Saturday Morning Fishing Report: Ice Fishing Season on the Horizon

This 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.

Graphic showing the recommended minimum ice thickness

NORTHWEST

Black Hawk Lake
The lake and marsh are frozen over, but open water fishing is possible at the inlet bridge and in the fish house shelter at Ice House Point.

North Raccoon River (above State Highway 175 bridge near Auburn)
Anglers have had success fishing the rivers with the colder temperatures. Target pools and deeper areas below riffles – most of these areas in the rivers are still ice-free. Walleye – Fair: Use live bait or twisters in deeper areas below riffles. Channel Catfish – Fair: Try cut bait and crawlers fished in pools.

Most lakes in West Central Iowa have frozen over this past week. Ice is not safe for fishing. For more information, contact the Black Hawk District office at 712-657-2638.


Clear Lake
Clear Lake froze over this week. Ice thickness varies from ½ inch to 2.5 inches; unsafe ice conditions for fishing. Walleye – Slow.

Most lakes in north central Iowa froze over this week. The ice is not thick enough for fishing. For information on the lakes and rivers in the north central area, contact the Clear Lake Fish and Wildlife office at 641-357-3517.


East Okoboji Lake
East Okoboji is iced over. Ice conditions are variable; use caution.

Spirit Lake
Spirit Lake iced over this week and then mostly opened back up. Water temperature is 32 degrees.

West Okoboji Lake
Water is still open. Lake temperature is 36 degrees.

Smaller lakes have an inch or two of ice on them. Some of the larger lakes are still open or are partially frozen. Fishing reports from the district are very limited. Get your ice fishing gear ready and make sure you review your plan for winter conditions and being on the ice. Ice fishing safety equipment should be worn and easily deployed. Early season ice fishing can be some of the best, but can also put anglers in risky situations.For current conditions, call the Spirit Lake District Office at 712-336-1840.

NORTHEAST

Cedar River (above Nashua)
Fish are moving into overwintering areas. Backwaters are starting to freeze; ice fishing is not recommended. Ice conditions change fast this time of year. Walleye – Fair: Fish below dams or find deeper pools in the eddies. Use a hook tipped with a crawler or a jig with a twister tail or ring worm.

Decorah District Streams
Stocked fish remain in streams through the winter creating excellent angling opportunities. Trout streams with good flows remain open even during winter. Visit our website to find out when and where trout may be coming to a community near you. Hunting seasons are open in Iowa; wear bright orange and be visible to hunters.  Brown Trout – Good: Brown trout spawn is nearing an end. Use care around freshly cleared gravel in the stream bottom. Try a fly imitating small silvery fish. Rainbow Trout – Good: Use an ultra-light pole and reel for fun action. A worm fished under a bobber in slow water works well. Try a spinner in eddies and around structure. Brook Trout – Good: Brook trout spawn is nearing an end. Redds or trout nests are cleared areas in the stream bottom; avoid walking here. With fewer insect hatches, try using flies imitating minnows such as a wholly bugger.

Lake Hendricks
Lake Hendricks is mostly covered with about 2 inches ice. Not safe for fishing. Area around the aerator is open. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the ice.

Lake Meyer
Lake Meyer is about 70 percent frozen, with no shoreline access. Ice fishing is not recommended.

Turkey River (above Clermont)
Mill Pond at Vernon Springs by Cresco is frozen. Ice fishing is not recommended. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on this area.

Volga Lake
Volga Lake is almost frozen. There is open area west of the boat ramp. Ice fishing is not recommended.

Temperatures are fluctuating from upper 30’s for highs to upper 20’s for lows. Chance for mixed precipitation Saturday evening into Sunday. Water clarity is excellent on area rivers and streams. Water levels are stabilizing, but flows remain high on all area rivers. Trout streams are good to excellent. For current fishing information, please call the Chuck Gipp Decorah Fish Hatchery at 563-382-8324.


Cedar River (Nashua to La Porte City)
Anglers are catching a few walleye and northern pike on the Cedar River. Northern Pike – Fair: Cast and retrieve larger spinner baits near instream habitat or deeper overwintering areas. Walleye – Fair: Cast and retrieve crankbaits or use jig and minnow near instream habitat or deeper overwintering areas.

