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07/25/2014 @ 10:01 PM

WANT GIANT CATFISH? No Need To Wait For Summer - The Action Starts Now

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By Lowell Washburn
Iowa Department of Natural Resources

LUNKERS --- Doug Blumer, Mason City, displays a 14.5 pound, 31 ½-inch channel catfish caught this week on the Harbor Inn Fishing Jetty located at the west end of Clear Lake. A number of large catfish are currently being reported from anglers across the state.
Photo by: Lowell Washburn

Mention the words giant catfish and most anglers will turn their thoughts toward hot and humid summer weather, late night fishing excursions, and the potent aroma of fermenting stink bait. And while it’s true that Iowa’s own Mister Whiskers does indeed love the spa atmosphere, the sport of catfishing does have another, less known aspect that most anglers neglect.

When winter ends and the ice comes off Iowa lakes and streams, channel ‘cats are as eager to feed as any other gamefish. Forget those rancid homemade concoctions and commercial stink baits, they’re just not necessary right now. Although catfish will scavenge during early spring, they are also highly aggressive predators and are more than willing to hunt down live meals.

Regardless of whether spring anglers choose to fish lakes or rivers, those in the know head to wherever tile lines or natural tributary streams empty into larger waters. Minnows [bigger the better] are the universal bait of choice. Having said that, it should also be noted that the 14 ½ pounder pictured on this page was hooked on a tiny crappie minnow. Just goes to show that there are few hard and fast rules in the world of angling. When it comes to spring fishing, just getting out there can be the most important ingredient to success.

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Winning Iowa Conservation Artisit Celebrated at 2007 State-Fish Art Expo

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From the IDNR

Bloomington, Minn. - Taylor Troendel from Harpers Ferry was personally
honored for her winning artwork of the Channel Catfish, a popular Iowa
game fish. The event was held at Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minn.,
during the 9th Annual Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Expo. Minnesota
Governor Tim Pawlenty proclaimed July 21 “Wildlife Forever State-Fish
Art Day” as Smokey Bear and the U.S. Forest Service distributed 5,000
White Pine tree seedlings to Mall visitors.


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Raising Catfish in Cages

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By Joe Wilkinson
Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Approaching the wood-and-wire cages, the boat swung left and came up
alongside. On board, Cody Davis and Corey Simpson positioned themselves
on either side of the 25-gallon half-barrel. With the lid of the
floating cage flipped open, they upended the barrel, pouring a stream of
little catfish into the cage.


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Jug Fishing Round 2

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Some of you may have read my article on Jug fishing in Iowa from last year. For those of you who have not, I was told by the DNR at Lake Darling it was illegal. After doing some research and contacting the Des Moines office, it was determined by the assistant cheif of law enforcment for the DNR that jug fishing is indeed a legal means of catching catfish. Well, that was round one apparently as I thought this was all cleared up with the DNR and park rangers at the lake. I took another week long vacation this July at Lake Darling with jugs in tote. The second day I notice a boat cruising through my jugs, no big deal the lake is for everybody but this guy starts picking them up and putting them in his boat. Now I'm a little ticked! I jump in my boat and head his way to find out that it is a DNR officer. He told I was fishing illegaly using jugs and that he just gave another fella a ticket for jug fishing with three jugs. Now I know you can only have two jugs per person and we did have three out but there was also 3 of us fishing and we were all within sight of the jugs just as the law reads. After a long disscusion with this officer about what I had went through the previouse year and that I had spoke with his superior who told me I was legal, he finally said I could continue to jug fish but he was going to talk to the assistant cheif and if he found out anything different, he would come back to see me. I never herd from him again.

Two days later found me cleaning 4 fish at the fish cleaning station including one nice 28lb flathead. While in the process of cleaning I noticed a DNR truck parked by my camp site. The next thing I know here comes yet another two DNR officers over to talk to me. They asked how big the flathead was and if I had caught him while jug fishing. When I told him that I did use the jugs to catch the catfish he too told me it was illegal. So I again had to train yet another DNR officer on the rules of jug fishing. Oh, I almost forgot, the wife said they went through my boat and checked my minnow bucket as well before they came to talk to me. apparently "lack of communication" is not something just at my place of employment.

