The Iowa Department of Natural Resources issues a weekly fishing report in an effort to provide the latest information heading into the weekend. The weekly fishing report is compiled from information gathered from local bait shops, angler creel surveys, and county and state parks staff. For current information, contact the district fisheries office at the phone number listed at the end of each district report.
Ice thickness is variable; open water areas near shore and aerator area expanding daily. Some bluegills and crappies are being caught.
Ice thickness is still probably more than 28 inches on the main lake. Shoreline ice is starting to melt some. Access is difficult with snow and ice melt making it tough to get on the lake. Limited to foot travel, snowmobile, or ATV. Fishing activity has been minimal this past week. Some activity yet on the north shore and on the little lake. Crappie – No Report: No reports this week for crappies. Angler activity is limited. Walleye – No Report: Yellow Bass – Fair: Some fishing activity near the Baptist camp and out from the McIntosh boat ramp. Sounds like the bite is best early in the morning and late in the day.
Ice thickness is maybe 28 inches but the edges are starting to melt near shore, so stay safe and carry ice picks and maybe limit yourself to foot travel. Anglers are still mostly fishing in the deep water or on the edge of the dredge cut. Bluegill – Good: Fishing seems to be fairly consistent. Bluegill fishing has been good using small jigs tipped with wax worms. Anglers are reporting better success in the shallower water eight feet near the edge of the dredged basin. Largemouth Bass – Fair: Some nice bass are being caught in 16 feet. Crappie – Good: Crappie fishing has been good to fair using minnows at dusk in the deeper water near or on the drop-off of the basin. Walleye – Slow: An occasional walleye may be taken in the deeper water using minnows.
No reports this week.
Most of the area lakes have plenty of ice yet but access might be getting tough. Some of the small ponds and pits are melting near the shorelines.
For lake updates and fishing information in the north central area contact the Clear Lake Fish and Wildlife office at 641-357-3517.
Big Spirit Lake
Ice conditions are detraining, foot travel is recommended and walleye season is closed. Bluegill – Fair: Crappie – Fair:
East Okoboji Lake
Ice conditions are detraining, foot travel is recommended and walleye season is closed.
West Okoboji Lake
Ice conditions are detraining foot travel is recommended and walleye season is closed. Northern Pike – Fair: Try putting a tip-up out while bluegill fishing for a bonus pike. Bluegill – Fair: Most activity has taken place in Millers and Emerson bays. Yellow Perch – Fair: Continue to look in 30 plus feet of water.
Five Island Lake
Ice conditions are detraining foot travel is recommended. Try fishing the edges of the dredge cuts for crappie, perch, walleye, and catfish.
For more information contact the Spirit Lake Hatchery at (712) 336-1840.
The lake has 20 inches of ice with about seven feet of clarity. Fish are suspended 6-8 feet off the bottom. Bluegill – Slow: A few bluegills are being caught while fishing for crappies. Crappie – Slow: Anglers are using small brightly colored jigs tipped with multiple wax worms to entice those hungry crappies.
There is about 20 inches of ice covered with three inches of snow. Use caution around the aerator. No motorized vehicles including ATVs are allowed on the ice. Fish are suspended off the bottom. Bluegill – Slow: Drop a jig tipped with wax worm to the bottom and slowly lift it about one foot. Crappie – Slow: Anglers are using small jigs tipped with wax worms.
The lake has about 20 inches of ice with variable amounts of snow. Water clarity is fair due to melt water entering the lake. Fish activity is picking up with fresh water inputs. Bluegill – Fair: Fish can be caught using teardrop shaped jigs tipped with wax worms. Fish are suspended off the bottom. Crappie – Fair: Crappies can be found about 4 feet under the ice.
Turkey River (below Clermont)
Trout fishing below Big Spring Hatchery is currently poor due to the rise in the river and runoff.
Cedar River (above Nashua)
We have received no information regarding fishing on this water body this week.
Decorah District Streams
Be prepared to park along roads to get to your favorite stream as many parking accesses are blocked with mounds of snow. Gravel roads may get soft and sloppy by afternoon. Due to continuing snowmelt and runoff, water clarity is presently unpredictable on northeast Iowa streams. On better streams with sufficient clarity, good trout have been taken on bright streamer patterns including wooly buggers, light spruces and clouser minnows. A few early season light blue wing olive hatches occurring. Brown Trout – Good: Water clarity will be better in mornings due to freeze thaw weather pattern. Many streams are stained a dark brown color but fishable.
Currently all rivers and streams are experiencing elevated flows and turbid water conditions due to recent snow melt and runoff. Fish activity is picking up on area lakes. Watch ice conditions as they can change rapidly with warmer temperatures and increased flows. Urban ponds are now being stocked with trout. Go to www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/TroutFishing.aspx to find out when and where. For more information, call the Decorah Fish Hatchery at 563-382-8324.
