October 30, 2014 - 3:23 pm - Posted in Sports

Des Moines, Iowa —  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources issues a weekly fishing report on Thursdays in an effort to provide the latest information heading into the weekend. The weekly fishing report is compiled from information gathered from local bait shops, angler creel surveys, and county and state parks staff. For more information of fishing in northwest Iowa, call the Spirit Lake Hatchery at 712-336-1840.

 

NORTHWEST

 

Big Spirit Lake

Walleye – Fair: Cooler daytime and overnight temperatures have dropped the water temperature on Big Spirit. This shift has started to get fish more active and moving into the shallows.  Wader anglers fishing after dark will enjoy excellent catches; fish the traditional wader sites for the best action.

 

East Okoboji Lake

Channel Catfish – Good: Last week’s fish management survey of East Okoboji Lake reflected good numbers of large channel catfish sampled at the East Okoboji Lake beach area. Fish cut bait or any traditional catfish bait in this area will produce some excellent pole bending end of the year action.

 

Silver Lake (Dickinson)

Walleye – Good: With the drop in water temperatures Wader fishing action will increase with good numbers of fish harvested this fall. Excellent opportunities exist to catch that trophy walleye as reports of 10+ pound walleye is common from this lake in the fall. With the clear water, action will be best after dark.

 

West Okoboji Lake

Yellow Perch – Good: Reports of limits of small yellow approximately 7.0 – 8.0 inches being harvested from West Okoboji Lake.

 

October 21, 2014 - 1:13 pm - Posted in Sports

Des Moines, Iowa – Iowa’s Pheasant season begins Saturday and runs through Jan. 10. A harvest delayed by fall rain will give the birds plenty of hiding places on opening weekend.  As of Monday, 19 percent of corn and 61 DNR logopercent of the soybeans were harvested statewide.

The DNR will be busy releasing trout over the next several days. On Oct. 23, trout will be released at Petoka in Bondurant at noon and Big Lake in Council Bluffs at 3 p.m.; on Oct. 25 at Discovery Park in Muscatine at 10 a.m. and Wilson Lake in Fort Madison at noon. On Oct. 31, trout will be release in Ottumwa park pond at noon.

Anglers will need to have a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout.  The daily limit is five trout per licensed angler with a possession limit of 10.

Iowa’s trout fishing season is open year round.

Duck hunters had the late season open in the South Zone last weekend and this Saturday will open in the North Zone and the Missouri River zone. Canada goose hunting season is currently open in all three zones.

Hunters who need to satisfy the hunter education requirement can search for and sign up for a course at www.iowadnr.gov. Hunter Education – Online Registration is the top link under Popular Pages. Fall classes are limited and fill quickly so register today.

As of Tuesday morning, hunters have reported harvesting 10,207 deer during the 2014 seasons.  The archery deer season is open through Dec. 5, when it closes during the two shotgun seasons.

Trapping and fur harvester hunting seasons begin Nov. 1.

A favorable forecast will likely mean state park campgrounds will be near capacity again this weekend. The combination of fall colors and nice weather will postpone many from putting their camper away for one more week.

As a reminder, restrooms have been closed at most state parks for the winter. Hydrants are still on and portable toilets are available in the campground.

The high school team from Eddyville/Blakesburg was the winner of Indian Hills’ Culinary Arts competition using invasive silver carp as the key ingredient.

They bested teams from Burlington, Mediapolis, Fort Madison, Ottumwa, Cardinal and Mount Pleasant for a chance to earn a scholarship to the nationally recognized, award winning culinary arts program.

October 16, 2014 - 2:54 pm - Posted in Sports

Iowa DNRThe Iowa Department of Natural Resources issues a weekly fishing report on Thursdays in an effort to provide the latest information heading into the weekend. The weekly fishing report is compiled from information gathered from local bait shops, angler creel surveys, and county and state parks staff. For more information contact the Spirit Lake fish Hatchery at 712-336-1840.

NORTHWEST

Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake)

Channel Catfish – Fair: Catfish are being picked up using small to medium sized chubs.  White Bass – Fair: Some anglers have picked up white bass casting ripple shad.  Walleye – Fair: Anglers have picked up some slot fish and a few over the slot.  Try trolling #4 Shad Raps or casting blue and silver Kastmasters.  Recent sampling efforts have shown good numbers of harvestable size walleye from the Chautauqua jetty along the north shore/high banks and from the north end of Frank Starr Park on south to the inlet.