Talk about taking the relaxation away from a man on vacation. I was nervouse just trying to go pee in the camper because the jugs were not in sight. Glad the wife bought a fishing license.

As if that was'nt enough, here comes DNR officer/park ranger visit #3. Ok, now my camper was set up right by the lake and I can sit in my lawn chair and watch the jugs. Just to the left of my jugs is a orange marker tied off to something damn hard under the surface (took a chunk out of my new prop) anyway, here he comes #3 that is. He must have been counting the jugs as he was walking over to me. He asked if the orange jug was mine as well. DUH! I told him the orange marker stays with the lake that it is marking something underneath the surface. He said he was new to the area and had'nt seen it before. I shouls of told it was his jug and that he was illegal for not keeping it in sight.

We'll enough venting for today. I will make yet another call to Des Moines and try to get them to send out a memo to all DNR staff who work the lakes to see if someone in Iowa can fish with jugs leagally without being harrassed by DNR officials. Spenc


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A New Iowa Record

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The Iowa state record for blue catfish was shattered recently. You can read about it in this article from the Omaha World-Herald.

Thanks to Tomhusker for pointing out this article in the forums.


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Tennessee Titan

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ESPN Outdoors is running an article on what appears to be the angling version of the Tennessee Titan.


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LEARNING THE LAWS OF JUG FISHING IN IOWA

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Last week I camped at Lake Darling for a week long vacation. I had read a article previously about jug fishing for catfish that cought my interest. So my journey began to find out if it was legal in Iowas lakes.

I could not find much information in the fishing regulations pamphlet so I searched the web along with asking the wonderful members of Iowa outdoors. All the info I could obtain brought me to beleive jug fishing was indeed legal as long as I did not exceed the 2 jug limit and kept them in sight at all times. So I made up 4 jugs, 2 for me and 2 for my son.

The camp sites at lake darling are situated along the shore of the lake, so it was easy to sit at the site and still beable to watch the jugs. The DNR would even stop by every other day to ask me how the fishing was going. With the white jugs in plain sight, I would tell him that we were indeed catching some big cats and a few nice flatheads with the jugs.

After fishing the jugs for the entire week, on the last day the Park Ranger aproached me to telll that jug fishing was ILLEGAL! I told about all the research I had done with the regulation hand book as well as Iowa outdoors. His coments were; "everyone thinks there an expert, and "we can't print every rule in the handout. THAT IS CRAZY! it only takes 4 words to state that JUG FISHING IS ILLEGAL! When I asked him where he got his information he responded that it was in the aministative code.

Anyhow, I was a little ticked off so when I returned to work on the following Monday, I placed a call to the main office in DesMoines. I first spoke to a woman who also could not find any info on the sport so she transfered me to Randy Edwards who has the title of Assistant Cheif Law Inforcement. He did not hesitate to tell me jug fishing was legal as long as I followed the guide lines previously mentioned. Randy mentioned that they were going to have an August staff meeting on the 12th and that he was going to bring up the topic of Jug fishing and get back to me with the details. I hope jug fishing truely is legal and stays that way for everybody. Maybe the little stink I am raising about the lack on info EASILY available to the public will help get everybody educated about the sport including DNR.

By the way, how do I get a copy of this "ADMINISTATIVE CODE"?


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Record Blue Cat Caught!

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Rick West, Jr., of Honey Creek, Iowa, has caught a lot of big fish from the Missouri River over the years. A 50-pound catfish - either flathead or blue - is nothing to get excited about. But when West and his brother Kyle set their bank lines late on May 16, the excitement was only a sunrise away.

