Summer Tips to Land Iowa’s Big Fish

Date posted - July 26, 2016

fishing 4Iowa anglers have lots of opportunities to earn a Master Angler award this summer. The Master Angler program celebrates angler success for catching quality sized fish by awarding a vehicle or boat decal and certificate for each fish that meets program criteria.

Quickly find the best spots to catch qualifying size fish with the electronic map recently added to the Master Angler website (https://programs.iowadnr.gov/masterangler/). Anglers can search for local hotspots by species or location.

A search using the new ranking feature identified these top locations (listed by the number of catches) where qualifying fish have been caught. Try these simple tips from DNR fisheries biologists to catch large bluegill, bass and crappie during the summer heat (early morning and sunset are best).

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 ounce) 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.

White 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.

· 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.

The Master Angler program has three award levels: anglers who submit one qualifying fish earn a Master Angler award; those submitting five different fish species earn a Silver Master Angler award; and anyone submitting 10 different qualifying fish will earn Gold Master Angler status.

Master anglers can track the number of species they have submitted and see where they “rank” among fellow master anglers. The new species specialist award lets a master angler track his/her progress towards catching five of each eligible species.

A list of the 41 different fish species eligible for Master Angler awards, complete rules and registration form can be found in the Iowa Fishing Regulations or online at fishing.iowadnr.gov.

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