Manchester District Streams
The extended forecast for next week looks promising for good trout fishing. Most streams were recently stocked with rainbow trout and many have great populations of wild brown trout. Brown trout fishing could be good with the expected snow melt next week.

Maquoketa River (above Monticello)
Recent fish sampling efforts showed a good population of walleye on the Maquoketa River in Delaware County. Walleye – Fair: Cast and retrieve crankbaits or use jig and minnow near instream habitat or deeper overwintering areas.

Shell Rock River (Greene to Shell Rock)
There are no reports on the Shell Rock River.

Wapsipinicon River (Tripoli to Troy Mills)
Good reports of walleye being caught on the Wapsipinicon River in Buchanan County. Walleye – Good: Cast and retrieve or troll crankbaits or use jig and minnow near instream habitat or deeper overwintering areas.

Interior rivers are in excellent condition, except a little ice on some areas. Next week’s forecast looks more seasonable; target river walleyes. Most Black Hawk County lakes have a skim of ice heading into early winter; no reports of angling. Many trout streams were recently stocked and are in excellent condition. Call the N.E. Iowa district office at 563-927-3276 for more information.

MISSISSIPPI RIVER

Mississippi River Pool 9
River level is 10.2 feet at Lansing and is predicted to drop a foot by late next week. Water temperature is 33 degrees. New Albin army road is closed due to high water. Largemouth Bass – No Report: Find bass in areas of no or slight current in backwaters with clearer water. Smallmouth Bass – No Report: Use crankbaits fished on rocky areas along main channel shoreline. Bluegill – Fair: Look for bluegill to move into deeper backwater areas out of the current. Channel Catfish – No Report: Use crawlers fished in side-channel current. Freshwater Drum – No Report: Drum are biting. Use worms on the bottom or crayfish to target larger fish. Walleye – Slow: Vertical jigging with twister tails or jig tipped with minnows has had the most success in Lock and Dams tailwaters. Yellow Perch – No Report: Use crawlers fished just off the bottom in about 6-8 feet of water. Black Crappie – No Report: The fall crappie bite has slowed. Try small jigs fished in the flooded trees and side-channels. Sauger – Fair: Vertical jigging with twister tails or jig tipped with minnows has had the most success in Lock and Dams tailwaters.

Mississippi River Pool 10
River level is 619.8 feet at Lynxville and is predicted to fall over a foot this week. Water temperature is 35 degrees at Lock & Dam 9. Sny Magill ramp is not accessible due to high water. Largemouth Bass – No Report: Find bass in areas of no or slight current in backwaters with clearer water. Bluegill – Fair: Look for bluegill to move into deeper backwater areas out of the current. Channel Catfish – No Report: Use crawlers fished in side-channel current. Freshwater Drum – No Report: Drum are biting. Use worms on the bottom or crayfish to target larger fish. Walleye – Fair: Anglers are jigging with minnows below the Lock and Dams with some success. Yellow Perch – No Report: Use crawlers fished just off the bottom in about 6-8 feet of water. Black Crappie – No Report: The fall crappie bite has slowed. Use small jigs in the flooded trees and side-channels. Sauger – Fair: Try jigs tipped with a minnow in the tailwaters of the Lock & Dams. Smallmouth Bass – No Report: Use crankbaits fished on rocky areas along main channel shoreline.

Mississippi River Pool 11
River level is 11 feet at Guttenberg and is expected to drop over a foot by late next week.The Turkey River boat ramp is closed due to high water. Water temperature is 33 degrees at Lock & Dam 10. Largemouth Bass – No Report: Find bass in areas of no or slight current in backwaters with clearer water. Bluegill – Fair: Look for bluegill to move into deeper backwater areas out of the current. Channel Catfish – No Report: Use crawlers fished in side-channel current. Freshwater Drum – No Report: Drum are biting. Use worms on the bottom or crayfish to target larger fish. Walleye – Fair: Anglers are jigging with minnows below the Lock and Dams with some success. Yellow Perch – No Report: Try crawlers fished just off the bottom in about 6-8 feet of water. Black Crappie – No Report: The fall crappie bite has slowed. Use small jigs fished in the flooded trees and side-channels. Sauger – Fair: Try jigs tipped with a minnow in the tailwaters of the Lock & Dams. Smallmouth Bass – No Report:Use crankbaits fished on rocky areas along main channel shoreline.

