By Steve Weisman
I remember as a youngster my folks bemoaning the fact that the years just seemed to fly by. As for the days, they were a whirlwind. By the time I was in my 30s, I began to grasp what they were saying, and I realized that time was definitely picking up speed.
Now, as I head toward 70 years of age, I know exactly what they were saying. I think the older we get, the more precious time becomes. Yet time becomes so fleeting.
As we draw 2017 to a close and look forward to 2018, I hope we can all take time from the crazy world we live in and spend more quality time with our family and friends and give thanks for the freedoms that we possess living in the United States.
My hope is we can come together on local, state and national levels to address some of the issues that we need to address. However, we cannot do it divided; we must work together.
Well, that certainly took enough time! It wasn’t until the week of Christmas that we began to get the cold winter temperatures that make good ice conditions. The good news is that there has been only a skiff of snow, so there isn’t a blanket of snow insulation on thin ice!
It will definitely be a later and probably a shorter ice season than normal, but I still think that we will have good ice fishing this winter across northwest Iowa.
We know that the walleye population and perch population on Big Spirit are excellent right now. After we get the good ice conditions, the big questions will be where will they be? I mean last summer and fall both walleyes and perch remained shallow. Anywhere from 5 feet to 12 feet both in and along the weeds were better depths to fish than the basin. With their food source shallow, that’s where the walleyes and perch stayed. The armada of perch boats out in the deep water on Big Spirit never materialized.
My question: will that be the case this winter? Only time, the forage base and searching will determine that. The good news for Big Spirit is that the bluegill and crappie numbers are coming back, and there are some good-sized fish.
Of course, West Okoboji will be the target for bluegill anglers. Lots of 7-8 inch fish are in the system right now. Add to that East Okoboji and Minnewashta with their yellow bass population and there will be a lot of anglers heading to those two lakes.
A lake that could be really good this winter is Center Lake. A lot of time has been spent in lake renovation, and there are good populations of bluegills and crappies in the lake. Likewise, Silver Lake by Lake Park has an excellent walleye and perch population.
Away from the Lakes Region
In listening to Iowa DNR Fisheries Biologist Mike Hawkins at the fall Iowa Great Lakes Fishing meeting, I am really excited about the other lakes we have around here. I think that more anglers are going to reach out to other lakes within a 50-mile radius of the Iowa Great Lakes. Five Island Lake at Emmetsburg and Lost Island Lake near Ruthven. Both of them are full of yellow bass. Lost Island’s walleye population is coming back well, and I expect to see good walleye action there.
Head south of Lost Island and you will run into Elk Lake, Virgin Lake and then Silver Lake near Ayrshire. They all have great potential. This last summer was excellent on Silver for walleyes.
Other satellite lakes include Ingham Lake and High Lake both located east of Wallingford. Ingham has an excellent population of walleyes, while last winter turned out to excellent for big perch and white crappies on High Lake. Just north of there is West Swan Lake that is kind of an unknown with a mixture of perch sizes, some northern pike and crappies.
Head north to the Minnesota border and we come to Tuttle Lake. It’s shallow with very little structure. Yet it is always an excellent walleye producer.
Finally, just south of Terril is Trumbull Lake. It has been renovated and has rebuilt a pretty good population of perch and northern pike. With the renovation have come clear water and an increase in aquatic vegetation. Although good for the lake, it becomes a challenge to find areas to fish in and around this vegetation. However, according to Hawkins, this lake is still worth trying.