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Dog training tips for flushing dogs and how to bring them along

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here are the articles:

Raising the Young Cocker

(A series of articles by Mike Gilpin)

This is the first in a series of articles in which I'll share some of my experiences and approaches to bringing along a young Cocker, from puppyhood through 7 to 8 months of age or so. The impressions you make on your new pup, from the time you get him or her home, through these early life stages will be lasting ones. They should be the right ones otherwise they may be difficult to erase. However, you start with a distinct advantage, you are replacing pup's mum as the new centre of pup's universe. Don't lose this advantage! Your new pup will naturally want to be with you. We can use this desire to start some basic training without any pressure, just think of it as guiding the pup. I use a clicking voice or similar sound to attract pup's attention and then as the pup comes bounding in to me I can introduce my voice command for recall, in my case 'back 'ere. These are a Yorkshireman's words, so just use whatever voice command you decide upon for recall. But choose it and stick with it. In short order we can include our recall whistle along with the recall voice command. Just remember, there is nothing formal about these sessions, we are harnessing the young pup's desire to be with you as the training vehicle to instill the recall command. These sessions should be short and sweet. Five minutes is plenty long enough and they should be away from distractions. This includes fellow family members!

In my next article I'm going to write about the importance of cementing the retrieving instinct in Cockers. Nearly all Cockers have an all consuming passion to hunt, sometimes (later on in life) to the detriment of their desire to retrieve. This is why I consider retrieving 'training' to be such an important part of the young pup's upbringing. I deliberately put the word 'training' in quotes because we will 'guide' the young dog to become a perfect retriever. Kindness is what will bring us results with our youngster, no different to the correct approach towards our own children who are just starting out in life.

One final note as it relates to retrieving. No toys for your new pup. I'll talk about the reasons why in my next article.

©Copyright Michael Gilpin 2008. All rights reserved.

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Raising the Young Cocker

[A series of articles by Mike Gilpin]

This is the second in my series of articles in which I share some of my experiences and approaches to bringing along a young Cocker, from puppyhood through 7 to 8 months of age or so.

I concluded last week's article by saying "no toys for your new pup." Why? The reason is that we don't want our young pup to engage in retrieving on his/her own terms. Our young pup will have a natural instinct and desire to "retrieve" and carry these toys, but to whom and/or where? There can only be one pack leader and that must be you. We don't want to provide our pup with opportunities to retrieve toys to other family members, or, if nobody is around, to stockpile the toys in pup's basket or the laundry room or under the bed. You must be in charge of your new pup's retrieves in a setting without distractions.

I like to use a variety of retrieving articles for my pups. I think that mixing up the retrieves helps keep it interesting and stimulating for a young pup. I always make sure that the articles are lightweight. I use a knotted up large handkerchief, small rabbit skin dummy, a couple of regular canvas dummies (of the British sand filled variety) which I have lightened up for pups, and finally the tried and trusted tennis ball. Because of a dog's instinct to chase the rolling tennis ball always provides strong stimulation for these early retrieves. Later on, I'll talk about using that same rolling tennis ball to simulate "foot scent" as we start to assess and develop our pup's hunting instinct.

There is a strong likelihood that when you first try your new pup on a retrieve, he/she will bring it right back to you. "Wow" you will say, "what a brilliant natural retriever!" If this continues, then fantastic, count your good fortune. More than likely you will find that as your new pup becomes comfortable with you and his/her new surroundings, there will emerge a much more confident animal and with that confidence will come some retrieving challenges. Circling around you with the retrieve, running off with the retrieve to some far away territory and, since these are Cockers, perhaps burying the retrieve to save it for another day. We don't want to fight this behavior or attempt to correct the pup whether with voice or otherwise; remember we are dealing with a young pup, let's say 8 to 16 weeks of age,. We need a solution that will guide the pup towards the retrieve we want to instill, namely to retrieve directly to hand. I am not speaking of a polished delivery, just pup bringing the retrieving article back to you. To achieve this goal I make use of a retrieving alley. The principle of the retrieving alley is simple, it is to prevent the dog from being able to divert, circle or do other bad things with the retrieve. It will instill delivery of the retrieve to you. Retrieving alleys come in a variety of flavors, it could be an upstairs or downstairs hallway (remember to close all doors!), a path bounded on each side by a "fence," be that a real fence, stonewall or really thick hedgerows which a young pup will not seek to penetrate. If you are not fortunate to have a natural retrieving alley, then think about constructing one with some cheap fencing. The retrieving alley has a very specific purpose and its use, at this stage of training will be for a limited duration. Later on, as we move into the field, I'll talk about other ways in which we can promote the delivery to hand.