Upper Mississippi River levels are steadily falling, but are still above normal for this time of year. Some ramps are starting to ice in. Channel areas have heavy ice flows making fishing a challenge. Backwaters are starting to ice up; not safe for ice fishing yet. Water has just started to drop out of the trees on the islands. Water temperature has dropped into the low to mid-30’s.


Mississippi River Pool 12
The water levels is 11 feet at the Dubuque Lock and Dam and 13 feet at the RR bridge. River levels at Dubuque are expected to recede over the next week. The water temperature is 33 degrees. Water clarity is good. Bluegill – Fair: Find the warmest areas of the backwater lakes and you will find bluegills. Black Crappie – Fair: Some suspended crappies were reported in the deep backwater lakes. Fish them like you would ice fishing. Sauger – No Report: Tailwater sauger fishing has started; most anglers are using a jig and minnow.

Mississippi River Pool 13
Water level is 12.1 feet at the Bellevue Lock and Dam and is receding. The water temperature is 33 degrees. Water clarity is good. The Bellevue City Ramp is open, but the DNR boat ramp is still partially flooded. Sauger – Good: A few sauger are starting to show up in the creel by anglers using a jig and minnow rigs. Walleye – Fair: Not a lot of walleye are being reported, but a few nice sized fish can be found.

Mississippi River Pool 14
The water level is 11.7 feet at the Fulton Lock and Dam, 14.2 feet at Camanche and 8.3 feet at LeClaire. Water temperature is around 33 degrees. River levels are expected to fall over the next week. Walleye – Fair: A few nice fish over 30 inches have been reported in the past couple weeks, even in the high water. Sauger – Good: Fall sauger fishing has officially started. Use jigs tipped with minnows in the tailwater areas. Bluegill – No Report: Look for bluegills in backwater lakes with no current and decent depths. Search out the warmest areas of the backwaters, where the sun shines is often the most intense.

Mississippi River Pool 15
Water levels are around 12.4 feet at Rock Island and will recede this week. The water temperature is around 33 degrees. The water clarity is good. Sauger – No Report: Expect sauger fishing to pick up once the river recedes to near normal winter levels. Most sauger anglers use a jig and minnow rig.

All areas of the district are out of flooding stages. Water remains high for this time of year, but is dropping fast. If you have any fishing questions, please contact the Bellevue Fisheries Station 563-872-4976.


Mississippi River Pool 16
Tailwater stage is 12.29 feet at Lock and Dam 15 in the Quad Cities; flood stage is 15 feet. River level is 12.80 feet at Fairport; flood stage is 14 feet. Fishing has been slow with high water conditions. Some boat ramps are closed due to high water. The ramps at Clark’s Ferry and Shady Creek are closed. The Marquette Street ramp is open, but snow and ice on the ramp could make launching difficult.

Mississippi River Pool 17
Tailwater stage is 11.55 feet at Lock and Dam 16 in Muscatine; flood stage is 15 feet.  River stage is 13.18 feet at Muscatine; flood stage is 16 feet. The gates are still out of the water at the dam. Fishing has been slow with high water conditions. The ramps at Big Timber and Kilpeck are closed due to high water.

Mississippi River Pool 18
Tailwater stage is 12.83 feet at Lock and Dam 17 at New Boston; flood stage is 15 feet. River stage is 12.59 feet at Keithsburg; flood stage is 14 feet. The Toolsboro landing is closed due to water over the road. Fishing has been slow with high water conditions.

Mississippi River Pool 19
Tailwater stage is 9.25 feet at Lock and Dam 18; flood stage is 10 feet. River stage is 14.36 feet at Burlington; flood stage is 15 feet. River stage is 527.68 feet at Fort Madison; flood stage is 528 feet. We have not received any fishing report information for this pool.

