Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Coach1310

An Autumn Tradition

Recommended Posts

I have posted this before, but since we are coming up on a huge tradition in MN with rifle season right around the corner, I figured I would throw it up again. I am no professional, just enjoy writing stories from time to time. I am hoping to add a chapter per day until Rifle Opener.

An Autumn Tradition

Chapter 1: Suburban Ritual

A glorious pink sky serves as the backdrop as I load the truck with the last of my gear. A cool fog hovers over the holding pond just down the street. Its waters covered with the panoramic reflection of fall colors. A nice piece of set aside land required to be left by developers years back. I’m sure this area was once a wooded, swampy haven to the many critters of Minnesota’s outdoors, but now it serves as paradise for split levels, minivans, sprinkler fed lawns and a glimpse of years past. As much as it bothers me to see that set aside swamp and wonder what might have been, I’m thankful it’s there. It allows a bit of respite in this urban chaos. A place to watch the birds, listen to the frogs and lose oneself, if only for a moment while daydreaming about a flock of geese setting their wings or that bruiser buck materializing from the brush. It allows us to feel everything that is right with the world. A journey back in time when life was slower and we were more in tune with nature and its beauty.

As the last treestands are placed in the truck, I hear the “thwack” of the doggie door and watch Shooter emerge with a little less ambition then yesterday. As I watch her survey the sights and smells of the neighborhood, I can’t help but wonder where the time went. It seems like yesterday, she was just a pup that you couldn’t stop playing with and now an aged dog, who watches a rabbit hop along the neighbor’s fence. She turns, without giving the rabbit the satisfaction of beating her in another race and finally notices I am loading the hunting gear. Immediately the wag of the tail turns to that of the puppy she once was.

Like all of us, many things get harder as we age, but certain things seem timeless. There are traditions that continue no matter the age or circumstance. We may not hike as far or hunt as hard, but we cherish the moments even more than we once did. The body may not be up for the same battles, but the spirit endures the passion for this time honored pursuit. As I double and triple check everything and open the door for Shooter, I can’t help but think of the many times we have done this before.

It’s early October and time to head up to the ‘ole Shack to make sure she is still standing, fight off the mice and enjoy a few days of peace and quiet. It’s a ritual of sorts. One that must take place for us to enjoy a tradition, so dear to our hearts, we can’t imagine life without it. A tradition we experience with friends and family, that cannot be explained, but must be experienced. It isn’t just something we do, but something that is a part of us. This isn’t just any, old tradition. This is an autumn tradition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chapter 2: Just as it was

The old wood door still “creeeeeeeeeeks” just as it did the day Dad and Uncle John installed it. That is the beauty of projects at the shack, perfection isn’t necessary or expected and actually not even preferred. Sure, we probably wouldn’t alert every creature within a couple of miles of our arrival if we fixed it, but that’s part of the mystique. The long oak table, sits, dust covered along the makeshift counter with a 4 burner cook top. The old pots and pans hanging from the shelf like they did in the old lumber camps of years ago. The window above the washtub/sink sits closed and unbroken like it has for over 40 years. It hasn’t opened in 20, but no one really cares. There’s a small dark spot on the floor next to it, like there has been since ’95. That pesky little leak in the roof, that we’ll get to someday. The eight bunks line the east and west walls and remain undisturbed since a season ago. The old wood stove, sits astute in the middle of the cabin flanked by an old sofa and two chairs that serves as the [PoorWordUsage]-ing hub of the place. The few racks worthy of keeping, hang undisturbed with 10 years worth of dust on them, but sure to be used as hat and coat hangers for the next couple of months. Although, one rack, old number seven, hanging off to the left, won’t be used as a hanger, just like it hasn’t for the last 30 or so years.

Old number seven was Grandpa’s buck. The story varies from year to year, but the important thing is, the story is still told and will always be told. It had a deformed rear leg and was passed on for 5 or 6 years, out of pity I guess. It was back in ’68 or ’69 that old number seven met is match. It was around high noon on the last day of the season and old Gramps was just settling in for his midday nap that he supposedly never took! He loved to sit all day and take in the sights and sounds of the woods. He never missed a chance to wander out to one of his favorite fallen trees, have a seat and take it all in. Well, Grandpa’s nap wasn’t to be that day as a “snap”, the same snap that gets all hunters hearts racing, pulled him out of his long blink and there appeared old number seven. He just stood there, staring at Grandpa, with that withered rear leg, his old gray hide and spindly, meager rack. Just stood there, soaking in the idea that he had caught the old hunter off guard yet again who was lounging back, with his gun on the ground. He gave a respectful nod and trotted off. The cat and mouse game took place all afternoon with old number seven popping out here and there, with Gramps never quite ready. At sunset, old number seven lumbered into the opening and stood there and just stared Gramps down. At first, Gramps decided not to take the shot. He decided the buck had done enough to earn his freedom. The cat and mouse game a true show to the superior skills of this buck. As the story goes, old number seven had different ideas. After a while, he walked on a string to 20 yards and stood broadside. It was at that moment that Gramps decided his time had come. It was if old number seven knew his time was running short and wanted nothing more than for Gramps to harvest him. Unbeknownst to us at the time, that would be Grandpa’s last season too. It was if two legends were going out together, one last hurrah. Another special memory to add to those of seasons past and a story to tell for many seasons to come. Each camp has stories like it and are immeasurably special to those of us that understand their meaning. While standing there, alone in the shack you I get the sense that Gramps is here with me, helping me understand what it all means and beaming with pride knowing I understand how much it all means. Yeah Gramps, I understand and Old number seven did too.

