Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Iowa Outdoor Expo for Kids and Families

September 24th & 25th
Saturday: 9am - 6pm & Sunday: 10am - 4pm
Des Moines Izaak Walton League and Water Works Park
4343 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines

Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day by bringing the entire family out for a fun weekend discovering new and exciting ways to enjoy Iowa's outdoors. 

With over 50 free hands-on activities and daily family presentations, visitor's are able to learn, observe and experience recreation opportunities in the great outdoors. Instructors will be on hand to teach the activities, offer guidance and tips for them to enjoy the activity when they are on their own.


Hands-on activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Fishing- Reel Fishing, Bow Fishing, Casting games, Fish ID tank, Fish Printing, Fish Cleaning & Cooking
  • Water Sports- Canoeing, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Life Jacket Safety, Knot Tying
  • Kid's Corner- Fossil & Treasure Dig, Live Animals, Minnow Races, Build a Bird Feeder, Fish Cleaning
  • Camping- Tent Demonstrations, Dutch Oven and Game Cooking
  • Buckskinners Encampment- Traditional encampment, Blacksmith Shop, Tomahawk Range, Atl Atl
  • Archery- Beginners Foam Range, Traditional Range (9 and over), 3D Range, Aerial Range, Tree Stand Safety
  • Shooting Sports- Trap Shooting (height requirement), Sling Shot, BB Gun Range, Air Gun Range
  • Wildlife & Hunting- Furharvesting and Trapping in Iowa, Waterfowl Hunting, Turn In Poachers (TIP), Wild Game Care/Food Safety, Turkey Hunting
  • Conservation- Urban Garden Program, Polk County Soil & Water Conservation, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Sierra Club, Urban Pollinator Program, Outdoor Health
  • Raptor Release- SOAR (release times available at the Registration Tent)
  • Live Game Field Dressing- Milo Locker
The Iowa Outdoor Expo is sponsored by the Izaak Walton League, Polk County Conservation, Des Moines Parks and Recreation, the U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance Foundation, SOAR Saving Our Avian Resources, Weatherby Foundation International, Friends of NRA, MidIowa Bassmasters, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Theisens Home-Farm-Auto, Milo Locker, Shallow Water Investigators Bowfishing, Northern Lights Pizza, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and many more. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fall Fishing Hotspots


Fall fishing is one of Iowa's best kept secrets. The air is cool, the views are picturesque and the fish are pulling out of their late summer slumber.

Add one of these destinations to your fall fishing itinerary.

  • Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo County - yellow bass fishing is excellent in the fall. Use small jigs tipped with nightcrawler, minnows and cut bait. Stay on the move to find schools of fish. The average size yellow bass is 9 inches. A number of Master Angler qualifying yellow bass (10 inches) are available to catch this fall.
  • Coralville Reservoir, Johnson County – fall bite is best for walleyes and white bass here; throw crankbaits on sloping rock banks. Catch crappies near brush or steeper rock banks on jigs or minnows.
  • Don Williams Lake, Boone County - a strong black crappie population welcomes anglers.  Drift the middle of the lake with small jigs in early fall. Fish will move to structure in late fall – quickly locate structure in the lake with the printable fishing structures map.
  • Lake Anita, Cass County, and Viking Lake, Montgomery County - try around the numerous brush piles for largemouth bass over 20 inches. Fishing will heat up as the water temperature drops this fall.
  • Lake Iowa, Iowa County – try small jigs or worms around brush piles or along weed edges to catch bluegills up to 9 inches and redear sunfish up to 12 inches. Catch 9-11 inch black crappies around brush on jigs or minnows.
  • Lake Macbride, Johnson County - catch 13-20 inch walleyes, with much larger fish available; troll crankbaits or cast jigs to rock reefs and humps in 8-15 feet of water.  Cast jigs or minnows around/over the brush piles for 10-12 inch crappies. Wiper fishing picks up in the fall; try crankbaits and swim baits fished off points and rock reef edges for 14-28 inch wipers with 3-6 pounders being an average fish.
  • Lake Manawa, Pottawattamie County - a fall trip has the potential to put a trophy walleye or wiper on the line.  Use twister tails or shad raps on the rocks lining the west shore of the lake for walleyes.  Wipers tend to hang out on the north shore near the inlet.
  • Mississippi River  - fall smallmouth bass fishing can be fantastic. Cast close to rock piles or rocky shoreline with current; smallmouths often hide in rock crevices and rarely venture more than a foot from the rocks to feed.  Locate where tributary streams enter the Mississippi River with electronic printable river maps. Find rock lines and piles near the confluence of these rivers starting in late September, early October for a hot bite.   
  • Urban Trout Lakes  - unique trout fishing opportunities for novice and young anglers across the state.  Visit iowadnr.gov/ trout for a list of urban trout lakes and when each will be stocked. Watch the fish being stocked and attempt to catch your first trout.
Find a new favorite fishing spot with the interactive Fishing Atlas. A complete list of places to fall fish in Iowa including lake maps, directions and amenities, is available on the DNR Places to Fish webpage. Check conditions before you go with the weekly Iowa Fishing Report.

