“Once we had ice, everyone was scrambling to get out, just in case we had a repeat of 2012. Unfortunately, there was a bait shortage. Bait shops were cautious about getting in a large supply of wax worms and being unable to sell them like last year when the ice really never came,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau.
Last year, ice anglers had little opportunity to fish over much of the state with Iowa’s record warm winter. Many area bait shops opted for the wait and see approach this year to see if “normal” winter weather would return to avoid getting stuck with a large inventory of bait.
“At first ice, there were people driving 50 miles just to get wax worms,” he said.
The bait has arrived and the panic subsided.
“We have had consistent ice fishing reports for quality sized bluegills and crappies coming from across the state,” said Larscheid. “The winter trout stocking program has been really popular and we are seeing a lot of activity on lakes and farm ponds.”
The recent rain likely eroded some of the ice gained during last week’s cold snap. Anglers should be cautious when heading out and test the ice with a spud bar or auger frequently.
“We are about at the mid-point as far as the season goes, which means that the best fishing takes place around sunrise and sunset,” Larscheid said. “You may need to mix up your tactics a little, try some different depths to see what is working.”