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Dallas County Outdoors: So many fish…so little time

Ken Herring & ‘Abby’ wildkpherring@yahoo.com
Ken Herring & ‘Abby’ wildkpherring@yahoo.com
Fishing on the Raccoon River.
Fishing on the Raccoon River.

You may have seen the T-shirt with the caption: So Many Fish…..So Little Time. This phrase could not be truer when speaking about the rivers that are within a few miles of your doorstep. Yet we often take our rivers and the bounty of fish and fishing opportunity for granted.

My last river fishing trip was with my Brother-in-law. He was visiting us from his home in Missouri, it was “August hot” and our usual small lake fishing spot was “pea soup green” from an algae bloom. I thought about other lake s and decided the easy and most successful outing would be a river outing.

We got his non-resident fishing license and some minnows and chubs at the bait shop. We loaded up two lawn chairs, a bit of firewood and waited for the sun to get a little lower in the sky. We headed out about 6 PM and went to the Pleasant Valley river access. This access is between Adel and Redfield on the North side of the Raccoon River. Dallas County is blessed with more than a dozen State owned river access points. Most of these local treasures have been purchased by the DNR using the money from hunter and angler license fees for just this purpose. The Pleasant Valley river access is a scenic little river road which ends in a parking area and provides incredibly easy access onto a large sandbar and the river. We carried our gear down to the river’s edge in two trips and soon had a fire going for light and aesthetics. Lines were baited and we were fishing before dark. The sandbar was shared with two tents, 6-8 other young campers who had their own fire and were sharing some real good family and friend’s time. We enjoyed the fire, the friendship and everything about the entire outing. I doubt that we spent more than an hour in preparing everything we needed (I already had fire wood for our home fireplace). About dark we caught our first catfish, a fat and healthy 3 pound fish. Before we left at midnight, we had caught 4-6 catfish and lost the big one (no good trip is complete without losing the biggest one)….. However we did manage to land one that was in the 4-5 pound range. We released all the fish, because we didn’t want to clean fish when we got home. We were buzzed by Canada geese, a great blue heron and wood ducks. As if queued on time for a perfect scene in a movie were whitetail deer, a beaver and a mink. Kingfishers, geese, turkey vultures, barred owls and a host of other birds provided the backdrop of sights and background sounds free of charge. Along with the laughter and muffled conversation from the other end of the sandbar the night was picture perfect. I think I got more thank you’s from my brother-in-law than if we had dined in an expensive restaurant and I’d picked up the check. Iowa is blessed with rivers that are close-at-hand and loaded with fish. Iowa DNR Fisheries biologists have documented that catfish in our interior streams are one of our most overlooked resources. During the summer, after nightfall the catfish will actually come to you so you can, with the comfort of a lantern or fire and a small chair really enjoy our outdoors. The nice thing about this kind of fishing is the simplicity. One can visit with friends and family while enjoying the fire and fishing. I hope you can find some time to enjoy an experience on a nearby river soon. August and September are great times to do this.

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