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GatorBait

Sconnie Sturgeon Extravaganza!!

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It's that time of year again, the big ol'shacks pulled off the ice holes, the spears are rigged up and the gaf's are sharpened. Thousands of anglers will be hitting the Winnebago system this upcoming weekend for Sturgeon Spearing.

Myself will be joining the crowd on Winnebago this year in hopes to sticking one through the 4x6 opening of my shack. We have plenty of ice, a bit too much snow, great clarity and plentiful numbers of sturgeon. Predictions are out for a 2-3day season which doesn't happen to often.

Check out my HSO Insider Blog for the step by step process on our rich tradition. Even my lil 5yr old girl will be helping us set up for the hunt this year.

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I understand that there's a "tradition" to spearing these guys in Wisconsin, and I understand that the DNR manages the spearing quotas so that they won't ever have an issue with total decimation of the sturgeon population. However, I still don't understand what makes a guy want to take a fish out of the lake that's been there for 75 to 100 years (or longer). Must taste REALLY good. Yeah, I understand that it's legal. Just not sure how that makes it a good idea.

I'm not a peta member or tree hugger. I eat plenty of animals. I can buy lots of food at Cub foods, and I can catch plenty of fish on the lake. Anything I do eat tends to be renewable in much less than 100 years. I selectively harvest plenty of fish to eat throughout the year -- crappies and walleyes mostly. Anything I do keep is of the size structure that it can be replaced naturally in less than 5 years. Those 20+ inch walleyes go back in the water, as do all sturgeon I catch. Crappies, pheasants, deer, ducks, geese, beef, pork, chicken. Yup, I can go through all the meats I eat, and none of them are older than me.

I guess I've just never seen a good explanation of why it's a good idea to take 100 year old fish out of the lake for food. Can you tell me? What is the big attraction to killing a fish that's older than you, just for food (and from what I hear, not all that great of food unless it is smoked, which makes anything taste good -- including carp).

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Good luck Gatorbait. I hope you guys have a great time:) I've never experienced it first hand, but a couple friends have said it is nothing short of a blast!

Aanderud, this has been taking place for many, many years. The lake can obviously sustain it, and the DNR keeps a close eye on the harvest and population.

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Conditions: On the big girl of Winnebago you will find anywhere from 22 to 27 inches of ice. Water clarity has been holding steady at 15 to 18ft respectively. Most cracks have been sitting still, there are plenty of bridges out to ensure safe travel. Please contact the bridge owners if you believe it's setup is deteriorating. With the amount of traffic this week, they get worked over pretty good.

Lots of fish reported in the Oshkosh area, onward south towards Wendt's. I'll have more updates after scouting the next 3 days coming up, along with some Lake Poygan and Butte Des Mortes updates. Stay Tuned!!

!!Caution!!

There are reports of a lot of drifts 3 to 4 feet high. Be safe, pick a good route, drive responsible. Bring a tow strap and a shovel. A friend of a friend snapped a torsion bar on his truck driving in the other day, which would have left him stranded had he not been in a group.

Stay safe my friends and Good Luck on the Ice!

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Aanderud, this has been taking place for many, many years. The lake can obviously sustain it, and the DNR keeps a close eye on the harvest and population.

As I said, I understand that it's an old tradition and that the DNR manages it so that it doesn't get totally out of hand. I was simply asking why it seems like a good idea to kill these nonrenewable fish.

Maybe it's fine, maybe it isn't. But, the fact that something is an old tradition doesn't necessarily make it a good idea or give it immunity to scrutiny. What's the big draw?

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Why is it legal to keep a 50" muskie?.......30" walleye?.......22" bass?........ from any fishery that allows it?

They are taking mature fish out of a fishery that can handle the pressure and sustain quality w/numbers. Get over it...... ain't exactly the same as carver county....

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Why is it legal to keep a 50" muskie?.......30" walleye?.......22" bass?........ from any fishery that allows it?

They are taking mature fish out of a fishery that can handle the pressure and sustain quality w/numbers. Get over it...... ain't exactly the same as carver county....

I didn't ask why it was LEGAL. I asked why people get so excited about killing 100 year old fish.

To use your analagy -- nobody that I know think it's exciting to kill and eat a 50 inch muskie. Or a 22 inch bass. Or a 32 inch walleye. If people were posting threads about killing and eating 32 inch walleyes and 50 inch muskies, I think you'd get a similar question. (and I might add that NONE of these walleyes/muskies/bass would be over 20 years old -- they're all renewable, and yet they are STILL highly respected by their fishermen, for the most part. As opposed to these 100 year old dinosaur sturgeon).

So, you still didn't answer the question -- unless your answe was "it's exciting and a great idea simply because it's legal". I can tell you hundreds of things that are LEGAL that aren't necessarily a good idea.

