Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fall Fitness Day

Help your students stay active this school year participating in the annual Live Healthy Iowa Kids Fall Fitness Day – register today. The activity options are endless for this fun day - check out these target casting games.


F-I-S-H is played like H-O-R-S-E in basketball. Two to four students can play using one target. The first player casts from a certain location using a particular cast (overhand, sidearm, etc.). If the caster hits the target, the next player must replicate the cast or receive a letter in the word “fish.” Each of the players repeats the cast until someone misses and receives a letter. The player after the missed cast gets to decide the location and style of the next cast which is again repeated by the others until someone misses. If nobody misses the cast, the player who started gets to select a new cast. The last person to spell “fish” wins.

Plug Golf

This game is very similar to golf, but spincasting rigs and casting plugs are used in place of golf clubs and balls. A plug golf course is complete with tee markers, greens, and hazards. (If you teach a golf unit, you could modify that course.) Participants “cast off” from a tee marker. Instead of reeling the plug back to themselves, they walk toward the plug as they reel. They cast again from this point and head for the “green” where the golf cup is replaced by a dishpan or similar object. Participants cast until they hit the target. Each cast counts as a point and the low score for the course wins. Courses can be either nine or eighteen “holes” and participants can compete as individuals, partners, or teams.

















Monday, September 8, 2014

September 27th & 28th, 2014 - FREE!

Saturday: 9am - 6pm & Sunday: 10am - 4pm
Des Moines Izaak Walton League and Water Works Park
4343 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines

Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day by bringing the entire family out for a fun weekend discovering new and exciting ways to enjoy Iowa's outdoors. With over 50 free hands-on activities, visitor's are able to learn, observe and experience recreation opportunities in the great outdoors.

Hands-on activities include, but are not limitied to:
Fishing- Reel Fishing, Bow Fishing, Fly Fishing & Casting, Casting games, Fish ID tank
Water Sports- Canoeing, Kayaking, Paddle Boarding, Life Jacket Safety
Kid's Corner- Fossil & Treasure Dig, Live Animals, Minnow Races, Make your own Bird Feeder
Camping- Tent Demonstrations and Outdoor Cooking
Buckskinners Encampment- Traditional encampment and Tomahawk range
Archery- Beginners Range, Traditional Range (9 and over) and Aerial Range
Shooting Sports- Trap Shooting (height requirement), Sling Shot and BB Gun Ranges
Wildlife- Trapping in Iowa, Waterfowl Hunting, Turn In Poachers (TIP), Game Care/Food Safety, Hunter Safety Trail, Treestand Safety
Conservation- Urban Garden Program, Soil & Water Conservation, Land Quality

The Iowa Outdoor Expo would not happen without the generous support from our partners and sponsors and the dedication of over two hundred volunteers.

For more information:
Rachel Ladd
c/o Des Moines Izaak Walton League
3434 George Flagg Parkway
Des Moines, IA 50321
Phone: (515) 729-6037
Email: Rachel.Ladd@dnr.iowa.gov

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Southwest Iowa Educator Tests the Waters with DNR through Real World Externships

Mary Carlson is a science teacher at Red Oak Schools in Red Oak, Iowa. Mary completed her Real World Externship with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) team in Lewis, Iowa.

Mary was immediately accepted as a full member of the team. They included her in every project they undertook this summer. Carlson said her experience was amazing and varied. As a member of the team she helped improve the water quality of our lakes and rivers by working with vegetation, which included starting a lily bed.

She helped determine the existing water quality by testing fish. Mary could be found netting fish one day or shocking them with electricity the next. After catching the fish the mercury levels are tested to ensure the quality of the water meets the DNR’s standards. Data collection is a large part of the DNR’s job and Mary helped not only with the collection but also with data organization.

As a teacher, Mary plans to use her new knowledge to engage her students in more outdoor activities. Her classes will be engaged in a water quality day with her local DNR representative. She also plans on having her students prepare a presentation for the DNR based on the question, “would you eat that?” when presented with a fish dinner. This will allow the students to get an expert’s feedback on their research. The students will also get to ask questions, find out what the DNR employees do and the schooling that is needed to get a job with the DNR. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mussel Blitz

 From the adjacent sandbar, the scene looks like a diving school gone awry. Two shallow divers are connected to oxygen lines. A couple others have masks. Another four wade through the shallower sections. Every couple minutes, someone hoists another mussel; adding to the inventory.

“You are looking for coarser gravel, but not big cobblestones,” explains Vance Polton, DNR fisheries technician. He is standing knee deep in the Iowa River, below Iowa City; returning a ‘Wabash pig toe’ to the sandy bottom.

“They have to push through the substrate where they are located,” says Polton. Onshore, small piles of live mussels are inventoried, measured for growth; and then returned to the water.

