Summer is all about relaxing with family and friends. Add fishing to your list of summer activities. Plan a day trip or bring along fishing gear on your next weekend getaway or camping trip.
“Fish are still biting, even in the middle of a sticky Iowa summer,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau. Like anglers, fish adjust to the heat, too. “The key is being in the right place, even when the thermometer says it’s too hot to fish.”
The best fishing is early in the morning or later in the evening and after dark. Avoid the brightest, hottest part of the day. Fish might cruise the shoreline early in the morning, but will seek cover in deeper water as the sun starts beating down on the water. “Some of our best fishing is after dark,” reminds Larscheid.
Look for fish in weed beds or structure, near shade during the day. They often are suspended in deeper water, just above the thermocline - a midsummer phenomenon many lakes develop creating two distinct layers. Below the thermocline, often 8 to 10 or 12 feet deep, oxygen is nearly nonexistent. Many fish suspend just above the thermocline, where temperatures and light conditions are tolerable, and where oxygen levels are sufficient.
“When the water heats up, we really see the white bass and wipers come on,” said Larscheid. “Hot weather is also a good time to catch big channel catfish and largemouth bass.”
White bass are active in the summer in the flood control reservoirs (Coralville, Red Rock, Rathbun and Saylorville). Calm days are the best to fish for white bass because the seagulls can see the shad easier and will be feeding on them. Follow the seagulls to spot white bass. Telltale splashes on the water surface are good signs, too, as the shad leap from the water trying to escape.
“Bluegills spawn several times during the summer, so stay shallow, looking for them,” advises Larscheid. Largemouth bass and channel catfish can be found close to shore. Look for bass near cover; stumps, wood structure. “Bass and bluegills will also use vegetation for cover and shade. It also holds a variety of zooplankton and insects which attract baitfish.”
Find a great place to fish close to home on the DNR website fishing.iowadnr.gov along with tips for catching specific fish species this summer.