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.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Celebrate Food Day – Add More Fish to Your Diet

Fish are low in saturated fat and contain protein, calcium, iron, zinc and many vitamins. Eating fish can contribute to a healthy heart, the prevention of diseases and a child’s proper growth. The Iowa Dept. of Public Health recommends eating two meals of fish per week.

There are many easy ways to cook fish. If you are preparing fresh fish, rinse them in cold water and pat dry. Make several shallow, diagonal cuts in the flesh of large fillets to hasten cooking time. No matter the method of cooking you choose, the most important thing to remember is not to overcook the fish.

Try these quick and easy fish recipes. Visit our From Hookin' To Cookin' website for more recipes and tips for cooking fish.

Lemon Fried Bluegill
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 cup water
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 ½ lb. bluegill
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. salt

Blend flour, lemon peel, salt and pepper. Add water and chill 30 minutes. Heat two inches of oil in fryer to 375 degrees. Coat fish in flour and dip in batter. Fry three minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Mustard fried bluegill
1 16 oz. sour cream
1 cup mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups yellow cornmeal

Coat cleaned bluegill fillets with sour cream and mustard mixture and let stand for 20 minutes in refrigerator. Season cornmeal with salt and pepper before dredging fish in mixture. Deep fry in hot oil.

Beer battered bluegill
1 lb. bluegill fillets
1 egg
1 cup flour
¾ can of beer

Pat fish dry with paper towels. In a bowl, mix egg, flour, and beer until smooth. Let stand 15 minutes. Dip fish in batter and fry in hot oil until both sides are browned.

Fried bluegill
Bluegill fillets
Garlic salt
Yellow cornmeal

Mix ingredients in a bag, using your own estimates according to quantity and taste. Fry in hot oil until crisp.

Fried crappie
1/3 lb. crappie fillets
2 cups pancake mix
Lemon pepper

Dip fish in water and sprinkle with salt and lemon pepper. Coat lightly with pancake mix. Fry 4-5 minutes or until fillets flake easily. Serve with cocktail sauce.

Classic fried catfish
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.

Homemade tartar sauce
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 tbs. finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbs. chopped, drained sweet pickle
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tbs. fresh lemon juice

Optional: 1 tbs. chopped drained capers, 1 tbs. chopped drained green olives. Combine ingredients and mix well. Yield about 2/3 cup (6 servings).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Berkley High School Fishing Club Program

Join the 2015 Challenge!

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, freshwater or saltwater, and can fish for any species. It’s not about the biggest or the most fish, it’s about the joy of the sport.

A season filled with fun monthly challenges, training opportunities, pro videos, and great prizes are available to all teams that participate.

Don’t miss the chance to team with the most notable brand in the fishing tackle industry - BERKLEY®.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Trout Fishing Excitement

Fall and winter trout stocking south of Hwy. 20 began in 2004 when South Banner Lake received 2,000 fish and at each stocking event since, the hatchery truck has been greeted by throngs of anglers eagerly anticipating the first strike.

From that initial successful release, the DNR has expanded cool weather trout stocking from Council Bluffs to Burlington.  With each new location comes a new group of followers greeting stocking trucks with rods in hand.

“This is about as a sure thing as there is with fishing,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of fisheries for the Iowa DNR. “These are fun fish to catch and they are aggressive right off the truck. People are getting limits quickly once the fish are stocked.”

The fall trout stocking events are listed on the DNR’s online calendar of events at

“These trout are easy to catch using simple, inexpensive tackle. We usually have a family friendly fishing event associated with the stocking to help novice anglers be successful,” Larscheid said.

Bringing trout to cities and towns offered a unique fishing experience to Iowans who might not normally travel to northeast Iowa to fish for trout. The experiment has been a success.

“We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of trout fees sold since the first trout was released in South Banner Lake in 2004. We are less than 300 sales shy of breaking the all time record for trout,” he said.

Anglers are required to have purchased a trout privilege in addition to having a valid fishing license to fish for or possess trout. There is a five fish per day limit with a possession limit of 10.  Children may fish under their adult’s license but may only take one daily limit. The child may have their own limit if they purchase a trout privilege.