River stages are below flood stage, but are still high. River stages have been falling the past few days. Main channel water temperature is around 34 degrees. Some boat ramps are still closed due to high water conditions. Fishing has been slow with the high water conditions. We have not received any tailwater fishing reports this week. Unsafe ice conditions. If you have questions on fishing Pools 16-19 contact the Fairport Fish Hatchery at 563-263-5062.

SOUTHEAST

Cedar River (La Porte City to Cedar Rapids)
Walleye – Fair.

Coralville Reservoir
The lake level is back to normal fall pool of 686.3 feet. The pockets are freezing up on very cold nights. White Crappie – Slow: Try minnows or bright jigs over brush piles.

Diamond Lake
The fish cleaning station and restrooms are closed for the season. Black Crappie – Slow: Trolling the main lake has been best. A few fish are being caught from the jetties. Early and late in the day is best.

Hannen Lake
Bluegill – Fair.

Iowa Lake (Iowa Co.)
The dock is still in. Black Crappie – Fair.

Lake Macbride
Water temperatures are around 40 degrees. Any sized motor may be used at no wake speed (5 mph). The fish cleaning stations and docks are out for the winter. Black Crappie – Fair: Try jigging over brush piles, stumps, or rock piles. Walleye – Slow: Fish submerged rock during the day and move to shallower rock towards evening. Target windblown areas. Wiper (Hybrid Striped Bass) – Slow.

Liberty Centre Pond
This pond is found on Cherry Street in North Liberty. You need a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. Rainbow Trout – Good.

Pleasant Creek Lake
The main ramp is still closed for repaving. White Bass – Fair.  Walleye – Fair.  Wiper (Hybrid Striped Bass) – Fair. Bluegill – Fair. Muskellunge – Fair.

Prairie Park Fishery
You need a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. Rainbow Trout – Good.

Sand Lake
This is the quarry on the Northeast end of Marshalltown. Rainbow Trout – Good: You need a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. Wiper (Hybrid Striped Bass) – Fair.

Wapsipinicon River (Troy Mills to Oxford Junction)
Black Crappie – Fair: Reports are from fishing slack water areas of Linn County.

For more information, contact the Lake Macbride Fisheries Station at 319-624-3615.


Lake Miami
Very few anglers have been out with the colder weather and snow.

Lake Wapello
Very few anglers have been out.

Ottumwa Park Pond South
Trout were stocked on Oct. 25th. Use in-line spinners, casting spoons, and small tube and twister jigs. You need a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout.

Rathbun Reservoir
The current lake level is 905.59 msl. Normal operating elevation is 904.0 msl. Lake Rathbun has zebra mussels, so make sure to properly drain, clean, and dry equipment before transporting to another water body. Some docks have been pulled out for the season and some campgrounds are closed. Very few anglers have been out.

Red Haw Lake
Few anglers have been out.

Some skim ice is starting to form around the edges of some of the smaller bodies of water in our district, but not thick enough to support anglers. The district includes Mahaska, Lucas, Wayne, Monroe, Appanoose, Wapello, Davis and Van Buren counties. Contact the Rathbun Fish Hatchery at 641-647-2406 with questions about fishing in south central Iowa.

SOUTHWEST

Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake
As of Nov.13, Ada Hayden was open water. Rainbow Trout – Excellent: Cast small in-line spinners, small plastic swim baits, or live bait under a float. Most of the trout will be in the North part of the lake. You need a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout.

Des Moines River (Saylorville to Red Rock)
Walleye – Fair: Catch walleye below the dams and at creek mouths from Saylorville through downtown Des Moines in the evenings just before and after dark. Cast jigs tipped with chartreuse twister or paddle tails or live minnows.

Lake Petocka
As of Nov. 13, the North shore of the lake was still open water for shore fishing. Rainbow Trout – Excellent: Cast small in-line spinners, small plastic swim baits, or nightcrawler pieces under a float. You need a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout.

Terra Lake
As of Nov. 13, anglers were still fishing open water. Rainbow Trout – Good: Cast small in-line spinners, small plastic swim baits, or live bait under a float. You need a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout.

For more information on Central Iowa lakes and rivers, call Ben Dodd at 641-891-3795 or Andy Otting at 515-204-5885.


 

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