Monday, June 14, 2021

The Iowa Sportsman- Iowa's Bass Fishing

The Iowa Sportsman Magazine: July 2021 Issue

That thump on the end of the line can be ferocious at times and the jumps in the air so acrobatical, only one fish in Iowa has those characteristics; the bass.  Bass fishing in Iowa can be had in all corners of the state, ponds, lakes, rivers and large reservoirs all provide good bass fishing.  Largemouth bass can be found in all ninety-nine counties while the Smallmouth bass can be found in rivers in and in a few select lakes.  If you are after a Spotted Bass then you must head to Lake MacBride, the only lake that offers them in Iowa in large numbers.  Chasing bass all over Iowa can be a lifetime pursuit that many of us share.  The fact that they live all over the state and can be caught with so many different lures are reasons why it has become so popular in the last few decades. 

Top Baits: Bass are notorious for eating a variety of baits.  Live bait works well, however there are thousands of artificial baits on the market that work as good or better.  The most popular bait to catch bass are soft plastics.  These include craws, tubes, sticks, worms, swimbaits, minnow baits and creature type baits.  They come in all different sizes and colors from hundreds of different companies.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to soft plastic baits for bass.  Most anglers have their favorites and tend to stick with them, only trying something new when their favorites are failing them.  Rigging these plastic baits can make or break your day.  Some baits can be rigged weightless, there are Texas-Rigs, Carolina Rigs, Shaky Heads, swingheads, Tokyo rigs, and drop-shots to name a few of the popular bass rigging techniques.  Each serves their purpose and most have prime areas and times to rig them.  If you are looking for a simple, yet highly effective rig for all times of the year then the Texas-Rig is for you.  A bullet sinker and a 3/O extra-wide gap (EWG) hook is all you need to make your favorite plastic bait to come to life.  

Another top bait, typically a summer bait are topwater lures.  Buzzbaits, popping baits, walking baits, frogs and the Whopper Plopper are all very productive no matter where you are chasing your next bass bite.  These are best in the first 3 hours and last 3 hours of sunlight.  They are also fantastic on rainy/cloudy days.  

Top Destinations:  Iowa is full of great bass fishing opportunities.  Narrowing it down to one part of the state or “the best” place to catch bass is impossible.  I have had the opportunity to travel to all four corners of this state chasing bass, have friends scattered around the state and stay current with bass tournament results.  Bass are everywhere!  I will break this portion down into groups, one for the smallmouth bass and one for the largemouth bass, as they are very different creatures.  Smallmouth Bass: Two very large and distinct areas come to the forefront when thinking about the brown bass, West Lake Okoboji and Pools 9 and 10 of the Mississippi River.  These two areas are known for their huge limits of smallmouth bass.  The two river pools will definitely have you catching more smallies if that is what you are in to.  With these two large areas out of the way, next up are the interior rivers scattered all over the state.  No matter where you live within an hour or so you have some great smallmouth fishing in a nearby interior river.  These do not have to be large and most can be waded through to find fishing areas.  Kayaks or small jonboats make great vessels to travel these small rivers in search of a big brown bass.  Largemouth Bass: The largemouth bass inhabits every public lake/pond/river in the state.  They are not very hard to find, however like any species finding the big ones is the hard part.  As for the northeast part of the state, the river is king.  Pools 9/10/11/12 of the Mississippi River all have large numbers of largemouth bass, and some real river giants too.  The warmer the water, the more current they will live in.  Typically your biggest fish during a day of summer fishing on the big river will find you reeling it in near heavy current. The northwest part of the state belongs to West Lake Okoboji and Brushy Creek Lake.  Both of these lakes offer an abundance of weeds which helps these green bass grow very large.  Both lakes have massive numbers of bass and trophies too.  The southwest corner of the state belongs to an entire county.  Union County, home of Creston, Iowa has three different lakes that have been pumping out bass for many years.  Twelve-Mile Lake, Three-Mile Lake and Green Valley Lake should be on your list if you are looking for a trip that is all about the Largemouth Bass.  Southeastern Iowa has many different places to search for largemouth bass, many county parks, state made lakes and the Mississippi River.  One lake in particular always rises to the top in this part of the state for numbers of bass and some real giants; Lake Sugema.  This lake is about 600 acres but seems much larger than that with all the standing trees. No matter where you live in the state, there are bass near you, largemouth or smallmouth.

Iowa bass has been a part of my life for over 30 years, and I hope another 30 in the future.  Iowa may not have 10 pounders to chase like California or Texas, but we have some great opportunities, many of them are very close to where we live.  There are a few months of the year left, make it your mission to try a brand new lake, this is something I have done for the past ten years or so and have really enjoyed it.  Seeing different water and figuring out where those bass live will make you a better bass angler, and in the end that is what we are all after.  Please use “Catch Photo Release” CPR on our Iowa bass so the next angler and generation can benefit from your generosity.

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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Indee High School Bass Club June Big Woods Tournament


Ranger Reed and Carter Cameron are
the Big Woods Lake Champions

The members of the Indee HS Bass Club voted on several places to fish tournaments this year this past winter.  Big Woods Lake in Cedar Falls received enough votes to send the club there for the June tournament.  Eighteen students signed up for the event along with the 8 captains that helped run the boats.  There is no entry or membership fee for the students to participate.  A huge thanks to the sponsors of the club who are responsible for allowing over $800 worth of prizes to be handed out to all the students that fished on this day.  Bank Iowa, Colony Plumbing/Heating and Cooling, The Buchanan County Wildlife Association, Klever Concrete, Scheels of Cedar Falls, Hank's Bait and Tackle of Waterloo, Quantum Rods and Reels, The Rod Glove, Strike King Lures, and the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series are all proud sponsors of the club.  

Many bodies of water around Northeastern Iowa have had big temperature swings during this unusual spring.  Big Woods Lake was no different, the water temperature rose nine degrees in one week prior to the event.  This seemed to get the fish moving a little bit and many anglers were able to bring bass to the weigh-in.  Even though the lake was new to almost all the kids and most of the captains it was the second best weigh-in for the bass club since its beginning in 2017.  The nine teams brought 21 bass to the weigh-in.  In first place was a pair of 7th graders; Ranger Reed and Carter Cameron had a limit, or 5 keeper bass, that weighed 7.20#, there captain was Todd Reed.  In second place was Cam Wilson and Zach Sidles with 4 keeper bass that weighed 6.65# including the Big Bass of the tournament by Zach that weighed 2.70#, they were captained by Dave Wilson.  In third place was Kegan Postel and his captain Landry Jones.  Kegan had 4 keeper bass that weighed 6.45#.  Forth place belonged to Caleb Weber and Teegan McEnany, they had the only other limit of bass which weighed 5.57#.  In fifth place was Jackson Toale and Dalton Hoover, their captain was Randy Toale and weighed in one keeper weighing 1.49#.  Sixth place was secured by Justin Schmadeke and Hunter Patton, captained by Paul Schmadeke, they had one keeper weighing 1.26#.  Seventh place went to Cal Sweeney and Remy Ressler with one keeper weighing 1.08#, their captain was Dan Sweeney.  

All teams reported catching bass, and some even caught some walleyes and northern pike.  The winning team of Ranger Reed and Carter Cameron tried many different lures, but they caught all their keepers using two baits; a spinnerbait and a wacky-rigged stick bait.  Other students reported catching bass on buzzbaits, crankbaits, soft plastic baits and chatterbaits.  The tournament was another big success for the club, a big thanks to the parents and captains that helped with the weigh-in so we could release the bass back into the lake quickly and safely.   More information about the Indee Bass Club can be found on their Facebook page and their website. LINK