A spokesman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says ice fishing has been “gang-busters” in Iowa this winter. Mick Klemesrud says this has been “one of the best” ice fishing seasons Iowa has had in a while.
“As soon as the temperatures dropped we got good ice onset. People were out in big numbers and from some of these smaller lakes in southwest Iowa all the way up to Clear Lake and Spirit Lake, it’s been a really good year,” Klemesrud says. “…A lot of panfish caught over most of Iowa and then you have some walleyes and perch and other fish caught across the northern half of the state.”
The warmer weather of the past few days hasn’t put an end to the state’s ice fishing season according to Klemesrud. “We had such a good layer of ice put down, plus most of the state still has at least a foot of snow-pack on top of it, so I think our ice conditions are going to be good for the next few weeks,” Klemesrud says.
“The thing that can change the equation is if we get a lot of rain and a lot of runoff, that can eat the ice away from the edges of our lakes.” Sometimes the ice fishing season in Iowa is just a few, short weeks, but this year it’s stretched into a few months. There’s a thick layer of ice on lakes in the northern third of Iowa, which means another three to four weeks of ice fishing there according to Klemesrud.
Klemesrud says while ice in southeast Iowa didn’t get as thick, southwest Iowa lakes have been popular ice fishing sites this season.
“We’ve had such thick ice in southwest Iowa that people we’ve heard even a few weeks ago were driving vehicles out (on the lakes) down by Creston and that area,” Klemesrud says.
There is rain in the forecast for this weekend. Klemesrud describes rain as the “enemy” of Ice and warns while ice may remain thick in the middle of many lakes, the shoreline ice will become weak. The ice on rivers is 15 to 20% weaker than ice on lakes.
“The rivers are going to be the first ones that are going to receive all the rain and the runoff, and then that will make it very unstable and unsafe,” Klemesrud says. “I would recommend that if we do get the rain that they’re forecasting I would stay off the rivers because you don’t know when they’re going to rise and you’re going to see ice jams and you’re going to see break-aways, so I would recommend staying off the rivers if we do get the rain.”
Officials in Cedar Rapids issued a warning this morning, urging citizens to stay off thin ice in area waterways. According to Cedar Rapids officials, “the recent warming trend has melted a significant layer of the ice and some area waterways are not safe” and “outdoor enthusiasts should be particularly careful near bridges, thoroughfares, culverts and wherever else there may be currents flowing underneath as ice in these areas may be very thin or nonexistent.”