Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Knots Every Angler Should Know

Knot tying is an essential skill for beginning anglers to learn. It's not hard - it just takes some practice. Knot tying is best learned with monofilament fishing line. Try these easy to tie knots to get you started.
Uni Knot
This versatile knot can be used to attach the fishing line to the arbor of a reel, join lines or attach lures, snaps, and swivels.

1. Pass the line through the eye of the hook and double back parallel to the standing line.
2. Make a loop by laying the tag end over the doubled line, while both lines face the same direction.
3. Make five or six turns with the tag end around the doubled line and through the loop.
4. Holding your swivel or hook in one hand and both ends of the line in the other hand, pull them apart gently so the knot is almost tied, but not yet tight.
5. Moisten the lines and pull only the standing line firmly away from your hook or swivel.
6. Trim the tag end.
Palomar Knot
A great general purpose knot used to attach a line to a hook or a fly to a leader. It is regarded as one of the strongest and most reliable fishing knots. (Diagram at right.)

1. Run the line through the eye of the hook. Then run it back through to make a loop.
2. Bring the loop behind the standing line and up through the center of the hole.
3. Pass the hook through the loop.
4. Moisten the line line. Pull it tight against the hook and trim the tag end.

Blood Knot

A tried and true fishing knot used to join two lines together. It is easy to tie, strong and reliable. (Diagram below.)

1. Overlap the ends of the two lines to be joined about six inches.
2. Take the free end of one line and make five or six turns around the other line. Repeat for the other line.
3. Run the free ends of the lines through the loop between the two lines in directions opposite each other.
4. Pull each free end and begin to tighten the knot.
5. Moisten the knot.

6. Finish tightening it and clip the free ends.
Improved Clinch Knot
A strong, quick and easy to tie knot that is good for securing your line to a lure, swivel, clip, or artificial fly. It is one of the most widely used fishing knots. (Diagram below.)
1. Pass the line through the eye of the hook or lure and wrap it around the standing line five or six times.
2. Thread the line through the first loop above the eye and then through the big loop.
3. Hold the free end of the line and the standing line.
4. Moisten the line and pull the coils tight against the eye of the hook.
5. Clip the free end.

Now that you have your knot-tying skills mastered, find a place to fish.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2015 Fish Iowa! Games - Get Your School Hooked!

Fish Iowa! Games is a competition where students cast from three distances using the flipping, pitching, and overhand techniques. It was developed by the Iowa Sports Foundation, in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in 2006. Since then, over 73,000 K-12 students throughout the state have participated.
Register your school or your class now to secure your competition kit. The competition may be held anytime between February 1 and May 1.

All medalists (gold, silver, bronze) from each school are invited to compete in the Fish Iowa! Games Finals on June 6 at the Liberty Centre Pond in North Liberty.

P.E. teachers from across Iowa have enjoyed offering this activity to their students for years:

v  “Casting is a life-time skill – It’s a great confidence builder for students. It doesn’t matter your size, age, or gender...everybody can compete on a fair level.” – Susan Monahan Blair, Orchard Place Campus School, Des Moines
v  “Fish Iowa! Games is a creative way to ‘lure’ kids into the joys of fishing.” – Mat Daniels, Kanesville High School, Council Bluffs
v  “We have been participating the last 4 years in the Fish Iowa! Games casting contest – we start by watching the video that is provided about the different types of casting…then we usually have a practice period – the kids all have a great time, whether they have fished before or not!” Tracy McGregor, Nashua-Plainfield Schools

v  “Great program, keep offering programs like this, I’m always looking for ways to get kids outside.” Paul Rogalla, Indianola Middle School

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Crazy Ice Fishing Lure Names

Have you ever been “lured” in by unique, weird and sometimes wacky ice fishing tackle names? Our fisheries staff shared their favorites. What’s in your tackle box?

