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Spring is a great time to head out fishing, so grab a buddy, call up Dad or Mom, or load the kids into the car and get out there. Plan a day trip or spend the entire weekend at one of Iowa’s great state parks. Enjoy the beautiful weather and “hook” some memories that will last a lifetime.
Geode State Park Danville, Henry County, southeast Iowa
Lake Geode is well known for excellent fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, bullhead, and red-eared sunfish. The water clarity can be exceptional. Try fishing a wet fly below a very small bobber – the bobber will allow you to cast for distance. Retrieve the bait very slowly. Use cut bait or chicken liver on windblown shores to catch catfish – shallower shores with some afternoon sun are best. Trails around the lake provide easy access to several picnic areas.
Green Valley Lake State Park Creston, Union County, southwest Iowa
Green Valley Lake is a popular fishing spot. Bluegills up to 8 inches can be caught near the fishing jetties or along the two fishing piers using small jigs. Fish for crappies along the fishing jetties using jigs. Troll crankbaits along the dam or rocky structure for walleyes. For largemouth bass, use crankbaits along weed lines or plastics fished near cedar tree piles.
Lake Wapello State Park Drakesville, Davis County, south central Iowa
Lake Wapello is one of the best largemouth bass fisheries in the state. Bluegill and crappie are abundant and will continue to grow. Seven fishing jetties help you get to the water if you don’t have a boat.
Black Hawk Lake State Park Lake View, Sac County, northwest Iowa
Black Hawk Lake is a popular fishing destination for anglers of all ages to catch a variety of fish species. Bluegill: Use small black jigs with a small piece of bait; shore anglers should try off the West Stone Pier, the floating dock off Ice House Point, and the state marina; if in a boat, fish over the rock piles and search out nest colonies. Walleye: Cast twisters or fish live minnows under a bobber to catch 16- to 20-inch walleye; many anglers are having good luck with leeches under slip bobbers; shore anglers should fish along the east shore (north of the outlet structure) and along Ice House Point; from a boat, fish the rock piles and steep dredge cuts. Largemouth bass: cast twisters, crankbaits, and other traditional bass baits along the natural shorelines (Cottonwood Point, Ice House Point, Shotgun Hill) and around rock piles. Yellow Perch: Fish with small live minnows or pieces of night crawler. Channel Catfish: During the spawn fish over the rock piles or in tight to shore where there is a lot of rock (e.g., Cottonwood Point); Use cut bait, stink bait, shad guts, or crayfish for bait. Black Crappie: Catch 10- to 12-inch crappie around the fallen trees along the Ice House Point shoreline.
Volga River State Recreation Area Fayette, Fayette County, northeast Iowa
Volga Lake may be one of the best kept secrets for catfish in northeast Iowa. Try dead cut bait to catch catfish on windblown banks. Cast for crappies and bluegill in shallow water or near fish attractors. Use the universally accessible walkway from the ramp to cast to cedar tree fish attractors or fish from two jetties (one accessible). Find attractor locations on the DNR's Interactive Fishing Atlas. Paddle, wade or fish for smallmouth bass in the Volga River, which flows through the park.
Lake Macbride State Park Solon, Johnson County, east central Iowa
Lake Macbride has a strong year class of crappies now measuring 7 to 9 inches and growing, a bonanza of 6- to 7-inch bluegill plus a variety of popular fish species including bass, sunfish, walleye, catfish, and muskellunge. There is easy access to limestone shores, numerous fishing jetties and a handicapped accessible fishing pier connected via sidewalk to the parking lot.
Be sure to sign up for the weekly fishing report and follow us on Twitter for updates. Find more information at www.iowadnr.gov/parks or our Iowa State Parks and Iowa Fishing boards on Pinterest.