The West brothers were fishing near Council Bluffs. Rick West said during a typical fishing trip, they would set their bank lines before dark, do some still fishing with a rod and reel, then come back in the morning to see if anything was biting. A few years back, he caught a 59-pound blue cat. Another time, he hooked a flathead that may have gone 80 pounds, but didn't get it landed.

When they returned the following morning, they found a big fish had taken the bait. Although Rick said he doesn't recall if the 77 pound, 15 ounce blue catfish took a live sunfish or the cut bait, he does know that it is a new state record. It seems the West family and big blue catfish go hand in hand. West's father, Rick West, Sr., had the state record - a 53-pound fish - for a couple of weeks a few years ago.

But it wasn't until the next day before West could locate a certified scale and a DNR witness, conservation officer Marlowe Wilson, that the record was confirmed. During that time, he kept it tied up in the river and took a few pictures.

West caught four blue cats that day, and said all were pretty good sized. He releases all the blue catfish he catches, including this state record fish. "It seems they're not as abundant as the flatheads," he said.


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Geared Up for Cats

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An anonymous author writes:

So many times in my wanderings through bait shops, sporting goods outlets and [even] websites, I have often overheard or joined in talk that seems to focus on two extremes when dealing with catting (or anything else for that matter). On the one side you have folks who like to talk of the high end of the sport; Ambassador reels and the latest strike indicators, the next best hook and the bar-none best stinkbait! At the other end of the spectrum, there is the flock of folk who are totally intimidated by such talk and have but one simple question..."What do I 'NEED' to get started?" This article is for the novice, like myself, who sees an opportunity to partake in one of our Great American pastimes but doesn't have a thick wallet to dive into...and doesn't want to be accused of asking alot of dumb questions or end up at the brunt end of any jokes.

I was fortunate in that, alot of the initial gear required to chase after 'ol whiskers was already in my possession. It had been acquired from years of fishing in the Chesappeake Bay for flounder. Like cats, this bottom feeder can only be coaxed into a strike with the proper presentations, and alot of the art required at Hampton Roads I was able to transfer to the pursuit of cats. But know-how alone won't get the job done...you must also have the proper tools. Of course I'm referring to my rigs. I had two relatively heavy-duty sea rods and an open face and a baitcaster that fit those rods quite nicely. So when I started out, my focus was on the added essentials that make my excursions less taxing in the all-around effort required to bring this great-tasting treat to the table.

Wherever you are, surely you're within driving distance of a local bait shop that, after visiting, will still allow you ample time to do a little fishing. Go there and get to know the owner. In all of the shops that I've visited, never have I been treated less than a prince whether I'm just popping in for some bait, a soda, or more ample purchases. These folks know that they are competing against the big dogs out there; the this and that Marts...and to do this they not only must offer adequately stocked gear at competitive prices but must do so with a smile that says, "I've got a solution to all your questions." And they do, too!!


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Abundant Catfish in Lake Pahoja

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By Jim Berquist
Iowa Department of Natural Resources

I had just set down my pole and was overlooking the lake when I noticed another bite, I set the hook and 5 minutes later I landed a nice pan-sized catfish, my fifth of the night. I remember thinking as I gathered up my stringer of cats, ranging from 3 to 6 pounds, that it took me longer to drive to Lake Pahoja then to catch my limit of catfish.

Thanks to a long-term cage catfish program, conducted by the Lyon County Conservation Board, channel catfish have been very successful in Lake Pahoja. Located just north of Inwood, in northwest Iowa, the lake is readily known for its incredible panfish fishery, however, the abundant channel catfish population should not be overlooked in this 72-acre artificial impoundment.

"Lake Pahoja has an excellent population of 14 to 24-inch fish with good opportunities to catch large trophy sized fish," said Jim Christianson regional fisheries biologist. "During past sampling seasons catchable sized channel catfish were sampled consistently in good numbers and again during the fall 2002 sample we observed large number of nice channel catfish, indicating an abundant population currently exists in Lake Pahoja."


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