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You have a viable point, but as we talk with DNR Biologists, who's only job every day is to help the sturgeon population will tell you that the numbers of sturgeon available in our system will never be threatened by spearing seasons due to the management efforts.

The population numbers are estimated at over 50,000 adult female/male sturgeon. This doesn't include juveniles. Over the 20yrs that I've been doing this, there never has been a reason to think that we won't have this sport in 50yrs. They put so much science/study/money into this that it would take a specie based disease to wipe them out.

So we look at spearer's. This year there are 11,500 liscenses sold. Harvest caps are set at 320 Juv Females, 745 Adult Females, 960 Adult Males. Hitting just one of those marks, or within a certain percentage by days end will trigger a season closure. In 2013, there were only 306 fish taken in the full 16 day season. Your success rate as you can tell by the numbers is extremely low. I speared 16yrs before I successfully speared my first fish. And it's not uncommon to hear that from others.

A seperate spearing lottery is setup for Lake Poygan and Lake Butte Des Mortes. Harvest caps are set at 80 Juv Females 83 Adult Females and 240 Adult Males. There are only 500 liscenses available which are ran through a point/lottery system. About a 7yr wait for this tag. This seperatism is due to the shallow waters, clearer water and smaller lakes. They used to open these lakes everyother 5yrs, well everyone obviously chose to spear here due to those conditions which in turn made for a huge harvest. So, yet again, another mangement strategy that was made and is working well. Regulations set in place are to limit the spearing of only 5% or less of the estimated population. This has evidently helped fish reach a much older age and larger size.

There is plenty of studies on the net about this process that gets into great detail. I have no problems throwing a spear at a dinosaur. It's been in my family since the 50's and would never turn it down. It's similar to deer hunting, you get that buck fever, you are throwing a spear at fish in the water that you know isn't a piece of cake and you are doing your part to help manage the population. And for taste, the younger fish taste well in the deep frier and is a nice white flaky meat. The problem with the older ones is the amount of fat on them, which if you don't spend hours removing it, it taints the meat horribly. Hence why most just smoke them. Hope this helps with your questions.

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Neat-o

That's a really intelligent response. I guess the answer speaks for itself. You first compared sturgeon to walleyes and muskies, which are 5x more renewable than sturgeon. Then when point it out, this is your only response?

I also pointed out that if there was a thread in the MN central forum, or the WI forum, or the muskie forum, or the bass forum celebrating the killing/eating of trophy bass/muskies/walleyes (which YOU condoned above simply based on the legality), you have no response to that either?

I was HOPING to see a better rationale, but I guess this is the quality of response I actually EXPECTED to see.

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First off, I'd like to say THANK YOU GatorBait for the intelligent response. All of this looks like pretty valid reasons to spear.

You have a viable point

...

the numbers of sturgeon available in our system will never be threatened by spearing seasons due to the management efforts.

...

...

They put so much science/study/money into this that it would take a specie based disease to wipe them out.

...

So we look at spearer's. This year there are 11,500 liscenses sold. Harvest caps are set at 320 Juv Females, 745 Adult Females, 960 Adult Males. Hitting just one of those marks, or within a certain percentage by days end will trigger a season closure. In 2013, there were only 306 fish taken in the full 16 day season. Your success rate as you can tell by the numbers is extremely low. I speared 16yrs before I successfully speared my first fish. And it's not uncommon to hear that from others.

...

...

There are only 500 liscenses available which are ran through a point/lottery system. About a 7yr wait for this tag. This seperatism is due to the shallow waters, clearer water and smaller lakes.

...

So, yet again, another mangement strategy that was made and is working well.

...

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Or are you claiming that they reach an older age now versus if they would not have regulations at all. So, SOME regulation is good. What's to say more regulation wouldn't be better?

Yes, because of the regulations put in place within the last 15yrs, we have been able to allow these fish grow older and bigger in size. To be honest, more regulations right now would probably kill the sport all together. We as a group work and respect the biologists and want to do what we can to keep this sport alive. They ask us what we would like to see done and they take that into consideration greatly.

If you look at the vast area the Winnebago system covers, the acreage of lakes and 100's of miles of rivers that are connected, there are many fish that will never be seen by a human.

For example:

Spearing used to be 24hr/day for the 16day season. It is now 6hrs, 7am-1pm. Thus the use of lights under water were banned. Instead of 384 possible hours to spear, you now only have 96hrs available.

Harvest totals are based of past year harvest numbers and all the science that goes into it. Some years it's more, like this year due to very low number last year, other years it's much lower, which will probably be next year. You never hear a moan about it.

The use of potato peels, corn, silt, anything that you could put down the hole to brighten the bottom up has been banned. If you can't bring it out of the hole it can't go down. Some use a cross or T section of pvc pipe to help assist with bottom recognition. The above mentioned helped see fish a lot easier than if you didn't have anything at all.

