports. Channel Catfish - Fair: Use stink baits in the top or upstream end of log jams.
Black Hawk Lake: Water temperatures are around 70 degrees. Water levels are 6 inches over the crest of the spillway. Bluegill - Fair: Use a small jig with a small piece of crawler fished under a bobber in 3-6 feet of water in Town Bay from the stone piers along Ice House Point, the dredge cut near Denison Beach and around the rock piles near Gunshot Hill Cottonwood Point and the East Basin. Walleye - Slow: Try leeches or crawler harnesses around Ice House Point, the dredge cut near Denison Beach, and around the rock piles near Gunshot Hill, Cottonwood Point and the East Basin. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Catch largemouth all over the lake using traditional bass lures. There is a 15-inch minimum length limit on largemouth bass in Black Hawk Lake. Channel Catfish - Fair: Use stink bait, cut bait, or crawler fished on the bottom along Ice House Point and in Town Bay, and along shore near the outlet. Yellow Perch - Fair: Use crawlers fished 3-4 feet below a bobber on the lake side of the inlet bridge and from the stone piers in Town Bay.
Brushy Creek Lake: There is a 15-inch minimum length limit on largemouth bass in Brushy Creek Lake, and a 40-inch minimum length limit for musky. Walleye - Fair: Use minnows and leaches in 15-20 feet of water. Yellow Perch - Fair: Find perch along the vegetation and deeper structure. Largemouth Bass: Catch bass along weed lines near shore just about anywhere with traditional bass lures. There is a 15-inch minimum length limit on largemouth bass in Brushy Creek Lake. Bluegill - Fair: Anglers are picking up bluegills in 15-20 feet of water.
Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake): Storm Lake has a daily limit of 3 walleye and all 17- to 22-inch walleye must be released; no more than one walleye longer than 22 inches may be taken per day. Walleye - Fair: Troll crankbaits or drift crawler harnesses on the edges of the dredge cuts around the lake in 6-10 feet of water. White Bass - Fair: Use crankbaits; most action has been from boat while fishing dredge cuts.
East Okoboji Lake: Yellow Bass - Good: Excellent bite continues with good numbers of fish being caught. Cast mini-jigs or hair-jigs or use small baits tipped with wigglers. Don’t overlook the evening bite from docks as these fish will move shallow at dusk. Walleye - Good: Numbers of fish are being caught with traditional baits; good numbers of yellow bass are mixed in with the catch.
Five Island Lake: Channel Catfish - Good: Numbers of fish are being caught trolling. Don’t overlook public areas to fish using traditional "cat" baits which will provide excellent action.
Lake Pahoja: Bluegill - Good: Recent surveys show good numbers of large angler size fish in the lake.
Little Sioux River (state line to Linn Grove): Channel Catfish - Good: Report of angles catching fish from the river.
Lost Island Lake: Yellow Bass - Good: Reports of yellow bass being caught with black crappie and yellow perch up to 10 inches mixed in the catch. Use small lures such as a twister tail or hair jigs. Bluegill - Good: Recent surveys show numbers of fish approaching 7 inches in the lake. Black Crappie - Good: Recent surveys show numbers of angler acceptable size fish up to 10 inches in the lake.
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Ocheyedan Pit 1: Channel Catfish - Fair: Recent surveys show good numbers of 17 -23 inch channel catfish.
Spirit Lake: Walleye - Fair: The fall walleye bite has begun with action improving. Yellow Perch - Good: Good numbers of angler acceptable size yellow perch continue to be caught in the outside line of the weed beds.
West Okoboji Lake: Bluegill - Good: Rock piles in deeper water with stands of aquatic growth will produce good numbers of angler acceptable sized fish.
Decorah District Streams: Brook Trout - Good: A variety of aquatic and terrestrial insects, like ants and beetles, are more numerous. Try small spinnerbaits and jigs tipped with twister tails work. Brown Trout - Good: Hendrickson caddis and cranefly hatches are occurring. Crickets are common along streams now. Use hendrickson gnat or beadhead nymph patterns. Pale yellow, black, brown, and grey colors work best. Rainbow Trout - Good: Try a piece of worm or small cheese chunk on a hook under a bobber in the deeper holes or floated past an undercut bank. A variety of small spinnerbaits work well.
French Creek: The bridge on Mays Prairie Road (CR X6A) is being replaced. Work is scheduled through mid-November. Access the parking lot from the south. Brown Trout - Good: The best time to fish French Creek is after rain events so fish will be less spooky. This stream rarely turns off color.
Lake Hendricks: Water temperatures are in the mid 60s. Black Crappie - Fair: Slowly reel a minnow on a hook over structure. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Try near submersed rocky habitat or depth contours in the early morning. Channel Catfish - Good: Use a large night crawler fished off the bottom near woody structure. Bluegill - Fair: Activity should pick up with cooler temperatures. Try a small jig tipped with small piece of worm off rocky shoreline or near submersed logs.
Lake Meyer: Lake clarity is slightly stained. Few people have been fishing. Bluegill - Fair: Use a hook tipped with a small piece of worm or cricket under a bobber near weed edges. Channel Catfish - Good: Try stink bait or cut baits fished just off the bottom in the evening. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Use topwater baits along weed edges on overcast days and late evenings. Black Crappie - Fair: Use a jig and minnow near submersed structure.
Osborne Pond: Osborne Pond is currently being renovated. The dam was breached in July and a water retention basin installed. Material will be removed over the winter and new habitat installed in the spring. After repairs to the dam are made, it will be allowed to fill. The pond will then be restocked with bluegill, channel catfish, and largemouth bass.
Turkey River (above Clermont): The Turkey River continues to fall and is off color. Flows remain high. Use caution when boating. Visit the USGS Current Condition website for more information. Walleye - Fair: Use minnows or lures imitating minnows in deep water drop offs
Volga Lake: Lake conditions are improving. Bluegill - Fair: Use a small jig tipped with a small piece of worm along rocky shorelines.Black Crappie - Fair: Slowly retrieve a lure over structure at dawn and dusk. Largemouth Bass - Good: Use topwater lures over structure or run a jig tipped with a twister tail along a rocky shoreline. Channel Catfish - Excellent: Use stink bait worms or cut baits fished off the bottom in the evening near woody structure.
Casey Lake (aka Hickory Hills Lake): Casey Lake is in good condition with clear water. Bluegill – Fair: Try fishing various depths with a piece of crawler under a bobber near the edge of weeds or structure. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Use topwater artificial baits.
Manchester District Streams: Delaware, Jackson, Dubuque and southern Clayton County streams are in excellent condition and are being stocked.
Maquoketa River (above Monticello): The Maquoketa River received a fair amount of rainfall this past week, but is falling quickly and clearing up well.
Wapsipinicon River (Tripoli to Troy Mills): The Wapsipinicon River received a fair amount of rainfall this past week; there have been no angling reports. Northern Pike - Good: Cast large bucktail spinners.
Photos: Big fish caught in North Iowa
Kathryn Barton - muskie
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.