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Heartland Outdoors

Tiny beetle endangering walnuts

Tue, February 01, 2011

The most economically valuable tree in Iowa is under a possible threat from a beetle that is about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

Thousand cankers disease (TCD) has been killing black walnut trees in the Western U.S. since the 1990s.  It is not currently in Iowa, but is as close as Rocky Ford, Colo., to the west and Knoxville, Tenn., to the south. 

“The introduction of TCD into Iowa would have disastrous effects economically and environmentally to the wood industry in the state,” said Tivon Feeley, with the forest health program at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 
Iowa’s estimated 979 million board feet of sawlog-sized black walnut standing in the woodlands is the third largest state volume in the nation and valued at nearly $1.5 billion. The economic loss in Iowa to woodland owners and associated businesses that annually harvest more than 9.3 million board feet would be an estimated $62 million per year. 

“Some experts believe that TCD has the potential to decimate black walnut in the same way Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer and chestnut blight have destroyed their respective hosts,” Feeley said.

The disease is caused by a walnut twig beetle that carries a fungus which is spread as it tunnels through tree tissue.  Beetles can reach high populations and numerous cankers can develop.  Instead of one large girdling canker, tree decline and death appears to result from the high number of cankers.

“We placed two logs about eight inches in diameter and two feet long in a box and eventually recovered around 23,000 beetles,” said Ned Tisserat, professor with Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management at Colorado State University.

Rapid detection and removal of infected trees is currently the primary means of managing thousand cankers disease. Stopping or slowing its spread from infested areas relies on quarantines of wood products and on public education. 

In addition to Colorado and Knoxville, Tenn., the beetle has been killing black walnuts in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, California and New Mexico. 

“It comes back to do not move wood,” Feeley said.  “The reason TCD is in Knoxville is because it was brought there in wood from a contaminated area from the west.  Don’t move firewood, wood logs or other untreated wood products.”

Very little is known by the public about thousand cankers disease of black walnut, Feeley said. 

“Scientists are investigating how serious of a threat this disease will be in the eastern U.S., and until more facts are learned, woodland owners are encouraged not to harvest their trees, but to continue working with their local forester to keep their woodland healthy,” he said. 

A more intensive survey of declining black walnut trees has been proposed in a grant to the U.S. Forest Service.


DU celebrates another CRP sign-up

Tue, February 01, 2011

MEMPHIS, Tenn- For the second consecutive year, sportsmen-conservationists have received good news regarding the Conservation Reserve Program. U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced another general sign-up for CRP, which will begin March 14, 2011, and continue through April 15, 2011, marking the second year in a row that USDA has offered a general CRP sign-up.

“The Conservation Reserve Program is one of the most effective conservation tools in existence today, and a second general sign-up is great news for wetlands conservation, waterfowl habitat, waterfowl and waterfowl hunters,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall said. “Maintaining CRP acres will translate into quality habitat and more ducks in the fall flight across the country each year.”

CRP provides a secure income to farmers, ranchers and other landowners as an incentive to convert highly erodible cropland or other environmentally sensitive acreage to resource-conserving vegetative cover, such as native grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filter strips or riparian buffers. CRP improves water quality, prevents soil erosion and provides vital nesting cover for ducks and other wildlife.

CRP provides critical upland nesting cover for ducks in the United States portion of the Prairie Pothole Region, one of DU’s highest conservation priority areas. Both native grassland and CRP continue to decline at alarming rates across the PPR. More than 1.5 million acres of CRP have disappeared from the PPR since 2007. Another 2.4 million acres are scheduled to expire from September 30, 2011, to September 30, 2012.

Ducks Unlimited is among several conservation organizations that have signed a partnership agreement with USDA to actively recruit farmers, ranchers and landowners to enroll in CRP.

“Over the past 25 years, support for CRP has grown thanks to strong backing from farmers, ranchers, conservationists, hunters, fishermen and other outdoor sports enthusiasts,” said Vilsack. “Not only has CRP contributed to the national effort to improve water and air quality, it has preserved habitat for wildlife, and prevented soil erosion by protecting the most sensitive areas including those prone to flash flooding and runoff. Today’s announcement continues the Obama Administration’s effort to conserve sensitive areas and improve wildlife habitat.”

Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres, thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.


WIU holding big buck contest

Tue, February 01, 2011

Western Illinois Museum will host a Big Buck Contest on Saturday, February 5th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The contest will take place at the museum and the winners will be invited to include their buck in the exhibit along with their photographs and story of the hunt.

Racks will be scored at a first come, first serve basis. Awards will be announced at 4 p.m.  All entries not chosen for display need to be picked up by 4 p.m.