SturgeonGuard was implemented which volunteers line the riverbanks of areas susceptible to poachers during their spawning season. A great strategy, highly publicized and effective tool to ensure our fish are safe.

To answer your last part about being skeptical if all this is helping. A chart that was put together during a study by our Biologist shows a steady incline since 1955 when the tracking all started. 1955 you were looking at roughly 7,000 fish which as of 1995 was at 45,000. That tells me, something is being done correctly to obtain a steady population incline like that. But again, there are so many things that are being done to ensure it's happening. Spearing and reg's are just the tip of the iceberg.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

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Predicted cold weather should strengthen ice, but heavy snow could insulate areas; use caution near shorelines and areas with current. Walleye - Fair: A lot of smaller fish are being caught. Vertical jigging with twister tails or trolling crankbaits has been successful in Lock and Dams tailwaters. Sauger - Fair: Try jigs tipped with a minnow in the tailwaters of the Lock & Dams. Yellow Perch - Fair: Perch are biting in Sunfish and Mud Lake. Use caution and avoid the creek area at Mud Lake; ice is not safe. Fish in deeper cuts with some vegetation in backwater areas. Black Crappie - Slow: Few reports of crappie mixed with bluegills fished through the ice. Water levels have fallen and started to stabilize. Gates are back down at the Lock and Dams, but with expected snow and cold weather ramps may become frozen in soon. Protected backwaters areas have around 6 inches of ice, but thickness can vary and many areas may have unsafe ice. Predicted cold weather should strengthen ice, but heavy snow could insulate areas of thin ice; use caution near shorelines and areas with current.
    • SOUTHEAST IOWA FISHING REPORTS Big Hollow Lake Was completely ice free on Jan. 14; some ice is forming around the edges and in the quiet areas. Lake Belva Deer Was nearly ice free earlier in the week. Still large areas of open water. Lake Darling This morning, Jan. 16, there was still large areas of open water from one end of the lake to the other. Lake Darling District Farm Ponds Most ponds have frozen back over this week, but are still too thin to walk on. Unsafe ice. Lost Grove Lake Just getting back to freezing over. Unsafe ice. Pollmiller Park Lake Open water. For more information on the above lake, call the Lake Darling Fisheries Office at 319-694-2430. Coralville Reservoir Most of the lake is covered with skim ice. The lake is at normal winter pool of 683.4 feet. Lake Macbride The lake is mostly covered with skim ice; unsafe ice. Otter Creek Lake The lake is covered with poor ice; unsafe ice. Pleasant Creek Lake The lake is partially covered in skim ice; unsafe ice. Union Grove Lake The lake is mostly covered with poor ice. Most lakes/ponds are mostly to completely covered with skim or poor ice. Ice fishing is unsafe in the Lake Macbride District. Upcoming snow may hide or insulate ice, making ice conditions hard to see and slow to improve. For more information, contact the Lake Macbride Fisheries Station at 319-624-3615. Lake Miami Skim ice has formed recently; the ice is not thick enough to support anglers. Lake Sugem Skim ice is forming in some of the bays. Geese are keeping large areas open. Lake Wapello Ice has recently formed; the ice is not thick enough to support anglers. Rathbun Reservoir The current lake level is 904.24 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. Docks have been pulled out for the season and most campgrounds are closed. The bays and coves have started to ice up, but it is not thick enough to support anglers. The main lake area is still open water.  Red Haw Lake Ice has started to form with the recent cold weather, but it is not thick enough to support anglers. There is no safe ice in the Rathbun district; most lakes have skimmed over recently. The district includes Appanoose, Davis, Lucas, Mahaska, Monroe, Wapello, Wayne and Van Buren counties.    MISSISSIPPI RIVER FISHING REPORTS Mississippi River Pool 16 Tailwater stage is 9.44 feet at Lock and Dam 15 in the Quad Cities and has been falling. Flood stage is 15 feet at Lock and Dam 15. The Marquette St boat ramp is frozen in. Unsafe ice conditions.  Mississippi River Pool 17 Tailwater stage is 8.52 feet at Lock and Dam 16 in Muscatine and has been falling. Flood stage is 15 feet at Lock and Dam 16. As of Jan. 15th, the ramp at Muscatine was free of ice and the dock was still in. Ramp conditions may change with colder temperatures and snow in the forecast. The gates are back in at the Lock and Dam. Unsafe ice conditions. Walleye - No Report: Look for walleyes by the dam. Try vertical jigging with minnows or pulling three-way rigs with minnows or stick baits. Sauger - No Report: Use jigs and minnows or pull three-way rigs with minnows or stick baits in the tailwaters.  Mississippi River Pool 18 Tailwater stage is 9.85 feet at Lock and Dam 17 at New Boston and is falling. Flood stage is 15 feet at Lock and Dam 17. The gates are out of the water at the Lock and Dam. We have not received any tailwater fishing report information this week. Unsafe ice conditions.  Mississippi River Pool 19 Tailwater stage is 6.88 feet at Lock and Dam 18 and is falling. Flood stage is 10 feet at Lock and Dam 18. River stage is 12.14 feet at Burlington; flood stage is 15 feet. River stage is 526.73 feet at Fort Madison; flood stage is 528 feet. We have not received any fishing report information for this pool. Unsafe ice conditions.  Tailwater stages have been falling the past few days. Main channel water temperature is around 34 degrees. Tailwater fishing for walleye and saugers has been slow. Unsafe ice conditions.