After dusting of old number seven’s rack and recording my arrival in the old thick log book, I began unloading gear with thoughts of what is really out there this year. The woods look the same as it has for as long as I can remember. A mixture of pine, aspen a few oak ridges, a big cedar swamp and some pieces of tangled mess no man would think of trying to venture through. It isn’t a picture postcard wildlife paradise with lush river bottoms and shimmering blue ponds. It is however, hunting paradise to me. Just the thought of heading out to see what’s about is enough to speed up the unloading. Not to mention Shooter running around like a 5 year old chasing chickadees just to stay busy while peering back at me with that “aren’t you done yet,” look. Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m excited too. There is really nothing like that first walk of the year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chapter 3: Timeless in Nature

The aspens are already the brilliant yellow portrayed in thousands of calendar type images every year. I never seem to get used to seeing that splash of color in a place usually reserved for drab greens and browns. As Shooter and I make the bend by the old Bear’s Den, I can’t help but remember the first time I made this walk. I think it was ’70 or ’71. I was wide eyed and bushy tailed just to be there. My first trip to the shack and I couldn’t control my excitement. I was so happy to be there, I can’t remember seeing anything. I was too busy feeling good about being considered one of the guys. I wasn’t able to hunt or anything, but I was part of the group. I was a “man,” or so I thought. I ran through the woods scaring every creature off the 120 acre tract of land that fine October day. I couldn’t tell a deer track from a bear track. I’m not sure I knew the difference between and pine tree and an acorn, but I was there. I was soaking in that first experience. I was doing what my father had done 30 years before. I was becoming part of the tradition, part of the sacred venture we all anticipate every year. As I meander down towards the cedar swamp, I can see the old rub line from last year. A bunch of young cedars still scarred by the rut filled buck who thrashed them to shreds last year. I never had the luxury of seeing that buck, but his tracks seemed pretty evident each morning on the same trail I used to get to my stand. A mature buck can be like a fugitive on the run. You know they exist and you know some of their habits, but you can’t seem to put your finger on that one mistake. Or when they do make that one mistake, you aren’t there to capitalize. The more I think about it, the more I understand why they call pursuing them a “manhunt.” As a law enforcement officer, I’ve been in on a few, but the humans are never as cunning as mature whitetail. Humans are too quick to give in to temptation and be consumed with distraction. Sure, whitetail bucks go nuts for a few weeks a year, but you have to catch them in their backyard. You don’t have the luxury of pursuing where you have the advantage. Their movements, calculating and efficient. Always thinking survival and instinct. Moving under the cover or darkness and taunting us with evidence they leave behind. Sure, some slip up each year and find themselves hanging over fireplaces all over this great land, but many remain. They carry on the mystique of those gone before them, much like we as hunters do. A ongoing circle where everyone or everything has a place that someday will be taken by another. As the thought brings me back to Gramps, Shooter flushes a grouse and almost gives me a heart attack! While watching the grouse glide away, I notice the shiny orange and yellow in a mass of brown. A nice fresh rub. The kind of rub that makes every hunter dreams of thick, long tines. A little further ahead, another and another. These aren’t on 4 inch saplings either. These are shredded trees the size of fence posts. As I admire on of the rubs, there below it I see a track. It sure looks like the same track as last year. A couple inches longer than any other track you’ll find out here. The track of a legend. The track of a buck, never seen or heard, but always around, always lurking.

The old cedar swamp holds that legend somewhere among it. As I walk the oak ridge overlooking the swamp, I wonder if he’s looking up at me. I know he’s out there somewhere. A place so secure and impentetrable he has no worries. Even if I went in after him, he’d here me coming the second I enter. Not to mention the standing water and ankle breaking terrain I would have to cover to get there. It’s a place you find everywhere in Northern Minnesota. A place where man has had no choice but to leave it alone. A place that maybe the Native Americans once walked, stalking game to provide for their tribe. A place where the creatures are no different then they were a 100 years ago. A place void of progress and evolution. A locale where dollars and cents mean nothing and the laws of mother nature rule supreme. It’s a place we all hold special. We’ve all had that thought when out and about of what living off the land would be like. Would we be able to survive? Do we have what it takes? Maybe we do and maybe we don’t, but as I descend the ridge and spot the old shack, it really doesn’t matter. I may never live off the land, but I’ll always come here to try and be a part of it. As I open the door to the shack, the old “cccrrreeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkk” is drowned out by the blaring of a horn. I don’t even have to turn and look. I can tell by the decrepit sound of the horn and the chugging of the truck, that old Uncle John is here. And so begins another rite of fall, the tales of exaggeration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i really enjoyed this...... "one more deer for dad" is a great short story that was in Deer and Deer Hunting mag a year or so ago. So good!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tales of Exaggeration

