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It’s time to hit the Hickory Grove fish population

May 26, 2012
By TODD REED , Times-Republican

This week local lake review travels west to Hickory Grove Lake. This lake and large park area is just south of highway 30, and just west of the town of Colo. Often this lake is referred to as Colo Lake. The lake is by far the deepest of any area lake, excluding Sand Lake. This lake also has the most cover, in the form of brush, of any lake in the area. You never run out of targets to throw at when visiting Hickory Grove Lake.

The lake has a population of bluegills, green sunfish, crappies, largemouth bass, and catfish. Most anglers are in search of bluegills when they visit the lake. This is for good reason, as it holds the best bluegill population of any area lake. The lake has a big population of bass too, however finding one over the legal limit of fifteen inches has become hard to do in the past couple years. When searching for crappies, you will be pleasantly surprised to find some large specimens in the lake. They are not numerous, but the size makes up for that. Channel catfish are often targeted by anglers too, offering them many two-plus pound fish to catch.

The lake itself is not a large body of water, however it is very long and narrow, making it seem very large. The lake is 100 acres, making it bigger than both Pine Lakes, and about the same size as Union Grove. This lake offers two boat ramps on opposite sides of the lake, and has several fishing docks spread around the lake too. Boats can only travel with an electric motor, as gas powered engines are not allowed at this lake. Fishing from the shoreline can be difficult at this lake, but not impossible. The Story County Conservation Board has done a nice job recently of clearing a lot of brush away from shorelines to allow anglers access to the lake. There are many opportunities to drive around the lake, park, and take a short walk to several close fishing areas.

Article Photos

Hickory Grove Lake is an awesome lake to catch bluegills and bass. A great way to temp bass into biting is to offer them a topwater spook bait as seen in the picture. This style of bait floats on top of the water and the bass love to explode on them early in the morning and late in the evening.

Here are a few tips about catching some fish from Hickory Grove.


As mentioned there are a lot of bluegills in the lake, and the size is very good. Any angler willing to put in some hard work and effort will catch their share of 'gills. The main areas in the lake that hold bluegills are the brushpiles. Many of these can be seen during the clear water months and are located fairly close to shore. Some older contour maps of hickory Grove have them marked too, but the newer ones do not. Brushpiles and stakebeds are located throughout the lake. These are bluegills magnets, and if you want to catch bluegills, you need to be close to them. The trick of finding the bluegills is always the key. At hickory Grove you have to try different depths of water and brush to see what water depth they are holding in for that particular day. Some days they like to hide in just a few feet of water under a fallen log, and other days they like to hang out in brush that are twenty feet or deeper. Like all bluegill fishing, I prefer to use a small colored leadhead with a small worm on it. Redworms worm great for bluegills, as they are not too big and the fish can easily get them in their mouth. As mentioned earlier, Hickory Grove is a deep lake, and using slip-bobbers are key to getting your bait to the level the fish are holding for that particular day. Keep moving and find that brush for a great day of bluegill catching!

CRAPPIES: The crappie population at Hickory Grove is far lower than the bluegills, but they are in there. Crappies, line in any deep lake, love the deepest water after the spawn. Catching crappies close to the spawn is often very easy, as they surge to shallow water to do their annual duty. However, after the spawn the crappies go deep and are much harder to locate. Again, brush can be key in finding crappies, but often they use the deepest brushpiles in the lake, twenty or more feet deep. Minnows on slip-bobbers are the top choice of any crappie. If you are chasing crappies at hickory Grove Lake, make sure to "drift" the old channel. The old creek channel still plays a big part in locating crappies at this lake, they will spend a lot of their time in the summer suspended over the creek channel. Drifting over the channel with different colored jigs in fifteen to twenty feet of water can put crappies in the boat for sure.

BASS: The bass population is strong right now, however there are not very many larger fish in the lake at this time. I believe that the lake is going through a down phase for bass. Many lakes do this as year classes of fish grow up to be larger and some years when the spawn was not very good, it can really show up four or five years down the road. I believe that is what is occurring at Hickory Grove right now with the bass. On a good note though, there are many bass in the 12-14 inch range that are very fun to catch. I use two main lures at Hickory Grove when I try for bass. Topwater baits, and Texas-rigged plastic baits. I really like to throw tube baits at Hickory Grove, rigged Texas-style, they seem to always put a few bass in the boat. If I hit the lake early in the morning or late in the evening, then it is topwater time. I have the best luck in this clear body of water using topwater spooks (see picture). These hard-plastic baits float on top of the water and dance their way back to you while you give your rod gentle sweeps. Work these baits anywhere you see rock on the shoreline and work them slowly, which is a lot of areas. The bass love these baits, as they are realistic moving and they can find them easily in the clear water. If the water is murky, then I like to try buzzbaits, another faster moving topwater bait.

There you have it, another great area lake that offers good catfishing and crappie fishing, and awesome bass and bluegill action. Make sure and "hit" Hickory Grove Lake soon for your favorite species of fish.


Todd Reed by email at



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