    • SOUTHWEST IOWA FISHING REPORTS Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake Rainbow Trout - Fair: Catch trout 5 to 20 yards off shore using panfish jigs and small jigging spoons tipped with waxworms. You need a valid fishing license (age 16 and older) and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout.   Big Creek Lake There was a small area of open water mid-lake as of Jan. 16. The large area that was open last week is averaging 3 inches. Ice in the coves and the north end averaged 8 inches.  Don Williams Lake Black Crappie - Good: Catch 8.5 to 10 inch crappies using glow jigs with waxworms or minnows.  The better bite has been after sunset.  Fish suspended fish over the stump covered ridge that extends out from the shoreline across from the boat ramp. Hickory Grove Lake Hickory Grove was pumped dry in the fall to renovate the fishery.  No fishing is available until after the lake is restocked. Lake Petocka The next stocking is scheduled for Jan. 25; dependent on safe ice conditions. You need a valid fishing license (age 16 and older) and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. Rainbow Trout - Fair: Use panfish jigs and small jigging spoons tipped with waxworms. Start by fishing close to shore in 3 to 5 feet of water. If no activity, keep moving slightly deeper until you find fish. Ice fishing conditions in Central Iowa continue to improve. Use caution; some larger bodies of water had thin ice and open water as of Jan. 12. For more information on Central Iowa lakes and rivers, call Ben Dodd at 641-891-3795 or Andy Otting at 515-204-5885. Lake Anita Lake Anita is holding a large number of geese, keeping the north arm of the lake unsafe or open. There was 4 inches of ice in the upper end of the pontoon arm on Jan. 15th.  Bluegill - Fair: A couple anglers caught fish directly south of the fish cleaning station. Littlefield Lake Unsafe ice conditions on Jan. 15th. Anglers should be able to fish Littlefield by next week. Prairie Rose Lake Prairie Rose is holding a large number of geese keeping ice condition unsafe around the beach area. Conditions should improve; use caution if venturing out. Ice conditions are improving in the southwest district. Use extreme caution; most district lakes had thin ice or open water in the middle of last week.
    • NORTHWEST Arrowhead Lake Ice conditions are improving, but angling activity has been low due to unsafe ice. Check ice thickness often if you venture out.  Use waxworms and minnows near structure to target the larger bluegill and crappie this lake commonly produces. Bacon Creek Lake The DNR will stock rainbow trout at Bacon Creek Lake at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 25th. You need a valid fishing license (age 16 and older) and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. Use a piece of worm, small minnow, or power bait fished under a bobber. Put the bait on a small hook or small and shiny jig. Black Hawk Lake There is 6-7 inches of ice off the Ice House Point boat ramp. This area of the lake has the thickest ice. There are open water fishing opportunities at the Fish House on Ice House Point. Most of the east basin was open last week and has recently frozen over with thin ice. The winter aeration system in Town Bay is in operation; expect open water and thin ice in Town Bay. Yellow Perch - Fair: Anglers are catching perch around Gunshot Hill and the Ice House Point boat ramp. Keeper size perch range from 8- to 12-inches. Waxworms and small minnows work well. Bluegill - Fair: Anglers are picking up 6-9 inch bluegill using waxworms. Most anglers are fishing near the Ice House Point boat ramp and Gunshot Hill. Moorland Pond The DNR will stock rainbow trout in Moorland Pond this Saturday, Jan. 18th at 11 a.m. You need a valid fishing license (age 16 and older) and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. Use a piece of worm, small minnow, or power bait fished under a bobber. Put the bait on a small hook or small and shiny jig. Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake) Ice thickness is variable.  