Make sure that the pup is not intimidated when bringing back the retrieve; get down on your knees to pup's level to take the retrieve. Look over the top of pup's head, don't stare directly into the eyes, we want pup to have total confidence when coming into you. Don't snatch at or grab the pup but let him/her come into you with the retrieve. Don't immediately take the retrieve from the pup, let him/her hold on to it for 30 seconds or so while you give some verbal praise. We don't want to immediately take away pup's prize possession and thus create a reluctance to bring it back to you.

You always want these sessions to be successful, so never overdo the number of retrieves. I am often happy with one really good retrieve. I never do more than three. If you overdo it, you run a serious risk that your pup will become bored with retrieving and the original zest and enthusiasm may be lost.

Just a reminder stemming from last week's article. When you take your pup out for his/her short (5 minutes or so) daily sessions, always make yourself the center of attention and interest for your pup. We must stimulate the pup to want to be close to you, for you to be the focus and not have pup deciding to go off investigating or running around on his/her own terms. Use a kind encouraging voice to achieve this end; remember we are "guiding" at this stage; not engaging in formal training. You will continue to work on the recall command, in the way I described in last week's article and you can do this as a prelude to your short retrieving session. When you're done, relax with your pup, allow some free running and play time but always maintain yourself as the center of attention, keeping pup with you.

Between 8 -16 weeks of age, my goal, with no pressure or formal training, is to instill a recall command and a reliable delivery to hand. In my next article I'm going to write about using the retrieving instinct to start to teach a young dog to hunt but at the same time continuing to cement his/her retrieving.

©Copyright Michael Gilpin 2008. All rights reserved.

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Raising the Young Cocker

[A series of articles by Mike Gilpin]

This is the third in the series of articles in which I share some of my experiences and approaches to bringing along a young Cocker, from puppyhood through 7 to 10 months of age or so.

The focus of these first three articles is about cementing the retrieving desire of our young pup. We want this retrieving desire to "override" the desire to hunt when, down the road in our training, we are sending our young dog out to retrieve the real thing amidst the temptation of other game scent. To this end, this third article will talk about how I use retrieving exercises which provide the retrieve but also bring out the pup's natural hunting instincts without the distraction of game or strong game scent. This means we must choose a location for this training which is free from game and/or strong game scent which may take our pup's focus off retrieving. This part of the pup's training will tell us a lot about the drive and determination of the pup. I deliberately make no use of clip wings or any other form of game stimulation during these early months. My best dogs are always the ones that, even after extensive experience on game, are as happy to retrieve a dummy or a tennis ball as they are the real thing. I firmly believe that this is achieved by delaying exposure to game until the dog is one thousand per cent solid on its retrieving, basic obedience, steadiness to thrown dummies and rudimentary ground work. This is simply a training approach which works for me. I'll discuss these various other components of training in later articles.

Now, back to our young pup which, by now, should be retrieving reliably to you on retrieves that it has seen in "full view." Next we want to see what happens when we obstruct that view a little and ask our pup to retrieve from light cover. We want success, so choose light cover, free from game scent, and set up so that the pup goes into the wind to make the retrieve. I kneel down, cradle the pup in my arms and let him/her see me throw the dummy into light cover. I restrain the pup momentarily before I release him/her for the retrieve. Our rabbit skin dummy is almost camouflaged behind the white grass!

Don't make this a monster throw of the dummy into the cover. The objective is to have our pup succeed every time. Extend the distance gradually as your pup gets comfortable with retrieving from cover and using his/her nose to come up with the retrieve if they don't nail the mark. And, here comes that pup, back with a rabbit skin dummy, almost as big as her!

Initially one of two things is likely to happen. Some pups will nail the mark. If they do then great, they won't do it every time, especially as we extend the distance of our throw. Others won't nail the mark, but look what happens if they don't. Thanks to that retrieving desire you have cemented over the past 2 months, your pup will have a determination to make the retrieve and will start to hunt and use his/her nose to come up with it. Just savor their animation as they get the first whiff of scent on the dummy or tennis ball and watch their action as they locate the retrieve and bring it to you. Initially, because the retrieve is short, virtually every pup is going to make the retrieve with a short hunt and locate.

As you extend the distance of the retrieve, you will note that some pups will hunt for their retrieve with greater determination than others, they just won't quit until they come up with the dummy. Others may hunt vigorously for a while but then show indications that they may be quitting. We want them to succeed; so now is the time for you to quickly intervene to assure their success. Get in another dummy or tennis ball close to the area they are working but without pup seeing you. That is your challenge! We want to instill confidence in the not so determined youngster.

As with all training the maxim is a little but often and be careful to increase retrieving distances gradually. You want to see your pup hunt for the retrieve but you want him/her to succeed. The monster retrieves can safely be reserved for later in life.

