January 20, 2021

Outdoor news

Learn to hunt program opens registration for virtual Hunt For Iowa Social Hour

DES MOINES - The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering a free virtual social hour to individuals who have little to no hunting experience or would like to find out more about hunting in Iowa.

“If you haven’t hunted in a couple of years but would like to get back afield, or maybe never hunted but always wanted to learn more, this is the event for you.” said Jamie Cook, program coordinator with the Iowa DNR.

Join the event online at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 19, for an evening discussing all things hunting with conservation groups, retailers, and staff with the Iowa DNR who will provide information on ways to get involved in hunting and increase your hunting knowledge and skills.

“This is a laid-back, family friendly event will showcase opportunities to get involved in other outdoor recreational pursuits such as shooting sports and fishing,” said Cook.

Participants will have the chance to listen to guest speakers, hear about places to hunt, ask questions to DNR staff and get to know other hunters across the state.

The course is geared for participants 16 and older. Those under 16 must have an adult register and participate in the course as well. Space online will be limited so register right way to ensure your spot. The social will be held on Nov. 19 and will cover topics such as season basics, where to hunt, hunting regulations, and feature some great partners that can help connect you to the field. For more information and to begin the registration process, visit:

Nov. 19: https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/163728

The program is provided through a partnership with Iowa Wildlife Federation, Pheasants Forever and the Iowa DNR. It is part of a national effort to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters due to the overall decline in hunting and outdoor recreation.

Fall fishing for Iowa’s prize trout

Enjoy what’s left of the spectacular colors and cool weather fishing in northeast Iowa’s hundreds of miles of trout streams this fall. From easily accessible streams in state or county parks, to those found in Iowa’s most wild and remote natural spaces, there are plenty of places to catch rainbow, brown and brook trout.

Northeast Iowa draws thousands of anglers from across Iowa to its coldwater streams and excellent trout fishing.

“It’s a busy place this time of year,” said Mike Steuck, Iowa DNR fisheries supervisor for interior streams. “Anglers can test their skills with lots of wild fish in these streams.”

View some of the best fall colors in the narrow valley of Little Paint, west of Harpers Ferry. Look for trout behind larger boulders and under rock ledges. Let your lure or bait drift around the boulders and just in front of the ledges.

Catch stream-reared brown trout up to 16 inches and 10- to 12-inch stocked rainbow trout in the Maquoketa River. Miles of public access spots line the river in Clayton and Delaware counties. Find rainbow trout in pools and runs while brown trout will be near wood habitat.

The best chance to catch all three trout species in one trip is at Spring Branch Creek, southeast of Manchester. There is great public access to more than 1.5 miles of coldwater stream.

Learn to “read” a stream, to identify habitats that offer food and cover. Trout are not randomly scattered in a stream. They locate themselves along the edge of the current flow near protective cover. The stream current carries food to the trout while it waits.

Trout try to bulk up in the fall for winter and are always hungry. Brown and brook trout lay their eggs in nests called redds in October and November. The eggs stay in these areas of cleaned gravel on the stream bottom until they hatch in late winter or early spring. Be careful where you walk to avoid stepping in or directly above these nests.

“Brown trout are wary, be as quiet and hidden as you can,” said Steuck. “If you can see them, they have already seen you and probably will not bite.”

Fish overcast and gray days when using spin fishing gear. Trout are less wary of lures at this time. If fly fishing, target midday on sunny and bright days. In cooler fall temperatures, bright warm days can stimulate an insect hatch. Dry flies can still be productive, but the insect hatches become more sporadic and less intense than in the summer so nymphs are a better option.

Iowa’s trout season is open all year. Iowa’s trout streams are too. About 105 coldwater trout streams await anglers in ten northeast Iowa counties.

Anglers need to have a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. The daily limit is five trout per licensed angler with a possession limit of ten.

Learn more about Iowa's trout streams, including maps and amenities, and tips and tricks to catch trout on the Iowa DNR's website at www.iowadnr.gov/trout.

Iowa’s trapping season opens Saturday

Iowa trappers can expect to find good numbers of furbearers available statewide when the season begins Saturday, Nov. 7.

“Our coyote numbers remain strong with a stable to slightly decreasing population,” said Vince Evelsizer, furbearer biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Iowa’s red fox numbers didn’t show much movement in the annual survey but Evelsizer’s been getting a number of reports of increased local populations.

“Our raccoon population is high and I would encourage our furharvesters to take them even though their fur price is forecasted to be low,” he said.

The river otter population has trended upward in Iowa and that has translated to the quota for river otters increasing to three per licensed furharvester this year.

Iowa’s bobcat population continues to increase and expand, opening Boone and Webster counties this year to bobcat harvest.

Iowa’s bobcat harvest is divided into three zones – a three bobcat bag limit zone (southern Iowa), a one bobcat bag limit zone that Boone County and Webster County are now in, and a zone closed to bobcat harvest. Only one bobcat may come from the one bobcat zone regardless of the county in that zone it was taken from, the remaining cats must come from the three cat zone. No more than three bobcats total can be legally harvested by a furharvester this season.

Furharvesters are reminded of the requirement to contact a conservation officer within 24 hours of taking an otter or bobcat to receive a CITES tag. This is a change from the previous seven-day requirement. The CITES tag must remain with the animal until it is processed or sold. The DNR will not be collecting bobcat and otter skulls and lower jaws this year for tooth aging purposes.

He said while Iowa’s muskrat population varies by region, their overall numbers are down this year following a trend that started in the early 1990s.

Overall, the wild fur market is weak again this year, which is similar to the last few years, but regardless of fur prices, Evelsizer encouraged trappers to take a beginner along to share the experience.

“It’s good to get out, spend some time with a youngster, enjoy trapping and pass along our knowledge,” he said. “If the weather forecast holds, it looks like it will be pretty nice for trapping, at least for the first few weeks.”

The Iowa DNR has a few trapping videos as part of its new Learn to Hunt Iowa Online Video Series at www.iowadnr.gov/learntohunt and will soon be posting a beginning trapper webinar that was recorded in mid-October.