Clear Lake

Crappie – Slow: A few crappies mixed in with angler catches of yellow bass.  Yellow Perch – Good: Anglers have had action with a slip bobber and minnows around the Ventura jetties.  Walleye – Good: Boat anglers are trolling with crankbaits and picking up some walleyes. Anglers are picking up an occasional walleye on the Ventura jetties.  Muskellunge – Fair: A few Muskies are being caught by panfish anglers. Yellow Bass – Good: Tips of the jetties by Ventura are getting some action. Boat fishermen are drifting around the edges of the deeper water.

Little Sioux River (Linn Grove to Correctionville)

As of Oct. 16, discharge near Correctionville was 582 CFS, which is in the 76th percentile, and gage height 5.87 feet.  As of Oct. 16, discharge near the Linn Grove Dam was 248 CFS, gage height 15.74, and in the 62nd percentile.  Northern Pike – Fair: Some northerns are being picked up around the Linn Grove Dam. Walleye – Good: Reports are coming in of anglers catching good numbers of walleye around the Linn Grove Dam. Try small live chubs or soft plastics like ripple shads or paddle tail baits.  Anglers have been experiencing good walleye catches from Peterson all the way down to Washta. Target the deeper holes for best chances of success.

October 14, 2014 - 12:35 pm - Posted in Sports

Des Moines, Iowa — Hunters heading to the field for the opening weekend of pheasant season are encouraged to review safe hunting practices before they head out.

Megan Wisecup, hunter education administrator with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said hunters should get reacquainted with the techniques used to hunt pheasants – be sure to walk in a straight line and know where members of the hunting party are at all times, especially in low visibility areas like terraces, tall switch grass and standing corn.

“Go through the zones of fire with each member of the hunting party, talk about avoiding target fixation and swinging on game,” Wisecup said. “Wear plenty of blaze orange especially on the upper one third of your body. We are encouraging hunters to wear more blaze orange than the minimum required.  The goal is to be seen by other hunters.

“The top pheasant hunting incidents all are related to not being seen. The shooter swings on a rooster, the victim is out of sight of the shooter or the rooster flew between the shooter and the victim.”

Wisecup said safety also extends to the canine companions.

“Avoid low shots to prevent injuring your hunting dog,” she said.

“The hunting plan and safety practices are all part of a responsible hunt. The goal at the end of the day is for everyone to return home safely.”

October 14, 2014 - 12:30 pm - Posted in Sports

Des Moines, Iowa – Iowa pheasant hunters should see more of what they came for, as they step into the field this fall. More pheasants.

A strong rebound in August roadside counts of Iowa’s most popular game bird has buoyed expectations, heading toward the October 25 opener.

“It’s not the ‘good old days,’ but hunters will see noticeable improvement,” says DNR pheasant biologist Todd Bogenschutz. “We have the best pheasant numbers since 2008. People are telling me that more birds are flushing; that they are hearing more crowing and cackling out there.”

Counts this summer averaged 17.4 pheasants per 30 mile survey route, up 151 percent from last year’s 6.9…an all-time low. Of the nine regions monitored, eight had increases ranging from 102-290 percent. Only northeast Iowa showed no change.

Bogenschutz says drought conditions across the past two summers probably kept pheasants in the fields on August mornings, rather than pushing up to road edges, to escape heavy dew. That may have kept many from being tallied on the 200 gravel road routes surveyed. Hunters harvested 10,000 more pheasants in 2013, despite the record low counts.

So, where do you find them, on a fall morning?

“The best habitat will hold birds; good winter cover, good nesting cover, too. Hunters should be happy hunting those areas, over just decent nesting cover,” predicts Bogenschutz.  “Hunt around the best habitat, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Talk to the farmers where you will be hunting. Ask what they have seen while harvesting the crops.”

With a better bird outlook, the numbers of hunters should climb, too. Last year, only 41,000 pheasant hunters were in the fields.

“If word gets out of the early season success expected, we could see 60,000 hunters this fall,” predicts Bogenschutz. “We could have a harvest of 200,000 to 300,000 birds.”

Early in the season, standing crops are going to be a factor.

“Harvest is running a little behind. The season is starting a couple days earlier, too,” reminds Bogenschutz. “That could be a challenge for hunters, until the corn is out. Our counts were up; hens with broods were way up. There will be a lot of young roosters, who aren’t wise to the ways of the wild, yet.”