Once you have a determined youngster who can regularly hunt up his/her retrieves, you can introduce a more challenging mini memory retrieve for your pup. To accomplish this I hold the youngster in my arms and let him/her see me throw the dummy into cover. Continuing to hold the pup, I then turn my back on the throw and walk away, only a few paces initially. I then put my pup on the ground (facing away from the retrieve) and watch him/her turn and race back for the memory retrieve. You can then gradually increase the distance when your pup shows you that they can routinely handle the initial mini memory retrieves.

You will find that these exercises tell you a lot about your pup's hunting abilities. I make a lot of use of tennis balls, simply because they have a small scent cone and they roll, thus providing some ground scent. (Let new tennis balls sit in your jacket pockets for a while before you use them, you want them to carry some scent). For me, it is truly exciting to see a young pup catch the scent of the retrieve and then watch him/her as they work out the location and bring it back to you. These moments will give you a glimpse of the desire, determination and style of your future prospect.

Next time I'll tell you how I introduce the pup (somewhere in the range of 6 - 9 months) to its first lessons in more formalized basic obedience training.

©Copyright Michael Gilpin 2008. All rights reserved.

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By: Dennis N. Joannides

Hunting quail in Arizona can be tough on both the hunter and dogs. Conditions tend to be very dry, the terrain is usually covered in sharp rocks or shale, the temperature heats up quickly, and the Gambrels quail would rather run than fly. Mearns quail present another challenge as they tend to hang out on the north facing slope of steep rocky drainages. This means lots of side hilling for the hunter with dogs having to run up and down hills. Couple this with a few winged-tipped birds and you can wear out a dog in a hurry.

Initially, I use to hunt my dogs one at a time until they were exhausted. I soon found that having to go back two miles up and down canyons to where I left the car and my other dogs was not a good answer--as I would be to worn out along with the dog. Paul McGagh had been working with my dogs and I mentioned I would like to have them at heel so I could work one at a time without going back to the car. He often tethered one dog to his game vest when he was training and he suggested I give it a try. While it worked okay in training, I found it wasn’t practical for actual hunting conditions. I decided to give it a go without the tether, but by constantly having to verbally remind the dogs to stay at heel I was scaring off game.

I have three dogs who are all of different temperament. One is independent, tough as nails, and can take whatever you dish out; the second, always wants to please, is even tempered, and can handle correction; and the third is very sensitive, so I handle her with kid gloves. I needed a way to get the dogs to mind without verbal correction and without destroying the eagerness to hunt. The last thing I wanted was a dog who was going to be underfoot and wouldn’t get out. I own a Dogtra e-collar that has a vibrate mode. This enabled me to quickly teach all of the dogs to stay at heel with minimum verbal and virtually no shock correction. I rotated the collar between the dogs as needed. Two of my dogs only needed minimal correction, while the more independent one performs best when wearing it on a permanent basis, albeit without correction

Having solved my problem of keeping the dogs at heel I was now able to rotate in a fresh dog when the dog hunting, was exhausted. This worked and fixed the problem of the long trip back to the car, but the actual hunting results were not much better. I decided to change and rotate the dogs as soon as the one hunting either started not listening to my whistle, slowed down, or no longer ran a good pattern. I also began sending dogs at heel for retrieves, while leaving the dog who flushed the bird at hup. This not only produced better results in the field, it kept each dog fresh and created a greater eagerness on the dogs at heel knowing they would be rotated in more quickly. I have used this technique in working all types of game and have found it equally effective. I think it teaches patience as well as develops greater competitiveness and self confidence.

This spring I did not have any birds to use for training before the trials. The Gambrels quail hunting was basically finished before Christmas and I didn’t get another chance to hunt Mearns in January, so my dogs had not seen a bird since before Christmas and I was going to running trials in California and Colorado in March. By using the same technique when training as I did for hunting I got some great results. Running dogs dry can sometimes curtail their enthusiasm, this was never the case when working multiple dogs. They ran hard and I was able to toss dummies and alternate the dogs being sent on the retrieve.

I no longer train one dog at a time. I feel I get more quality work out of running multiple dogs at the same time. It teaches patience, builds self confidence, improves conditioning, increases desire and makes them better markers. It is also easier on me as I am about to celebrate my 69th birthday. Paul McGagh has taken this to another dimension when he takes his two hour walks with 30 dogs at heel and I will let him tell you more about that in a future article.