There will be a $10 fee to enter the contest.  All proceeds from the contest will benefit the Western Illinois Museum’s exhibit and collection program. All bucks will be register with the Illinois Big Buck Recognition Program and if qualified, the Boone, and Crockett and Pope and Young Clubs.

There will be four separate categories which deer will be judged: two categories for deer taken by firearm with a distinction between a typical, and non-typical antlers.  There will also be two categories for deer taken by bow and arrow or crossbow, one each for typical and non-typical antlers.

Both historic and current season bucks can be entered.  The required 60-day drying time must be met. The contest is open to bucks harvested from the State of Illinois.

Scoring is based on standards set up by the Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young Clubs. Each entry will get a copy of the score sheet.  Entries will be accepted that have already been measured by a certified scorer from an appropriate organization.

Scores include Mike Cochran, a certified scorer for both Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young Clubs.  Matt Staser is a certified Boone and Crockett Club scorer.  Doug Campbell, Alan Lashbrook and Greg Miscusky will represent the Illinois Big Buck Recognition program.

Support for the event has been provided by partner Macomb Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

For more information contact the Western Illinois Museum at 309.837.2750 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

. The museum is located at 201 South Lafayette Street in Macomb, Illinois.


Missouri elk herd being tested

Fri, January 28, 2011

PINEVILLE, KY – Forty-six animals that will form the nucleus of Missouri’s restored elk herd are in a holding pen in Bell County, Kentucky, undergoing veterinary testing and treatment. By the end of the week, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will start the clock on a 90-day quarantine period designed to ensure they are healthy and ready for a new life in the Ozarks.

Crews made up of personnel from MDC and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources finished trapping operations Jan. 22, using two corral-type traps in separate locations. They baited the traps with alfalfa hay, corn and sweet feed. The traps were equipped with remotely controlled gates, allowing workers to watch the traps from a distance and close them when elk were inside.

MDC hoped to capture 50 elk this year. That challenge was complicated by the need to trap only cow elk, their calves and 1.5-year-old bulls, known as “spikes” because of their unbranched antlers. Spike bulls will be 2.5 years old next fall, when cow elk in Missouri are ready to breed.

“Mature wild bull elk are too strong to work with safely in captivity without sedation,” said MDC Elk Project Manager Ron Dent. “Sedation carries more risk for the animals, and without sedation big bulls pose a danger to workers and other elk in a confined space.”

Trapping crews had to experiment with techniques to exclude mature bulls from the traps. They also had to work through technical hitches with the automatic gates.

This year’s catch includes seven spike bulls, 21 adult cows, 10 yearling bulls, four yearling cows and four female calves. Nearly all the mature cows are expected to be pregnant.

State and federal officials conducted the first round of veterinary testing Tuesday. Elk were guided through a “squeeze chute” like those used for working domestic livestock. Once confined in the chute, each elk received an injection to kill internal and external parasites. Workers then shaved a small patch of skin on the animals’ necks for a tuberculosis skin test and to draw blood for other disease testing. Veterinary health protocols approved by the Missouri State Veterinarian are more stringent than any that apply to livestock brought into Missouri.

After veterinary health work-ups, the elk were fitted with ear tags and with passive integrated transponder (PIT) identification tags.

MDC workers will check the tuberculosis skin tests Friday. Then MDC can start the clock on a 90-day quarantine period. The holding pen is surrounded by a perimeter fence that prevents contact with free-ranging elk or deer.

A three-month quarantine leaves time for MDC to bring the elk to a holding pen at Peck Ranch CA in Carter County and let them acclimate to their new surroundings before being released to the wild. The acclimation period will allow biologists the opportunity to observe elk and fit them with them with GPS collars.

The elk are being protected from poaching or disturbance by curiosity seekers. This protection will continue at the holding site at Peck Ranch. Dent said this is critical to the success of the elk-restoration effort.

“These are wild animals,” he said. “They are highly susceptible to human disturbance. We stay away from the holding pen as much as possible, because the elk can become very nervous if they hear, see or smell humans nearby. They can injure themselves if they bunch up or try to jump the fence. That is why we do not allow news media or other visitors at the trapping site. The same will be true when we bring the elk to the holding pen at Peck Ranch.”


Carp Classic returns to Chicago

Fri, January 28, 2011

The Chicago Carp Classic will return to the Lake Michigan lakefront Sept. 9-11 from Montrose to Diversey harbors.

Click here for more information.


Iowa wants input on access program

Fri, January 28, 2011

DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments on a pilot hunting access program. 

The three year Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive pilot program is being funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as a portion of wildlife habitat fees paid by hunters.  At least $1 from every wildlife habitat fee is required to be spent in a manner that increases landowner participation in federally funded conservation programs that encourage opportunities for recreational hunting on private land.

