Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gone Fishing for Summer

Summer is all about relaxing with family and friends. Add fishing to your list of summer activities. Plan a day trip or bring along fishing gear on your next weekend getaway or camping trip.

“Fish are still biting, even in the middle of a sticky Iowa summer,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau. Like anglers, fish adjust to the heat, too. “The key is being in the right place, even when the thermometer says it’s too hot to fish.”

The best fishing is early in the morning or later in the evening and after dark. Avoid the brightest, hottest part of the day. Fish might cruise the shoreline early in the morning, but will seek cover in deeper water as the sun starts beating down on the water. “Some of our best fishing is after dark,” reminds Larscheid. 

Look for fish in weed beds or structure, near shade during the day. They often are suspended in deeper water, just above the thermocline - a midsummer phenomenon many lakes develop creating two distinct layers.  Below the thermocline, often 8 to 10 or 12 feet deep, oxygen is nearly nonexistent.  Many fish suspend just above the thermocline, where temperatures and light conditions are tolerable, and where oxygen levels are sufficient. 

“When the water heats up, we really see the white bass and wipers come on,” said Larscheid.  “Hot weather is also a good time to catch big channel catfish and largemouth bass.”

White bass are active in the summer in the flood control reservoirs (Coralville, RedRock, Rathbun and Saylorville). Calm days are the best to fish for white bass because the seagulls can see the shad easier and will be feeding on them. Follow the seagulls to spot white bass. Telltale splashes on the water surface are good signs, too, as the shad leap from the water trying to escape.

“Bluegills spawn several times during the summer, so stay shallow, looking for them,” advises Larscheid.  Largemouth bass and channel catfish can be found close to shore. Look for bass near cover; stumps, wood structure. “Bass and bluegills will also use vegetation for cover and shade. It also holds a variety of zooplankton and insects which attract baitfish.”

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Holstein Teacher Recognized for Outstanding Fishing Program

Justin Kinney, physical education and health instructor at Ridge View High School in Holstein, is the 2016 recipient of the Brass Bluegill award from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fish Iowa! program.

Kinney first learned about Fish Iowa! from the elementary physical education teacher. Kinney, Matt Best, and elementary principal Mike Richard were trained in April of 2015 and integrated fishing instruction into both the fifth grade PE and high school general PE classes that spring. High school students learned the basics then headed to local ponds for practice. Their final outing was at Crawford Creek and involved fishing and a picnic with fifth grade students, who had also been learning basics in their PE classes. About 80 high school students served as mentors to some 50 fifth graders.

Kinney, Best, and Richard attended more Fish Iowa! training in June 2015 and discussed options to expand their efforts. Besides fine tuning the basic fishing program, Kinney developed an additional course that encompasses a host of “Outdoor Education” components. The new course includes fishing, trapping, outdoor cooking, shooting, tomahawking, hunter safety, survival skills, orienteering, camping and more. It provides a host of hands-on opportunities that extend the basic introductory unit provided through general physical education courses. Each trimester-long class will accommodate 15 -20 students; 45 - 60 seniors will participate this year. The course will culminate in a trip to the Boundary Waters.

Kinney describes support for the new class as “mind blowing,” from Principal Richard to the superintendent, to the Board of Education, to parents and the community overall. He received a grant from the Ida County Community Betterment Foundation, but individuals, businesses and organizations have also given equipment, services and money - one parent donated $1,000; a business provided eight rifles at cost; and donations keep coming. Kinney credits the outpouring to an overall desire to help students “unplug” from technology.
Kinney grew up near the Mississippi River by St. Louis “doing all things outdoors” with his family and friends, but for him it is not about the skills. The outdoors provides a venue where people can connect.

“It’s really not about the fishing or other outdoor activities – it’s about the relationships. Relationships we build with our students. Relationships they build with each other,” Kinney said. “And hopefully, someday relationships they will build with the next generation through outdoor activities. Relationships are the key to successful students becoming men and women of character. That’s what we try to build here at Ridge View.”

As an administrator (and avid outdoorsman), Richard says the program has been easy to support because Mr. Kinney brings his "passion to the table" and his enthusiasm for the outdoors is contagious. “Students experience fun hands-on learning activities related to the outdoors that they can enjoy the rest of their lives,” Richard added. “The extended benefit is a generation that cares about the great land and water resources we have in Iowa.” He describes his experience watching high school students mentor fifth graders, “One boy was smiling ear to ear as his mentor helped him catch his first fish, a bluegill. Like Mr. Kinney said, it truly is all about relationships.”