Hunting hours for Iowa’s pheasant seasons are 8 a.m. until 4:30 each day. The daily limit is three rooster pheasants. The season closes on January 10.

October 2, 2014 - 3:20 pm - Posted in Sports

Iowa DNRThe Iowa Department of Natural Resources issues a weekly fishing report on Thursdays in an effort to provide the latest information heading into the weekend. The weekly fishing report is compiled from information gathered from local bait shops, angler creel surveys, and county and state parks staff. For more information contact the Spirit Lake fish Hatchery at 712-336-1840.

Northwest

Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake)

We have received no information regarding fishing on this water body this week.

Big Spirit Lake

Yellow Perch – Fair: Anglers are starting to get into a bunch of small perch. Folks willing to sort through a considerable amount of small ones will find enough keepers to take home for a meal. Pilkis tipped with wigglers worked near the bulrush beds of Anglers Bay and off the north grade pier are producing the best action this week.  Walleye – Fair: Cooler daytime and overnight temperatures have dropped the water temperature on Big Spirit. This shift has started to get fish more active. Recent anglers pulling crankbaits near weed lines and across rocky points have been pulling a number of nice walleyes. The catch is still dominated by slot fish but a few keepers and lots of fun fishing is in store for folks hitting the water.

East Okoboji Lake

Yellow Perch – Fair: Pilkies tipped with red worms worked near rocky points have been producing a few nice perch. Be prepared to sort some small ones, but anglers can count on keeping some for the freezer.  Shore anglers – Anglers report yellow perch activity at the trestle between East and West Okoboji.  Action reported best in the morning and evening.  Yellow Bass – Good: Excellent action for this species exist this fall at the ample public access areas on East Okoboji Lake.  Use a worm with a spit shot fished on the bottom has produced the best action.

September 25, 2014 - 2:59 pm - Posted in Sports

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources issues a weekly fishing report on Thursdays in an effort to provide the latest information heading into the weekend. The weekly fishing report is compiled from information gathered from local bait shops, angler creel surveys, and county and state parks staff. For more information contact the Spirit Lake fish Hatchery at 712-336-1840.

Northwest

Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake)

We have received no information regarding fishing on this water body this week.

Big Spirit Lake

Northern Pike – Fair: Trolling crankbaits and spinner baits will get these aggressive fish interested. Work the outside edges of weed beds for the best action.  Smallmouth Bass – Fair: Smallmouth should start hitting on jerk baits and trolled crankbaits worked near rock piles. Walleye anglers are likely to come across a few of these hard fighters.  Yellow Perch – Good: Anglers are starting to get into a bunch of six inch perch. Folks willing to sort through a considerable amount of small ones will find enough keepers to take home for a meal. Pilkis tipped with wigglers worked near the bull rush beds of Anglers Bay are producing the most keepers this week. Walleye – Fair: Cooler daytime and overnight temperatures have dropped the water temperature on Big Spirit. This shift has started to get fish more active. Recent anglers pulling crankbaits near weed lines and across rocky points have been pulling a number of nice walleyes. The catch is still dominated by slot fish but a few keepers and lots of fun fishing is in store for folks hitting the water. Muskellunge – Good: Many quality fish have been seen in the past week. Big baits worked near weed beds might get you some action right now.

East Okoboji Lake

Yellow Perch – Good: Pilkies tipped with red worms worked near rocky points have been producing a few nice perch. Be prepared to sort some small ones, but anglers can count on keeping some for the freezer. Walleye – Fair: Action has started to pick up with the cooler temperatures in the area. Anglers with the best success are working the edge of weed beds with both live bait rigs and trolling crank baits. Yellow Bass – Good: Weed lines and structures are providing the best action to anglers who use small jigs tipped with live bait. This is a great chance to get some kids on ALOT of fish. Lots of sorting to be done, but a few keepers are mixed in.

Little Spirit Lake

Bullhead – Good: A number of anglers have been targeting these hard fighters in the past week with some success.

West Okoboji Lake

Smallmouth Bass – Fair: The cooler temperatures should have smallmouth moving around rocky points. Troll crankbaits or cast jerk baits to target these fish. Yellow Perch – Fair: Pilkis tipped with red worms or wigglers will get you some action on yellow perch right now. Work the openings in the weed beds with a slip bobber to target some nice keepers.  Walleye – Fair: Cooler temperatures has increased catch rates recently. Crankbaits trolled near outside weed edges and across rocky points have been producing some nice fish. Jigs tipped with shiners drifted across structure will also get you some hook ups. Yellow Bass – Good: Small jigs tipped with wigglers will get you some nice action. Catch rates are very high on small fish, but a few keepers will be mixed into the fray. Great opportunity to get the kids out for some fast action.