Landowner participation for the program is voluntarily and in exchange for allowing hunter access, the landowner would receive payments to create, manage or enhance wildlife habitat on their land.

The proposal states that in order to be eligible for the voluntary program, an applicant shall own at least 40 acres of private land in Iowa, have land that already contains wildlife habitat or be willing to develop wildlife habitat, enter into an agreement with the DNR and allow public access hunting.

“One of the concerns we have heard about this program is the issue of liability,” said Dale Garner, chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Bureau. “We have visited with our legal representatives at the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and what they are telling us is, if the landowner does not charge a fee for hunters to access their property, that they would not be held liable in the case of injury.”

Funds would be available from July 1 to June 30, 2012.  Enrolled land will be subject to game management area hunting rules according to Iowa law.
Research shows that an estimated 10 percent of Iowa landowners may be interested in this program.  The pilot project could potentially fund access to 10,000 acres in each of the three years during the program.  Contracts would be from 3 to 10 years in length.

“It is important to remember that this is a pilot project that provides much needed wildlife habitat on private land in exchange for public access.  If the pilot is successful, a new funding source, like an access fee, will be needed to continue and grow the program,” Garner said.

Any person wishing to make written public comments may send those on or before Feb. 3, to Kelly Smith, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wallace State Office Building, 502 E. 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319-0034 or by fax at 515-281-6794 or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

A public hearing will be held at 1 p.m., Feb. 3, in the fourth floor east conference room, Wallace State Office Building, 502 E. 9th St., in Des Moines.
Any persons intending to attend the public hearing and have special requirements, such as those related to hearing or mobility impairments, should contact the Department of Natural Resources and advise of specific needs.


Iowa fishing report 1-27-11

Thu, January 27, 2011

Yellow Smoke Park Lake
Ice conditions are good.  Use caution near the handicapped accessible dock because slush pockets have formed near it.  Bluegill - Fair: Anglers can expect to catch about a half dozen jumbo bluegill on a fishing trip to Yellow Smoke. Anglers have been targeting the submerged trees in 18 to 22 feet of water.  The water is extremely clear and the bluegills are very finicky.  Anglers have been using a camera to fish because the bite is so light.  Use the smallest tackle and lightest line possible.

Badger Lake
Fishing has been fair for bluegill and crappie.  Ice is 15 inches.

Brushy Creek Lake
There’s good ice on most of the lake, but stay clear of the dam.  Fishing has been slow.

Bacon Creek Lake
The DNR stocked 1,500 rainbow trout on January 8.  Ice is at least 12 inches thick.  Anglers need a trout stamp in addition to their regular fishing license to fish for or keep trout.  Daily limit of trout is 5.  Rainbow Trout - Fair: Anglers are still catching a lot of rainbow trout.  Fish 5 to 10 feet down and use small flashy lures baited with wax worms, a piece of night crawler, or a small minnow.

Swan Lake
Ice at Swan Lake is anywhere from 8 to 10 inches thick.  The aeration system has been turned on so there is open water and weak ice around the fish house, the fish cleaning station, and east of the fish house.  Fishing is slow.

Black Hawk Lake
On Black Hawk Lake walleye must be at least 15 inches in length to keep and only three per day may be kept.  The winter aeration system has been started and there is now open water and weak ice in the Town Bay area.

Browns Lake
Ice conditions are good, but the snow on top of the ice makes it difficult to get around.  Fishing is slow.

Snyder Bend Lake
Ice conditions are good, but snow on the ice makes it difficult to get around. Fishing is slow.

Arrowhead Lake
Arrowhead Lake has about 14 inches of good ice.  There are a lot fish using the new habitat structures on the west side of the lake.  Bluegill - Fair: Bluegill are averaging 8.5 inches.  Yellow Perch - Fair: Most of the yellow perch that have been caught are small.

For more information on the lakes and rivers in this area contact Ben Wallace or Don Herrig at the Black Hawk Fish Management Office in Lake View at 712-657-2638.

Briggs Woods Lake
Ice thickness is 10 to 12 inches. Bluegills are biting on small jigs tipped with wax worms. A few crappies are being caught on minnows. The best bite is from 4 p.m. until dark.

Lake Smith
Ice thickness is 15 to 17 inches. Bluegills are biting in the late afternoon on wax worms.

Lake Catherine
Ice thickness is 14 to 19 inches. Bluegills are biting on wax worms at dusk.