Bigtooth Rig                                       Psycho Shad
Cicada                                                 Purest
Demon                                                 Rat Finkees
Diamond Jig                                        Ratsos
Dingle Drop                                        Rembrandt
Fat Boy                                                Rockers
Flu Flu                                                 Shrimpo
Gill Pill                                               Slender Spoon
Glow Demons                                     Smackin Jack
Jig-A-Whopper Hawger Spoon          Super Duper
Jigging Rap                                         Spikes
Lil Cecil                                              Swedish Pimple
Little Cleo                                           Teardrop
Marmooska                                         Time Bomb (rattle spoon)
Mini Mert                                           Toadie
Moon-Glo (Glitter Glo)                      Wax Worms
Mousie                                                Widow Maker
Mustache Worm                                 Vampire Blood Glow Worms
Nuclear Ant                                        

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tips for a Fun and Safe Ice Fishing Season

Ice fishing is a fun, inexpensive activity to get outdoors and beat cabin fever. Follow these simple tips from our fisheries biologists.

Know Your Ice. Check the weekly DNR fishing report for ice conditions across the state. While on the ice, check the ice thickness often as you move. Be especially careful on ice around submerged trees and emergent vegetation, this ice tends to be weaker. 

Ask an experienced angler to go with you. They can teach you ice fishing techniques and help you gain confidence on the ice. Never go ice fishing alone. Let someone else know where you will be and when you expect to arrive back.

Contact your local Iowa DNR Fisheries Biologist, bait shop or fishing tackle dealer for the latest tips on places to fish, what depth and areas of the lake they are biting and hot baits.

Read ice fishing articles to keep up with tackle and technique trends, as well as learn some great tips for improving your ice fishing success.

Fish early and late in the day. Fish are more active during these times.

View a structure map of the lake you are going to fish. Downloadable fishing structure maps are available on the DNR’s Where to Fish website.

Purchase a sonar unit (electronic fish finder) to help you locate where fish are hiding. Fish generally stay a specific depth during the winter.

Learn to use spring bobbers. Fish use less energy during the winter and are less aggressive. Spring bobbers let you set the depth of line and see when you have a bite, often before you even feel it on your line.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ice Fishing Tackle Box Necessities

Ice fishing is a great winter tradition for many families. If you’ve never gone before, it’s time to get in on the fun! Stock your tackle box with these basic necessities to get you started.    

Small foam or sponge bobbers
Bobbers help up know when to set the hook and keep your bait at the exact depth you want. These bobbers are best for ice fishing since they do not freeze easily and ice can be quickly removed by squeezing.
Small tackle is best - 1/64 oz or smaller for panfish.  Ice jigs are brightly colored fish (purple, chartreuse, pink, orange) to attract a fish’s attention and heavy enough to sink through the frigid water.                                       

Tungsten jigs have added weight that allows them to fall quicker and keep your fishing line tighter.

Small metal jigging spoons are commonly used to catch walleye.

If you plan to fish for crappie you will need jigs that glow in the dark. Crappies tend to feed after dark, so this is the best time to catch them.
Live Bait
A variety of bait can be purchased where bait is sold. Wax worms or wigglers (mayfly larvae) on a small teardrop lure is a great combination for catching bluegill or crappie. Store your wigglers in an insulated container kept next to your body to keep them from freezing.

Small minnows are great for catching crappie, perch, yellow bass or walleye. Keep your minnows in an insulated bucket to keep them from freezing. Bring along a minnow dipper to keep your hands from getting wet.           
The line you choose for your reel should match your rod. The more lightweight the rod, the lighter the line needed (2 to 4 lbs. test is recommended.)   

Needle nose pliers
Helpful for removing hooks.

Line clippers
You need some tool to assist with cutting the fishing line. Line clippers can be purchased or you can use finger nail clippers or a knife.  
Light Source
If you plan to be on the ice after dark, you need a reliable light source. A camping lantern, powerful flashlight or LED light are good options. Bring extra batteries if you choose a flashlight.                  
Pack an old towel to keep your hands clean and dry after removing the hook.

