Friday, February 23, 2018

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Rather be fishing?


The 2014 Des Moines Parks and Recreation Ice Fishing Derby takes place on Easter Lake on Sunday, Feb. 9 from 8 a.m. to noon, for $20 per person. One- or-two person teams can sign up the day of the event.

The 2014 Des Moines Parks and Recreation Ice Fishing Derby takes place on Easter Lake on Sunday, Feb. 9 from 8 a.m. to noon, for $20 per person. One- or-two person teams can sign up the day of the event.

For every sport you see on mainstream television, there is another version of it that is deemed a little too dangerous to be highly publicized. For a long time, mixed martial arts existed only among those who trained and participated in the matches, while the rest of the world got along watching boxing. Skiing continues to be a popular Olympic contest, while heli-skiing (dropping in on untouched snow from a helicopter) remains obscure.

Some sports are dangerous, plain and simple. However, it’s the risk that pulls many athletes to that sport. No doubt it’s the risk of injury or death of exposure or drowning that draws so many anglers to the world of ice fishing.

“Safety is definitely the No. 1 thing to remember when ice fishing,” said Dustin Kroening, Iowa State University Fishing Club president. “Like they always say, there is never safe ice.”

Obviously ice fishing isn’t the same kind of danger as motocross or the luge, but there are certain safety precautions one ought to take before setting foot on the ice. Ice fishing is a dangerous method of fishing, and it is important to follow safety procedures to make sure fishers make it back home. For example, the recommended ice width for walking is 4 inches, yet many fishermen will risk it at 2.5 inches.


“We cannot stress enough how important it is to always be cautious on the ice,” said Tim Smith, recreation supervisor with Des Moines Parks and Recreation.

“I would definitely suggest to always try and fish with another person or a group of people,” Kroening added. “Having that extra person or group of people there can help prevent something from going wrong like falling through the ice or even just getting hurt in some way.”

It’s also more fun fishing with friends anyway. It can be a long time before the fish start biting, so just being able to talk to others helps pass the time. Also you have the opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences by sharing fish tales, and it offers more chances to try out others’ fishing gear.

But some go fishing because of the peace and quiet. Those who prefer the solitude should at least make sure to tell someone else where they will be fishing and how long they’ll be gone, Smith and Kroening advised.

Advice noted, the first step in ice fishing is finding where the schools are hanging out beneath the ice. Depending on the hour, the fish activity may vary. Generally, the two most active periods of a fish’s day are dawn and dusk. Some anglers use an electric fish finder while others do it the old fashion way: trial and error.

“Tournament fishing is a good way to make yourself a better fisherman,” Kroening said. “Most tournaments have experienced fisherman that are willing to throw a couple tips your way and even show you some techniques.” CV

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.


Portable ice fishing shelters are permitted, as well as alcohol, but not motorized vehicles. All state fishing regulations apply. For additional information, contact Nate at 612-4509 or email

A separate clinic will be held from 1-4 p.m. after the derby. Call 323-5200 for more information.


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