Clear Lake
Ice thickness is 18 to 20 inches. Yellow bass fishing is good in 6 to 10 feet of water using a small jig tipped with a wax worm or small minnow. The best bite is from 4 p.m. until dark. A few walleye, crappie and perch are being caught using the same technique.

Lake Cornelia
Ice thickness is 18 to 20 inches. Small yellow bass are biting wax worms.

Rice Lake
Ice thickness is 18 to 20 inches. Yellow perch are biting on wax worms; it will likely take some sorting to get a limit of keepers.

Silver Lake (Worth)
Ice thickness is 15 to 19 inches. No fishing activity reported

Blue Pit
The Mason City Recreation Department and Iowa Department of Natural Resources would like to invite children and their families to attend a Family Ice Fishing Day January 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The DNR will be stocking 1,400 rainbow trout at 11:30 a.m. to encourage family participation in the sport of ice fishing. The Mason City Recreation Department will provide refreshments. Prizes and certificates will be awarded.

Bluebill Lake
Ice thickness is 17 to 19 inches. Bluegill and a few perch are biting on wax worms. The best bite is at first light.

Interstate Park Lake
Ice thickness is 17 to 19 inches. A few bluegill and crappie are biting at dusk.

For more information on fishing in the area lakes and rivers, call the Clear Lake fisheries office at 641-357-3517.

Lake Pahoja
Bluegill - Good: Anglers are reporting some nice bluegills using small jigs and wax worms.  Crappie - Good: Anglers are picking up a few crappies while targeting bluegill.

Big Spirit Lake
Fishing has picked up with the warmer weather.  Many limits of perch are coming in, with a few anglers catching walleye before sunrise.  Yellow Perch - Good: Fishing has picked up on the main lake basin using small ice jigs tipped with wigglers or wax worms. Most action is at Buffalo Run, Big Stoney, Red Nose and Cottonwood points.  Walleye - Good: Fish rock bars or weed lines before sunrise or after sunset with jigging lures tipped with a minnow head and dead sticking with a minnow on a small hook below a split shot.

East Okoboji Lake
Walleye - Good: Use jigging lures tipped with a minnow head near Parks Marina.

West Okoboji Lake
Bluegill - Good: Fish in the bays with small ice jigs tipped with wax worms/wigglers or plastics.  Bluegills are still aggressively biting, but sorting is needed for larger bluegill.  Walleye - Good: Some walleye are being reported right before sunrise while fishing for bluegill in the bays.

Scharnberg Pond
The second round of trout stocking happened on January 22.  Refer to the Iowa Fishing Regulations Booklet or the Iowa DNR website for trout stamp requirements.  Rainbow Trout - Good: Trout anglers at other lakes in Iowa have reported great success using jigging spoons tipped with wax worms or synthetic trout baits.

Ice conditions are good on area lakes; however extreme caution should be used when ever going out onto the ice.  For more fishing information on the Spirit Lake area call 712-336-1840.

Volga Lake
Much of the fishing activity is taking place in the afternoon.  Try suspending jigs several feet off the bottom.  Key into brush or rock piles.  Bluegill - Good:  Yellow Perch - Fair:

Lake Hendricks
Most of the fish activity has been happening from mid afternoon to dusk.  Try fishing suspending your lures 5 to 6 feet under the ice.  Bluegill - Good:  Crappie - Fair:

Lake Meyer
Fish activity has switched from early afternoon to mornings through about 1 p.m. Anglers are catching a variety of fish using wax worms and a jig.  The best colors seem to be purple or red.  The majority of fish are suspended 4 to 5 feet off the bottom.  Bluegill - Good:  Largemouth Bass - No Report:  Crappie - Slow: Crappies are small.  Yellow Perch - No Report:

Decorah District Streams
Anglers are doing well on area streams. Trout have been taken on northeast Iowa streams with traditional streamer patterns.  Dry fly action has been minimal.  For folks who spin fish, don’t be afraid to use bigger lures and jigs as prey is larger at this time of year.  Urban ponds are now being stocked, weather permitting. For information on when and where, please go to our website at

This is the time of year when fish are suspended in the water column.  Trout streams continue to provide good action.  A good trout stream will remain open even during periods of cold weather.  For more information on a particular river or stream, contact the Decorah Fish Hatchery at 563-382-8324.

Brinker Lake
Catches of crappie have been reported from Brinker Lake.  Crappie - Fair: Most pressure has been taking place near the island.

George Wyth Lake
Catches of both bluegill and crappie have been reported on George Wyth.  Bluegill - Fair: Most pressure has taken place out from the north parking lot. Mornings and evenings have been best.  Crappie - Fair: Anglers are reporting catches of 9 to 10-inch crappie, towards evening hours has been most productive.

