Big Fishin’

KIDS FISHING for fun is an exciting time. Even more exciting is what happens after a fish bites hard on the bait that has been presented. In Kolton Ealy’s case, a monster grass carp was his trophy for the day at Green Castle.

Life is good when one is fishing. Throw out the bait and wait patiently. Enjoy the clouds in the sky, warm air and green grass. Relax. But keep an eye on the fishing line, or a finger on the line, in order to detect a slight pull or nudge at the other end. Kolton knew he had a good bite. A tug on his line set the hook and the rest is history. It soon became evident this was no small fish. Once a fin or two broke the water’s surface, he knew it was big. For 10 minutes the battle of tug of war was on. Near the end of this battle, Kolton gave the pole to his friend to hold while he waded into the water a bit to hand wrestle the finny beast the rest of the way. After a firm grip was established in the grass carp’s gills, it was brought to shore. Photos were taken to prove his fishing story to all who wished to see it.

Fishing stories get told and re-told. That is part of the excitement of this popular outdoor endeavor. Fishing is fun. Fishing is thrilling. Fishing can sometimes be a bit boring. But fishing always teaches patience, persistence and the desire to know more about aquatic life under water that we hardly ever see from the fish’s perspective.

The annual KIDS FISHING DERBY is next weekend, June 15, from 8 a.m. until noon, at the pond inside Riverside Cemetery, Marshalltown. This will be a fun day for the kids ages 12 and under. This popular event is sure to draw a crowd of kids, parents and grandparents. Be sure to bring cameras to record the smiles and excitement of hungry bullheads biting hard on pieces of worm or night crawler baits.

In last year’s kid fishing derby, almost every cast resulted in a bullhead firmly attaching itself to the bait. Shouts of “I’ve got another one mommy” were heard all around the pond as bent poles arched in the sky while little hands worked the reels to take in the line. Fish lines were everywhere, kids were everywhere and hungry bullheads were more than eager to please. Several bullheads were big fat ones at over a pound in weight although many smaller bullheads managed to take the hook before their big brothers could steal the show.

The Kids Fishing Derby is sponsored by Riverside Cemetery and the Izaak Walton League. Bring your own fishing tackle, bait and worm baits and 5-gallon bucket for fish keeping. A lawn chair would be nice too. However, parents may not have much time to sit in the chair as they will be busy unhooking fish and re-baiting hooks. Enjoy the day with the children as they find out how much fun fishing can be.

The cemetery pond is not open to public fishing. Bullheads are the primary fish in its waters. And bullhead populations tend to grow fast in a closed environment like this. Fishing does the pond a service by removing a large amount of biomass from the water. There will be no shortage of fish. So help spread the word to any kids you know….let’s go fishing. Be there.

This weekend, June 7, 8 and 9, is FREE FISHING WEEKEND. Anywhere in Iowa over this three-day time frame, a fishing license is not needed. Of course all the rules regarding individual species of fish, their limits as to creel or length, or allowed equipment do apply. Free fishing weekend is designed to encourage people to get outdoors to enjoy this fantastic pass time. Once the thrill of fishing bites the angler, a new hobby is born, a hobby that will last a lifetime. Conservation officers will not ask to see a license this weekend. They do watch for boaters wearing life preservers, no wake areas, over limits, too small of fish or other illegal activities.

HIGH WATER due to recent flooding on the Iowa River is a paramount reason to NOT go boating, kayaking or canoeing on the river. High flow rates and deep, fast water are very dangerous so respect the river. Stay off of its waters until it has had sufficient time to settle down. The Iowa River crested during the recent flood at a new all-time record of 22.08 feet. This about 3.5 inches above the June 13, 2008 record of 21.79 feet. However, 3.5 inches is still a lot of water when spread our over a mile-wide floodplain. While many highways, rural roads and bridges were affected by the flood, people were certainly inconvenienced by long detour routes in travels to and from work.

One high water case involved the Martin Marietta Quarry operation at Ferguson, Iowa. The large, deep hole in the ground is where mining operations take place to remove limestone. Once the core rock is blasted loose, it is hauled to the crushers where it is sorted as to sizes used by various building need requirements.

The limestone taken from this quarry is vitally important to central Iowa. The hard, white dolomite stone, much of it over 330 million years old, was laid down over immense periods of geologic time at the bottom of a vast ocean. But now that flood waters have filled it, stockpiles of stone will not be replaced any time soon. Huge pumps will need to be set in place to remove the water. And that will take a lot of time. Count the costs of everything related to the recent flood at this quarry as just one reminder of how a big flood negatively impacts the economy. This one will hurt for a long time.

Right through the middle of the Marietta Quarry runs a stream called Brush Creek. It gets its start in the landscape in and around Gilman. It is a tributary to Timber Creek which in turn is a tributary to the Iowa River. During the height of last week’s rain events, water in Brush Creek overtopped its banks. A weak point, or two, within the banks of the stream failed and allowed all of the creek flood waters to enter the mining pit. Some equipment used in mining was out. Many other machines could not be removed. They presently sit at the bottom of the new (but temporary) “Lake Ferguson.”

Water inside the impoundment of GREEN CASTLE did rise due to recent heavy rains. But since the lake was already lowered by 9. 5 feet, it could hold a lot of new water. With its drain valve open, a steady drawdown is still taking place for Green Castle Lake, part of the management objective for the fisheries replacement and carp eradication plan. This summer, the lake will slowly reach its drawdown level. Plans are being made to possibly use additional siphons to take the water down even more. A complete draining is not possible. But getting as much water out before DNR fisheries crews add rotenone chemicals to the remaining water will help a bunch.

Meantime, fish habitat areas at Green Castle are being built or added on to. Be sure to mark these areas on your fishing map for future reference. That future reference will come in handy when the lake is allowed to refill in a few years time. Once the resident carp fish are dead, and after new water has refilled the lake, a new stocking of desired game fish will be placed in the lake. Fishermen must take heed of regulations concerning baits that will be allowed at Green Castle. Cooperation will save the lake for the long run. If common carp get back in its waters, the Marshall County Conservation Board staff will be forced to do a repeat of what they do not want to do.

An over limit of fish caught the attention of Iowa conservation officers recently. In late May, a Davenport couple was charged with three counts of over possession of white bass. An anonymous tip to conservation officers made the case. The couple would catch fish, take them to their vehicle and then return to catch more fish, a clear taking of more than the allowable daily limit. The daily limit of white bass is 25 in the Mississippi River and 50 is the top end for possession. When officers added up the take they found 128 white bass in the process of being filleted, 218 more whole fish and 628 more filleted fish in the freezer. The couple faces fines of $ 8,300 each for having 166 fish over limit. Civil penalties will add another $2,500 to the mix. The Scott County attorney was consulted before charges were made by the officers. If convicted, the couple will likely lose fishing privileges for two years. And due to the wildlife compact agreement between states, they cannot just go across the river to Illinois to buy a fishing license there. Planning ahead and following the law is the only right way to deal with precious natural resources.

“A fisherman who doesn’t own too much tackle probably can’t be trusted in other things.” – Paul Quinnett

Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.