September 18, 2014 - 2:12 pm - Posted in Sports

Iowa DNRThe Iowa Department of Natural Resources issues a weekly fishing report on Thursdays in an effort to provide the latest information heading into the weekend. The weekly fishing report is compiled from information gathered from local bait shops, angler creel surveys, and county and state parks staff. For more information contact the Spirit Lake fish Hatchery at 712-336-1840.

Northwest

Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake)

The dredge machine is in operation on Storm Lake.  Boaters should use caution and stay clear of the dredge machine, booster pump barge, and pipeline.  Channel Catfish – Fair: Catfish have still been biting fairly good.   Use Sonny’s dip bait and fish overcast days to increase chances of success.  White Bass – Fair: No update for white bass this week, but last week shore anglers were picking up white bass with blue and silver 1/4 ounce Kastmasters and Mepps spinners.  Walleye – Slow: Anglers are still catching some walleye trolling, but they’re mostly slot fish.

Big Spirit Lake

Smallmouth Bass – Fair: Smallmouth should start hitting on jerk baits and trolled crankbaits worked near rock piles. Walleye anglers are likely to come across a few of these hard fighters.  Crappie – Fair: Anglers fishing from piers, docks and by boat near bull rush beds have been picking up a few small crappies using small jigs with plastic twister tails. Slip bobbers and a hook tipped with a small shiner should also work for folks. Yellow Perch – Good: Anglers are starting to get into a bunch of six-inch perch. Very few are angler acceptable size yet, but folks are having fun with them until they grow up a bit more. Walleye – Fair: Cooler daytime and overnight temperatures have dropped the water temperature on Big Spirit. This shift has started to get fish more active. Recent anglers pulling crankbaits near weed lines and across rocky points have been pulling a number of nice walleyes. The catch is still dominated by slot fish but a few keepers and lots of fun fishing is in store for folks hitting the water.

East Okoboji Lake

Yellow Perch – Good: Pilkies tipped with red worms worked near rocky points have been producing a few nice perch. Be prepared to sort some small ones, but anglers can count on keeping some for the freezer. Walleye – Fair: Action has started to pick up with the cooler temperatures in the area. Anglers with the best success are working deeper areas with both live bait rigs and deep running crank baits. Trolling across the deep ends of structure is producing a few nice keepers.  Yellow Bass – Good: Deep weed lines and structures are providing the best action to anglers who use small jigs tipped with live bait.

West Okoboji Lake

Smallmouth Bass – Fair: The cooler temperatures should have smallmouth moving around rocky points. Troll crankbaits or cast jerk baits to target these fish.  Yellow Perch – Fair: Pilkies tipped with red worms or wigglers will get you some action on yellow perch right now. Work the openings in the weed beds with a slip bobber to target some nice keepers.  Walleye – Fair: Cooler temperatures has increased catch rates recently. Crankbaits trolled near outside weed edges and across rocky points have been producing some nice fish. Jigs tipped with shiners drifted across structure will also get you some hook ups.  Yellow Bass – Good: Small jigs tipped with wigglers will get you some nice action.

Iowa DNRThe Iowa deer hunting tradition will be passed on to about 10,000 youths who are participating in the youth deer hunting season, which opens on Sept. 20. This season provides an opportunity to teach deer hunting, wildlife behavior, and safe hunting practices to resident youths while they are under the watchful eye of a licensed adult.

For many young hunters, this will be their first experience hunting deer, and mentors are encouraged to take the needs of the new hunter into account when planning the hunt.

The goal of the hunt should be a positive, enjoyable, and ethical experience, and harvesting a deer should be considered a bonus, not define the success of the hunt.

The youth season coincides with the disabled hunter deer season for hunters who meet certain criteria.  Each season runs September 20 through October 5.

Each youth must be under direct supervision of an adult mentor, with a valid license and habitat fee (if required).  The youth license is valid statewide.