Reports of 7-10 inches of ice in the northwest area; much of the southeast area of the lake was open and has recently frozen over so expect thin ice on some areas. Use caution and avoid open areas, seams, and discolored ice. Wear a float coat and have ice picks and rope with you. Anglers are catching perch, walleye, white bass and channel catfish. Ice thickness in west central Iowa is 3 to 10 inches. Some lakes have open seams and thin areas that were open last week and have recently frozen over. Use caution, check thickness often, and avoid discolored ice. There is open water and thin ice in Town Bay of Black Hawk Lake from the aeration system.  For more information, contact the Black Hawk District office at 712-657-2638. Clear Lake Ice thickness is 7 to 9 inches. Bluegill - Slow: Use a small jig tipped with a waxworm near the edge of vegetation. Yellow Perch - Good: Yellow perch are biting on a variety of baits. Use larger baits and change location to find bigger fish. Walleye - Fair: Try a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow head near the edge of vegetation. The best bite is during low light periods. Black Crappie – Slow: Use a jig tipped with a waxworm on the edge of vegetation. Yellow Bass - Slow: Try a small spoon tipped with cut bait or several spikes. You have to move around to find fish. Crystal Lake Ice thickness is 7 to 9 inches. No fishing activity reported. Lake Cornelia Ice thickness is 7 to 8 inches. Yellow Bass - Good: Lot of small fish are being caught. Lower Pine Lake Ice thickness is 6 inches at the boat ramp. There is still significant open water north and east of the island.  No fishing activity reported.     Rice Lake Ice thickness is 7 to 9 inches. Bluegill – Slow. Yellow Perch – Slow: Use small jigs tipped with a waxworm. Walleye – Slow.  Silver Lake (Worth) Ice thickness is 7 to 9 inches. Upper Pine Lake Ice thickness is 4 inches at the boat ramp. No fishing activity reported. For information on the lakes and rivers in the north central area, contact the Clear Lake Fish and Wildlife office at 641-357-3517.  Center Lake Ice thickness is 9-13 inches. The aeration system has been started. Use caution on the west side of the lake, north of the boat ramp. Signs are up around the aerator hole. East Okoboji Lake Ice thickness is 9 to 12 inches. Bluegill - Good: Sorting is needed, but the bite has been good in the southern section of the lake along the weed line. Try near the trestle and the Hattie Elston Boat Ramp. Use small jigs and wigglers. Walleye - Fair: Fishing near Parks Marina in the evening has been good. Use spoons, jigging raps or minnows in the early morning or evening. Yellow Perch – Fair. Black Crappie – Good. Yellow Bass – Fair. Ingham Lake Ice thickness is 7-13 inches. The aeration system has been started. Use caution in the southeast side of the lake and off of the northern boat ramp. Signs are up around the aerator hole. Lost Island Lake Ice thickness is around 12 inches. Yellow Perch – Fair. Walleye – Fair. Silver Lake (Dickinson) Ice thickness is 13 inches. The aeration system has been started. Use caution on the east side of the lake. Signs are up around the aeration holes. Spirit Lake Ice thickness is 13-15 inches. Walleye - Good: Fish 1 hour before and after sunrise or sunset. Use spoons or jigging raps tipped with minnow heads in 12-14 feet of water. Also try live minnows. Reports of lots of slot size and bigger fish. Bluegill - Fair: Use wigglers and small jigs in Anglers Bay and Trickles Slough. Yellow Perch - Good: Use minnows and small jigs in Anglers Bay and near Minniwaukon. Best bite is early and late. Black Crappie – Fair. Trumbull Lake Yellow Perch - Fair: Size quality is outstanding with some sorting. Use jigs and minnows or wigglers in the main lake. West Okoboji Lake West Okoboji ice conditions are variable. Beware of heaves at Atwell and Gull Point; don't drive over heaves/seams. Ice thickness has been up to 12 inches in small bays and thinner on the main lake. Bluegill - Good: Little Emerson Bay is producing a few nice bluegills. Sorting is needed. Walleye - Fair: Fish rocky areas in 18-20 feet of water. Live minnows work best an hour before and after sunset. Ice thickness is 7.5-13 inches on area lakes. Ice conditions have improved with recent low temperatures. Some large seams and ridges have become evident; stay away from these areas. Use caution with ATV’s. No vehicle traffic is advised. Water flow into and out of the area lakes has caused weak areas around bridges and other constrictions. Aeration systems at Center Lake, Silver Lake (near Lake Park), and Ingham Lake have been started and signs are up. Stay clear of these systems. For current conditions, call the Spirit Lake District Office at 712-336-1840.   NORTHEAST Cedar River (above Nashua) Backwaters and slack water areas have about 4-6 inches of ice. Four to 5 inches of snow fell early in the week with more predicted for the weekend. Ice conditions may worsen with warmer temperatures. Use care when crossing areas with current. Check depths often. Anglers are finding fish. Black Crappie - Fair: Find deeper water or off-channel refuges out of current. Use waxworms or spikes. Yellow Perch - Slow: Anglers are finding a few perch mixed in with the crappie. Bluegill - Fair: Find deeper off-channel areas. Spikes or waxworms tipped on a small jig work well. Walleye - Fair: Anglers fishing below dams are finding walleye. Use jigs tipped with a ringworm minnow or crawler.  