Avenue of the Saints Pond
Crappies are being caught after sunset.  Crappie - Fair: Try jig and wax worm or minnow under a bobber during evening hours.

Sweet Marsh Reservoir
Fishing pressure has been heavy on Sweet Marsh, some sorting of fish may be necessary. Crappie - Fair: Look for areas where the heaviest fishing pressure has occurred.

Quality bluegills have been reported from Plainfield Lake.  Bluegill - Fair: Try locating structure and move often.

Ice fishing reports have been fair to good over the last week. Black Hawk and Bremer County lakes have been producing catches of bluegill and crappie. Trout streams remain in excellent conditions in northeast Iowa. For further information contact the Manchester District Office at 563-927-3276.

Mississippi River Pool 9
Ice depth is generally 8 to 12 inches but caution should be used in areas that have current or are insulated by deep snow.  More open water exists than usual for the winter period due to the higher water levels on the Mississippi River.  Northern Pike - Fair: A few reports of pike taken on tip ups in the Minnesota Slough area.  The northern pike population is very robust and many pike are present in most backwater systems.  Bluegill - Good: Good catches in Minnesota Slough and Indian Lake by New Albin.  Near Lansing, fishing in the Marina and in Phillippi Lake has been good at times.  DeSoto Bay, on the Wisconsin side, is also seeing lots of fishing pressure.  Yellow perch - Fair: A few nice perch reported from Shore Slough and Minnesota Slough although fishing pressure appears to be lower. The yellow perch bit can get better later in the winter and some jumbo yellow perch are being reported in Pool 9. 

Mississippi River Pool 10
Ice depth is generally 10 to 12 inches but caution should be used in areas that have current or are insulated by deep snow. In the Sny Magill area near Effigy Mounds Park it is safe to cross over into Norwegian Lake but do use caution when crossing over Wylusing Slough to Methodist Lake.  Northern Pike - Fair: Some smaller northern pike were being caught on tip-ups using larger shiners as bait.  Bluegill - Fair: Good catches of bluegills reported near Ambrough Slough by Prairie Du Chien and in the Sny Magill area decent catches reported in Ice Lake, Sandbar Slough and Methodist Lake.  Bussey Lake has slowed a bit but still is cranking out some bluegills.  Bite seems to be best in late afternoon.  Crappie - Fair: A few nice crappies in Bussey but fishing has slowed.  A few nice crappies also in Sny Magill area of Ice and Methodist lakes.  Yellow Perch - Fair: Some nice perch reported from sloughs in the Prairie Du Chien area and a few in Bussey Lake.  Yellow perch fishing can get better later in the winter and some jumbo yellow perch exist in many of the backwaters of Pool 10.  Sauger - Slow: The tail waters still have a lot of current due to the high water going into the winter.  This has made fishing for sauger difficult as they do not appear to be in their normal winter locations.

Mississippi River Pool 11
Ice depth is generally 10 to 12 inches or more but caution should be used in areas that have current or are insulated by deep snow.  You can still launch a boat off the Guttenberg City ramp to access the tail waters but the lip of ice at the waters edge of the ramp may cause problems.  Bluegill - Good: Zollicoffers in lower Pool 11 is still “hit or miss,” but some nice fish have been taken. A few nice perch and crappie taken is Sunfish Lake on the Wisconsin side. More anglers are putting a boat in at Guttenberg and crossing over to Swift Slough to fish. A lot of anglers report long periods of slow fishing with brief periods of biting fish mostly towards afternoon.  Crappie - Slow: A few nice crappies in Zollicoffers Lake by Dubuque and Swift Slough by Guttenberg. Yellow Perch - Good: During later season ice often yellow perch fishing can get better.  Perch can withstand a slight bit of current and sometimes are found in backwater areas with minimal flow.  Bluegills typically avoid such areas.  Some very large yellow perch up to 14 inches are being reported.  Sauger - Fair: Anglers can access the tail waters of lock and dam 10 through the city ramp in Guttenberg.  Winter water levels are very high and current is stronger than many winter anglers are accustomed to.  The DNR fish hatchery ramp is completely covered with ice and anglers will have to push boat over ice to launch. Activity has picked up a bit over the past week with most fishing occurring on the Iowa side.  Walleye - Slow: Although anglers can access the tail waters of lock and dam 10 through the city ramp in Guttenberg, a few walleyes have been caught but fishing reports have been slow.

Generally good ice conditions but avoid flowing sloughs and large snow covered areas as snow insulates the ice preventing complete freezing.  Ice thickness in many areas is 8 to 12 inches, but caution should be used.  The river is currently very high for winter conditions and open pockets of water exist in many places that have current flow.

