Monday, November 24, 2014

Tips for Selecting the Right Bow

If you’ve decided to take up bowhunting or bowfishing – or maybe you’ve been inspired by Katniss Everdeen to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow – you’ll need to have the right equipment. If you’re just starting, the best way to find a bow is to take an experienced archer or hunter with you to an experienced archery shop.

Use these tips to find the right bow for you:

Know your bows.
While “bow and arrow” might bring up visions of Robin Hood, modern bows are much more sophisticated and varied. Recurve bows are more like the traditional bow, as you draw them back by hand. The bow’s limbs curve slightly and point away from you when the bow is in shooting position. Longbows have straighter, more narrow limbs. A compound bow uses cables and wheels to ease the draw of the arrow and reduce the arm strength needed to shoot the arrow. Compound bows are often the best bows for beginners.

Measure your draw length and weight.
You’ll want a bow that fits you, so you’ll need an appropriate draw length – the distance between the bowstring and your grip on the arrow when the bow is at full draw. You can do this by measuring your wingspan – hold out your arms away from your body and measure from one fingertip, across your back and to the other fingertip. A number of charts online can help you convert your wingspan to draw length. If you’re looking for a bow for kids, bows without a draw length allow the bow to grow along with your kids. The draw weight is the pressure it takes to draw the bow back. Start with a bow weight you’re comfortable with and work your way up.

Find your dominant eye.
Just like you’re probably right- or left-handed, you also have one eye that you tend to use more than the other. That’s called eye dominance, and it’s easy to determine if you’re left eye or right eye dominant – and it’s not always the same as your hand dominance. Take both hands and make a hole or circle between your hands; hold the circle in front of your body with your arms extended and both eyes open. Frame an object in the distance with the circle and slowly bring your hands to your eye. The eye you bring it to naturally is your dominant eye. There are right-handed and left-handed bows – but go by your eye dominance. So if you’re right-handed but left eye dominant, buy a left-handed bow.

Target shooting
Target archery is the best way to get started in archery, allowing you to practice and gain experience with the bow before heading out to the field. Many archery ranges have archery facilities, or you can buy a target and practice in your backyard, if city ordinances allow. Kids can get started in the Archery in the Schools program, too. With some practice, you could even end up in the Olympics, like Iowan Miranda Leek.

Turkey hunting
If you plan on using your new archery skills to take a turkey, you’ll want to look for a compound bow. Because these bows can be held longer and shoot flatter, they’re a good choice for hunters using ground blinds. But be sure to match your bow to your blind and give yourself plenty of room for the limbs of the bow. Longbows and recurves are generally better for stalking, since they feature a quick draw and release. They’re also usually too tall for a blind. Once you have your new bow, be sure to practice with the new bow with your hunting clothes on.

Deer hunting
Start with a compound bow – other bows take more time to become proficient. Compounds can be more forgiving and are easy to learn to shoot on. Get comfortable before the season starts and practice shooting with your hunting clothes on. If you’ll be using a tree stand, familiarize yourself with the harness on the ground first and practice shooting from a sitting position.

It’s not necessary to buy a separate bow for every use – you can use one bow for everything, including bowfishing. You’ll just need to modify the bow by adding an arrow rest for the heavier fiberglass arrow, as well as a reel to bring the arrow back in. Be sure to get familiar with both state regulations and local ordinances on bowfishing before you head out.

Learn more about shooting sports from the DNR's Shooting Sports program.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Trout Streams Provide Quality Fishing Through the Winter

Driving around northeast Iowa last weekend, it was apparent that trout fishing remains a popular fall activity when every parking spot at North and South Bear Creek and Waterloo Creek was filled.

“That was good to see,” said Mike Steuck, fisheries supervisor for interior streams with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Interest in trout fishing usually peaks from April through October, which is the DNR stocking season for roughly 325,000 catchable-size trout each year. But many of those fish will remain in the stream through the winter, providing an experience of fishing for more wild fish with possibly fewer competing anglers.

In addition to the hold-over stocked fish, Iowa has more than 40 trout streams with consistently naturally reproducing brown trout and another 30 streams where natural reproduction is occurring, but not consistently. These streams have a lot of wild fish available for anglers to test their skills.

“It’s a busy place this time of year,” Steuck said. “We have quite a bit of public ground and public streams so you can always find a place to fish.”

Iowa’s trout season is open all year. Iowa’s trout streams are too.

