As most of you know the ice fishing season is in full swing right now. The ice is in great condition and hundreds of anglers are enjoying the winter days sitting on the ice catching fish. We are very fortunate to live so close to one of the best ice fishing lakes in the state, Rock Creek Lake. This lake even made the list of the "Team Extreme Ice Fishing Tournament Trail" this year. That organization hosts ice fishing tournaments all around the Midwest, and sure enough Rock Creek is on the Iowa schedule this year. That event is to take place on Feb. 23, if you want more details search for that organization on the Internet.
The fishing at Rock Creek Lake can be fast and furious at times. Crappies are the dominant species in the lake, and you can expect to catch many of them through the ice. The bluegill population is slowly growing as well, so finding some of those would make a tasty meal too. Bass, catfish, and the occasional walleye will be hooked while ice fishing too. Today I would like offer some tips on where to get started at this lake, and some basic ice fishing information.
First off, ice fishing is a very rewarding winter time activity. If you have ever ice fished before, you know how a nice day outdoors in the middle of winter can make you feel. If you have nothing, and would like to start ice fishing, it won't cost you very much to get started. Here is a quick run-down of the necessary items. An ice auger will cost $40-$60, you most expensive item. An ice fishing rod and reel will cost anywhere from $5 to $20 for a beginner model. You will also need to purchase an ice scooper, about $5 and a few jigs that will cost about $10. When you gather all those things up, you are only looking at a hobby that will cost you $100 to get started. One thing that I have always done when trying a new outdoor activity is to team up with a friend. I bet someone you know enjoys ice fishing and would lend you an auger or take you out a few times to see if you like it. Once you decide that winter fishing is for you then other items will want to be purchased, like a Vexilar (a sonar fish finding system made specifically for ice fishing) and an ice shack for those cold and windy days. Each of those will cost about $200 for good used units. Again, asking around to see if anyone has these things to borrow or a chance to go out with an experienced angler or a guide will help you decide quickly if ice fishing is something you would like to do.
T-R PHOTO BY TODD REED
Crappies and bluegills can be found at Rock Creek Lake while ice fishing in great numbers. Using electronics, like a Vexilar will help you increase your fish catches when fish are suspended and roaming the large drop-offs of the lake.
Back to the fishing, Rock Creek Lake is huge lake for central Iowa. It is one of the largest manmade lakes that the DNR made ever. It is about 450 acres, and is very long from one end to the other. This can make ice fishing a little more challenging on this lake than the other smaller bodies of water. However, the DNR has placed many fish attractors around the lake that are close to boat ramps and are very easy for ice anglers to catch fish around. A couple key areas come to mind when thinking about walking onto this lake to catch some fish through the ice.
The first location is known as the piles off the southeast boat ramp. This ramp location has a huge parking lot, and two very large jetties that point out to the west and north. The piles are located off these jetties in a square pattern. This is a very short walk and tends to hold fish year-round. Another location is the drop-off located just south of the ramp location. This is a very nice drop-off that goes out into the channel and is about 12 feet deep. Many fish cruise through this area every day of the winter season. One last area which is on the west side of the lake is located by yet another boat ramp. The boat ramp which is just north of the beach has a large jetty to the north of it. A few paces straight to the west of the tip of this jetty will allow you to find a large pile of brush, and again some fish to catch in the winter time.
All of those areas are well know at Rock Creek Lake and get a lot of fishing traffic. However, each time I stop to fish them, there is always enough fish to go around. If you are on foot, those locations are great ones to start out with, because the walk is very limited.
When fishing at Rock Creek Lake you will want to pay attention to the water color. This lake has a huge watershed and can become very dirty with melting snow. When the water turns dirty, make sure your jig selection is a dark offering. The crappies and bluegills will like the purple, brown, green and black colored jigs on those days the water is dirty. When the water clarity is much better, try a variety of colors until the fish tell you which one they like the best.
Good fishing to you, and remember to use safety at all time while out ice fishing.