“I remember back in ’86 when it took me half a day just to get to the shack from the road. I think we got over a foot of snow that day and the wind was howling and it was snowing so hard I couldn’t see the outhouse.” The entire time Uncle John rambles on with the story I can’t help but think of what it really was like that day. It probably took him 30 minutes to get from the road to the shack because he probably slid off the driveway a couple times and had to get out and “lock ‘em in.” We probably got a solid 3 inches of snow that day. I wasn’t up here that weekend, but without checking official weather data, I’m sure my approximation is closer to reality than John’s. Even though he likes to “exaggerate” I can’t fault him for it. Like any good story, the more you tell it, the better it gets. To keep it fresh you have to add extra details to “dress” it up a bit. Every deer camp has a hundred stories just like it. The small forkhorn that eluded a young hunter on his first hunt, that turns into a “booner” by the time the weekends over. The days when the old timers used to hike in 10 miles and drag the 300 lb bucks out by hand, when we really know that they shot a lot of deer from the logging roads and spent most of their time getting their stories straight! Oh, tales of exaggeration are just part of deer camp.

As the fire crackles in the wood stove, John continues rambling about this big buck and that missed opportunity. There was the “Phantom of ’77.” As John would say, “he was a moose of a buck. Huge body, probably over 300 lbs. Had a rack solid like a moose. You could hear the brush busting from 100 yds away.” This buck had a part missing on one of his hooves, so his tracks were easy to distinguish. I’m not sure on all the details, but the real story ended when my Uncle Tom, harvest a nice 9 point with a funny antler on one side. Instead of sweeping up and out, the deer just had a mass of antler hanging with a few points on it. It was a neat buck, but when Uncles’ Tom and John were dragging it out that day back in November of 1977, it was during a short break, that Tom noticed a small piece of the left rear hoof missing. Tom instantly knew what it meant, he had shot the “Phantom.” He didn’t have the heart to tell old John and to this day, he doesn’t know, but my Dad relayed the message to me years ago and I’ve hung onto it ever since.

Its those “pieces” of deer camp and the tradition of the pursuit that are so special. The characters like Uncle John. A big, burly former Marine who talks little about the past 40 years of his life, but relives those precious moments as a young “Stud” as he likes to say chasing girls while in the service, like a buck chases a doe during the rut. The stillness of the woods on a dark, November morning with snowflakes slowly falling and shadows emerging. The laughter around the fire as the stories of the past are told. The “crack” of a rifle to break the silence of an autumn afternoon. The rustling of leaves as a squirrel fights for the last of the acorns. They are all pieces of the world, when on their own, mean something, but when encompassed in the realm of Deer Camp, mean a whole lot more to many of us. Just like the stories of Big John.

“So what’d see out there today,” John snaps me back to the present. “Well, I found evidence of some deer at least and there was a nice rub line started near the one from last year down by the cedar swamp. The tracks look huge like the set from last year.”

“Well, maybe we’ll actually get a shot at him this year,” John says. “It would be a shame for him to disappear like the Phantom did.”

Yeah, John it would be shame. For stories like the Phantom to not exist and for the tales of Big John to not be told. “Well, son I think I’m gonna turn in. Maybe tomorrow we can find a few of those illusive grouse for lunch,” John says. “Sound like a plan Uncle John.”

As we settle in the bunks for a night of restless sleep, I can’t help but think of the season that lies ahead. It is still a few weeks away and it will feel like years while I wait for it to get here, but in a flash it will be gone. We will always have the memories of seasons’ past, but those memories seem to few and too far between. Maybe that is why they are so special? It is because they are so few? Is it because the opportunity we have to chase these creatures is much like it was hundreds of years ago? I’m not really sure. I’d venture to guess the reality lies somewhere in the middle. Well, wherever it lies, I’m just glad it lies. For even though we may exaggerate a story or two or two hundred, there is no exaggerating what this tradition really means.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

great read...I think a lot of deer camps are the same but with different characters.

I do think that some of the "legends" are actually even made up on purpose. I know that when my nephews started hunting I made up a legend based on a deer track that we continually saw that was very big but also kind of goofy shaped. Heck, it could have been a scrubby racked deer that had big feet but it's the legends that can fuel the fire to keep hunting on those days that it sounds like everyone is getting shots at deer and you are watching squirrels.

