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Tap into fishing opportunities at Pine Lake

April 28, 2012
By TODD REED , Times-Republican

Last week I discussed some close options for lake fishing, this week takes us north to the town of Eldora. Eldora was blessed with a state park just east of the city limits. Pine Lake State Park has grown over the 15 years I have lived in Marshalltown, and is a great get-away for anyone looking to spend some quality time in the outdoors.

No matter what you like to do in the outdoors, Pine Lake has it. These are just a few activities that I have seen people enjoying at the park and the nearby surrounding areas; hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, enjoying playground equipment, camping with tents or large campers, cabin rental, swimming, beach games, running, golfing, and of course fishing. As you can see from the list, there are many things to do, no matter who you are or how large your family is.

I have only enjoyed the fishing aspect of the lakes, but the other activities around the state park outnumber the fishing activity by a large margin. Dozens of walkers/joggers, and bikers can be seen each day using the trails that wind through the park. The bike trail actually connects to another trail system and goes all the way to George Wyth Park in Waterloo. That seems like a long drive in my truck, let alone on a bike, but I guess that is why I spend my time fishing and not biking! I know a lot of area cyclists use that trail system, and it is always nice to see people having fun in the outdoors.

Article Photos

The Pine Lakes near Eldora have many different opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. From camping, bike riding, walking, jogging and having a picnic; there is something for everyone at this state park. Fishing tops the list for many Marshalltown anglers for good reason, this bass was caught on a recent trip to Lower Pine Lake. 

Of course, in Outdoor Ambitions, this always has to turn into something about fishing. Well, Pine Lake State Park is a wonderful area, and of course if offers fishing, actually 2 lakes to try your skill of tricking your favorite kind of fish into biting. The species available at both include; bluegill, crappie, catfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, and perch. The last two, pike and perch are the rarest of the species, but they do exist. Bluegills and bass are the most sought after fish at the lakes, probably because of the strong populations.

When fishing for bluegills at the lakes, there are many tree limbs in the water for you to plop your worm and bobber next to. When I fish for bluegills or crappies, I always use a jighead and live bait. I then attach a bobber to the line to help me focus in on a specific depth of water. I use a jighead for two reasons; the first being that I can add color to my live bait, and the second being less snags. Instead of a plain hook, I can modify my jighead to whatever color I want. I like to use white or black when the water is clear and brighter colors like orange, yellow and chartreuse when the water has more color to it. The other reason is a jighead will snag less than a hook and bobber. With a jighead the weight and hook work together, if you use a hook and sinker, then they can work against each other and one or both can get snagged. When using live bait, small worms for bluegills and a live minnow for crappies is what I always turn to. Another top location at both lakes is the dam area. You can walk to both dam areas and this allows you to get closer to the deepest water. This is important for summer time fishing.

When trying to find some panfish to catch, Lower Pine Lake offers the angler with no boat the best chance. Many parts of the lake are accessible by someone walking. Upper Pine Lake has very little access to water for the shore angler. If you have a boat, canoe, or kayak, then either lake will have you catching numerous gills and crappies.

The other main focus of fishing at the Pine Lakes is the largemouth bass. These green creatures are found in both lakes and in large numbers. This was not always the case, about two or three years ago, the population of bass in Lower Pine was not great at all. This was due to the shad that had almost taken over the lake. Shad in smaller lakes never end with a happy ending, however, Mother Nature came through in the winter of 2009 and wiped out most of that shad population with a hard and long winter. Ever since that winter, the population of bass are great in both lakes. Shad will over populate a lake and starve other fish species, this was happening at Lower Pine Lake, but now I can happily report that the bass population in both lakes are very strong. Bass fishing, like the panfishing is best to be done with boat. Shore angling for bass at Lower Pine Lake can be done, but is very difficult at Upper Pine Lake.

Bass, like their cousins the bluegill love trees in the water, and both lakes have plenty of them. Bass really relate to these logs in all seasons, especially when it is sunny out. I have had the best luck with bass at Pine Lakes on two different baits. Although they are different, they basically do the same thing. One bait I turn to at the Pine Lakes is a bass jig and plastic chunk. I like to use darker colors there, as the water is full of color most of the year. Black, blue, and purple can be seen in my jigs, and always a black or bright blue jig chunk on the back. The other bait is a Texas-rigged tube bait. These work great everywhere, and the bass at Pine Lakes can't resist them either. If you do not fish with bass tubes, you should check some out at; . They are an awesome tool to catch bass! Both of these baits look like a dying fish or a crawdad when worked in the water. Working these two different types of baits as close to cover as possible and working them slowly is key to catching bass.

I hope you get a chance to make it up to the Pine Lakes this year. As stated, there is something for everyone at this park, and the fishing can be spectacular!



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