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Catch the fun


For those of you who talk about how fun fishing is but never seem to make it down to the water, listen up. Des Moines Parks and Recreation (DMPR) is partnering with the Des Moines Izaak Walton League to bring you Carp Fest 2015 at Gray’s Lake on May 30. For just the cost of a fishing license (less than $20 if you don’t already have one), you can come out for a sporting day on the water.

Everyone with an Iowa fishing license is able to participate in Carp Fest 2015.

Everyone with an Iowa fishing license is able to participate in Carp Fest 2015.

“Anyone that has never fished for carp is invited to come and try,” said Joel Van Roekel, Supervisor of Environmental Education at DMPR. “There will be volunteers ready to help instruct new anglers along with tackle to borrow, all for free.”

New this year, Trout Unlimited will be onsite to demonstrate fly-fishing for carp and let people try their skills using a fly fishing rod. There will also be some display information about fishing in Iowa.

For this event, participants will be fishing off the peninsula located by the swimming beach at Gray’s Lake. Families are encouraged to attend. Last year, one family showed up representing five generations. Carp caught may be kept by the fisherman or donated onsite to the wildlife rehabilitation organization S.O.A.R. (Saving Our Avian Resources).

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Bringing your family doesn’t mean you’re exempt from the friendly competition, though. There are no teams, but everyone will compete to claim the prize for biggest fish.

“There is an award for the biggest fish caught by both an adult and by youth 15 and under, boys division and girls division,” Van Roekel said. “The prize for the biggest carp is going to be a rod and reel set, but the real reward is going to be time spent enjoying the outdoors.”

Last year, the largest carp measured 31 inches, and a total of 160 pounds of fish were donated to S.O.A.R. from the event. Jeremy Jule holds the tournament record with a 35-inch Bigmouth Buffalo, caught in 2010, according to DMPR.

One of the goals of Carp Fest is to actually remove some of the carp from Gray’s Lake.

“The common carp is an invasive, bottom-feeding fish that roots along the bottom of the lake sucking in mud and other matter, filtering out nutrients and then spitting the mud back out,” said Van Roekel. “This increases the turbidity and decreases the quality of the water.”

The fish that are removed and donated to S.O.A.R. are fed to Bald Eagles and Osprey that are being rehabilitated in the hopes that they will be able to be released back to the wild.With free registration and no cap on the number of participants, anyone (with a valid fishing license, remember) is welcome to come out and give it his or her best cast.

“This event is designed to be fun, educational and beneficial to the Gray’s Lake environment,” said Van Roekel. CV

Free Fishing Days
Annually, the Iowa DNR hosts Free Fishing Days — for Iowa residents only — during the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of June. All fishing regulations must be obeyed.


Carp Fest 2015 at Gray’s Lake on May 30
Starts at 8 a.m., and admission is free.
Registration begins at 8 a.m., with fishing from 9–11:30 a.m. A valid fishing license is required for the event.


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.



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