Even during the coldest of cold spells, the streams are not likely to freeze over for very long due to a steady flow of spring-fed water around 50 degrees.

The spring fed streams also have occasional insect hatches on warm afternoons during the winter, which is good news to anglers using dry flies.

“Most common hatches in the winter are midges and they are really small, so dry flies will need to be size 24 or smaller,” Steuck said. When midges are not hatching, he suggests sticking with nymphs.

“Of course if you don’t have the patience for fly fishing, you can always use minnows, spinners, jigs, and the plain hook with a night crawler,” he said. Black or brown jigs that imitate beetles and scuds, minnow imitations, small raps, and rooster tails and panther martens work also.

Fall offers an opportunity to catch some larger brown trout that spawn in shallow rocky areas in the fall.

“Be careful where you’re stepping, to avoid disturbing the redds,” he said. Redds are a cleared area in the gravel, usually with a bit more current in it to keep the nest clean.

While much trout fishing attention in the fall and winter focuses on the events surrounding the stocking in ponds and small lakes around the state, plenty of good fishing remains in trout country, Steuck said.

“We have a lot of fish remaining in our streams and plenty of opportunities to catch them,” he said.

For more information, contact Mike Steuck, Fisheries Supervisor for Interior Streams, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 563-927-3276.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fishing and Engineering

Looking for ways to incorporate engineering principles into your Fish Iowa! program? Try these activities shared with us by Ti Piper, New Mexico Department of Game & Fish Fishing Skills Educator Contractor.

Ordered Pairs Activity
casting gear with 1/4 ounce plastic casting weights
100 foot (or metric) tape
25 foot (or metric) tape
3x5 cards for data recording
pens (no pencils for data recording in science engineer field journals).

Doing the Activity
  • Lay out 100 foot tape in safe casting zone on playground
  • Students cast down the 100' tape while other students report length and “off course” measurement (e.g.,  43' long and -7': cast was seven feet left of the 100' tape, thus the negative seven).
  • Data is recorded using pen and 3x5 card by the casting student who then gets back in line.
  • All students cast three times and end up with three ordered pairs (e.g., 43,-7; 38,2; 49,15).
  • Back in classroom, students make a scatter graph of all data points.
  • Pretend that Student Pat is not in class today, and that Student Pat would have made a cast to the average of the data points....find that point.

Options: pick a casting lane that is left/right in the wind, then do the opposite for another set of data points, figure the average effect of the wind on the class's casting results; use three different casting weights.

Line Strength Activity
Mono fishing line in 2/4/6 pound test
digital fish weighing scales

Doing the Activity
  • Remove the pound test information from the spools of line.
  • Wrap the end of four feet of line to a wooden dowel; wrap the other end to the 'hook' of the digiscale. (No knots are used in the experiment, only wraps.)
  • Two students, each with one end of the experiment, slowly pull the line till it break while a third student reads the scale.
  • Record and share all data.
  • Do all line/breaks three times.

Options: put an overhand knot in the middle of the line - do the knot test wet and dry; use different brands of six pound line

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Berkley High School Fishing Club Challenge - Register by November 30

It's time to start the 2015 challenge - get your team ready and register for the 2015 Berkley® High Fishing Club Challenge. 

The Berkley High Challenge promotes the joy of fishing while learning techniques to develop the skills to create lifelong anglers. Your club can be big or small, skilled or novice, and can fish for any species. It’s not about the biggest or the most fish, it’s about the joy of the sport.

Monthly Challenges
Your club will participate in “I dare you” type monthly challenges for extra challenge points. Each month a new challenge will be posted with the instructions, timeline and the prizes for that month.

October’s challenge: Berkley’s Scariest Bait –
Select the Berkley bait you think is the SCARIEST and tell us why. (Example – the design, it’s amazingly fierce ability to catch fish, the smell, etc.) Post your answer on Berkley Facebook. Be sure to mention the Berkley High School Club and include the name of your school. All who post will receive ten bonus points for their team. Include a picture of the bait and win a Berkley Line Winding Machine for your team. Competing in these can earn you extra points BUT this is how EVERY TEAM can win prizes throughout the year.

Team and Individual Tasks (Report Card)
All team and individual tasks are simple things all fishing club members should be doing to improve their personal, professional and angler skills.  Each task will earn your team points toward winning the Challenge. Uploading fishing action photos of your team members on the Berkley High School page, participating in a local fishing tournament, renewing your fishing license, or assisting with the clean-up of a local waterway are just a few of the tasks that you can complete to have the opportunity to add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your club’s arsenal of fishing supplies.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

2015 Fish Iowa! Games

Get Your School Hooked!