I'm glad we all hunt with characters and the guys we hunt with probably think we are one of the goofy characters too!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for feedback. The hunting, nature, passion, tradition and characters are what make deer camp, deer camp!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  



  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • That sucks! 
    • Seen this one Saturday morning. Forgot to look both ways before crossing the road.
    • Oh I thought the armature was toast.  Yeah I'd maybe sink $25 bucks at it.   This isn't your t motor but I think they are all pretty much the same down there.   I realize after looking again I thought that was the back end of the armature.  I think that is a bearing.  Deep creep and some tapping.  
    • It doesn't appear that the armature is corroded at all but the brushes were corroded enough to make them stick and the end of that shaft is pretty scummy. If that is a bearing it is seized tight.
    • That actually looks like one of the seals to me.  It doesn't make sense to have a bearing there.  It should slide right off if I remember right. It's been a while.   There are exploded parts diagrams all over the internet.   I tend to agree that if it's all rusted up inside there you might be wasting your time.
    • Anyone seeing bucks or getting trail cam pics?
    • Taken this morning with my phone.... Never have the good camera when I need it!
    • NORTHWEST IOWA FISHING REPORTS Arrowhead Lake Bluegill - Fair: Cast a small jig fished under a bobber near submerged structure along shore in 5-10 feet of water. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Cast traditional bass lures near submerged woody structure throughout the lake and along weed lines in the southern part of the lake.  Black Hawk Lake Yellow Perch - Slow. Largemouth Bass – Fair: Cast traditional bass lures and plastics along shore. You can catch fish anywhere around the lake, but some of the best areas are Ice House point shoreline, inlet bay and bridge area near the outlet, and along Gunshot Hill. Walleye - Slow. Channel Catfish - Fair:Try cut bait, dip baits or crankbaits fished near shore. Bluegill – Fair. Brushy Creek Lake Surface water temperatures are around 75 degrees.  There is around 10 feet of water clarity. Black Crappie - Fair: Use a small piece of crawler or minnow on a jig either drifting or fished under a bobber near submerged woody structure. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Throw traditional bass lures, plastics or weedless lures near submerged structure and along weed lines. Yellow Perch - Slow. Walleye – Slow. Bluegill - Fair.  Channel Catfish - Fair: Brushy Creek Lake has a low-density population of larger channel catfish. Target these larger fish near shore with rocky structure using a variety of cut baits and crankbaits. North Twin Lake Water temperature is in the mid-70's. Yellow Bass - Fair: Use a small jig tipped with a piece of crawler or waxworm fished under a small bobber in 3-6 feet of water near shore. If fishing from boat, you may need to move around to stay on top of fish. Yellow bass are 6-10 inches long. Channel Catfish - Fair: Channel catfish are numerous in North Twin Lake. Use cut baits and crankbaits near shore with rocky structure.  Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake) Water temperatures are in the mid-70's. Water clarity is 3-5 feet. 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: Anglers have had luck in the main lake drifting with leeches or crawlers along the dredge cuts and trolling crankbaits. Yellow Perch – Fair: Pick up perch along shore in the marina and north and east shores. White Bass - Fair: Pick up white bass from shore and in the main like while trolling. Use twisters, crawlers or crankbaits in the marina, near the inlet and north and east shores in the main lake. Channel Catfish - Fair: Channel catfish are abundant in Storm Lake. Try a variety of dip baits, cut baits and crankbaits fished near shore. Water temperatures are in the mid to upper 70's in the Black Hawk District. For more information, contact the Black Hawk District office at 712-657-2638. Beeds Lake Bluegill – Good: Use a small piece of crawler under a bobber near the shore. Black Crappie – Slow. Yellow Bass – Fair. Clear Lake The water temperature is in the upper 70's. Walleye - Good: Anglers are catching walleyes drift fishing a jig and crawler near vegetation. Try slip bobber fishing a leech or crawler on the rock reefs. Yellow Bass – Slow: The best bite is at first light. Channel Catfish - Good: Float a crawler under a bobber along a rocky shoreline. Boat anglers should try bouncing a jig and crawler on the rock reefs. Crystal Lake Black Crappie - Fair: Drift fish a minnow or small jig near the dredge cut. Largemouth Bass - Good. Bluegill - Fair: Try a small piece of crawler under a bobber near the shore. Lake Cornelia Bluegill - Fair: Channel Catfish - Fair: Try a frog fished along the rocky shoreline. Lower Pine Lake Popular fishing spots get crowded in the afternoon; arrive early to avoid crowds.  Don’t park along the west side of the highway.  If the boat trailer parking lot is full, try Upper Pine Lake. Bluegill - Good: Shore anglers are catching good numbers of 4 to 7 inch fish. Black Crappie – Fair. Largemouth Bass – Good. Channel Catfish - Fair: Try a crawler or live bait near the spillway. Upper Pine Lake Bluegill - Good: Shore anglers are catching good numbers of 4 to 7 inch fish. Largemouth Bass – Good. Black Crappie - Fair. For information on the lakes and rivers in north central Iowa, contact the Clear Lake Fish and Wildlife office at 641-357-3517.  