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

4 Lures That Walleye Can’t Resist

Elusive and defiant, the walleye has duped even the most determined fanatics for decades. Struggle no more to wrangle in these clever beasts with a few surefire methods.

Leadhead jig
Tip a leadhead jig with a minnow for an excellent spring and fall walleye bait. Depending on the depth of the water you’re fishing, try 1/16 to quarter-ounce jigs with a soft plastic swim bait body in white or shad color. They can be highly effective by vertically jigging or cast them with a slow retrieve.

Slip bobber                     
If you’re anchored, consider a slip bobber rig. Since slip bobbers are intended to be fished with live bait, bait your hook with leeches, minnows or night crawlers.

Bottom Bouncer/spinner rig
To fish off the bottom, you’ll need a weight to get bait to the bottom. This bottom bouncer can be rigged with a chartreuse or red spinner rig in front of live bait. Especially during spring and summer, finish baiting the rig with night crawlers, leeches or minnows.

Minnow-imitating crank bait
There are many varieties to choose from, but the crowd favorite when it comes to crank baits is minnow-shaped. Either troll or cast the minnow-imitating crank bait when you’re stationary, and you’re more likely to have success in warmer water.

Be sure to get the crank baits needed for the depth you want to fish – check the box to see the depth at which the lure runs. Also, make sure the crank bait runs straight. It should not pull to either side, or worse yet, twist in the water. Crank baits that do this are ineffective.

Find more tips for catching walleye on the DNR website.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Unique Angling Challenge Around Every Bend


You are never far from one of Iowa’s many rivers. Fall is a great time to give them a try.

Small “up-river” segments of interior rivers can be fantastic for walleye and smallmouth bass in early fall. Use crankbaits and spinners to catch smallmouth bass and crankbaits or jigs with crawlers for walleye.

Try the upper Wapsipinicon River (Buchanan and Linn counties) or upper Cedar River (Black Hawk and Bremer counties) for smallmouth bass. The Shell Rock River (Butler and Bremer counties) or upper Cedar Rivers (Black Hawk or Bremer Counties) are a great choice for walleye.


The Missouri and Mississippi rivers boast some of the best flathead catfishing in the Midwest. The Missouri River’s swift current, rocks and snags are good habitat and food is abundant for these predatory catfish. Use live fish as bait; green sunfish and bullheads tend to survive best on the hook.

Several state record fish have been caught on the Missouri River, including the blue catfish (101 pounds) and channel catfish (38 pounds 2 ounces).


Enjoy Iowa’s natural landscapes fishing Iowa’s rivers and streams this fall. An extensive list of Iowa’s rivers, with information on access points and native species, is available on the
DNR website. Check conditions before you go with the weekly Iowa Fishing Report.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summer Tips to Land Iowa's Big Fish