Media Contact: Joe Larscheid, Chief of Fisheries, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515-281-5208.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

High School Chefs Tackle Flying Fish At Indian Hills Competition

OTTUMWA - It’s a fish that created buzz when videos appeared showing them flying out of the water when startled by a motor boat in an Illinois river, but will it have that same buzz when it appears on a menu? 

Silver carp, the invasive species expanding its reach in rivers in and around Iowa, will be the featured ingredient at Indian Hills Community College (IHCC) Culinary Arts Department’s cooking completion based on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America television show on Oct. 17. 

Chef and program chair Gordon Rader has built IHCC’s Culinary Arts Department into a nationally recognized, award winning program. He has held this competition twice each year for the past seven years as a way to attract high school students who are serious about a career in the culinary arts. 

High school teams from Burlington, Mediapolis, Fort Madison, Ottumwa, Eddyville-Blakesburg, Cardinal and Mount Pleasant will compete for scholarship money to attend IHCC’s Culinary Arts program. The six person teams and their teachers will demonstrate their skills in the on-campus studio in front of about 75 friends and family from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The competition follows a similar format to the television show – contestants are judged on their kitchen skills, service and taste. Chef Rader intentionally creates a stressful environment giving students a real world scenario then see how they react.

In the TV show, the chefs do not know the secret ingredient. For this competition, Rader provided teams with it ahead of time because the fish are difficult to work with due to their boney structure. 

The Iowa DNR collected silver carp for the competition. 

“I’m interested to see what these high school students can do with it,” Rader said. “It’s an enjoyable fish to eat. The students said that it tasted better than tuna.” 

These fish have white flesh with a mild flavor unlike its cousin the common carp that feeds on the bottom and has a strong fish taste. 

“These fish taste more long the lines of our panfish or catfish. The only issue is the amount of bones and it takes some practice to clean one,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of Fisheries for the Iowa DNR. “This is a resource that can be exploited.  These are non native fish that are here and we want people to use them. What we don’t want is for these fish to expand into new areas because they can negatively impact existing fish populations.”

Silver and bighead carp are an invasive species from Asia that were imported to commercial catfish farms in the south as a way to maintain their ponds in the 1970s. By 1980, the fish were found outside of those facilities, in natural waters. These carp feed by filtering water over their gill rakers that trap microscopic organisms that compete for food directly with native aquatic species. They can grow from 50 pounds to more than 100 pounds.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

When Leaves Turn Colors, Fish Turn On

Shorter days, cooler nights and fewer bugs are signs that autumn is getting closer. Fish are starting to go on a feeding frenzy to prepare for winter and next spring’s spawn.  For anglers, that means some of the best fishing of the year is right around the corner.

Joe Larscheid, chief of the DNR’s Fisheries Bureau, says fall is a close second to spring as the top season to fish because the fish will get into predictable patterns making them easier to locate.

“Panfish, especially yellow perch, will form large schools as the water temperature cools so look for a lot of boats in one area.  In the rivers, fish will move to the deepest holes for the winter so fishing the outside bends of the river is a good strategy,” Larscheid said.  “Fall is often overlooked as a prime fishing time because many of us are in hunting mode or are busy with school activities, but there is excellent fishing to be had and many of our trophy fish are caught in the fall.”

Using live bait, particularly minnows, and a slower presentation are keys when fishing in cooler water.  Targeting areas of a lake or river where the water is warmer can also improve success.  In lakes, shallow water along the north shore will be warmer and in lakes and rivers, areas where small creeks enter will be warmer.

With school back in session, not only will the competition for the best fishing spots be less, but the campgrounds will also be less busy. Combining a fishing and fall camping trip to a state park when the leaves are turning makes for a perfect outdoor weekend. 

“Catching fish during the day and sitting around the campfire at night in the fall in my book makes for a great weekend,” Larscheid said. 

For the latest information on fishing, camping, hunting and fall colors, go to

MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Larscheid, Chief of Fisheries, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515-281-5208.