Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Care of Your Catch

Freshly caught fish tastes great if it's cared for properly. Store caught fish in a cooler with ice until you get home. To preserve a fresh taste, clean your fish as soon as possible. Filleting, pan dressing, and skinning are three simple ways to clean your catch.

Filleting Fish
Filleting is a very popular technique for cleaning fish because you don’t need to remove the internal organs, head, or fins. The fillets also are boneless. Filleting is easiest when you use a sharp fillet knife with a thin, flexible blade. Wear a fillet glove on your free hand to prevent serious cuts. (A fillet glove helps deflect an errant knife blade.) You also need a flat, firm surface to work on.

1. Place the blade of the knife just behind the pectoral fin and cut through to the backbone.
2. Turn the knife so the blade is against, and nearly parallel to, the backbone. Hold the fish firmly with one hand and use a sawing motion to cut through the ribs toward the tail. Continue to the base of the tail. (Note: Some anglers fillet the meat around the ribs rather than cutting through them.)
3. Place the knife near the tail end of the fillet with the blade next to the skin. Hold the fish at the base of the tail with your fingertips and work the blade forward between the skin and flesh.

4. Place the edge of the knife blade just under the top of the ribs and slice them out of the fillet. Repeat the procedure on the other side of the fish.

General Fish Filleting (uses a fillet knife) 
General Fish Filleting (uses an electric fillet knife) 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Six Iowa Fish that Put Up the Biggest Fight

Looking for a challenge? Try catching one of these fish that are ready to battle.

Smallmouth bass - this aggressive, scrappy-fighting, aerial acrobat is the hardest fighting freshwater fish (pound per pound); found in free-flowing sections of streams and rivers, many anglers need to travel only a short distance for a chance to fish for this fierce fighter.

Bluegillounce to ounce, these quick to bite, slab-sided sunfish are the strongest fighters; they may be small, but they are mighty; they often turn sidewise when you hook them so you are pulling them in with their greatest surface area trying to come sideways through the water.


Flathead Catfish – these "big-water" fish grow to enormous size and put up a powerful fight; you are usually fighting the fish along with the current in a river.
Hybrid striped bass (wiper) a cross between a female striped bass and male white bass, they can attain weights over twenty pounds; these strong swimmers are explosive fighters when hooked.

White bass - these fast growing predators are incredible fighters; they are aggressive strong swimmers abundant throughout the Mississippi River and in the lower reaches of its main tributary streams.
Common Carp – these large minnows often weigh up to 50 pounds or more and put up a long, strong fight when hooked; you are usually fighting the fish along with the current

Find tips for catching these champion fighters on our How to Fish For website. Sign up for the Iowa DNR weekly fishing report to find out what’s biting where.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

State Fish Iowa! Games Target Casting Competition

The State Fish Iowa! Games finals were held June 6 at the Liberty Centre Pond in North Liberty.  Participants competed in one of two classes, Open or Medalist. The Medalist Class was for students who had placed as a medalist in a Fish Iowa! Games casting competition at their school. Over 9,700 Iowa students across the state took part in these competitions. The Open Class was for students who had not competed in a Fish Iowa! Games school casting competition or who participated but did not place first in their class.

All participants received a certificate. Medals were awarded for three age divisions. The first place winner in each division also received a rod and reel.
2015 State Fish Iowa! Games Medalists
Age 8 & Under

Age 8 & younger
Medalist/Open Class
Edward Xu – 1st Place
Damien Maylone – 2nd Place
Liam Strabala– 3rd Place

Age 9-11
Medalist Class
2015 State Fish Iowa! Games Medalists
Age 9-11
Holden Mathis – 1st Place
RJ Francois – 2nd Place
Kairi Griffin – 3rd Place

Open Class
Ben Sirdoreus – 1st Place
Makayla Asche – 2nd Place
Avery Van Abbema – 3rd Place

Age 12 & older
2015 State Fish Iowa! Games Medalists
Age 12 & Older
Medalist Class
Dalton Asche – 1st Place
Joanna Thury – 2nd Place

Fish Iowa! Games
is a casting competition developed by the Iowa Sports Foundation in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The program is a fun competition where students learn to flip, pitch and cast overhand to a target. Participants receive points based on the accuracy of each casting technique. Often, it is taught as part of an introductory fishing unit. For younger students, it may be their first experience with a rod and reel. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Free Fishing Weekend: What to Know Before You Head Out

Free Fishing Weekend (June 5, 6 and 7, 2015) is the perfect time to take kids fishing or introduce someone to fishing. DNR staff will be at popular fishing spots across the state to assist with setting up fishing poles and distribute free fishing packets to kids that include tips for fishing, bobbers and right-sized hooks for best catching success.

Follow these simple tips to help your family have a fun and safe free fishing weekend.

Attend a fun, hands-on fishing clinic to learn the basics of fishing. A list of fishing clinics, derbies, and other fun events co-sponsored by the DNR is available on the special events page.

A small hook (size 6 or 8), bobber (size of a nickel and no larger than a quarter) and a worm will get you started. Bring something to get the hook out of any fish that you catch, needle-nose pliers work well.