Mississippi River Pool 12
Ice conditions at most backwaters are fair with more than 10 inches on most lakes. Ice conditions in sloughs with flowing water will be considerably less and travel on them is not recommended. Use caution and drill test holes.  Bluegill - Fair: Bluegill are biting on wax worms and ice jigs at Fishtrap, Grassy, and Tippy lakes.  Also don’t overlook local marinas as they hold fish overwinter, too.  Crappie - Fair: Reports of a few crappie being caught through the ice at Tippy and Fishtrap lakes.  Yellow Perch - Fair: A few yellow perch are being caught by bluegill anglers through the ice with a few fish up to 12-inch in the mix.  Sauger - Fair: Sauger are being caught in the tail waters by anglers pushing boats off the ice at O’Learys Lake.

Mississippi River Pool 13
Ice conditions at most backwaters are fair with more than 10 inches on most lakes. Ice conditions in sloughs with flowing water will be considerably less and travel on them is not recommended. Use caution and drill test holes.  Bluegill - Fair: Anglers have been catching bluegills at Brown’s Lake, South Sabula Lake, and Michelson’s Landing.  Crappie - Fair: Anglers are catching a few crappies at Brown’s Lake, South Sabula Lake, and Miller’s Landing.  Sauger - Fair: Sauger fishing has been fair the past week in the tail waters in Bellevue.  A lot of small fish are being sorted.  Anglers should remember that the Illinois portion of the tail waters is still closed to fishing until March 16 and the state line runs through the center of the lock chamber.

Mississippi River Pool 14
Ice conditions at most backwaters are fair with more than 10 inches on most lakes. Ice conditions in sloughs with flowing water will be considerably less and travel on them is not recommended. Use caution and drill test holes.  Bluegill - Slow: Bluegill fishing in Pool 14 has been slow the past week with catches being mostly small fish.  Crappie - Slow: Crappie fishing has been slow the past week.

For fishing information in Pool 12-15 of the Mississippi River contact the Bellevue Fish Management and Research Station at 563-872-4976

Mississippi River Pool 16
Tail water stage at Lock and Dam 15 is 6.50 feet. As of Jan. 27, the Marquette St. ramp was reported as open. Ramp conditions could change. Anglers should check ramp conditions before backing down the ramp. At this time, Sylvan Slough was reported as being frozen over.  Bluegill - Good: Bluegills are being caught in Sunset Marina on small ice jigs and wax worms. The bite has been the best early in the morning and before dark.  Crappie - Slow: Crappie fishing in Sunset Marina has been slow.  Sauger - Slow: There have been reports of some small saugers being caught on jigs and minnows.  Walleye - Slow: Walleye fishing has been slow.

Mississippi River Pool 17
Tail water stage at Lock and Dam 16 is 6.67 feet. As of Jan. 27, anglers have been launching boats at the furthest upstream ramp in Muscatine. Ramp conditions could change. There are a lot of loose ice chunks floating at the ramp that could make launching difficult or possibly freeze in again. There is also some ice at the end of the ramp that could make launching difficult. Anglers should check ramp conditions before backing down. The access road to Big Timber is ice covered.  Bluegill - Fair: Bluegills are being caught in Big Timber on small jigs and wax worms.  Crappie - Fair: There are reports of some crappies being caught in Big Timber. Try using small jigs and wax worms or small minnows. Sauger - No Report:

Mississippi River Pool 18
Tail water stage at Lock and Dam 17 is 10.31 feet. Boats are not able to launch at Toolesboro due to the ramp freezing in. Most ice fishing reports are coming from area ponds and lakes.  Bluegill - No Report:  Sauger - No Report:  Walleye - No Report:

Mississippi River Pool 19
Tail water stage at Lock and Dam 18 is 5.19 feet. No tail water fishing information was received for this pool.  Most ice fishing reports are coming from area ponds.

Pools 16-19: Most boat ramps are still being reported as frozen in. Anglers are catching some panfish in the backwaters through the ice. Anglers should be advised that the access road over the levee to Big Timber does have ice on it. For more fishing information on Pools 16-19 contact the Fairport Fish Hatchery at 563-263-5062.

Lake Geode
Ice conditions keep improving. Warm weather forecast for the next couple of days will not help, though.  Stick to across from the lake on up the upper end.  The ice conditions deteriorate further down the lake fairly fast.  Bluegill - Slow: Anglers are fishing some of the coves at the upper end of the lake without much luck. Just not that many anglers are trying it.

Lake Belva Deer
The county conservation board has the roads cleared and sanded around the south ramp.  Bluegill - Fair: Anglers are still catching fish in the early morning but they are doing some sorting.  Crappie - Fair: The evening bite is slowing down they are still catching some really nice crappies but the catch rate is dropping. Target them at about 8 to 10 feet down.

