Anglers returning to northwest Iowa waters
Due to a long stretch of weeks with high waters, many area fisherman put the sport on hold. However with waters down to a decent level, Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials say things are returning back to normal for the pastime.
“With the high waters on a lot of our lakes some of our local fishing piers were completely underwater,” said Joe Yarkosky, IDNR conservation officer. “Now that the water’s down, I have seen an increase of people fishing. That’s great to see because things are more accessible with all the floodwater we have. Another thing I’ve seen is a lot more people out kayaking and canoing. People are taking advantage of the weather and receding floodwaters, making it a little more safe and enjoyable.”
Yarkosky said as of late July, there were currently no fishing areas inaccessible to fishermen.
“Everything is working its way down,” Yarkosky said. “We would almost consider it normal for this time of the year. We’re still a little higher than normal.”
The conservation officer said he encourages local families and children to get outside and enjoy the sport, but to also do so safely.
“We always encourage people to, get a kid out of the house and take them fishing,” Yarkosky said. “Someone 16 years of age or younger does not need a fishing license in Iowa, they just need an adult with a license. Make sure somebody goes and takes kids fishing, that bonding experience with family and friends, is a big part of it.
He continued, “One thing we stress, especially if you’re taking kids fishing and even if you’re on the shore or a dock, is to put kids in life jackets. Just in case something happens being so close to water.”
Aside from a few exceptions, such as Iowan active duty military personnel with leave papers or landowners or tenants and their children under 18 fishing on their own land, anglers will need a fishing license on their person while fishing. Licenses are divided into resident and nonresident, with the typical annual license costing $19, and a three-year license being available for $53.
Yarkosky shared where anglers could purchase licenses and gear in the area.
“There are a lot of places, like Walmart, Southern Archery, No Limits Outdoors, Dunham’s, Clay County Administration Building where you can buy a license,” Yarkosky said. “There are also local bait shops in the area, No Limits sells bait and fishing tackle, Dunham’s and Walmart sells fishing gear. One local bait shop is over in Ruthven for Lost Island, Bobber Down, and there are quite a few up at the lakes.”
The conservation officer encouraged those purchasing a license or gear to check out the IDNR’s free regulation books, which inform anglers on local laws like bag limits for species of fish and which fish are endangered, among other facts.
“Part of being a responsible fisherman is knowing what you can fish for and not fish for,” Yarkosky said. “There are bag limits, possession limits for fish, they change from area to area. Just make sure you know the area regulations for the water body you’re fishing.”