Decorah District Streams Parking areas in wildlife management areas are not plowed. Use care when parking on the roadside. Trout streams with good flows stay open even during winter. Check our 2020 Winter Community Trout Stocking Schedule to find out when trout may be coming to a community near you. Brown Trout - Good: Try a fly imitating small silvery fish. Feathered spinner baits work well when fished through pools. Rainbow Trout - Good: Fish are actively hitting the surface early afternoon. Use an ultra-light pole and reel for fun action. Try a spinner in eddies and around structure. Brook Trout - Good: Midges and small mayflies are hatching on warmer sunny days. Use flies imitating insects hatching. Lake Hendricks Lake Hendricks has about 4-8 inches of ice. Four to 5 inches of snow fell early in the week, with more to come this weekend. Fish activity has slowed. Open water around the aerator; be careful around this area. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the ice. Black Crappie - Fair: Use a small jig tipped with a waxworm. Fish are suspended off the bottom. A variety of sizes are being caught. Bluegill - Fair: Use a baited hook; gills are sitting closer to the bottom. Nine to 11 inch fish common.  Lake Meyer Lake Meyer has about 6-8 inches of ice. Three to 4 inches of snow fell early in the week, with more to come this weekend. Use care when going on ice, especially around the dam. Check ice depths often. Hit or miss action on panfish. Fish are hanging in 10-14 feet of water around brush piles. Bluegill - Fair: Anglers are marking a lot of fish, but few bites. Find gills around brush piles using a small jig tipped with a waxworm. Black Crappie - Slow: Crappie are suspended above brush piles. Baited hooks work best. Turkey River (above Clermont) Backwaters and slack water areas are ice covered. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on Vernon Springs impoundment when covered with ice. Water is crystal clear. Check ice depths often, especially where there is current. Volga Lake Ice conditions are variable on Volga Lake depending on temperatures, but 4-6 inches is common. Three to 5 inches of snow fell in the area, with more to come this weekend. Use care when going on ice; check ice depths often. Black Crappie - Fair: Use waxworms or spikes fished in brush or rock piles. Bluegill - Fair: Try small bait on small hooks. Gills are small. Winter is here. Snow is possible through the weekend with variable amounts. Area lakes have about 3-8 inches of ice. Open water on most rivers in main channel with backwaters frozen. Use care when around areas with current. For current fishing information, please call the Chuck Gipp Decorah Fish Hatchery at 563-382-8324. Casey Lake (aka Hickory Hills Lake) A few reports of anglers ice fishing on Casey Lake. Best ice conditions on the lake are near the dam area. Bluegill - Fair: Find sunken fish structure near the dam. Use an ice jig tipped with a waxworm just off of the bottom; electronics are a bonus to find fish. Black Crappie - Fair: Find sunken fish structure near the dam. Try an ice jig tipped with a waxworm just off of the bottom or use electronics to find suspended fish, which often are crappie. Also try a dead stick rig tipped with a live minnow. George Wyth Lake There has been ice fishing activity on the lake. Reports of 4 to 6 inches of good ice cover. Use extreme caution, especially with the snow cover and upcoming winter storm. Bluegill - Fair: Find sunken fish structure; use an ice jig tipped with a waxworm just off of the bottom. Black Crappie - Fair: Find sunken fish structure. Try an ice jig tipped with a waxworm just off of the bottom or use electronics to find suspended fish, which often are crappie. Also try a dead stick rig tipped with a live minnow. North Prairie Lake Anglers are catching a few trout. Rainbow Trout - Fair: Try fishing jigs tipped with a waxworm or vertically jigging shiny spoons. There are no reports on the interior rivers; they are currently freezing over. Ice conditions should vastly improve over the next week with the freezing cold temperatures.  Use extreme caution on lakes and ponds, especially with the snow cover. Trout streams remain in excellent condition. Call the N.E. Iowa district office at 563-927-3276 for more information. MISSISSIPPI RIVER Mississippi River Pool 9 River level is 9.8 feet at Lansing and is expected to remain stable near this level. Ice is around 6 inches in protected areas. Predicted cold weather should strengthen ice, but heavy snow could insulate areas; use caution near shorelines and areas with current. Yellow Perch - Fair: Reports of nice-sized perch from Pool 9 backwaters. Black Crappie - Slow: Few reports of crappie mixed with bluegills fished through the ice. Bluegill - Good: Bluegill are biting on waxworms fished through the ice in backwater lakes.  Mississippi River Pool 10 River level is 17.2 feet at Lynxville and is expected to remain stable near this level. Ice is around 6 inches in protected areas. Predicted cold weather should strengthen ice, but heavy snow could insulate areas; use caution near shorelines and areas with current.  