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Pre spawn excitement

Grundy County Conservation Operation Supervisor

April 3, 2016
Nick Buseman , Reinbeck Courier

Ice is out and the water is starting to gain a few degrees; as the water warms a new crop of fish are getting ready to enter the world. This time of year is referred to as spawning. As the water warms the different species of fish begin to feed aggressively up until it is time for them to lay their eggs, so the pre spawn can be a dynamite time to fish.

During the pre spawn the females are feeding heavy and trying to gather up as much nourishment prior to laying her eggs. She seems to slow down and almost shut down her feeding during the spawning process. To me the pre spawn can be a great time to hit the rivers in our neighboring counties.

One of the first fish to spawn in Iowa are the northern pike, they begin their pre spawn usually before the ice is completely out. When the water reaches around 35 degrees the female will find her way into shallow marshy area or streams, accompanied by a couple much smaller males. Pike are random spawners; laying her adhesive eggs across the bottom and on submerged vegetation. The male pike fertilize the eggs as they are dispersed from the female. After completing this process the adults head back to the main channels while the eggs lay there. The eggs will hatch in 12 to 14 days. If you have ever butchered a female fish prior to spawn and noticed the thousands and thousands of eggs. Seeing this lets you know that survival percentages are very small. If you can fish a clean stream dumping into a larger river at the perfect time it can be a blast. Setting your hook in a large hungry northern pike is something I look forward to each spring.

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The next species of fish and probably the most popular species anglers pursue is the walleye. With the northern pike peak fishing probably complete the walleye I believe is just ramping up. Walleyes prefer a little bit warmer water to spawn in; usually between 42 and 54 degrees. As the water begins to warm the females are gaining nourishment and heading to their spawning grounds. Like the pike they prefer shallow water, but clean water. Also walleyes are night time spawners. Needing clean water makes walleye having a successful spawn difficult. Actually most of the walleyes caught around here are ones that were stocked by the DNR or fishing clubs. The Grundy County Lake walleyes have been stocked by the Cedar Valley Walleye club. Having walleyes in our lake has been a great success.

If you are like me and you are sick of scouring the woods looking for antler sheds and turkey season can't get her fast enough; break out the spinning rods and head to a nearby river for some great fishing opportunities. One helpful hint is to use larger baits or live baits during this time of year. Good luck.



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