Learn how to tie at least one basic fishing knot. The uni, palomar, blood and improved clinch knots are strong, reliable and easy to tie. For step-by step instructions and illustrations, check out our Knots Every Anglers Should Know.

Fish in the morning and evening; fish are more active during these times.

Fish like structure so they can hide; fish in or around trees and stumps in the water. If you can see the fish they can see or hear you so try not to let your shadow scare the fish.

Some species of fish have length and bag limits so make sure you know the fishing regulations.

Keep a bottle of sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses, and a hat with a brim in your tackle box to help protect you from the sun. Children fishing around deep or fast-moving water should wear a life jacket. Make sure the life jacket fits your child snugly and won’t ride up around their face.
If you are going to release the fish, handle it as little as possible and with damp hands. For more catch and release tips, see our 6 Tips for Catch and Release Fishing.
Commemorate your child’s First Fish with a frameable certificate. Submit your entry online at www.iowadnr.gov/fishing.
Find more tips at www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Iowa Residents Enjoy Free Fishing Days June 5-7

Iowa residents may fish without a license on June 5, 6 and 7 as part of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources free fishing weekend.

Free fishing weekend is the first weekend in June each year.  It allows Iowans an opportunity to try fishing without purchasing a license.  All other regulations remain in place.

Fishing is an activity that can be done during any stage in life and is a great way to spend time together as a family. “We want people to fish because it is a good, wholesome activity,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa DNR’s Fisheries Bureau.

DNR staff will be at popular fishing spots across the state to help beginner anglers get started. They will assist with setting up fishing poles and distribute small kits with basic terminal tackle for panfishing along with tips and a few fun items.

“If someone needs a little instruction, there are fun, hands-on fishing clinics available to teach parents or kids the basics of fishing,” said Larscheid.

A list of fishing clinics, derbies, and other fun events co-sponsored by the DNR are available on the special events page.

Anyone catching their first fish is encouraged to take a photo of it and send it in to receive the DNR’s first fish award. The DNR will commemorate the event with a certificate suitable for framing and the submitted photo.

Information on the first fish program is available in the Iowa Fishing Regulations and online at http://www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/MasterAnglerFirstFish.aspx

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Iowa Naturalist Recognized for Fishing Education Efforts

Laura DeCook, naturalist with the Mahaska County Conservation Board is the 2015 recipient of the Brass Bluegill award from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fish Iowa! program. The award has been presented each year since 1996 to an instructor who has established an outstanding local program that exemplifies the goals of Fish Iowa!
DeCook began working with Fish Iowa! almost 20 years ago with the introduction of the national “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” materials. As the At-Risk Coordinator for Southeast Warren Community Schools, she developed a K-12 mentoring program based on fishing that is still active today.
DeCook moved into the County Conservation Board system in 1997 where she continued to be a strong advocate for angling and general aquatic education in Warren, Appanoose, and Mahaska counties. She has conducted fishing classes, camps, and events for thousands of youth, families, women, and persons with disabilities. Her programs have encompassed Fish Iowa! topics and skills ranging from basic spincasting and ice fishing to fly-fishing. She has also been active in recruiting by assisting schools in conducting the Fish Iowa! Games casting contest and currently is serving as an advisor to the national Archery Trade Association in the development of Explore Bowfishing.
DeCook has been a Fish Iowa! trainer since 2002, sharing the educational resources, and her love of fishing, with some 40 other teachers, naturalists, and youth leaders throughout southeastern Iowa.

“Fishing is a lifetime activity.  It can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.  Being able to share this activity with others and to spend time with people outdoors is a highlight of my profession.” said DeCook.  When she is not teaching fishing classes she can be found at one of her favorite bow fishing spots or taking her two boys fishing, hunting or to youth sporting activities.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spring Fishing In Full Swing Across Iowa

Spring fishing is often some of the best for the entire year. Water temperature allows for fish to be active during the entire day and many fish are in spawning mode, which usually means they are close to shore and willing to bite..

“Late May and early June is an excellent time to take kids fishing because many species are spawning and do not spook as easily,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau. 

Fish close to structure in the water, like rocks or a pile of brush or gravel to find bluegills or crappies. Bass will be around brush or boat docks or rock piles. The new online fishing atlas contains fish structure locations or you can download structure location maps from the DNR’s Where to Fish website.

“Remember to keep the hooks, bobbers and bait small because panfish have small mouths,” he said. “The biggest problem we see is anglers using too heavy of line, and large bobbers and hooks. Use as light of tackle as you can. I would suggest using four pound line, a bobber the size of a quarter and a size 8 hook.”

“Parents can make the trip more memorable by bringing snacks, taking photos and celebrating each fish as if it were a record breaker. It is up to parents to help pass along this Iowa tradition,” he said.

The Iowa DNR has a first fish program that commemorates a person’s first catch with a certificate suitable for framing.  “We want to celebrate fishing and bring more people to this high quality, family-friendly activity,” Larscheid said. 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources issues a weekly fishing report each Thursday afternoon at www.iowadnr.gov, then click on fishing report in the left column. The website also has places to fish, lake maps and other information to help with success.