Walleye - Fair: A lot of smaller fish are being caught. Vertical jigging with twister tails or trolling crankbaits has been successful in Lock and Dams tailwaters. Sauger - Fair: Try jigs tipped with a minnow in the tailwaters of the Lock & Dams. Yellow Perch - Fair: Reports of nice-sized perch from Pool 10 backwaters. Black Crappie - Slow: Few reports of crappie mixed with bluegills fished through the ice. Bluegill - Good: Bluegill are biting on waxworms fished through the ice in backwater lakes.  Mississippi River Pool 11 River level is 9.8 feet at Guttenberg and is expected to remain stable near this level. The DNR ramp has iced in and the city ramp may be iced in this weekend. Ice is around 6 inches in protected areas. Predicted cold weather should strengthen ice, but heavy snow could insulate areas; use caution near shorelines and areas with current. Walleye - Fair: A lot of smaller fish are being caught. Vertical jigging with twister tails or trolling crankbaits has been successful in Lock and Dams tailwaters. Sauger - Fair: Try jigs tipped with a minnow in the tailwaters of the Lock & Dams. Yellow Perch - Fair: Perch are biting in Sunfish and Mud Lake. Use caution and avoid the creek area at Mud Lake; ice is not safe. Fish in deeper cuts with some vegetation in backwater areas. Black Crappie - Slow: Few reports of crappie mixed with bluegills fished through the ice. Water levels have fallen and started to stabilize. Gates are back down at the Lock and Dams, but with expected snow and cold weather ramps may become frozen in soon. Protected backwaters areas have around 6 inches of ice, but thickness can vary and many areas may have unsafe ice. Predicted cold weather should strengthen ice, but heavy snow could insulate areas of thin ice; use caution near shorelines and areas with current.   Mississippi River Pool 12 The water level is 8 feet at the Dubuque Lock and Dam and 10.3 feet at the RR bridge. River levels at Dubuque are expected to hold steady. The water temperature is 33 degrees. Water clarity is good. Major ice flows are occurring in the tailwater; the tailwater may lock in tight. Sauger - No Report: Anglers report lots of smaller sauger with a few nice-sized fish mixed in. Tailwater ice flows are limiting angling. Bluegill - No Report: Conditions are improving; use caution. Mississippi River Pool 13 Water level is 9 feet at the Bellevue Lock and Dam and is predicted to hold steady. The water temperature is 33 degrees. Water clarity is good. The tailwaters are under heavy ice flows and may lock in this week. Backwater ice fishing is improving; use caution. Sauger - No Report: Anglers report lots of smaller sauger with a few nice-sized fish mixed in. Tailwater ice flows are are limiting angling. Bluegill - No Report: Ice fishing conditions are improving; use caution Mississippi River Pool 14 The water level is 7.6 feet at the Fulton Lock and Dam, 11.7 feet at Camanche and 6.1 feet at LeClaire. Water temperature is around 33 degrees. River levels are expected to hold steady. Tailwaters are receiving heavy ice flows; backwater ice conditions are unsafe. Walleye - No Report: Some walleyes are being taken on double Rapala rigs. Sauger - No Report: Use a jig tipped with a minnow. A few nice sauger have been reported in the past few weeks. Bluegill - No Report: Backwater ice fishing conditions are marginal, but may improve with the expected cold snap; use caution.  Mississippi River Pool 15 Water level is around 8.5 feet at Rock Island and is expected to hold steady. The water temperature is around 33 degrees. Water clarity is good.  Ice flows are occurring in all tailwaters, limiting angling. Some anglers were out this past week. Water level is receding throughout the district and should hold steady. Backwater ice fishing conditions are improving; use caution. If you have any fishing questions, please contact the Bellevue Fisheries Station 563-872-4976. Mississippi River Pool 16 Tailwater stage is 9.44 feet at Lock and Dam 15 in the Quad Cities and has been falling. Flood stage is 15 feet at Lock and Dam 15. The Marquette St boat ramp is frozen in. Unsafe ice conditions.  Mississippi River Pool 17 Tailwater stage is 8.52 feet at Lock and Dam 16 in Muscatine and has been falling. Flood stage is 15 feet at Lock and Dam 16. As of Jan. 15th, the ramp at Muscatine was free of ice and the dock was still in. Ramp conditions may change with colder temperatures and snow in the forecast. The gates are back in at the Lock and Dam. Unsafe ice conditions. Walleye - No Report: Look for walleyes by the dam. Try vertical jigging with minnows or pulling three-way rigs with minnows or stick baits. Sauger - No Report: Use jigs and minnows or pull three-way rigs with minnows or stick baits in the tailwaters.  Mississippi River Pool 18 Tailwater stage is 9.85 feet at Lock and Dam 17 at New Boston and is falling. Flood stage is 15 feet at Lock and Dam 17. The gates are out of the water at the Lock and Dam. We have not received any tailwater fishing report information this week. Unsafe ice conditions.  