Fishing still in full swing

The calendar may read November, and there is a plethora of hunting seasons going on, but there is still time to catch some fish before Mother Nature freezes the water. A few weeks ago I wrote about some tips to help you catch some fall fish, in the minds of a fish in central Iowa, it is no longer fall, it is winter. Water temperatures are below 50 degrees at area lakes, and this has the local fish thinking of the long winter ahead of them.

Wintertime fishing, or late fall fishing is still a good choice for the outdoors person. You can no longer think that your favorite fish species is going to be hanging in the same areas it did several weeks ago though. With a few simple adjustments, you can still have a good day of fishing at an area lake, or the Iowa River.

The first adjustment you need to think about is the weather. During this time of year, the weather can change quickly, the wind can start to blow and drop temperatures with a blink of an eye. Before leaving for your fishing trip, make sure and have plenty of warm clothes. Gloves, hat, multiple layers of shirts and coveralls will keep you warm and help you have a fun day in the “cold” outdoors. Another thing to consider is making your trips in the middle of the day. Not only will the temperature be warmer, but the fish tend to like the middle of the day better this time of year too.

As mentioned earlier, you will need to think about the lake or stretch of river you are considering to fish. Fish this time of year really stay close to deeper water. In lakes, that normally means getting out away from the shoreline. Some places, like the dam of Union Grove, and some banks of Hickory Lake Grove, can be good for shore anglers too. The river is a different story, finding deeper water is key this time of year, but fish can also be feeding in the shallow rapids of rivers too. There are many more variables to a river system and trying a variety of areas with current and without current are important to see where the fish are feeding for that particular day.

The last thing to consider when planning a trip in this early wintertime is the choice of bait. Live bait works great this time of year. The water is clearer than other times of the year, and fish aren’t fooled as easy. Worms for bluegills, minnows/suckers will work well for the crappies, catfish, walleye and bass. A bobber rig is a good thing to start with, you can easily change the depth of your bait, and try to focus in on exactly where fish are feeding. I have seen a foot make a difference in a bad day of fishing and a great day of fishing. Panfish tend to find one specific depth to hold during these colder months. For example, if you are fishing the dam at Union Grove, which is about 14 feet deep or so, begin by setting your bait about half way down. Often times fish will suspend at this halfway mark. Then you can adjust your bobber quickly in foot increments to go deeper or shallower. This allows you to key in on certain depths of water until you find that “magical” depth the fish are holding at. So, in this example you would want to start at 7 feet, and then experiment to 6 or 8 feet deep. If these didn’t produce any bites, then try 5 or 9 feet deep, etc. Using a slip bobber will allow you to try deep depths, and still allow you to cast out your bait quite easily. If you prefer to cast jigs, then apply a “countdown” method for your bait. Cast the jig out, count to a number (five or six), then reel in slowly. If no takers, then change your count number to higher or lower and try again. Repeat with different numbers, but ALWAYS keep your retrieve the same speed. This will allow you to hit various depths, although you may not know exactly where you jigs are, you will have a reference point to make that next cast and catch that next fish!

November is here, if you are looking to get out and try some more open-water fishing, plan accordingly and watch that forecast. Use every day you can to fish, because winter is just around the corner.

Contact Todd Reed at and visit