Access is very limited as the ice is completely out on the reservoir above Martens Lake. Ice is deteriorating quickly on the lake itself, use extreme caution if venturing out.
Cedar River (Nashua to La Porte City)
The Cedar River is mostly ice free. Walleyes will aggressively feed until the April spawn. Tip a jig with a minnow and fish it slowly off the bottom. Walleye – No Report: A jig tipped with a minnow is a deadly combination.
Shell Rock River (Greene to Shell Rock)
There have been no angling success stories on walleye yet but the river is beginning to open up. Take advantage of the great walleye fishing as the interior rivers become ice free.
Wapsi River (Tripoli to Troy Mills)
The Wapsipinicon River at Independence is slightly on the rise and currently at 6.54 feet. Walleyes will aggressively feed until the April spawn. Tip a jig with a minnow and fish it slowly off the bottom.
Manchester District Streams
Trout fishing opportunities can be really good when there is a slight rise in water levels and a little turbidity, especially for brown trout. Spring Branch Creek in Delaware County offers a good population of brown trout and fish of quality size. Remember, there is a 14-inch minimum size limit on all trout and artificial lure only regulation on this stream. Brown Trout – Fair: Black midge imitations have been triggering active fish on Spring Branch Creek.
Ice fishing season is nearing its end and is not recommended on most area lakes. Interior river fishing for walleye should really heat up as the spawn nears and river levels recede. Trout stocking season begins April 1 for all Iowa trout streams. Stocking schedules are available on the DNR website. For further information call the district office n Manchester at 563-927-3276.
Mississippi River Pools 9-11
Ice fishing is not recommended as rain and warm weather will erode ice quickly. The Lynxville boat ramp on Pool 10, and both the DNR and city ramps in Guttenberg on Pool 11, are open. Walleye and sauger fishing is good in the tail waters on Pool 10 and 11.
Mississippi River Pool 16
Tail water stage at Lock and Dam 15 in Davenport is 8.35 feet. Tail water stage has been slowly falling the past couple days. The Marquette St. boat ramp is open. Main channel water clarity has been poor making the tail water bite for walleyes and saugers tough. Sunset marina is beginning to open up but still has some ice cover out in the center. Sauger – Slow: Tail water fishing has been tough for saugers due to poor water clarity and higher flows. A few fish are being caught up by the dam and in Sylvan Slough but fishing has been slow. Most of the fish being caught have been smaller fish.
Mississippi River Pool 17
Tail water stage at Lock and Dam 16 at Muscatine is 7.13 feet and has been slowly falling the past couple days. The boat ramps in Muscatine are open. Main channel water clarity is poor. There have not been many anglers out fishing the tail waters for walleyes and saugers the past few days. Big Timber is starting to open up but there is still some ice cover. Sauger – Slow: There have not been many anglers fishing the tail waters for walleyes and saugers the past few days.
Mississippi River Pool 18
Tail water stage at Lock and Dam 17 at New Boston is 9.14 feet and has been slowly falling the past couple days. The road into Toolesboro could be muddy especially with rain in the forecast. Tail water fishing for walleyes and saugers is being reported as slow. As of March 24th, the gates at Lock and Dam 17 were out of the water. Sauger – Slow: Tail water fishing for saugers is being reported as slow.
Mississippi River Pool 19
Tail water stage at Lock and Dam 18 above Burlington is 5.56 feet and has been slowly falling the past couple days. We have not received any reports on tail water fishing for walleyes and saugers below Lock and Dam 18 this week.
Mississippi River Pools 16-19: Tail waters are open. Tail water fishing for walleye and saugers has been tough due to the higher flows. Main channel water clarity is poor. Main channel water temperature has been around 37 degrees. Backwaters are beginning to open up but most still have some ice cover. If you have questions on fishing Pools 16-19 contact the Fairport Fish Hatchery at 563-263-5062.
Lake Belva Deer
Unsafe ice and open water.
Pollmiller Park Lake
Lots of open water around the shore. Unsafe ice.
Lake of the Hills
Ice is unsafe. There is enough open water around the edges that a few anglers are catching trout. Remember, Lake of the Hills is the only lake in West Lake Park that allow the use of live minnows as bait. Rainbow Trout – Fair: A few anglers are working the open water along the dam and spillway and are catching trout. Wax worms, small spinners and soft plastics are working.
The spring trout stocking is March 28 at noon.
Environmental Discovery Park North Pond
The spring trout release is March 28 at 10 a.m.
For more information on the above lakes call the Lake Darling Fisheries Office at 319-694-2430.