Kinney created a Facebook® page to share student experiences with the community. Other teachers have been inspired by the success at Ridge View schools and are looking to create similar efforts. Kinney will present the program’s status and what they have learned at the Iowa Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (IAHPERD) annual conference in June.

Kinney was presented his award at the Natural Resources Commission Meeting in Otho on June 9. Richard and Best were also recognized for their role in establishing and supporting the program at the elementary level.

The Brass Bluegill 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!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Take Dad Fishing for Father’s Day

As we honor dad this weekend, give dad something he will always treasure – quality time together. Take dad fishing and create memories that you can relive every time you’re together.

Bring along insect spray and some vanilla for the small gnats. Wear light-colored clothing to reflect the sun and keep you cooler. Don’t forget sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen. Check the weather conditions often.

Put fish you plan to clean and eat on ice immediately in a cooler. This will help preserve the flavor of the fish. Fish are very perishable; the flesh will deteriorate rapidly and lose flavor if not kept cold.

Visit the Iowa DNR website for tips on making the most of your fishing trip this Father’s Day including fishing reportsfishing mapstips for fishing with kids and great places to fish close to home.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

DNR, Tourism Office Team up to Promote Family Fishing

The Iowa DNR and Iowa Tourism Office are calling on families to put down the screens and make lasting memories fishing.

The all-digital “Gone Fishing” campaign will educate families about fishing opportunities throughout the state and promote the sale of fishing licenses. The campaign is enabled by a $25,000 grant secured from the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing participation in recreational fishing and boating. Iowa was one of only a five states to receive funding from the organization in 2016.

Iowa is home to some of the best fishing in the Midwest, with thousands of lakes and ponds and hundreds of streams and rivers. Iowa fishing licenses are available from the DNR for just $19 annually for Iowa residents. Children 15 years and younger can fish without a license. Additional fees apply for trout fishing. The DNR sold 370,160 licenses in 2015, generating revenues of more than $8 million.

Get your family out of the house this summer and get in touch with Iowa’s beautiful outdoors through fishing.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Celebrate a Child’s First Fish

Commemorate the memory of a child hooking their first fish with a frameable certificate. You can print the certificate yourself from an electronic file posted online or request a printed certificate.

It’s easy and free to participate. There are no size, species or age requirements – only that it be the fish the angler has successfully landed. Apply for a first fish certificate online.
Family and friends can join in on the celebration by viewing the first catch photos of their children and other budding anglers.

Fishing is a great way for families and friends to enjoy being outdoors. Follow the simple tips for taking kids fishing the first time on the DNR website to help keep the experience fun and positive for the whole family.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Free Fishing Weekend: What to Know Before You Head Out

Free Fishing Weekend (June 3, 4 and 5, 2016) is the perfect time to take kids fishing or introduce someone to fishing. Have some fun, create new memories and spend quality time with your family and friends.

Travel to one of the hundreds of Iowa lakes, thousands of miles of rivers or a nearby pond for a few hours of outdoor fun and relaxation. 

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. Pinpoint panfish hotspots with downloadable fishing structure location maps available on the DNR’s Fishing Maps website.

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 .

Monday, May 23, 2016

Spring Fishing In Full Swing Across Iowa

Crappies and bluegills are biting in small ponds and lakes across Iowa. Spring panfish fishing is a great opportunity to introduce beginners of all ages to fishing.

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

“Parents can make the trip more memorable by bringing snacks, taking photos and celebrating each fish as if it were a record breaker,” said Larscheid. “Sharing and teaching fishing skills to our kids will help pass along this Iowa tradition.”

Look for any type of 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. Pinpoint panfish hotspots with downloadable fishing structure location maps available on the DNR’s Fishing Maps website.

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

"We have a lot of good opportunities close to home," Larscheid said. "Make sure a rod and reel are part of any weekend plans. Fishing makes memories that will last a lifetime."

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 with the submitted photo. Apply for a first fish certificate online.

Enjoy Iowa’s outdoors and spend some time fishing this spring. Find tips for catching crappie, bluegills and yellow bass on the DNR website.