Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Iowa State Parks Featured in America’s Top Family and Boating Spots Sweepstakes

The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) is searching for the top 100 family fishing and boating spots across the nation, and several Iowa state parks are among the potential spots being considered. Iowans participating in the vote can ensure their favorite places to boat and fish are recognized nationally.

Iowa locations include Lake Macbride (Solon), Lake Pahoja (west of Larchwood), Little River Watershed Lake (west of Leon) and Green Valley Lake (northwest of Creston).  Entrants can vote daily until April 12, 2015 for the three parks they feel offer the best experience based on family amenities, location and the likeliness to catch a fish or enjoy a day on the water. The parks with the most votes will be placed on 2015 America’s Top 100 Family Fishing and Boating Spots list.

To learn more about the sweepstakes and to vote for your favorite parks, got to www.takemefishing.org and click on the link to  America’s Top Family Fishing and Boating Spots Sweepstakes.

Visit the Iowa DNR web site for more information about each Iowa location including amenities, popular fish species and fish stocking information.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Prepping the Tackle Box for Spring Fishing

Get the basics on making sure your tackle box and gear is ready for spring fishing | Iowa DNRIf this stretch of warmer weather has you itching for spring fishing, now is a great time to dust off the tackle box and prepare for a great fishing season. Some ideas for a good spring cleaning of your gear:

Clean Start
Clean your empty tackle box with soapy water and rinse. Wipe it down and let it dry.

Take Inventory
Before restocking your sparkly clean tackle box, check your favorite lures to make sure they are in top shape. Look for cracks or dings in the lure body, replace bent and rusty hooks, and make sure the hooks are sharp. Throw away plastic baits that have dried up.
Fresh Line
Fishing line weakens with exposure to sunlight, water and use. Re-spool all your reels.

Back to the Basics
Every tackle box should include these essential items: needle-nose pliers, various size hooks, extra line, bobbers, sinkers, line cutters or fingernail clippers, a sharp knife, a basic first aid kit, a small flashlight with extra batteries, and sunscreen. Be sure to check the batteries to make sure they're still fresh and replace the sunscreen if it's outdated.

Make a Plan
When your gear is ready to go, start planning your first outing with the Iowa DNR places to fish webpages.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Snag a Paddlefish This Spring with These Pointers

Anglers fishing the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers this spring have a new angling opportunity. The new paddlefish fishing season opens March 1 and runs through April 15 (sunrise to sunset).
You need a special paddlefish license and unused transportation tag, along with a valid Iowa fishing license, to fish for paddlefish on the Missouri and Big Sioux rivers. These licenses were available from Dec. 15, 2014 to Jan. 31. A special paddlefish tag is not needed for the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers.
Paddlefish are filter feeders – they feed on microscopic organisms called zooplankton, so they can’t be caught with the traditional hook and worm. Snagging is the only efficient method of catching paddlefish.

Follow these basic tips for snagging paddlefish:

Basic Tackle
Use heavy weights (from one ounce on up to 4 or 4.5 ounces), a medium-heavy to heavy rod at least six feet long, and braided line of at least 50 pound test strength. Treble hooks can be no larger than 5/0 or measuring more than 1.25 inches in length when two hook points are placed on a ruler. A gaffe hook or other penetrating device cannot be used as an aid in landing a snagged fish.

Where to Snag
Paddlefish prefer slower, deep water. Scout with a depth finder for pockets of deep water, or head to areas slightly downstream from wing dams. Paddlefish feed in the current coming off the end of the dam.

Snagging Techniques
Some anglers prefer to vertical snag for paddlefish from a stationary boat over a deep hole or while trolling through current seams and behind the wing dams. Fishing from shore, or anchoring a boat and casting into the current seam and calm water are effective in shallower areas as fish are spooked out of the area.

Rivers can change over the winter with new downed trees, snags and changing locations of sandbars. Be aware of your surroundings while boating. Make sure your boat motor is running properly after being stored during the winter.

Be safe and have fun. Wear a life jacket and bring along dry clothes. Keep a knife or pliers accessible in case you need to free yourself from a treble hook or heavy fishing line. Pace yourself - the repetitive motions can result in sore muscles.

Check the
2015 Iowa Fishing Regulations for snagging restrictions, length limits and daily bag and possession limits.

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.