The key to catching big fish is finding places that have big fish. Quickly find the best spots to catch master angler qualifying size fish with the electronic map recently added to DNR Master Angler program website (click on "Map" above the photos) or search for local hotspots by species or location.
Try these simple tips from DNR fisheries biologists to catch large bluegill, bass and crappie during the summer heat at one of these top locations identified through a search on the Master Angler webpage.
Bluegills (10 inches to qualify)
  • Farm Ponds – look for ponds surrounded by grass; fish the face of the dam or steep shorelines where the weed line is close to shore; drift or cast small jigs (1/32nd oz.) tipped with a 1-inch piece of worm 6 to 8 feet down; get permission from the landowner before entering.
  • West Okoboji Lake, Dickinson County – fish the rock reefs or rocky humps in 20-25 feet of water; jig live bait (small crayfish, Belgium worms, piece of night crawler or leech) with a split shot 8-10 inches above the hook.  
  • Big Spirit Lake, Dickinson County – try the outside weed lines and rock piles, drops offs or natural underwater reefs.  
  • Twelve Mile Creek Lake, Union County – fish the rock piles or cedar tree brush piles along the roadbed; try also along the weed line.
  • East Okoboji Lake, Dickinson County – try the outside weed lines and rock piles, drops offs or natural underwater reefs.    
Largemouth Bass (20 inches to qualify)
  • Farm Ponds – use top water lures at the edge of aquatic plants early and late in the day when the air is still; switch to a spinner bait or plastic worm later in the morning or late afternoon next to the weed line or around brush piles; get permission from the landowner before entering.
  • West Okoboji Lake, Dickinson County – cast topwater lures, plastic worms, suspended jerk baits, deep diving crank baits or spinner baits near shore or edges of weed lines.
  • Big Creek Lake, Polk County – cast topwater lures, plastic worms, suspended jerk baits, deep diving crank baits or spinner baits near shore or edges of weed lines.         
  • Lake Anita, Cass County – cast topwater lures, plastic worms, suspended jerk baits, deep diving crank baits or spinner baits near shore or edges of weed lines.
  • Badger Creek Lake, Madison County – fish the cedar tree brush piles near the fishing jetties or along the dam. 
Black Crappie (14 inches to qualify)
  • Farm Ponds – look for ponds with standing timber or brush piles; fish close to the brush with a minnow under a bobber or cast 1/32nd ounce jigs; get permission from the landowner before entering. 
  • Coralville Reservoir, Johnson County –  look for fish suspended on deeper rocks banks  in 8-10 feet of water in the main reservoir; cast larger chartreuse twister tails  and slowly drop down the bank.
  • Red Rock Reservoir, Marion County – focus on the Whitebreast arm of the lake or areas with rock (and rip-rap); keep moving along the shoreline until you find fish. 
  • Crawford Creek Impoundment, Ida County – drift fish 1/16 ounce chartreuse jigs tipped with a small minnow; try also fishing around the brush piles.
  • Lake Macbride, Johnson County – vertical jig a tube jig on the deep side of brush piles right above the thermocline (12 feet); work the outside or deeper end of the brush piles. 
  • Farm Ponds – look for ponds with standing timber or brush piles; fish close to the brush with a minnow under a bobber or cast 1/32nd ounce jigs; get permission from the landowner before entering.
  • Red Rock Reservoir, Marion County – focus on the Whitebreast arm of the lake or areas with rock (and rip-rap); keep moving along the shoreline until you find fish.  
  • Saylorville Reservoir, Polk County –focus on areas where the shoreline is protected with rip-rap.  
  • Lake Macbride, Johnson County – vertical jig a tube jig on the deep side of  brush piles right above the thermocline (12 feet); work the outside or deeper end of the brush piles.
  • Coralville Reservoir, Johnson County  – look for fish suspended on deeper rocks banks  in 8-10 feet of water in the main reservoir; cast chartreuse twister tails and slowly drop down the bank.

For information on how to submit a Master Angler entry including a list of the 41 fish species eligible and minimum lengths, visit the Master Angler website.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Come Fish with Us at the Iowa State Fair



Stop by the Iowa DNR building to see the Iowa fish in the historic aquarium. Built in 1921, the wrap-around aquarium is the focal point of the pavilion, filled with Iowa fish of all shapes, sizes and species.

Learn the basics of fishing at these fun presentations (the whole courtyard schedule is available at iowadnr.gov/IowaStateFair):

Saturday, August 13
Fishing Day in the courtyard begins with a question and answer session with Fisheries Bureau Chief Joe Larscheid, followed by an instructional presentation for kids who want to learn to fish. In the afternoon, you can get the scoop on primitive fish or get a close up look at real Iowa turtles.


Friday, August 19
The art of fishing is as intricate it is enticing, so come by on Friday for a second helping of fishing guidance and encouragement. Fisheries Bureau Chief Joe Larscheid returns for another discussion in the morning, and be sure to check out the live turtles native to Iowa in the afternoon. Kids are encouraged to join us at 11 a.m. for more fishing basics.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Hooking Summer Catfish

Start a new family tradition this summer – go fishing for catfish. Bring along two coolers with ice, one to keep your bait firm and fresh and another to keep your catch cold and preserve that great taste.

Catfish tend to be more active in warmer weather. They are in every stream of any size and in all lakes and many farm ponds.


A catfish’s sense of smell and taste is tremendous. Try prepared dip baits, chicken livers, minnows or chubs, green sunfish, bluegill, crawdads, frogs, night crawlers or dead, but fresh, gizzard shad.

Lakes stratify, or form layers, this time of year, with cool, oxygen-deprived waters sinking to the bottom. Do not fish in water deeper than 8 to 10 feet. Look for areas with vegetation, brush piles or rock. Fish the upper ends of the larger reservoirs where the water is shallower and baitfish like gizzard shad gather. Fish baits on the bottom or suspended off the bottom with a bobber and let current or breeze move the bait to find active catfish.

Rivers in Iowa are loaded with catfish. Look for fish around downed trees and brush piles, but don’t overlook rock piles or other objects that deflect water and form a current seam. Position your bait just upstream of brush piles so the scent of the bait is carried downstream into the structure drawing the catfish out. Use a heavy weight to anchor the bait so it doesn’t drift into snags. If fishing the big rivers, try upstream and on the tips of wing dykes and wing dams on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

 Find more tips for catching catfish on the DNR website.