An unfilled youth season tag may be used during the early or late muzzleloader season or one of the two shotgun seasons only. That youth must follow all other rules specified for each season. However party hunting with a youth tag is not allowed. A deer must be harvested by the youth with the tag. However, that tag holder may obtain deer tags for other season, just as any other hunter can do.

The youth deer season usually has mild temperatures and biting insects.  Hunters should be prepared in case they youth harvests a deer by bringing bags of ice to cool the deer cavity and by having a locker that can accept the deer for processing.  Last year, more than 10,000 youth hunters reported harvesting 3,300 deer and nearly 300 disabled hunters reported harvesting 120 deer.

All deer taken must be reported using the harvest reporting system by midnight the day after the deer is recovered. Harvest reporting is a very important part of the deer management program in Iowa, playing a vital role in managing deer populations and hunting opportunities.  Hunters can report their deer on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov, by calling the toll free reporting number 1-800-771-4692, or at any license vendor.

September 16, 2014 - 12:10 pm - Posted in Sports

Iowa DNRWith Iowa’s bow season just days away, hunters are in the final stages of preparation; adjusting tree stand locations, cutting shooting lanes, or ‘just’ scouting those early season deer habits.

Tops in that preparation? Staying safe above the ground. Talking with bow hunters, it’s surprising how many have slipped, fallen or had to ‘jump’ the last few feet to the ground. Add to that, the fact that Iowa’s two hunting fatalities in the last two seasons involved not firearms, but bow hunters falling. With upwards of 50,000 of them in Iowa, it is a hazard that can be eliminated with a little forward thinking.

To play it safe, consider a couple staples.

“Bring friends when you install your tree stand,” urges Dave Giese, Hawkeye Wildlife Area shooting range officer in Johnson County. He recently coordinated an Archery Safety Day there. “Once up, make sure it gets anchored. Have a harness to raise your equipment. Don’t carry your bow up or down.”

Once on stand—your first move should be to secure your safety harness to the tree.

“A safety harness is an absolute necessity. You are just asking to fall out of a tree if you don’t have one,” warns Mark Powers, of Cedar Rapids, a 25-year bowhunter. “There are just too many situations where you’re moving your feet, moving your body, changing things around. You have to be safe.”

Basically, follow the ‘three point rule.’ Your hands are two points of contact. Your feet are two more. To safely climb, you need three points of contact.

Purchase a stand made by a supporting member company of the Treestand Manufacturers of America (TMA), and it includes a basic harness. In fact, safety harnesses—over each shoulder and adjusted at both thighs—are overshadowed now by safety jackets; easier to put on and which spread the pressure, should you fall. Some have a telescoping-type strap between you and the tree, which lessens fall impact or even lowers you to the ground.

“It’s the concept of ‘where are you most vulnerable?’ As bow hunting has become more popular, there are more products. Many are just, ‘Hey, this would solve that problem,’ thought up by bowhunters themselves,” explains Roger Mildenstein, longtime bowhunter and owner of Fin & Feather Outdoor Store in Iowa City. Among more recent safety features is a pair of heavy-duty plastic sleeves, over anchor spikes. By sliding the legs of a tree stand ladder into them, it creates a ground-based ‘hinge’ to easily set the stand into place.

Other products range from a lineman’s type belt, allowing you to lean back with your hands free to attach and climb sectional ladders…or a hoist to hold a stand in place as you strap it in. They become that ‘third point’ of contact; allowing you to tend to the details, when on high.

Probably the best safety advice? Communicate.

“Plan ahead. Let someone know where you are; what time you expect to be home, what stand you will be in that day,” urges Giese.  “If you do end up with an issue, people have an idea of where to look for you.”

 Youth, Disabled Hunter Seasons

Saturday will find thousands of young hunters in stands or posted along field edges or funnel points in the woods. As Iowa’s Youth Deer hunting season opens, a bow, shotgun or muzzleloader can be used…with the requirements specific to the season, such as blaze orange clothing. Last year, about 10,000 young hunters took part.

Each must be under direct supervision of an adult mentor, with a valid license and habitat fee (if required).  The youth license is valid statewide. Additionally, a couple hundred disabled hunters will be active across Iowa. Each season runs September 20 through October 5.

An unfilled youth season tag may be used during the early or late muzzleloader season or one of the two shotgun seasons ONLY. That youth must follow all other rules specified for each season. However party hunting with a youth tag is not allowed. A deer must be harvested by the youth with the tag. However, that tag holder may obtain deer tags for other season, just as any other hunter can do.