Lake of the Hills
Angling pressure remains steady.  As always stay away from the boathouse where there is an aerator to protect the docks from ice damage.  Bluegill - Good: Work the brush piles in the deeper water. The catch rate is improving.  Crappie - Good: Anglers are picking up crappies in the same places they are catching the bluegills.  Look for the crappies to be suspended above the bluegills.

Lambach Lake
Bluegill - Good: Work the habitat and the drop offs along the old creek bottom that runs down the middle of the lake.

For more information on the above lakes call the Lake Darling Fisheries Station at 319-694-2430

Iowa Lake
Bluegill - Good: Limits of bluegills have been reported in the mornings. Fish around brush or pallets with a jig/waxie.

Kent Park Lake
Bluegill - Slow: Fish around brush. Size has been good.

Lake Macbride
Fishing pressure and success has decreased here.  Bluegill - Fair: Fish around almost any structure in 10 to 20 feet of water. Size is generally small.  Crappie - Slow: There are still a few fish being caught but most reports are of smaller fish. Keep moving until you find fish. Find areas that have not had much pressure.

Pleasant Creek Lake
Bluegill - Fair: Try around brush piles in the mornings and evenings. Depths of 10 to 15 feet have been reported as best.  Yellow Perch - Fair: Fish deep water with a jig/waxie. Fish have been ranging from 4 to 11 inches with most around 7 inches.

Diamond Lake
Bluegill - Fair: Fish around brush. Size has been mediocre.  Crappie - Fair: Evenings have been best. Size has been small.

Union Grove Lake
Bluegill - Fair: Fish around brush. The area west of the east ramp has been most popular.  Crappie - Slow: A few crappies are being picked up along with the bluegills. Dusk has been the most productive time.

Coralville Reservoir
Crappie - Slow: A few crappies are being taken off brush piles in coves.

Sand Lake
Bluegill - Fair:  Crappie - Slow:

Cedar River (La Porte City to Cedar Rapids)
The following is based off a report for the stretch between Palo and Cedar Rapids. Crappie - Fair:

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

Red Haw Lake
Ice depths are reported around 10 inches.  Use caution when venturing out because there have been some variation in ice thickness.  The geese had been keeping an area open by the dam and the beach so avoid that area.  Bluegill - Fair: Use teardrop jigs tipped with a wax worm.

Hawthorn Lake (aka Barnes City Lake)
The lake has been drained for a lake renovation and work has begun around the lake.  New fish habitat areas are being built along with some new jetties.

Albia (lower)
Bluegill - Good: Use small jigs tipped with a wax worm and fish around the structure that was added the last few years.

Lake Sugema
Use caution when venturing out onto the ice.  The standing timber can impede the formation of good ice.  There is open water along the north shore and around the north boat ramp.  There is about 5 inches of ice up-lake where most of the fishing is taking place.  Angling is also occurring on Tug Forks West with some bluegill being caught.  Tug Forks East still has some areas of open water so use caution.  Bluegill - Slow: Use small jigs tipped with a wax worm.  Try fishing within a foot of the lake bottom.

Rathbun Reservoir
The lake level is at 902.67 feet with 904.0 feet being normal pool.  Ice thickness reports are as follows:  Island View Dedication site boat ramp, 10 inches, Glenwood ramp, 10 inches, and Atwell’s Landing, 10.5 inches.  Use caution because ice thickness has been variable.  Crappie - Slow: Use teardrops jigs tipped with a wax worm or a minnow.  Find areas with submerged structure and fish over them.  Look for structure in the Honey Creek cove or in Buck Creek.

For further fishing reports in south central Iowa please call the Rathbun fish hatchery at 641-647-2406

Beaver Lake
Bluegill - Good: There have been some reports of good bluegill catches coming out of Beaver Lake.  Try the northeast and southeast portions of the lake on some of the 15 foot deep ridges and humps close to the deeper water.

Rock Creek Lake
Crappie - Good: Anglers are still coming up with some decent panfish catches.  Both bluegill and crappie are being caught in good numbers fishing with wax worms in 8 to 12 feet of water in the southern portion of the lake.  Late afternoon has been the best time.