East Okoboji Lake The walleye season is open. The water temperature is 71 degrees. There is a great panfish bite that is moving further out into deeper water post-spawn. Bluegill – Excellent: Large schools are moving into the shallows to bed and can easily be caught around hoists and docks. Black Crappie – Fair. Yellow Perch – Good: A good open water bite has started to pick up. Lake Pahoja Bluegill - Good: Use small jigs tipped with waxworms. Black Crappie - Good: Try small jigs tipped with waxworms. Largemouth Bass - Good: Use rubber worms or other slow moving jigs. Lost Island Lake Yellow Perch – Fair. Walleye – Fair. Silver Lake (Dickinson) Walleye – Good. Spirit Lake The walleye season is open. A great walleye and yellow perch bite has been seen lately with many yellows over 10 inches being caught. The water temperature is 76 degrees. Bluegill - Good: Schools are starting to move deeper off shore post-spawn. Walleye - Good: A fairly good bite lately can also be seen from shore. Try bottom bouncers or crankbaits to cover more water. Black Bullhead - Fair: Anglers have been successful at the north grade. Yellow Perch - Good: The bite has really picked up; fish are a little deeper than what can be easily fished from shore. Try small humps in the main basin or weed edges.  West Okoboji Lake The walleye season is open. The water temperature is 77 degrees. The panfish bite has been great. Bluegill - Good: Schools are starting to move deeper off shore. Try fishing in about 16 feet of water in the weeds or weed lines. Smallmouth Bass - Fair: Find smallmouth bass on rock piles or on the points.. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Find largemouth bass on the weed lines. Yellow Perch - Fair: Schools have started to move deeper off shore. Iowa Great Lake water temperatures have warmed up quickly and are a little warmer than 75 degrees, and should continue to rise with a warmer forecast. This week’s extended forecast calls for temperatures ranging from the upper 80's to low 90's. Use caution fishing this weekend; it may be much harder than usual with the large amount of 4th of July pleasure boat traffic. Stay safe and have a great 4th! For current conditions, call the Spirit Lake District Office at 712-336-1840.
    • NORTHEAST IOWA FISHING REPORTS Cedar River (above Nashua) Repairs to the Nashua dam continue as water levels and flows drop. Water levels are falling. Clarity is improving. Use caution; underwater hazards may have moved. Go to the USGS Current Conditions website for more information on water levels. Channel Catfish - Good: Use chicken liver and stinkbaits or dead chub fished on the bottom out of current. Walleye - Good: The bite is picking up with clearer water. Use a jig tipped with a bright plastic tail for quick action. Smallmouth Bass - Good: Anglers are finding quite a few small ones. Use a jig tipped with natural colored twister tails and crank or spinnerbaits for bass. Decorah District Streams Wild parsnip is coming on strong. Avoid touching this plant; it causes painful blisters. All streams are being stocked. All trout stream stockings are unannounced due to COVID-19 precautions. Hatchery grounds are open to the public, but feeders and other conveniences are temporarily closed. Hatchery visitors must be mindful of one another’s safety and keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and others. Brook Trout - Good: When fishing private property open to angling, leave that property as was or better by picking up trash. Close gates if you opened them; be considerate. Brown Trout - Good: More terrestrials are out. Use beetles or other bright flies fished along grassed edges. Afternoon hatches of caddis and may flies have been slow. Pheasant tailed nymphs and bead headed midges work well. Use hair jigs or spinners for aggressive fish. Rainbow Trout - Excellent:Try a worm or cheese floated through a pool under a bobber. Use an ultra-light pole and reel for fun action. Try small crappie or bluegill jigs. Lake Hendricks Aquatic vegetation is coming on strong. Early morning and evening bite are best. Black Crappie - Slow: Find crappie suspended in deeper water around structure. Use a minnow or small lure drifting over structure. Bluegill - Fair: Try a small piece of worm on a hook under a small bobber. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Use topwater lures or weedless hooks fished along the weed edges.Channel Catfish - Fair: With warmer water temperatures, try cheese or stinkbaits. Nightcrawlers will work. Lake Meyer Hit and miss activity. Water clarity is excellent. Fish bite better any time of the day with off-color water. Fish early morning and evening when shadows aren't cast on the water. Black Crappie - Fair: Use a small spinnerbait tossed along a steep depth change. Bluegill - Fair: Try a small piece of worm fished under a bobber. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Use a jig tipped with a twister tail or worm fished along the shore. Channel Catfish - Fair: Use a nightcrawler fished on the bottom near stumps or other structure. Also try chicken liver or cheese baits. Turkey River (above Clermont) Water levels are falling, but are high with improved clarity. Go to the USGS Current Conditions website for more information on water levels. Walleye - Good: Find walleye in deeper holes around brush piles. Toss a jig tipped with a twister tail near a brush pile.  