With the frigid air that’s lingered over Iowa the past week or so, many of the state’s rivers, lakes and streams have iced over to the point where ice fishing is starting to become possible.
Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa DNR’s Fisheries Bureau, says it’s already a popular pastime for thousands of Iowans, but even more so now with people wanting to get out of their houses during the pandemic.
“A lot of the lakes up north are probably fishable and people are fishing safely,” Larscheid says. “I would say we’re over three inches of ice now in the Des Moines metro in the smaller ponds but the larger ponds probably aren’t safe yet, but it’s getting to the point that people are going to start venturing out on a careful basis.”
Forecasters say temperatures may warm into the low 40s across Iowa’s southern half today (Friday), but nighttime temperatures will still be dropping into the teens and 20s, which is good for making ice.
“Clear, hard ice is really what you want,” Larscheid says. “When you make ice at night and there’s no snow that’s covering the top of the ice, even if it gets above freezing during the day, you’re probably going to continue to make ice at night. For the next few weeks, I can see the ice getting thicker in our area lakes.”
He says Iowans are a hardy people and despite the freezing cold, they love ice fishing. Larscheid calls the sport “the great equalizer.” “You don’t need any special equipment,” Larscheid says. “Using the maps that are online at our DNR website, you can find the habitat and the deep-water spots and all of that stuff in ponds. You don’t need a boat. You can go right out to those spots, use your phone to find the exact spot, drill a hole and you’ll be right on top of the fish.”
The DNR recommends a minimum of four inches of clear ice for fishing and at least five inches for snowmobiles and ATVs. Larscheid reminds, no ice is ever 100-percent safe.