So, if you want to get more out of your training sessions and hunts, try working multiple dogs at the same time. I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • be nice if they were back in St. Cloud...  I liked that place....
    • I caught one in a live trap couple years ago. Personally I'd try to rid yourself of them.
    • I grew up with purple Martin's. They seem to like power lines nearby. They eat all sorts of bugs. The diving never bothered us.  As far as the neighbor, I'd have said something.
    • This was my experience, may be completely different than others. I put up a house in my back yard, less than 40 feet from my house, pole was about ten feet tall. Had to remove a lot of sparrow nests until the martins found it, but I did have martins move in. They were beautiful to watch fly for sure. Unfortunately they would dive bomb anyone that came anywhere near, maybe with a taller pole that would not happen? They would fly silently up behind you, then squawk right as they went past. I knew I would not put up the house the following summer when I saw my neighbor, who was working on his boat in his driveway, swinging his landing net at one that was diving at him. From watching them, they would mainly catch dragonflies to feed to the young ones. By the time the mosquitos came out at dusk, the birds were all done flying, so they did not help with mosquitos. This was just my experience. A lot of people have houses and enjoy them, my guess is that if the pole was higher maybe the birds would not see people as a threat. I still have the house, if I ever move to a lake I will try it again.
    •   Yep you are right. I did go to the Sportsman's warehouse up in Anoka and St Cloud when they were here. 
    •   I think you are thinking of Sportsman's Guide- they are in south st. paul,  Sportsman's warehouse was in Woodbury.
    • NORTHWEST Arrowhead Lake
      Ice is 12 inches thick. Black Crappie - Fair: Use minnows or waxworms on a jig in areas with structure anywhere from 10-15 feet deep. Bluegill - Fair: Catch keeper size bluegills with a teardrop jig tipped with a waxworm fished near structure.  Bacon Creek Lake
      Rainbow trout were stocked on Jan. 27th.   Black Hawk Lake
      The winter aeration system is on in Town Bay. Expect areas of thin ice and open water in Town Bay. Ice thickness is around 15 inches off of Ice House boat ramp. Bluegill - Fair: Use a teardrop jig and waxworm fished off the bottom near Ice House Point and Gunshot Hill, the rock pile off of Gunshot Hill, and the rock pile off Cottonwood Point. Anglers have had luck fishing waxworms in 8 feet of water in the dredge cuts in the east basin. Some sorting is needed. Walleye - Fair: Use a spoon and minnow fished on the rock piles off Cottonwood Point and in the east basin. Low light hours and after sunset are best.  Black Hawk Pits
      Ice is around 10-12 inches thick. Bluegill - Fair: Try a small jig tipped with waxworms fished near the bottom.  Brushy Creek Lake
      Use caution, conditions are variable - drill test holes often and expect less ice near inflows, in the main channel, and near trees. Walleye - Fair: A few walleye are being picked up with jigging spoons and a minnow head. Low numbers, but most are bigger fish with some over 25 inches. Bluegill - Fair: Decent numbers of bluegill catches reported with waxworms on a teardrop jig. Some sorting is needed. Black Crappie - Fair: Use a minnow on a jig fished near structure in 10-15 feet of water.  Moorland Pond
      Rainbow trout were stocked on Jan. 20th. Use small tube jigs tipped with bait or live minnows under a bobber.  Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake)
      Most ice is around 16-19 inches, but there are variable conditions near shore - some areas of shoreline had open water within the last couple weeks so use caution. Walleye - Fair: Use rattle spoons and jigging spoons with a minnow head in 8 feet of water on the edges of the old dredged area in the west end. Most of the action is at the west end of the lake off Casino Beach, Frank Starr, and College Island. Yellow Perch - Fair: Some perch have been picked up while targeting walleye. Black Crappie - Fair: A few crappies are being picked up while fishing for walleye.  Most lakes in western Iowa are maintaining 10-18 inches of ice. For more information, contact the Black Hawk District office at 712-657-2638. Blue Pit
      Trout are still being caught. Fish near the pier with small jigs tipped with live bait. Rainbow Trout – Fair. Clear Lake
      Ice thickness is 17-20 inches. Avoid areas near the aerators. Ice heaves have made access on the lake difficult in spots.Yellow Bass - Good: The bite has picked up. Use light tackle and be mobile to stay on fish. The best bite is still at dawn and the last hour of light. Walleye – Fair: Try jigging spoons and minnow heads near the island. The best bite is still at dawn and the last hour of light. Yellow Perch - Fair.  Crystal Lake