Upper Iowa River (above Decorah) Water levels are high, but are falling with improved clarity. Current remains strong. Water hazards may have moved. Walleye - Good: Flip a jig with twister tail along a brush pile or rock ledge. White Sucker - Slow: Try a hook tipped with a nightcrawler fished on the bottom. Upper Iowa River (below Decorah) Water levels are high, but are falling with improved clarity. Strong current; water hazards and stream conditions change fast. Walleye - Good: Find walleye along current breaks or around log jams. White Sucker - Slow: Try a hook tipped with a nightcrawler fished on the bottom.  Volga Lake Best bite is early morning or just before dark. Bluegill - Slow: Use a small hook tipped with waxworm or small piece of nightcrawler fished around brush piles and rocky shores. Largemouth Bass - Slow: Use a jig tipped with a ringworm or twister tail. Channel Catfish - Good: Try a nightcrawler, cheese bait or chicken livers fished on the bottom. Best catfishing lake around. Black Crappie - Slow: Use a minnow under a bobber along a rocky shoreline or around brush piles. Area rivers and streams water levels are falling, but flows remain high. Water clarity is much improved. Expect a hot, humid weekend with temperatures in the upper 80's for highs and upper 60's for lows. For current fishing information, please call the Chuck Gipp Decorah Fish Hatchery at 563-382-8324.   MISSISSIPPI RIVER FISHING REPORTS Mississippi River Pool 9 River level is 9.1 feet at Lansing with a slight rise predicted this week. Water temperature is 79 degrees. New Albin Army road is reopened. Hwy 82, Lansing Bridge is closed. Use caution at ramps during low water. Lansing Village Creek is shallow near the creek mouth. Heytman's Landing is accessible with shallow drive boats only. Walleye - Good: Walleyes are biting on crankbaits on wing dams and channel border structure. Northern Pike - Good: Try in areas of colder streams and springs entering the Mississippi River. Yellow Perch - Fair: Use a small piece of crawler fished just off the bottom near shorelines with slight current. Black Crappie - Good: Crappies are in about 10 feet of water. Use a minnow under a bobber in areas with less current in backwaters or side channels. Largemouth Bass - Good: Bass will be on pre-spawn bite as temperatures rise. Cast plastics or blade baits in backwater lakes. Smallmouth Bass - Excellent: Try spinnerbaits fished in rock piles at the tip of the islands on main channel borders. Shovelnose sturgeon - Fair: Some shovelnose are being picked up with a crawler fished off the bottom in main channel areas. Flathead Catfish - Fair: Flathead bite has slowed, but some are being caught on shiners or a small bluegill for bait. Channel Catfish - Excellent: Try nightcrawlers or cut bait fished off the bottom in deeper side channel areas. Bluegill - Good: Bluegills are spawning. Use light tackle tipped with small piece of worm along the shorelines. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: Use a crawler fished on the bottom along current breaks. Mississippi River Pool 10 River level is 617.2 feet at Lynxville and is expected to rise to 618.8 feet this week. Water temperature is 80 degrees. Sny Magill access is open, but water may be over the road with a bump up in water levels.. Walleye - Good: Walleyes are biting on crankbaits on wing dams and channel border structure. Northern Pike - Excellent: Try in areas of colder streams and springs entering the Mississippi River. Yellow Perch - Excellent: Use a small piece of crawler fished just off the bottom near shorelines with slight current. Black Crappie - Good: Crappies are in 8-10 feet of water. Use a minnow under a bobber in areas near current breaks in backwaters and side channels. Largemouth Bass - Good: Bass will be on pre-spawn bite as temperatures rise. Cast plastics or blade baits in backwater lakes. Smallmouth Bass - Good: Try spinnerbaits fished in rock piles at the tip of the islands on main channel borders. Shovelnose sturgeon - Good: Some shovelnose are being picked up using a crawler fished off the bottom in main channel areas. Flathead Catfish - Fair: Flathead bite has slowed, but some are still being caught on shiners or a small bluegill for bait. Channel Catfish - Excellent: Try nightcrawlers or cut bait fished off the bottom in deeper side channel areas.  Bluegill - Excellent: Bluegills are spawning. Use light tackle tipped with small piece of worm along the shorelines. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: Try a crawler fished on the bottom along current breaks. Mississippi River Pool 11 River level is 8.4 feet at Guttenberg and is predicted to reach 9.6 feet this week. Water temperature is in the mid to upper 70's. Walleye - Good: Walleyes are biting on crankbaits on wing dams and channel border structure. Northern Pike - Excellent: Try in areas of colder streams and springs entering the Mississippi River. Yellow Perch - Fair: Use a small piece of crawler fished just off the bottom near shorelines with slight current. Black Crappie - Good: Crappies are in about 10 feet of water. Use a minnow under a bobber in areas with less current in backwaters and side channels. Largemouth Bass - Good: Bass will be on pre-spawn bite as temperatures rise. Cast plastics or blade baits in backwater lakes. Smallmouth Bass - Excellent: Try spinnerbaits fished in rock piles at the tip of the islands on main channel borders. Shovelnose sturgeon - Fair: Some shovelnose are being picked up with a crawler fished off the bottom in main channel areas. Flathead Catfish - Fair: Flathead bite has slowed, but some are still being caught on shiners or a small bluegill for bait. Channel Catfish - Excellent: Try nightcrawlers or cut bait fished off the bottom in deeper side channel areas. Bluegill - Good: Bluegills are spawning. Use light tackle tipped with small piece of worm along the shorelines. