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Fishing the lakes of Marshall County

April 21, 2012
By TODD REED , Times-Republican

Last week's column touched briefly on the numerous lakes in the Marshalltown area. Most of these lakes are outside the county, but as Marshalltown residents we do have two nice lakes that are within a ten-minute drive. Green Castle Lake and Sand Lake, small in size, but big with fishing opportunities.

Green Castle Lake is located just south of Ferguson and is really a total package when it comes to enjoying nature. The county park offers something for everyone. It has mowed trails through prairie grasses and trees ideal for watching nature, rare animal exhibits with bison and trumpeter swans, picnic areas, playground equipment and of course fishing. It makes for a great place to take a family for fun day in the outdoors, or if you just want to absorb nature on your own.

The fishing at Green Castle Lake can be summed up in one word; plentiful. There is an ample amount of bluegills to fill your fishing day. Largemouth bass are plentiful too, if that is a fish you like to catch. Walleye, catfish, crappie and northern pike live in this lake also but aren't as plentiful as the bass and bluegill.

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Last summer, this bluegill and many others made for a fun day on the water at Sand Lake. Green Castle Lake and Sand Lake are great places to take young anglers willing to catch any size of fish.

Green Castle Lake, which is not an old sand quarry as I stated last week, it is actually an old farm pond that was made by its previous owners. They sold the lake and area, almost 100 acres to the Marshall County Conservation board in 1976. The deep valleys of the southern Marshall County terrain made a perfect, deep lake with gentle sloping edges. Anglers can catch numerous bluegills using live bait. I have had a great time at Green Castle over the years catching bluegills and the occasional crappie. Remember, NO minnows are allowed at Green Castle Lake. Small garden or red worms work great to trick the bluegills into biting. Key areas to begin your search are the jetties. This will allow you to get to deeper water and most jetties have brush piles close enough that a long cast will get your bait in the right spot. Another key is to fish deep, this lake has a lot of water in it, and you have to prove the deeper water near the brush piles if you want to catch a lot of fish. Using a slip bobber will allow you to do this effectively. If you are looking for bass, my best baits out there have always been crankbaits. These baits will dive down and tempt the bass into biting. Color hasn't really mattered for me at this lake, and by walking the shoreline you can cover the entire lake in a few hours.

Sand Lake is our nearest lake, and is much larger than the size of Green Castle Lake. Although the size is much larger, you cannot access most of this lake by land. If you are an angler without a boat, there are many different places along Sand Lake that do give you a nice place to fish. The Marshall County Conservation Board has created several fishing platforms to make it easier and safer for all anglers to fish at Sand Lake. The most popular species at Sand Lake are bluegills and bass. While these are most often sought after, Sand Lake also has a good population of walleye, crappie and catfish. Fishing at Sand Lake is very similar to Green Castle Lake. Small jigs and worms are best for the panfish, and crankbaits for the bass. Anglers are allowed to use minnows at Sand Lake. People who do fish at Sand Lake will notice one big difference from Green Castle, the water level. Sand Lake, with its close proximity to the Iowa River rises and falls as the river does. When the river is high, then more water will be in Sand Lake, when the river is low, the water at Sand Lake will be lower. During these high water times, you will notice a lot of additional structure (trees and bushes) will be in the water. These are magnets for fish, and should be fish thoroughly whether you are in a boat or on the shore.

These two little lakes are a great resource for Marshalltown anglers, a quick escape from a busy work day is just minutes away at Sand Lake or Green Castle Lake. Enjoy the outdoors, and do your part to make a better place when you leave.

Fishing report: I have had the chance to fish Union Grove Lake and Rock Creek Lake this past week and am glad to report some positive things. First, the water clarity at both lakes look great. The recent storms have not muddied the water too much. The second thing is that the water temperature at both lakes is between 60 and 63 degrees. This last fact tells me that the panfish will be coming shallow very soon, and the "hot" spring fishing is about to take off. With a steady forecast, fishing is only going to improve the next few weeks. Enjoy it if you can.



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