      Ice thickness is 17-20 inches. Avoid areas near the aerators. Black Crappie - Slow: Use a small jig tipped with spikes or a minnow head near the edge of the dredge cut. Bluegill - Fair: Try a small jig tipped with spikes near the edge of the dredge cut.  Rice Lake
      Ice thickness is 17-21 inches. Avoid areas near the aerators. Walleye - Slow.  Silver Lake (Worth)
      Ice thickness is 17-19 inches. Avoid areas near the aerators.   For information on the lakes and rivers in the north central area, contact the Clear Lake Fish and Wildlife office at 641-357-3517.  East Okoboji Lake
      Yellow Bass - Good: Yellow bass action is picking up; fish traditional sites and move often to find active fish.  Five Island Lake
      Walleye - Fair: Ice anglers have had good pole bending activity with numbers of fish harvested. Yellow Bass - Good: Action has picked up, good numbers of fish have been harvested; fish the dredge cuts for the best action. Black Crappie - Good: Incidental catches by yellow bass anglers reflect bonus numbers in the creel.  Ingham Lake
      Use caution; thin ice conditions around the aeration system. Walleye - Fair: Walleye action has slowed; persistence will be rewarded with a good catch.  Lost Island Lake
      Yellow Bass - Good: Good numbers of fish are being caught; fish the Stoney Point area for the best action. Walleye - Fair: Numbers of fish are reported from Lost Island Lake; change tactics with the changing weather conditions. Yellow Perch - Fair: Some yellow perch and black crappie are being caught by anglers fishing for yellow bass.  Minnewashta Lake
      Bluegill - Good: Report of bluegill being caught; sorting is needed. Anglers are also catching crappie and yellow bass mixed in the bite.  Silver Lake (Dickinson)
      Use caution; thin ice conditions around the aeration system.  Silver Lake (Palo Alto)
      Walleye - Fair: Ice anglers report catching walleye; best bite is during late day. Yellow Perch - Fair: Fishing action has been very variable; ice anglers are catching nice size perch.  Spirit Lake
      Limited access to the lake.  Trumbull Lake
      Yellow Perch - Good: Persistent and patient anglers will be rewarded with good numbers of yellow perch 12 inches and larger in the creel. Northern Pike - Good: Action has picked up; anglers are harvesting northern pike from the lake.  West Okoboji Lake
      Bluegill - Good: Bluegills continue to be fussy; persistence and patience will be rewarded with good numbers of fish caught. Reports of improving water clarity. Northern Pike - Good: Good numbers of fish up to 36 inches are being caught. Tip-up action will improve in the next few weeks.  For more information throughout the week, contact the Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery at 712-336-1840.  NORTHEAST Cedar River (above Nashua)
      Ice conditions may change fast with warmer temperatures. Backwaters have about 20 inches of ice. Use caution when going on ice. Check ice depths often. The bite is variable. Bluegill - Slow: Find fish in slack water out of current. Stumps, brush piles, and deep holes hold fish. Use small jigs tipped with spikes or waxworms. Black Crappie - Fair: Find fish in 8-10 feet water. Use minnows, waxworms, and multi-colored spikes on a teardrop shaped bladed lure.  Decorah District Streams
      Current water clarity is marginal. Weekend clarity will depend on precipitation type and amount. Streams with better watersheds will clear quicker. Slack water in deeper holes may freeze, but should melt in the afternoon With a slower bite, use bigger flashier flies and lures. Parking lots on wildlife management areas are not plowed. Use care when parking along the road. Brook Trout - Fair: Midges hatch all season. Try wholly buggers or a flashy fly for a hungry brookie. Brown Trout - Good: Afternoon melt water should turn on a brownie. Insects will hatch on sunny afternoons. Use small midge patterns. With off color water, try a flashy spinner or fly. Rainbow Trout - Fair: Drift a feathered spinner, crankbait or a hook tipped with worm along an undercut bank.  Lake Hendricks
      Ice thickness is at least 24 inches with snow. Water is stained yellow. Few anglers are out. Anglers finding habitat will find fish. Open water around the aerator. The bite has slowed. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the ice. Black Crappie - Fair: Move around to find fish. Use a small jig tipped with a minnow head. Bluegill - Fair: Use small jigs tipped with waxworms or spikes around structure.  Lake Meyer
      Ice thickness is about 24 inches ice with variable amounts of snow. Water is turbid. Afternoon bite is best. When the bite slows, move to a different spot. Few anglers have been out.  Bluegill - Slow: Use small jigs tipped with spikes or waxworms. Black Crappie - Slow: Key in to brush and dangle a small jig about a foot or two above the stems. Volga Lake