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: Try a crawler fished on the bottom along current breaks. Upper Mississippi River levels have bumped up this week, but are predicted to level off late in the week. Water clarity has improved. Walleye slot length limits now apply on the entire Mississippi River for Pools 9-12. All walleyes less than 15 inches long and between 20-27 inches long must be released immediately. Only one walleye greater than 27 inches can be kept. Combined walleye/sauger daily harvest limit of 6 and possession of 12.   Mississippi River Pool 12 Water levels are stable, but will start to rise slightly later this week. The water level is near 8.5 feet at the Dubuque Lock and Dam and 10.7 feet at the RR bridge.The water temperature is around 78 degrees. The water clarity is good. Northern Pike - Excellent: Flashy spinners in warm sun filled waters might trigger these predators. Bluegill - Good: Bluegills are still on the spawning beds. Try a simple bobber and worms. White Crappie - Fair: Crappie are reported around tree falls in backwater areas. Most anglers are using a bobber and small minnow. Channel Catfish - Excellent: Lots of anglers are switching to prepared stinkbaits. Some catfish have started to move along the rock lines to prepare for spawning. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: Freshwater drum are easy to catch on an egg sinker and worm rig. Fish in moderate current. Largemouth Bass - Good: Bass are being taken mostly along vegetation lines, but some are also coming off rock piles. Smallmouth Bass - Fair: Some smallies have moved in along the rock piles; use flashy spoons or crankbaits. Mississippi River Pool 13 Water level is 9.4 feet at the Bellevue Lock and Dam and is expected to rise a half foot later this week. The water temperature is 78 degrees. Boat ramps at Pleasant Creek, Bulgers Hollow and the Iowa DNR boat ramp at Bellevue are available to use. Channel Catfish - Excellent: Some cats have moved along rock lines. Anglers are switching to prepared stinkbaits. White Crappie - Fair: A few crappie are being picked up in backwater areas near dead falls. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: Freshwater drum are easy to catch on a sinker and worm rig. Fish in moderate current. Northern Pike - Excellent: Try flashy spinners fished along old weed edges and rock shorelines. Largemouth Bass - Excellent: Male bass are being caught in large numbers. Bluegill - Good: Bluegill nests can be seen along shorelines and vegetation edges in the backwater areas. Flathead Catfish - Good: Use live fish for bait. Lots of trot lines are being set. Walleye - Fair: Wing dam fishing for walleyes is expected to start up if water recedes just a bit. Mississippi River Pool 14 The water level is 9.1 feet at the Fulton Lock and Dam, 12.2 feet at Camanche and 7.2 feet at LeClaire. Water temperature is 78 degrees. Water clarity is fair. Channel Catfish - Excellent: Anglers are switching to prepared stinkbaits. Look for channel cats to move along the rock lines when spawning gets closer. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: Freshwater drum are easy to catch on a worm sinker and worm rig. Fish in moderate current. Largemouth Bass - Good: Small bass are being caught in big numbers. Northern Pike - Good: Use flashy spinners along backwater shorelines or in the tailwaters for this aggressive fish. Flathead Catfish - Good: Try large live bait to catch big flathead catfish. Bluegill - Good: Bluegills are on the spawning beds. Fish along the weed lines or in pockets of vegetation. Walleye - Fair: Wing dam fishing for walleyes is expected to start up if water recedes just a bit. Mississippi River Pool 15 Water level is around 10.4 feet at Rock Island and is stable. Expect water levels to rise slightly later in the week. The water temperature is 78 degrees; water clarity is improving. Freshwater Drum - Good: Freshwater drum are easy to catch on a worm sinker and worm rig. Fish in moderate current. Channel Catfish - Excellent: Channel cats are readily biting on cut bait and prepared baits. Flathead Catfish - Good: Try live bait around brush piles or in the tailwater area. Smallmouth Bass - Fair: Some smallmouth bass may start lurking around the channel rock lines when the river recedes to lower levels. Water level is expected to bump up slightly later in the week. Most areas are back to being usable after spring high water. If you have any fishing questions, please contact the Bellevue Fisheries Station 563-880-8781
