Channel catfish are close to shore and eager to bite in many lakes and the large reservoirs across Iowa. After eating light during the winter, channel catfish go on a feeding frenzy in early spring, eating gizzard shad and other small fish that died over the winter.
When the ice goes off, a winter’s worth of dead baitfish drift into shallow water for channel catfish to devour. Find actively feeding fish on the windblown shorelines and points where dead shad have been blown into and the shallow water warms quickly. Keep the wind in your face and try different locations until you find actively feeding fish.
Use cut shad or shad parts fished on the bottom. It can be difficult to keep the bait on the hook, try using a 1/0 to 3/0 bait holder hook. Bring along disposable latex gloves to handle the bait and help keep the smell off your hands.
Catfish are one of the most abundant game fish in Iowa and can be found in almost every body of water across the state. Check the weekly fishing report to find out where the catfish are biting.
Chronic wasting disease monitoring complete
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has closed the book on its 2016 chronic wasting disease monitoring effort that collected 4,879 tissue samples from wild deer with 12 samples testing positive for the disease. Test results are pending on deer from a handful of counties and on 86 deer tissue samples from the Clayton County special deer collection effort that ended on March 5.
The disease first appeared in the wild deer herd in 2013 and each year since, the DNR has placed extra emphasis to find the extent to which disease is in the area, and to help slow the spread by removing additional adult deer from the local population.
“We are extremely grateful for the cooperation of hunters and landowners in the region who gave us samples and who allow hunters access to their property during the collection effort,” said Terry Haindfield, wildlife biologist with the Iowa DNR for a six county region in northeast Iowa.
Because of his location, Haindfield has been in the middle of the disease since its arrival.
“We still have some confusion among hunters knowing the difference between chronic wasting disease and epizoic hemorrhagic disease. We need to continue to explain what the diseases are so our hunters are more knowledgeable if either disease does come in to their area,” Haindfield said.
Chronic wasting disease is caused by a misshapen protein, takes 18 to 36 months to show clinical signs and is always fatal. Epizoic hemorrhagic disease is spread by a biting midge, is often worse during drought years and can occur throughout Iowa.
From his experience, he said there is no easy cookie cutter approach when it comes to collecting added samples for testing.
“Each CWD-positive instance is unique — when was the sample collected, what was the sex of the animal, where was it taken, what is the terrain like — all of that is taken in to account when formulating a plan to address it,” he said.
The Iowa DNR has a goal to collect around 5,000 deer samples from across the state each year, with an emphasis in and near areas where disease has been confirmed. For the 14 counties near areas where CWD has been confirmed, quotas range from 50 samples to 500. The remaining counties have a quota of 15 samples each.
These CWD focus areas include the northeast quarter of Pottawattamie County; Keokuk County; an area surrounding the four corners where Winnebago, Worth, Hancock and Cerro Gordo counties adjoin; Wayne, Appanoose, Davis, Wapello and potions of Monroe, Jefferson and Van Buren counties; and Winneshiek, Howard, Buchannan, Delaware, Scott, Clinton, Jackson, Dubuque, Clayton and Allamakee counties.
The disease has been found in southeastern Nebraska near the Missouri River which will begin a new focus area with a quota of 750 samples along Iowa’s western border from Fremont to Woodbury County.
Haindfield said there are some things hunters can do to help with the surveillance.
First, he said they should remove any mineral blocks and feeders that unnaturally concentrates deer and increases the chance of spreading any disease. They can also provide tissue samples to the DNR for testing and report any sick or emaciated deer to the DNR.
“Deer hunting is one of Iowa’s great traditions. We want to educate and work with our hunters so we continue to have the best deer herd in the country for generations to come,” he said.
Outdoor Adventure April 29
Enjoy a day of fun activities along the Missouri River at the sixth annual Outdoor Adventure April 29 at Indian Cave State Park.
Activities include a mushroom hunt contest, fish fry, hayrack rides, archery, kayaking, youth horseback rides, and demonstrations of a cider press and Dutch oven cooking. There will also be a half-price youth lifetime permit drawing and a raptor recovery program.
Runners can take part in the 1-mile Morel Mile and 5K Mushroom Run. Registration for each race is $20 before April 22 and $25 after. A T-shirt and pancake breakfast are included with registration. To register, visit apps.outdoornebraska.gov/OutdoorEvents.
Contact the park for more information at 402-883-2575. A park entry permit is required.
Indoor ranges closed to public
The indoor ranges (firearm and archery) at the Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center in Lincoln will be closed to the public on March 25, as staff will be at the state National Archery in the Schools tournament. The outdoor archery range will be open from sunrise to sunset, as usual.
Whooping cranes migrating through Nebraska
The entire population of whooping cranes in the Central Flyway is expected to migrate through Nebraska over the next several weeks. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission encourages the public to report whooping crane sightings.
Information on crane sightings is used to affect whooping crane conservation and recovery efforts positively.
Report any sightings to Game and Parks (402-471-0641), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (308-379-5562), or The Crane Trust’s Whooper Watch hotline (1-888-399-2824). Emails may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Observers of cranes are encouraged to record number of birds, location, type of activity, and, if it can be determined, the number of adults and juveniles. Sandhill crane, American white pelican, great blue heron, trumpeter swan and snow goose are species that occasionally are mistaken for whooping cranes. Whooping cranes are about 5 feet tall and fly with their neck outstretched. Adults are all white with the exception of black wing tips and reddish-black facial pattern.
Clear Shot Firearms Concealed Carry Class, Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center, Lincoln
Fashion a Feeder, Lake McConaughy SRA, Ogallala
Learn to Hunt Spring Turkey workshop, Lincoln Park Fire Station, Hastings
Archery spring turkey hunting season opens
National Archery in the Schools Program State Tournament, Speedway Sporting Village, Lincoln