      Ice thickness is 20+ inches topped with melted snow. Water is stained. Afternoon bite is best. Black Crappie - Slow: Drop your lure about 3 feet above structure and watch them swim up to the bait. Use small teardrop shaped jigs tipped with spikes or waxworms. Bluegill - Slow: Fish around structure in 14-16 feet water about a foot off the bottom.  Expect a wintry mix of precipitation this weekend. Temperatures warm slightly through the weekend with mid 30s by Sunday. Most stream clarity is marginal at best with current runoff activity. For current fishing information, please call the Decorah Fish Hatchery at 563-382-8324.   We have not received any reports this week. Ice edges are getting soft and the bite has been slow; anglers are not getting out. Call the N.E. Iowa district office at 563-927-3276 for more information. MISSISSIPPI RIVER Mississippi River Pool 9
      River level at Lansing has bumped up to 8.2 feet. Backwater ice is variable with around 2 feet; use caution accessing the ice as shorelines and sloughs may become unsafe with warmer weather. Ice cleats may be needed as snow disappears. Walleye - No Report: Access to tail-water areas is difficult with large areas of ice flows. Black Crappie - Slow: Occasional crappie being caught in just 2-4 feet of water just under the ice. Yellow Perch - Good: Late ice can be a good time for perch fishing with some of the larger fish being caught this time of year. Sauger - No Report: Use jig and minnows fished off the bottom in the tailwater areas and deeper side channels. Bluegill - Fair: Ice anglers are catching bluegill. Use small teardrop jigs tipped with waxies in 4-5 feet of water with no current. Northern Pike - Fair: Use tip-ups baited with shiners along the edges of deeper cuts with vegetation. Largemouth Bass - Good: Both rod and reel and tip-up anglers are catching several 15-18 inch bass using red spike waxies through the ice.  Mississippi River Pool 10
      River level at Lynxville has risen to 15.8 feet and may rise slightly over the next week. The tail-water at Lynxville is still iced in. Backwater ice is variable with around 2 feet of ice; use caution accessing the ice as shorelines and sloughs may become unsafe with warmer weather. Ice cleats may be needed as snow disappears. Late ice can be good fishing on Bussey Lake. Avoid the boat ramp area as ice is not stable. Park along the south side of causeway road and walk down. Walleye - No Report: Access to tail-water areas is difficult with large areas of ice flows. Yellow Perch - Good: Late ice can be a good time for perch fishing with some of the larger fish being caught this time of year. Bluegill - Fair: Ice anglers are catching bluegill.  Use small teardrop jigs tipped with waxies in 4-5 feet of water with no current. Northern Pike - Slow: Use tip-ups baited with shiners along the edges of deeper cuts with vegetation. Black Crappie - Slow: Occasional crappie being caught in just 2-4 feet of water just under the ice. Largemouth Bass - Good: Both rod and reel and tip-up anglers are catching several 15-18 inch bass using red spike waxies through the ice. Mississippi River Pool 11
      River level at Guttenberg has risen over a foot to 8.1 feet and may rise slightly over the next week. Backwater ice is variable with around 2 feet of ice; use caution accessing the ice as shorelines and sloughs may become unsafe with warmer weather. Boat ramps at Guttenberg are still locked in ice, but may recede in the coming weeks. Black Crappie - Slow: Occasional crappie being caught in just 2-4 feet of water just under the ice. Yellow Perch - Good: Late ice can be a good time for perch fishing with some of the larger fish being caught this time of year. Bluegill - Fair: Ice anglers are catching bluegill. Use small teardrop jigs tipped with waxies in 4-5 feet of water with no current. Northern Pike - Fair: Use tip-ups baited with shiners along the edges of deeper cuts with vegetation. Largemouth Bass - Good: Both rod and reel and tip-up anglers are catching several 15-18 inch bass using red spike waxies through the ice.  Upper Mississippi River levels are rising with rains and the breakup of local tributaries. Most ramps are still iced in and areas below the dams covered in ice flows. Warmer weather and runoff have fish more active. Backwater ice is variable with around 2 feet of ice. With thawing snow, shorelines and areas with current may become weak or unsafe; use caution.  Mississippi River Pool 12
      Water levels are stabilizing at 8.7 feet at the Dubuque Lock and the RR bridge is 11.4 feet. This is up several feet from last week. Ice fishing is treacherous with open water now formed along the edges of most backwater areas. Mississippi River Pool 13
      Water levels are stabilizing at 12.4 feet at Bellevue. This is up several feet from last week. Ice fishing is treacherous with open water now formed along the edges of most backwater areas.  Mississippi River Pool 14
      Water levels are still rising and are 9.4 feet at Fulton, 12.4 feet at Camanche and 6.7 feet at LeClaire. This is up nearly five feet from last week. Ice fishing is treacherous with open water now formed along the edges of most backwater areas.  Mississippi River Pool 15