"Fish Iowa! Games is a great confidence builder for students. It doesn’t matter your size, age, or gender – everybody can compete on a fair level.”

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.

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.

2015 Registration Now Open!!!

Register your school or your class now to secure your competition kit. The competition may be held anytime between February 1 and May 1. Competition kits will be shipped beginning mid January.

Competition Kit

  • Guidelines and diagrams
  • 2 targets
  • 2 contest spincast rods & reels
  • 16 casting plugs (5/16 oz) for practice
  • Participation ribbons – 1 per contestant
  • Medals – gold, silver, and bronze for each class
  • Sample press release

Friday, October 31, 2014

Special Walleye Stocking

Spawned this past spring, then raised at the Department of Natural Resources’ Rathbun Hatchery, the 8- to 10-inch advanced fingerlings join walleyes already in Pleasant Creek Lake, Lake Macbride and five other Iowa lakes; introduced as tiny, recently hatched fry.

Each just-stocked advanced fingerling walleye has its left pectoral fin clipped to identify it as it shows up in future population surveys…or on the end of an angler’s line. Each year a different fin will be clipped to mark the year the fingerling was stocked in an ongoing research project on Macbride and six other Iowa lakes.

In contrast, fry stocked in the spring are not clipped or marked each year. Due to their larger size at stocking, advanced fingerlings are expected to survive well and may provide more consistent recruitment of walleyes, year to year.

“We stock many more fry, but they have a higher mortality rate than advanced fingerlings. These advanced fingerling walleyes are more expensive to raise; however, a larger percentage may reach (catchable) size,” explains Rebecca Krogman, DNR reservoir research biologist. “We will be able to determine more clearly several years down the road whether one group grows faster, survives better and ultimately recruits to the fishery more successfully.”

The project will include study of the otoliths, scales and spines, referred to collectively as “age structures,” from a sample of walleyes. The otolith is a sort of fish ‘ear bone’ which shows a record of growth, similar to tree rings.

About 9,400 fingerlings went into Macbride this week. Pleasant Creek received about 4,100. They will grow alongside survivors from 2.8 million Macbride fry and 1.2 million fry in Pleasant Creek.

"Every few years, we hope to get a big walleye year from the fry stockings,” notes DNR fisheries management biologist Paul Sleeper. “If the food source is there, typically zooplankton, the fry get a good start. If we have a cold front moving through, reducing zooplankton growth, we will have poorer survival.”

During these “off years” for fry, the advanced fingerling stocking is particularly important for strategically augmenting walleye populations in Iowa reservoirs.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2015 Take It Outside Art Contest

Celebrating wildlife artist, Maynard Reece & Iowa Fish

“We really had a good time doing the contest. It brought in a lot of good discussion and even the teacher aides were surprised at some of the facts I shared from the DNR website. The kids loved it.”

The Department of Natural Resources invites you to enroll your class in our fourth annual “Take It Outside” Art Contest.

This year’s contest will celebrate the great contributions of wildlife artist, Maynard Reece. Reece is considered one of the founding fathers of wildlife art. As a child, he spent many hours exploring Lake Okoboji. His teachers discovered his artistic ability at the age of 13 and entered one of his drawings in the Iowa State Fair. As a young adult, Maynard worked at what is today known as the State Historical Museum collecting specimens for the museum’s collection and painting fish to create the plates for the original publishing of Iowa Fish and Fishing – this was instrumental in launching his career as a freelance artist. Reece’s fish drawings can be viewed on the DNR website

Students are encouraged to use their artistic skills to create an image of their favorite Iowa fish (see the eligible fish list in the complete contest rules) in its natural habitat. Fish species fact sheets are available on the DNR Education website (click on Fact Sheets/Fish in the Document Library). Starting next month, check out our Take It Outside: Fish Iowa! blog for more information about Iowa fish and Maynard Reece.

New This Year!
We are partnering with the Wildlife Forever® State-Fish Art® Contest to host an Iowa State-Fish Contest in conjunction with our annual Take It Outside Art Contest. The first place artwork in each judging category will be submitted for National Awards. First place winners at the state level will be honored at the annual State-Fish Art Expo this summer.

For more information visit our website.