Big Creek Lake
Bluegill - Good: The bluegill bite has slowed a little from last week.  Persistent anglers are still catching fair amounts of good size fish.  The brush piles on the west side of the lake south of the west ramp have been good.  The best time seems to be late afternoon, especially the hour before dark, but occasionally there has been a decent morning bite.  Waxies are the preferred bait.  Crappie - Fair: Some crappie are being caught after dark.  The fish that are being caught are coming from the roadbed and the 30 to 35 feet deep creek channel running between the east ramp and Ensign shelter.  Use glowing tackle with wax worms, small live minnows, or just minnow heads.  Walleye - Fair: Crappie anglers are picking up many walleyes with most being short fish that were just stocked in October.  Check any LEGAL sized walleye for tags near the tail.  If one is caught, follow the instructions on the signs near the boat ramps to collect a cash reward.

Hickory Grove Lake
Bluegill - Good: The bluegill bite has slowed slightly, but anglers can still expect a good outing.  Hickory Grove has been one of the most consistent bites in central Iowa this year.  The best bite is the hour before dark over sunken habitat in depths of 15 foot or greater.  There is plenty of good habitat to search for in the coves, out from many of the points, and southeast of the island.  The habitat in the lower half of the lake has been producing the best.  Crappie - Good: Crappie are being caught.  For better success stay out the hour or two past sunset and fish some of the same habitat as the bluegills.  However, better crappie success is coming from more main lake habitat than back in the coves.  Glow jigs with wax worms or minnows are working.

Lake Ahquabi
Bluegill - Fair: Good bluegills are still being picked up around the large sunken cedars in 16 to 20 feet out from the steep, west bank across from the beach area.

Ankeny Lake (DMACC)
Rainbow Trout - Good: The next trout stocking will be Jan. 29, at noon, and include a family fishing event.  A number of fish will be tagged for kid’s prizes. Hotdogs, chips and a drink will be available to approximately the first 200 people.  Bluegill - Good: Decent sized bluegills are being pulled through the ice.  Concentrate on the south central portion of the lake.

Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake
Rainbow Trout - Good: Trout are being caught in good numbers mostly along the east shore of the north pit.  The trout do not seem to travel the deep water so try staying in the 5 to 15 feet contour interval.  They can be caught on most ice fishing jigs or jigging spoons tipped with wax worms or fish with a small live minnow on a hook.  They are confined to the north pit.  Crappie - Fair: Some good size crappie are being caught near the steep north shore of the south pit.  The best bite is in the evening.

Fishing success remains similar to last week.  Ice conditions are excellent.  Most bodies of water are still gaining ice and currently have 12 plus inches.  In general, the best bites have been happening after 4 p.m.  For questions on central Iowa lakes and rivers contact Ben Dodd or Andy Otting at 515-432-2823.

Nodaway Lake
Nodaway Lake is located two miles south of Greenfield. The best bite has been in the afternoon. Ice is 10 inches.  Bluegill - Fair: Bluegills can be caught on teardrops tipped with wax worms. Sorting is necessary for 7 to 8-inch fish.  Crappie - Fair: Crappies are being caught with wax worms around cedar tree piles. Fish are 9 to 10 inches.

Littlefield Lake
Littlefield is reported to have 8 to 10 inches of ice.  Bluegill - Fair: Bluegills can be caught with wax worms in 10 to 13 feet of water. Fish average 8 inches. Crappie - Slow: Crappies are scattered with a few are being caught in the evenings using minnows. Fish average 9 inches. 

Lake Anita
Lake Anita was reported to have 10 inches of ice.  Bluegill - Fair: Bluegills are being caught on jigs tipped with wax worms in 18 to 20 feet of water. Bluegills are averaging 8 inches with fish up to 9.5 inches being caught.

Willow Lake
Willow lake has 10 plus inches of good ice and extremely good water clarity.  Bluegill - Fair: Anglers are catching 8-inch bluegills with wax worms in 20 feet of water close to structure.  Crappie - Slow: An angler reported to have caught a few 10-inch crappies in 15 to 20 feet of water in the late afternoon.

Lake Manawa
Manawa has variable ice thickness. Reports are anywhere from 7 to 10 inches. Most fishing has taken place around Tin Can Alley or the new and old beach.  Crappie - Slow: Crappies are being caught with minnows and wax worms. Most fish are 8 to 10 inches.

Cold Springs District Farm Ponds
Numerous farm ponds in southern Iowa provide a good opportunity for a quality ice fishing trip. Remember to always get permission before fishing private ponds. Bluegill - Fair: Bluegills are being caught using tear drops tipped with wax worms.  Crappie - Slow: Crappies are being caught using minnows or wax worms on larger ponds that support crappie populations. Later in the afternoon has been the best time to target crappies.

Ice conditions are still good with reports of 9 to 10 inches on most water bodies in southwest Iowa. Caution is still needed at Greenfield Lake. Geese are keeping a small area of water open by the dam. For more information on fishing or ice conditions call the Southwest District Office at 712-769-2587.