Ice Continues to Thicken on Iowa Lakes

DNR logoClear Lake
Ice thickness is 6 to 8 inches. Yellow bass are biting on wax worms and minnow heads fished in 10 feet of water. A few walleyes and crappies are being caught on minnows. The best bite is just after sunrise and about an hour before sunset. Crappie – Fair: Walleye – Slow: Yellow Bass – Fair:

Most of the area lakes have iced over. For ice condition updates and fishing information in the north central area contact the Clear Lake Fish and Wildlife office at 641-357-3517.


Big Spirit Lake
The lake is locked up and there is 5-7 inches of ice in most areas. Walleye and perch have been the main targets, but bluegills and crappies are also being sought after. Try fishing the edges of green weeds or drop offs for most species.


Center Lake
Center Lake has roughly 6 inches of ice but an open hole created by the aerator is present straight out from the fishing pier.


East Okoboji Lake
There is roughly 5-7 inches of ice but there may be thinner areas toward the south end.


Silver Lake (Dickinson)
Silver Lake has 8-10 inches of ice and the aerator is running on the east side.


West Okoboji Lake
There are a few open holes on the lake yet being kept open by geese. The rest of the lake has 3-5 inches of ice but may be thinner in the main lake basin. Bluegills are the main target. Try sight fishing them in Emerson, Miller’s, and North bays but stained water is present in some areas.


For more information contact the Spirit Lake Hatchery at 712-336-1840.

Dordt And Northwestern Basketball Teams in Action This Weekend

basketballThe Dordt College men’s basketball team will face Webber International Friday, December 28 and Warner on Saturday, December 29. Both games will tip off at 6:00 pm central time. The games will be played in Babson Park, Florida.

Webber International is 7-4 this season and is on a five game winning streak after losing four games in a row at one point from November 9 to November 28. Webber International is averaging 71 points per game and allows 67.3 points per outing while making 42.8 percent of their field goals.

Warner is 8-4 overall and 0-3 in Sun Conference play. The Royals average 84.6 points per game and allow 59.2 points per outing

Dordt College is 11-3 overall and are 5-3 heading into the Christmas Break. The Defenders started the season with six straight non-conference wins. The Defenders have won three of their last four after splitting four games from November 17 to December 1. Dordt College is averaging 80.8 points per game and allows 65.1 points per game.

The Dordt Defender Women will face Clarke on Saturday, December 29 at 2:00 at the Bultman Center in Orange City. At 6pm the Northwestern women will go against Clarke.

Clarke is located in Dubuque, Iowa and is a member of the Midwest Collegiate Conference. The Crusaders are currently 3-8 overall and haven’t opened conference play. Clarke is averaging 62.2 points per game and allows 66.8 points per game.

Dordt College is 8-8 this season and 4-4 in GPAC games. Dordt has won two games in a row twice this season after starting the season with three losses. The Defenders have lost five games by eight points or less and have outscored teams 68.6-58.1 this season.

The Northwestern men will be in action Friday and Saturday as well with the Red Raiders hosting Graceland Friday night at 8pm and William Penn on Saturday at 6pm.

Ice Fishing Huts Starting to Pop up on Iowa Lakes

Iowa DNRWinter has arrived. The storm that ushered in winter last week brought with it cold temperatures covering most area lakes with a layer of ice. Since most lakes froze after the snow storm, there is a good chance for rapid ice development.

That’s good news for the ice fishing crowd who have spent most of December looking at green grass and open water. As a reminder, a minimum of four inches of quality ice is recommended for fishing and at least five inches for snowmobiles and ATVs. “Ice fishing is one of our great winter sports and is really a fun, social activity best enjoyed with a group of friends,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of fisheries for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Early ice offers an excellent chance for success. If fish are finicky, plan to cut a series of holes and spend 15 minutes at each hole targeting active fish. Make sure to use small baits and light line.

Getting the equipment ready should also include ice safety tips. “Now that we have ice, we need to go through our mental safety check list. Go with a friend and be sure to cut some test holes for ice thickness as you go out,” Larscheid said.

Safety Tips on the Ice

There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice.

New ice is usually stronger than old ice.

