DES MOINES, Iowa -- Most of us have kids at home from school this week, and keeping them entertained can be a challenge. Good news for you, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has a fun outdoor option: ice fishing. Right now may even be the best time to fish all year.
“In some lakes and ponds most of the fish are caught in the ice fishing season,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of fisheries for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “I call it the great equalizer. People can be very successful on safe ice. It doesn't take a boat to get out to where the habitat is and where the fish are. If you know the habitat and you know where the fish are, you can walk right on top of those and drill a hole right on top of the fish.”
With a central Iowa forecast filled with high temperatures ranging from the middle 40s to middle 30s and lows ranging from 30 to 20 degrees, anglers should still proceed with caution and pay attention to ice conditions. Check the weekly DNR fishing report for ice conditions across the state before going out.
At a minimum, four inches of clear blue ice is recommended for fishing. Be especially careful on ice around submerged trees and emergent vegetation, as this ice tends to be weaker. If the ice does not look right, find a different spot.
Periodically drill test holes near shore as you move to measure the thickness and quality of the ice. Don’t go out alone, and always let someone else know where you will be and when you expect to return home. Carry about 50 feet of rope, a throwable floatation seat cushion, and your cell phone.
For more ice fishing tips, visit the DNR website.
Use the DNR's online maps of the lake you are going to fish to find edges of creek channels, fish mounds, brush piles and rock piles that likely hold fish. Printable maps and the online Fishing Atlas are available on the DNR website.