Iowa’s mussel dilemma is mirrored throughout North America. A dozen of 54 known Iowa species are gone. At least half of the remaining species are endangered or threatened. That wakeup call is what brings up to 50 biologists, students and volunteers for a week of wading and groping often muddy Iowa stream bottoms for elk toes, three-ridge, pocketbooks and fat muckets. If nothing else, freshwater clams have great names!

This summer, the target river was the Iowa; above and below Iowa City. Historically, it has been a good ‘mussel’ river.

“Fish and mussels have ‘co-evolved.’ They somewhat depend on each other,” underscores Scott Gritters, DNR fisheries biologist and annual ringmaster of Iowa’s ‘Mussel Blitz.’ “The more mussel species; the better the mussel density; the better our fish populations; the better our water quality.”

The results this year?

“It’s one of those ‘glass half full, glass half empty,’ scenarios,” assesses Gritters. His long term concern is that populations cannot handle the cycle of highs and lows of past years.

“We really scoured some areas. We found 1,500 mussels; 20 species. We found some decent populations, but I had hoped for 3,000 or so. Mussels don’t react well to that.”

On the upside, the 2014 Mussel Blitz turned up another six Higgins’ eye pearly mussels; thought nearly extinct 40 years ago. Any Higgins’ eyes in the Iowa River were stocked there. Raised in hatcheries; they were inoculated as glochidia--larvae--into the gills of fish, stocked several years ago. No larger than grains of salt then, they hung onto their host for several weeks…before dropping off; hopefully into a hospitable gravel bed.

To have the nearly microscopic mussels show up now, as adults? 

“It’s a pretty big deal,” applauds Gritters. “It is a way to reintroduce mussels into our rivers by stocking fish. We stock a lot of fish for our anglers and this way we can ‘double dip’, so to speak.”

With floods, excess nutrients and sediment covering mussel habitat; even extreme cold affecting these inland mollusks, a few glimmers appear from year to year. 

“People will like our rivers a lot more, if they can support mussels,” says Gritters.

Media Contact: Joe Wilkinson, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 319-430-0325.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Get Your Students “Hooked on Fishing”

Studies show that kids who start fishing at an early age are less likely to get into trouble as teenagers.  All the more reason as educators and parents we need to get our kids "hooked" on fishing!

Get trained in FishIowa! and utilize these great resources to teach your students how to fish. Over 3,400 free-loan rods and reels are available at over 100 locations around Iowa.

The Benefits of Angling
Many psychologists feel that angling offers more positive aspects to youth than other activities because it:
  • Is inexpensive
  • Can be done alone or in a group
  • Decreases stress
  • Allows a time and place to think
  • Creates a special bond between family and friends
  • Allows a sense of accomplishment for all participants
  • Is a lifetime recreational pursuit

Fishing can be a useful component of a youth leadership program because it:
  • Provides a positive alternative to drug use and other “at risk” behaviors
  • Helps students build self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Takes parents and youth away from stressful distractions and provides a new forum for communication
  • Provides a setting for schools and communities to unite

"Anyone can fish, so you don't have to worry about sitting on the bench if you aren't the star athlete. Fish don't see disabilities, they could care less is you are in a wheelchair or are able to run a marathon." ~ Fish Iowa! mentor serving persons with disabilities

Thursday, August 21, 2014

National Catfish Month

Celebrate National Catfish by learning more about Iowa’s catfish and tips for better catfish fishing.

Fun Catfish Facts

  • Catfish are the most widely distributed and abundant sport fish in Iowa waters.
  • Ten species of catfish are found here.
  • Catfish don’t have scales.
  • The “whiskers” that make catfish look like cats are really barbels, the barbels are covered with tastebuds that allow the fish to find food in the murkiest of water.
  • Catfish have taste receptors all over their bodies.
  • Catfish weighing from one to four pounds produce about 4,000 eggs per pound of body weight.

Catfish Fishing Tips

  • Catfish, like all fish, are not randomly distributed, but are congregated in particular locations. Fishing success will depend on your ability to find these concentrations of fish.
  • Light tackle catches more fish, but heavy tackle is required in snags and structure when catching large fish.
  • Catfish can be caught year around.
  • Use dead minnows or cut-bait in the late winter and early spring when the water temperature is between 35-60 degrees F.
  • Use prepared cheese/stink baits in the summer when the water temperature is above 70 degrees F.
  • Cheese/stink baits are most effective on fish 10 to 16 inches in length.
  • Live bait is best for larger fish, those above 3 pounds.

Classic fried catfish recipe

¾ cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. salt
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil
1 catfish fillet
¼ tsp. garlic powder

Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Coat fillets with mixture, shaking off excess. Fill deep pot or 12 inch skillet half full with oil. Heat to 350 degrees. Add catfish in single layer and fry until golden brown (about 5-6 minutes depending on size). Remove and drain on paper towels.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fishing Friday at the Iowa State Fair!

Thanks to our wonderful volunteers for helping make our Fishing Friday a great success. 
  • SE Warren Schools
  • Des Moines Public Schools
  • Forest Avenue Outreach
  • West Harrison Schools