Mississippi River Pool 19 Tailwater stage is 6.88 feet at Lock and Dam 18 and is falling. Flood stage is 10 feet at Lock and Dam 18. River stage is 12.14 feet at Burlington; flood stage is 15 feet. River stage is 526.73 feet at Fort Madison; flood stage is 528 feet. We have not received any fishing report information for this pool. Unsafe ice conditions.  Tailwater stages have been falling the past few days. Main channel water temperature is around 34 degrees. Tailwater fishing for walleye and saugers has been slow. Unsafe ice conditions. If you have questions on fishing Pools 16-19 contact the Fairport Fish Hatchery at 563-263-5062.   SOUTHEAST Big Hollow Lake Was completely ice free on Jan. 14; some ice is forming around the edges and in the quiet areas. Lake Belva Deer Was nearly ice free earlier in the week. Still large areas of open water. Lake Darling This morning, Jan. 16, there was still large areas of open water from one end of the lake to the other. Lake Darling District Farm Ponds Most ponds have frozen back over this week, but are still too thin to walk on. Unsafe ice. Lost Grove Lake Just getting back to freezing over. Unsafe ice. Pollmiller Park Lake Open water. For more information on the above lake, call the Lake Darling Fisheries Office at 319-694-2430. Coralville Reservoir Most of the lake is covered with skim ice. The lake is at normal winter pool of 683.4 feet. Lake Macbride The lake is mostly covered with skim ice; unsafe ice. Otter Creek Lake The lake is covered with poor ice; unsafe ice. Pleasant Creek Lake The lake is partially covered in skim ice; unsafe ice. Union Grove Lake The lake is mostly covered with poor ice. Most lakes/ponds are mostly to completely covered with skim or poor ice. Ice fishing is unsafe in the Lake Macbride District. Upcoming snow may hide or insulate ice, making ice conditions hard to see and slow to improve. For more information, contact the Lake Macbride Fisheries Station at 319-624-3615. Lake Miami Skim ice has formed recently; the ice is not thick enough to support anglers. Lake Sugem Skim ice is forming in some of the bays. Geese are keeping large areas open. Lake Wapello Ice has recently formed; the ice is not thick enough to support anglers. Rathbun Reservoir The current lake level is 904.24 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. Docks have been pulled out for the season and most campgrounds are closed. The bays and coves have started to ice up, but it is not thick enough to support anglers. The main lake area is still open water.  Red Haw Lake Ice has started to form with the recent cold weather, but it is not thick enough to support anglers. There is no safe ice in the Rathbun district; most lakes have skimmed over recently. 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.   SOUTHWEST Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake Rainbow Trout - Fair: Catch trout 5 to 20 yards off shore using panfish jigs and small jigging spoons tipped with waxworms. You need a valid fishing license (age 16 and older) and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout.   Big Creek Lake There was a small area of open water mid-lake as of Jan. 16. The large area that was open last week is averaging 3 inches. Ice in the coves and the north end averaged 8 inches.  Don Williams Lake Black Crappie - Good: Catch 8.5 to 10 inch crappies using glow jigs with waxworms or minnows.  The better bite has been after sunset.  Fish suspended fish over the stump covered ridge that extends out from the shoreline across from the boat ramp. Hickory Grove Lake Hickory Grove was pumped dry in the fall to renovate the fishery.  No fishing is available until after the lake is restocked. Lake Petocka The next stocking is scheduled for Jan. 25; dependent on safe ice conditions. You need a valid fishing license (age 16 and older) and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. Rainbow Trout - Fair: Use panfish jigs and small jigging spoons tipped with waxworms. Start by fishing close to shore in 3 to 5 feet of water. If no activity, keep moving slightly deeper until you find fish. Ice fishing conditions in Central Iowa continue to improve. Use caution; some larger bodies of water had thin ice and open water as of Jan. 12. For more information on Central Iowa lakes and rivers, call Ben Dodd at 641-891-3795 or Andy Otting at 515-204-5885. Lake Anita Lake Anita is holding a large number of geese, keeping the north arm of the lake unsafe or open. There was 4 inches of ice in the upper end of the pontoon arm on Jan. 15th.  Bluegill - Fair: A couple anglers caught fish directly south of the fish cleaning station. Littlefield Lake Unsafe ice conditions on Jan. 15th. Anglers should be able to fish Littlefield by next week. Prairie Rose Lake Prairie Rose is holding a large number of geese keeping ice condition unsafe around the beach area. Conditions should improve; use caution if venturing out. Ice conditions are improving in the southwest district. Use extreme caution; most district lakes had thin ice or open water in the middle of last week.
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