Ice fishing is a social activity, don’t go out alone. If the worst should happen, someone would be there to call for help or to rescue.

There could be pockets of thin ice or places where ice recently formed, so it would be wise to check ice thickness as you go out.

Ice thickness is not uniform on any body of water. Things like current and springs slow ice growth. Rocks, trees or docks that poke through the ice like will conduct heat and make the ice around it less stable.

Avoid off-colored snow or ice. It is usually a sign of weakness.

The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process.

Safety items in the bucket: Ice picks, about 50 feet of rope and a throwable floatation seat cushion for use in case of rescue.

Recent Blizzard Has Covered Pheasant And Quail Food Habitat in Large Part of Iowa

Iowa DNRA blizzard was not the way Iowa’s pheasant and quail wanted to start winter. About half of Iowa received 6 to 12 inches of wet heavy snow that collapsed most “grassy” cover. The cover that did not collapse was drifted full of snow from the high winds.

“This was a bad storm for upland game birds,” said Todd Bogenschutz, state upland game biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “It’s very likely we saw some bird mortality with this blizzard.”
Winter snowfall from December 1 thru March 31 is a good predictor of whether upland bird populations will increase or decrease the following year, and to have upwards of one foot of snow only 20 days into December does not bode well for pheasants, said Bogenschutz.

“Iowa had only 17 inches of snow last winter. Parts of Iowa are close to that total already with this first storm,” he said.

Iowa’s pheasant and quail populations were decimated by five consecutive winters of 30-50 inches of snow from 2007 thru 2011. The winter of 2011-12 with only 17 inches of snow led to the first increase in pheasant numbers in years.
“Upland bird hunters were hopeful this winter would also be dry and mild to speed a population recovery. Let’s hope there are no more storms like this for the rest of the winter,” Bogenschutz said.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Pheasants Forever chapters will meet jointly next month to discuss methods to improve winter habitat for pheasant and quail.

Iowa has 50,000 acres under a new Conservation Reserve Program called Iowa Pheasant Recovery SAFE. Landowners have the opportunity to enroll in this program first come first serve until the acres are gone.

Unfortunately county FSA offices cannot enroll Iowa landowners until Congress gives USDA authority to begin enrollment under a new farm bill.

Orabs Split Doubleheader With Central Lyon Sheldon Boys Remain Unbeaten

Orab-LogoThe Sheldon Orab Basketball Teams split a Siouxland Conference doubleheader against visiting Central Lyon Friday night. The girl’s game went to 5th ranked Central Lyon 70-52, while 6th ranked Sheldon won the boy’s game 65-52.

In the girls game the Lions led at all the breaks up 12-7 at the end of the first quarter and 29-18 at halftime. At the end of three the lead was 51-31 as the Lions had their 9th win of the season against just one loss.

Three starters found double figures led by Lexi Ackerman with 18 and twin Kelsey Ackerman with 15. They were joined by Kori Schulte with 12 points.

Sheldon got a game high 21 points from Krista Bousema including 9 points in the second quarter. Audrey Gustafson added 8 points for the Orabs and Janessa Holles had 7.

With the win Central Lyon goes into the holiday break at 8-1 in the conference and 9-1 on the year. Sheldon stands at 3-6 in the Siouxland and 3-7 for the year.

In the boys game Sheldon opened a 17-14 first quarter lead and led 30-27 at halftime. The Orabs got off to a 13-4 scoring run in the third quarter and rode that momentum to a 54-37 third quarter lead as they went on to win it 65-52. A pair of seniors keyed the third quarter outburst as Dallas Ennema and Nate Oostra each had 10 points in the quarter. Ennema would go on to a game high 26 points while Oostra would finish with 17.

Central Lyon sophomore Nic Lutmer led the Lions with 23 points. Carter Roskam was next with 9 points.

With the win Sheldon hits the holiday break at 8-0 in the Siouxland Conference and 10-0 on the season. Central Lyon hits the break at 3-5 in the conference and 4-5 on the year.

Next action for Sheldon will be a home doubleheader with Boyden Hull coming to Orab gym on Friday January 4th as the second half of the season gets underway.