      Water levels are still rising and are 12 feet at Rock Island. This is up five feet from last week. Fishing has been non-existent after the big rain event.   The River changed dramatically this week due to the heavy rainfall on frozen ground. The River rose from 3 to 5 feet throughout the district. Ice conditions changed considerably and tailwaters are somewhat open for boat launching, but the water clarity is poor. Ice fishing will be tough with open water near shorelines. If you have any angling questions, please contact the Bellevue Fisheries Station 563-872-4976.  Mississippi River Pool 16
      Tailwater stage is 10.68 feet at Lock and Dam 15 in the Quad Cities and is rising. Tailwater stage has risen close to 5 feet since Monday. Current forecasts have the tailwater stage reaching 11.7 feet. Unsafe ice conditions with the recent rain, warm weather, and rising river levels.   Mississippi River Pool 17
      Tailwater stage is 9.6 feet at Lock and Dam 16 in Muscatine and is rising. Tailwater stage has risen close to 5 feet since Monday. Tailwater stage is forecasted to reach 10.9 feet by the weekend. River stage at Muscatine is 11.7 feet and forecasted to reach 12.7 feet. The ramp and parking lot at Big Timber is closed due to flooding. There are unsafe ice conditions due to recent rains, warm weather, and rising river levels.  Mississippi River Pool 18
      Tailwater stage is 12.18 feet at Lock and Dam 17 at New Boston and is rising. Tailwater stage has risen close to 6 feet since Monday. The current forecast has the tailwater stage reaching 14.7 feet. Flood stage is 15 feet. Unsafe ice conditions due to recent rains, warm weather, and rising river levels.  Mississippi River Pool 19
      Tailwater stage is 7.90 feet at Lock and Dam 18 above Burlington and is rising. Tailwater stage at Lock and Dam 18 has risen close to 5 feet since Monday. River stage at Burlington is 12.95 feet and forecasted to reach 14.9 feet. Flood stage at Burlington is 15 feet. Unsafe ice conditions due to recent rains, warm weather, and rising river levels. River stages have been on the rise this past week with the recent rains and warm weather. Water clarity is poor. Tailwater fishing for walleye and saugers has been slow. There are unsafe ice conditions with the recent rains, warm weather, and rising river conditions. If you have questions on fishing Pools 16-19, contact the Fairport Fish Hatchery at 563-263-5062. SOUTHEAST Big Hollow Lake
      Unsafe ice conditions. Lake Belva Deer
      Unsafe ice conditions. Lake Darling
      Unsafe ice conditions. 60 degrees and rain on Monday. 43 degrees and rain on Monday night into Tuesday has ruined what ice was left. Last couple of days of colder weather has refrozen open water, hiding the bad spots.  Lake Geode
      Drained for renovation work scheduled for later this year.  For more information on the fishing at the above lakes and rivers, contact the Lake Darling Fisheries Office at 319-694-2430. Central Park Lake
      The lake is drained for the renovation project that is going on now.  Coralville Reservoir
      The lake is holding at winter pool of 683.4 feet. Ice conditions are deteriorating with the runoff and increase in flow. Water clarity is poor.  Diamond Lake
      There is open water around the lake and ice conditions are not safe.  Grundy County Lake
      There is still 12 inches of ice, but the edges may be getting soft by the weekend.  Hannen Lake
      There is 10 feet of open water around the edges. Ice fishing is not recommended.  Iowa Lake (Iowa Co.)
      There is open water around the lake;  ice conditions are not safe.  Kent Park Lake
      The lake is drained for the renovation project that will take place next winter.  Lake Macbride
      The lake edges are either open or soft. You need a plank to access most areas. The remaining ice away from the shore is 6-8 inches in most areas, but use caution. There have been a few anglers around the main ramp, under the highlines, across from the beach, and on the south arm. A plank may be needed to get on. Some people have been walking off the boat rental docks; use caution. Bluegill - Fair: Use a jig/waxie around any brush or deeper rock. Size is marginal at best as these fish top out at 7.5 inches. Black Crappie - Fair: It is day to day on good catches. Some days have been good and others are slow. Fish over deeper wood or stumps or look for suspended fish over the deeper basin with a jig/waxie.  Otter Creek Lake
      The edges are soft and open in some areas. The remaining ice is reported as about 8-10 inches. There was an angler out yet on the 21st; use caution.  Pleasant Creek Lake
      The lake is still 8.5 feet low from the restoration project. The lake came up some with the runoff, so shorelines are bad and accessing the ice may be extremely difficult. The remaining ice may be fishable; use caution.  Rodgers Park Lake
      There is 6 feet of open water around the edges of the upper end. The lower end is a little better. Ice fishing is not recommended.  Sand Lake
      Ice fishing is not recommended. Union Grove Lake
      The edges are soft and open in places. The aeration hole is very large.  Wapsipinicon River (Troy Mills to Oxford Junction)
