By Steve Weisman
This last week was a really fun one for me. First, there was the annual fall DNR night sponsored by the Iowa Great Lakes Fishing Club (IGLFC). It was held at Godfather’s Pizza in Spencer on Thursday, November 9. Over 100 people, including several families, were in attendance.
I’ve been a member of the IGLFC for several years, and the longer I am with the club, the more I realize just how much I was missing those years that I didn’t join. A membership costs $20, and that membership gives members the chance to participate in all kinds of activities. For 2017, there still is the annual Christmas party and Awards Ceremony on Sunday, December 3. The club provides hors d’oeuvres and covers the gratuity for members.
Here’s a sample of activities for 2018 members:
- 13 Wild Game Feed at Haggy’s in Royal – 6 p.m.
- 3 Hardwater Club Fishing Tournament – 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- 22 Fishing Seminar at Community Center in Everly – 6 p.m
- 22-14 Chamberlain Fishing at Allen’s Hillside Motel
- May 2 Kids Fishing Clinic at Stolley’s in Spencer 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The rest of the year includes six other club activities. The neat thing is they all fit in with the mission statement: providing recreational and educational activities to support the improvement of our fisheries, recruitment of youth and adults to the sport, and to promote positive contributions to the environment and our community.
It is a great opportunity to belong to a group that does good things for others. As far as I am concerned, the $20 is a pretty inexpensive way to have fun, learn more about fishing and to give back to the fishing community. Check out their website to learn more.
Thursday’s highlights: pizza and a deal
Hate to say it, but the first highlight for me was the free pizza (for members). My philosophy. If one piece is good, well 3-4 pieces are even better! The first pizzas arrived shortly before 6, and kept coming until everybody was full. During this time, some people mingled around or sat visiting with others. I sat with Jon Thelen, host of Lindy’s Fish Ed Television series, who was there to share a special offer with all club members. As part of the Lindy Fishing Tackle team, Thelen offered all club members a one-time 40 percent off discount on up to $300 from the Lindy Fishing Tackle website. So, members can get $300 worth of tackle for $180, plus free shipping.
What an opportunity! As Thelen said, “Lindy is a heritage company, and we believe that fishing is a social activity. That is the lifeblood of fishing-it needs to be social. At Lindy, we want to reach out to the IGLFC, because we see clubs like this as the lifeblood of fishing. We all need to work together to grow fishing.”
It was also legislative night with both Megan Jones and John Wills on hand. Both gave a brief talk and entertained questions. On the conservation side, club members were encouraged to contact heads of both the Iowa Senate and House to let the leaders know that Iowans do support an increase in fishing and hunting licenses. The IGLFC definitely supports this and has been active on the political front trying to get this passed.
Representative Wills also talked about the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund that Iowans voted on and overwhelmingly passed in 2010. Unfortunately, the Iowa Legislature has never funded this. However, Wills thinks there is a good possibility that this could happen in 2018. Again, the IGLFC will be at the front of this push to get this funded. And why not? Iowans depend on clean water, productive agricultural soils, natural resources and a diverse wildlife population and healthy fisheries. So, who wouldn’t want to fund the trust fund? After all, when funded it will be a permanent and constitutionally protected funding source to ensure these natural spaces are preserved for generations to come.
This part of the evening took over and hour and a half, but the information was so pertinent that nobody seemed to get antsy. From the fisheries standpoint, the word “research” was the key word. According to fisheries biologist Mike Hawkins, “Research gives us the biggest bang for the buck. The more we learn, the better we can manage our fisheries. We are always willing to talk to the public. Anytime people have questions or concerns, we encourage them to come visit us at the Spirit Lake Hatchery or give us a call.” They have several studies going right now tracking both musky and walleyes. As the outdoor editor, I will feature these studies in future columns.
Hawkins did update on several lake management projects. Center Lake has been the center of a huge multi-year project. Wetlands have been connected to help filter nutrients and limit those nutrients entering West Okoboji, fish barriers have been erected to stop common carp from coming and going throughout the entire system. The north side of Center Lake has been part of a 1400-foot bank stabilization and restoration project. No longer will the bank cave and dirt enter the lake. Trees have been eliminated with native plantings established to stabilize the bank. Select trees on the shoreline were cut and allowed fall into the shallow water, providing excellent fish habitat, especially for crappies.
Commercial netting is ongoing with the goal of removing another 47,000 pounds of carp and 70,000 pounds of buffalo.
Meanwhile, Virgin Lake has been renovated and just stocked with jumbo perch (from South Dakota) to quickly establish a good perch fishery. Walleye have also been stocked, and it is hoped it will be a productive fishery in another year or so.
Although Trumbull Lake’s restoration has improved water clarity and growth of native vegetation, unfortunately carp and blullheads have found their way back into the fishery. There are good northern pike and perch in the lake.
The Marble Lake-Hottes restoration project is completed and game fish have been restocked.
The Diamond Lake drawdown is underway and it should be restocked next year.
Finally, the Lost Island Lake project continues to find water clarity to be excellent and there is a good growth of aquatic vegetation showing up, which is helping the water clarity and gamefish production. The walleye population is coming back.
Finally, Little Swan Lake (by Superior) is still in the drawdown mode. Unfortunately, August and September rains brought more runoff into the lake than planned. As a result, it is impossible to kill off the carp at this point. So, the project is ongoing, and it is hoped the kill off can come next year.
See what I mean about a fun night? If you’re not an IGLFC member, give it some consideration.
I think you will find it rewarding.