    • SOUTHEAST IOWA FISHING REPORTS Big Hollow Lake Lots and lots of rain this week made the water muddy. Not many anglers out on the lake. Largemouth Bass - Slow: Unstable weather with summer heat shuts the bass down until it evens out some. Bluegill - Fair: Most bluegills have moved off the beds and are out in 6 to 8 feet of water. Iowa River (Columbus Junction to Mississippi River) The Iowa River is dropping pretty fast, but isn't forecast to be below minor flood stage until the middle if next week. Lake Belva Deer Water temperature is 79-80 degrees. Water is green from planktonic algae bloom. Curlyleaf pondweeds have died off. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Summer patterns have set up. Try early or late in the shallows; most of the day they are out in deeper water. Bluegill - Fair: Move out to the deeper water (16 to 18 feet) out around the trees. Black Crappie - Fair: Slow trolling at the lower end of the lake early in the morning or late evening as the sun goes down.  Lake Darling Heavy rains last weekend made the lake high and muddy.  Water level has gone back down; the water is trying to clear. Water temperature is 80 degrees. Largemouth Bass - Slow: Muddy water will slow down the sight feeding fish. Bluegill - Fair: You can still catch bluegills on worm and bobber; most have moved out to 5 to 7 feet of water.  Channel Catfish - Good: When it rains, head for the wiers in the in-lake silt dams; catfish wait just off the sides for food to come through on the current. Black Crappie - Slow: Anglers are picking up a few crappies slowly drift trolling in 10 to 12 feet of water; bite will improve as the water clears. Lost Grove Lake Water temperatures are around 80 degrees. Water clarity is still good with a little green color; weed beds are dying back. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Bass fishing has slowed a bit; most fish are heading to deeper water for the summer. Bluegill - Good: A majority of the bluegills have moved off into 10-15 feet of water. Try small jigs tipped with waxworms or red wigglers. Some bluegills have finished spawning; find them in the flooded timber out in deeper water. Skunk River (Rose Hill to Coppock) The water level in the Skunk River dropped this week with it returning to just above half-bank full. Channel Catfish - Fair: Bite should pick up as the water level gets more stable.  Don't forget to fish under any mulberries that you find hanging over the river. For more information on the above lakes, call the Lake Darling Fisheries Office at 319-694-2430.   Coralville Reservoir The lake level crested at 702.4 feet on 7/01 (normal summer pool is 683 feet) and is predicted to start falling. Mehaffey Bridge ramp is the only open ramp. Diamond Lake All facilities are open. Black Crappie - Fair: Most fish are 8-12 feet down in deeper water around brush or suspended in open water. Try small jigs for these 8-9 inch fish. Bluegill - Fair: Most fish have moved off the bank after the spawn and are being caught a bit deeper on small jigs or worms. Channel Catfish -Good: Try stinkbait or crawlers. After rain events has been best. Lake Macbride The 10 hp outboard maximum limit is in effect. Wiper (Hybrid Striped Bass) - Fair: Look for surface activity towards sunset; try plastics or topwater baits. Walleye - Slow: Troll crankbaits and live bait rigs in 7-13 feet of water. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Target shallow cover for post-spawn fish. Bluegill - Fair: Try small jigs or worms in rock islands or rock reefs. Channel Catfish - Fair: Live bait works best. Some fish are spawning around shallow rock. Otter Creek Lake Docks are in; the bathroom at the ramp is open. The fish cleaning station is open. Bluegill – Good: Try small jigs or worms around brush piles. Yellow Bass – Good: Use small jigs, spinners or live bait. Channel Catfish - Fair: Look for spawning fish near rocky shores. Black Crappie - Fair: Most fish are small. Pleasant Creek Lake Walleye - Slow: Use crawlers or plastics fished towards evening. Bluegill – Fair: Most fish have moved a bit deeper. Try small worms or jigs. Channel Catfish - Fair: Typical baits such as stinkbait or crawlers work well. Some spawning fish are in the shallow rocks. Wiper (Hybrid Striped Bass) - Slow: Target windblown areas or look for surface activity in the evening. Muskellunge - Fair: Cloudy or rainy days have had the fish active. Sand Lake This is the quarry on the east side of Marshalltown. Channel Catfish – Good.  Wiper (Hybrid Striped Bass) – Fair. For more information, contact the Lake Macbride Fisheries Station at 319-624-3615. Hawthorn Lake Largemouth Bass - Fair: Try areas along the fishing jetties and the face of the dam. Bluegill - Fair: Use small jigs around the fishing jetties and rip-rapped shorelines. Lake Miami Largemouth Bass - Fair: Use spinnerbaits or crankbaits along the dam and the cedar tree piles. Bluegill - Fair: Try small jigs with a small chunk of nightcrawler around the fishing jetties. Lake Sugema Channel Catfish - Fair: Use nightcrawlers or chicken liver. Largemouth Bass - Fair: Try spinnerbaits or crankbaits along the fishing jetties and other rip-rapped areas. Use topwaters early and late in the day. Lake Wapello Largemouth Bass - Fair: Use spinnerbaits or rubber worms along the cedar tree piles and any structure along the shorelines. Channel Catfish - Fair: Try nightcrawlers or chicken liver. Rathbun Reservoir The current lake level is 905.08 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 waterbody. Walleye – Fair: Troll or drift nightcrawlers around rock piles and submerged structure. Wiper (Hybrid Striped Bass) – Fair: Try vertically jigging around rock piles and underwater islands. The district includes Appanoose, Davis, Lucas, Mahaska, Monroe, Wapello, Wayne and Van Buren counties. Contact the Rathbun Fish Hatchery at 641-647-2406 with questions about fishing in south central Iowa.
  • Topics

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.