Sunday, February 21, 2016

Going...Going...Almost gone

February 20th brought a day of wonder for me.  Temperatures throughout the week were in the 30's and 40's at night and up towards 60 during a few days, to say the least Mother Nature was doing her best to melt the ice on the area lakes.  I am certainly NOT ready to call it quits on the 2015-16 ice fishing season, but ultimately it has to come to an end and this past weekend was definitely a wake-up call to many ice anglers.  Either way, the plan was to meet up at Hickory Grove Lake west of Marshalltown and see what the weather had done to the ice situation.  A couple friends from the Des Moines area were headed up as well to meet and catch some gills and crappies as the ice near the Metro and south is pretty unsafe.  I knew the ice was plenty thick and safe out on the lake, but this time of year it can be a real chore to get out onto the safe ice.  The ice nearest the shoreline becomes the weakest first and often breaks when runoff water collects near the shore.  Sure enough, this was the case on this small lake. With safety picks on, and safety ropes accounted for we hit the ice for a great day of fishing.

The temperature was very pleasant all day long, hanging around the 50 degree mark.  A sweatshirt and insulation bibs was all a person needed to keep warm.  We hopped around about half of the lake, and with no snow cover, walking was a breeze with the small amount of gear we each brought. During early and late ice if is important to keep your weight down and bring only what is necessary.  I had the K-Drill in tote, rod case and the Vexilar FLX-28 to keep things easy on this day.  We fished areas from 9 feet deep to almost 30 feet deep.  Fish seemed to be everywhere on this day but they were fast moving.  We picked off gills and a few scattered crappies most places we went.
Typically of late ice and run-off conditions, a few areas had no fish present.  It is important to look at water clarity this time of year when ice fishing.  Run-off into the lake from tiles or creeks will muddy up areas and fish can totally stop using that area and relocate to water with better clarity, making feeding much easier.
The weather was great, the company was equally good and the fishing made it a fantastic day on the ice.  The days are numbered here in Central Iowa, but heading north just 50-60 miles makes a huge difference this time of year, so if you are itching to get out there, trend lightly, have your safety gear and always take friends with you.  Be careful, and have fun on those last few days on the ice.  

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