      Ice conditions on the river and backwaters are not safe.  Most of the smaller lakes are unsafe to ice fish. Some of the larger lakes have decent ice, but the edges are soft or open; use extreme caution. For more information, contact the Lake Macbride Fisheries Station at 319-624-3615. Lake Miami
      Unsafe ice conditions. Getting on the ice is not recommended.  Lake Sugema
      Unsafe ice conditions. Getting on the ice is not recommended. Lake Sugema is about 25% open water and Tug Forks West is open.  Lake Wapello
      Unsafe ice conditions. Getting on the ice is not recommended.  Rathbun Reservoir
      The current lake level is 903.19 msl. Normal operating elevation is 904.0 msl. Lake Rathbun has zebra mussels, so make sure to properly drain, clean, and dry equipment before transporting to another water body. The ramps at the Rathbun marina are closed for the season and all the campgrounds are closed. Unsafe ice conditions. The main lake has areas of open water. Getting on the ice is not recommended.  Red Haw Lake
      Unsafe ice conditions. Getting on the ice is not recommended.  Unsafe ice conditions across the district. The district includes Mahaska, Lucas, Wayne, Monroe, Appanoose, Wapello, Davis and Van Buren counties. Contact the Rathbun Fish Hatchery at 641-647-2406 with questions about fishing in south central Iowa.   SOUTHWEST Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake
      Rainbow Trout - Good: Use spoons or small panfish jigs tipped with waxworms or live minnows. Trout tend to swim the perimeter, so set up close to shore in 3 to 10 feet of water.  Big Creek Lake
      Black Crappie - Fair: Anglers fishing mid-lake, generally out from the beach area and marina area in 25 to 35 feet of water are finding a fair crappie bite.  Des Moines River (Saylorville to Red Rock)
      Walleye - Fair: Anglers are catching fair numbers of walleyes below the Saylorville spillway slowly fishing jigs tipped with twister tails and/or minnows.  Don Williams Lake
      Black Crappie - Fair: Anglers are catching crappies suspended 10-15 feet down in 20-30 feet of water in the late afternoon and evenings. Midday they are also being found shallower near sunken habitat in 10-15 feet of water. Two size ranges are being caught. Expect to fish through many 5-7 inch fish for the 9-10 inch fish.  Hickory Grove Lake
      Bluegill - Good: Catch 7-8 inch bluegills over brush piles and suspended in deeper water. Move around to stay on active fish. Black Crappie - Slow: Most anglers are finding the crappie fishing to be slow, but when fish are caught the size is good. Crappie catches have been mostly limited to dawn and dusk.  Lake Petocka
      Rainbow Trout - Good: Trout were stocked Feb. 10th. Fish the perimeter of the lake with small panfish jigs and jigging spoons tipped with waxworms.  Ice thicknesses in Central Iowa are staying in the 8 to 14 inch range with some edge deterioration from rain runoff. For more information on Central Iowa lakes and rivers, contact Andy Otting or Ben Dodd at 515-432-2823.
        Lake Anita
      Ice has started to deteriorate on the main lake. Use extreme caution. Bluegill - Fair: Bluegill fishing is best in the afternoon. Catch fish up to 9.5 inches. Black Crappie - Fair: Best bite is late afternoon and after dark. Fish will average 9 inches.  Littlefield Lake
      Anglers report 6 to 8 inches of ice and fair fishing. Use extreme caution this week as ice will start to get soft and be unsafe. Bluegill - Good: Fishing is good around the cedar tree piles for bluegills up to 9 inches. Morning and late afternoon bite is best. Be prepared to sort for larger fish. Black Crappie - Slow: A few 10 to 12 inch black crappies are being caught around the tree piles.  Prairie Rose Lake
      Prairie Rose still has fishable ice, but it will start to deteriorate this week. Bluegill - Fair: The best bluegill fishing has moved to the morning bite. Fish will average 8.5 inches. Black Crappie - Slow: Black crappie become active just before dark. Fish are 9.5 inches.  Lakes and ponds in the southern part of the district are unsafe to fish. Use extreme caution; ice will start to deteriorate this week. For more information, call the Cold Springs District Office at 712-769-2587.
    • Little bit of an ugly win last night but two points is two points, Stalock was pretty incredible too, so close on that empty netter. Time to crush the rangers and get a little winning streak going here. 
    • Please delete if not allowed.
      Retriever Training
      Have a opening in April. First time taking clients. I train my 3 labs 5-6 days a week all summer and also run a few hunt test's. Would like to make it a full time job. Prefer to take on dogs with good prey drive and a willingness to please, I will be choosie on what dogs I will take with a one week trial period free of charge. Can do everything from obedience to Master level dogs. Your dogs will be kept in outside kennel runs on concrete. Please contact me for details. Located in Squaw Lake, MN. 218-553-0176
    • Is this a lug nut wrench?....Maybe.