The lake is approximately one-third open as of March 27.
Kent Park Lake
The ice is unsafe here.
The lake still has 95 percent ice cover but ice conditions should be considered unsafe.
Central Park Lake
There appears to be decent ice yet but there has been no ice fishing activity.
Pleasant Creek Lake
Shorelines are deteriorating but anglers were still ice fishing as of March 26.
The lake is ice free.
Otter Creek Lake
There is 4-5 feet around the edge that is poor ice, but ice anglers were still out as of March 26.
The lake level has reached 679 feet, normal spring drawdown pool level. 90 percent of the lake is open but the coves are still frozen over. The only open ramps are the Macbride Park ramp and Mid River Marina ramp (by permission only). There has been some catfish anglers under the 380/965 bridges but no reports are available.
Iowa River (Coralville Lake to River Junction)
The area below the Coralville Dam is open but is turbid from the lake being drawn down. Outflow on March 27 is approximately 1,800 CFS. There has been some fishing but no reports are available.
Cedar River (Cedar Rapids to Moscow)
There has been some fishing below the dams but the action has been slow.
Wapsi River (Troy Mills to Oxford Junction)
There has been some fishing below the dams but no reports are available.
Most of the lakes have deteriorated ice conditions making ice fishing unsafe. Ice fishing is not recommended in most areas. For more information, contact the Lake Macbride Fisheries Station at 319-624-3615.
Red Haw Lake
The lake is free of ice. There has not been any fishing since the ice went out.
The reservoir is free of ice. No fishing has occurred.
The lake is free of ice. Very little fishing has occurred since ice out.
The lake is about 20 percent ice covered but the main lake and most boat ramps are open. The current lake level is 903.95 feet. The water temperature is 37 degrees. Don’t forget Lake Rathbun contains zebra mussels so make sure to clean, drain, and dry equipment before transporting to another water body.
Please contact the Rathbun Fish Hatchery at 641-647-2406 with questions regarding angling in south central Iowa.
Des Moines River (Saylorville to Red Rock)
Walleye – Good: Walleye anglers fishing below the Saylorville and Red Rock Reservoir spillways and smaller dams from Fraser down through Des Moines are now catching fair numbers of walleye and occasional white bass. Try slowly retrieving jigs with twister tails, jigs with minnows or minnow imitating swim baits.
Most lakes in central Iowa should be ice free by the first week of April. The best bite right now is the walleye fishing below the dams on the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers. More fishing reports will resume when open water fishing picks up. For questions on fishing central Iowa lakes and rivers contact Ben Dodd or Andy Otting at 515-432-2823.
There is a good panfish population. Greenfield is also a good place to target channel catfish. Channel Catfish – Fair: Anglers have reported catching ice out catfish using shad sides. Bluegill – No Report: Bluegill up to 8.5 inches can be caught around brush piles using wax worms. Crappie – No Report: There is a good crappie population in Greenfield ranging from 8-12 inches.
A few catfish are being caught. Channel Catfish – Fair: Catfish can be caught in the upper end of the lake with shad sides or cut bait.
Anita has quality sized panfish. The pontoon arm of the lake is a good place to target crappies after ice out. Bluegill – No Report: Crappie – No Report: Fish small jigs two feet under a bobber in the pontoon arm of the lake to catch 10-12-inch crappies.
Viking has a good crappie population and will provide good early season fishing. Crappie – No Report: Fish with wax worms around brush piles to catch crappie ranging from 8-12 inches.
The main lake is open. Anglers are catching crappies in the canals. Crappie – Fair: Crappies of all sizes are being caught in the canals using red and black tube jigs tipped with wax worms.
Cold Springs District Farm Ponds
Farm ponds typically warm sooner than lakes making them a good choice for early season fishing. Remember to get permission before fishing privately owned ponds. Channel Catfish – No Report: This is a good time of year to catch channel catfish with shad sides. Bluegill – No Report: Bluegills can be caught using small tackle and wax worms. Crappie – Good: Ponds that support crappie populations have been good last week fishing minnows under a bobber.
Open water fishing has begun in the southwest district. Anglers are catching crappies in ponds and shallow bays of lakes that warm quickly on sunny days. For more information call the Cold Springs office at 712-769-2587.
Sands Timber Lake (Blockton Reservoir)
The lake has been drained to allow the construction of a wetland near the upper end.
Most lakes are ice free in the Mount Ayr Fisheries District (Page, Taylor, Adams, Union, Ringgold, Decatur, Clarke, and Madison counties). As of March 27, water temperatures in ice free lakes was 43 degrees. No reports of open water fishing have been reported. When warmer weather returns, opportunities to catch walleye and largemouth bass near shore should improve. For more information, call 641-464-3108.