Fish Habitat Enhancements
Iowa DNR Fisheries staff uses several habitat enhancements on Iowa waters to improve catch rates for anglers. Some of the enhancements are constructed on the dry or frozen bottom while others are placed from a boat in existing water. Each habitat enhancement brings its own limitations and benefits that are usually directed towards a specific species, season, or angling type. Some of the common enhancements are tree piles, rock reefs and mounds, spawning attracting areas, stake beds, benched jetties, bank hides, and others.
Placement locations can vary widely. All depths and locations can offer some benefits to many species during some period of the year. Site selection is based on a combination of factors. Those might include the natural bottom contour, where angling activity would best occur to avoid conflicts with other activities, siltation, behavior patterns of the desired fish species, as well as any other concerns. Branches from brush piles are sometimes left exposed to assist anglers in finding these submerged locations. Habitat structures placed in deeper water offer shelter during summer months, and structures placed in the deepest areas can provide excellent cover for winter panfish. Using surplus Christmas trees should be avoided, as they do not offer long term habitat and their branches are thin and break down quickly.
Iowa DNR maintains a catalog of habitat structures installed in Iowa lakes, as well as other important features. This data is available via downloadable GPX file
. Right click and choose "save target as" or "save as", and save the file to your computer (not to your device's card). When saving, change from XML file type to All Files, and type in .gpx at the end of the FishingStructures file name. After saving to your computer, you should be able to add the data to your GPS. The saved file "FishingStructures.gpx" should be universally useable on most GPS units.
Lake and Watershed Construction
The Department of Natural Resources Lake Restoration Program (LRP) focuses on restoring impaired lakes to improve the quality of life for Iowans. Communities are rallying around their water resources as they seek population growth and economic success. Communities of the Iowa Great Lakes Region, Storm Lake, Creston and Clear Lake are obvious examples, but many other communities are identifying the importance of lakes for their futures as well.
Shallow Lake Restoration
Many of Iowa's shallow lakes have been known to have the worst water quality in Iowa. They have grown murky and green. Vegetation is limited or non-existent. With improved water quality; fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing will also be improved.
Diamond Lake Restoration:
Diamond Lake, Dickinson County
Advanced Walleye Fingerling Stocking
Producing high quality and quantity of walleye fingerlings is vital to Iowa's lakes and rivers. Through extensive research, the Rathbun Fish Culture Research Facility has been focused on producing advanced walleye fingerlings. Through this work, the Rathbun hatchery has been successful in producing 9.5-10" walleye to be stocked throughout Iowa each year.
As managers of public fishing waters we want to provide the best fishing possible using a combination of good water quality, balanced fish populations and adequate angler access. Aquatic plants play a part in each of these three aspects. A sustainable fishery requires a good deal of plant habitat. Therefore, our goal is to find and introduce non-invasive plants to our lakes that benefit both water quality and fish while not hindering those who fish and enjoy other forms of lake recreation.