Safety Items
Staying safe on the ice is key to a successful ice fishing trip. Pack these basic items to help keep you safe: hand warmers, ice picks (wear around your neck) to help you crawl out of the water if you fall in, a life jacket, a safety rope, a whistle to call for help, a basic first aid kit                   
Before heading out on the ice, check the DNR weekly Fishing Report for current ice conditions and what’s biting where. Looking for a little help to get you started, attend a basic fishing clinic – check the DNR events calendar to find an event near you.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Trout in the Classroom

Some classes have a pet hamster or guinea pig. But some northeast Iowa classes have trout—and they’re raising them from eggs and releasing them in Iowa streams. A national Trout Unlimited program, Trout in the Classroom, allows students to raise fish and learn about their habitat and the importance of clean water.
The Driftless Chapter of Trout Unlimited, covering six northeast Iowa counties, usually funds the tank and equipment, while the DNR provides trout eggs, fish food and technical expertise.
“When you look at our Driftless Trout Unlimited group, I’m one of the young guys at age 48,” says chapter president Kent Kleckner. “It’s the idea of getting some exposure to the youngest generation and getting them interested in what it takes to keep our water clean and safe for trout.”
Ryan Rahmiller, a teacher at Charles City Middle School and Trout Unlimited member, thought the program would fit well with a unit on human-environment interaction. Students talk about the nearby Spring Creek watershed, sources of pollution, a trout’s life and trout across America, while also caring for the young trout, taking water tests and cleaning the tank.
“Trout serve as a real-life example of the relationship between humans and the environment,” says Rahmiller, who also started a fly fishing club at the school. “It’s a good program to get kids involved. They’ll never remember a worksheet, but they’ll think about the actions they take.”
Rahmiller’s wife Amanda, also a teacher at Charles City Middle School and TU member, now leads the trout program there. Last year, she moved the fish release to the Decorah fish hatchery, where students took a tour, fished, took water samples and more.
“There are lots of students interested in the outdoors, but they don’t get those opportunities in school,” she says. “Students enjoy things that are hands-on and have a real-world aspect to it.”
They’re also quick to tell their parents about what they’re learning, making the project the talk of the community. Folks on the street would often stop to ask about the trout, says recently retired Decorah Middle School teacher Meg Storkamp.

“We learned a lot about the resource in our area, and it was just a very engaging activity,” Storkamp said. “Because it’s in your backyard, kids might not appreciate trout streams. This helps them relate to why we want to care for this resource.”

This article originally appeared in the Admiration and Legacy section of the September/October 2014 issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ice Conditions Deteriorating Across Southern Iowa

Winters on-again off-again appearance this year is causing ice conditions on lakes to deteriorate across much of southern Iowa. In central Iowa, many areas have around six inches of good ice under an inch or two of poor ice.

“The stretch of warm and windy weather we are experiencing will likely cause many of our areas to deteriorate, especially along shore. Anglers should use caution around the edges when getting on and off the ice,” said Ben Dodd, fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The forecast calls for more seasonable temperatures for the weekend, but it might not be enough for ice fishing to return to some areas.

Ice conditions from around Hwy. 20 and north hasn’t been impacted as much, but either way, anglers should use caution as the unseasonably warm weather can cause conditions to change rather quickly.

DNR fisheries technician Kurt Meek said Clear Lake has quality ice over much of the lake, with 17-18 inches of ice in the little lake area. “We’ve had a few anglers pull their permanent shacks off Clear Lake ahead of the warm weather as a precaution,” Meek said.

With winter seemingly losing its grip, ice anglers are encouraged to bring safety equipment with them; 50 feet of rope, a throwable cushion and a spud bar.

Ice depths are not uniform on any body of water and there is no such thing as safe ice. There are many factors that impact ice formation making some locations thinner than others. With the warm weather, ice conditions can change a lot in one day. Verify the ice thickness for yourself and test it often.

“Don’t go out alone and if the ice does not look right, don’t go out,” Dodd said.

Media Contact: Joe Larscheid, Bureau Chief of Fisheries, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515-201-3376.