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To drain Union Grove: Fishing rules eased for lake

Iowa Outdoors

May 26, 2015
From: Brett Reece - Iowa Conservation Officer , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources relaxed fishing regulations at Union Grove Lake on May 16.

The lake is scheduled to begin draining right after Memorial Day Weekend. This action will allow anglers to more freely harvest fish before and while the lake is being drained.

Anglers with a valid fishing license will be allowed to harvest fish of all species by hook and line only, removing the two pole restriction but maintaining the two hooks per line regulation and that all poles must remain attended. Nets, dynamite, trot lines, poison, electric shocking devices, or any stupefying substances will not be allowed.

Article Photos

Brett Reece

It is illegal to sell fish or stock captured fish into public waters. The normal park hours of 4 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. will remain in effect.

The fishery renovation is only part of a process to improve the lake's water quality. Implementations of other water quality improvement practices in the watershed have been completed and more are underway. Union Grove Lake was selected for restoration because it is one of Iowa's lakes that show the greatest potential economic return for the investment incurred.

Public meetings during the past few years have explained various aspects of the project. The presence of common carp and more recently yellow bass has led to dramatic reductions in both the numbers and the quality of all sport fish populations. Liberalized fishing regulations for Union Grove Lake will be in effect from May 16 through September 1, 2015. Specific regulation changes include:

Removal of bag and length limit restrictions on largemouth bass.

Removal of bag limit on channel catfish.

Removal of bag limit on crappie and bluegill.

It is very important that anglers never transport and release common carp or any fish species into any water system. The presence of common carp in Union Grove Lake has contributed to the poor water quality and the dramatic reductions in both the numbers and the quality of sport fish populations and corresponding reduction in angling and boating use. Remember that all lake water from boats, livewells and bait buckets must be drained before you leave the boat ramp.

Union Grove Lake is one of 35 priority lakes in the state selected for lake restoration work designed to improve water quality because of the potential economic return for the investment. Poor water quality has impacted the fish population and affected all water based recreation at the lake. Stabilizing shoreline erosion problems, dredging to restore depth, and construction of in-lake fish habitat will all be part of the restoration project.

Bluegills, Largemouth Bass, and Channel Catfish will be restocked following the renovation. Crappies and red eared sunfish will be stocked when sufficient bass numbers are sampled. It is very important that anglers never transport and release any fish species into any water system.

Beginning May 1 a new online fishing atlas for desktop computers and smartphones became available. This mobile friendly atlas that will sync with your current GPS location contains lake contours and fish structure locations (tree piles, rock reefs, etc.) Anglers can use these features to target areas of a lake likely to hold fish. Other layers available on the atlas will help anglers plan their next fishing trip with road maps, lake amenities and topography.

"This is a free app that can be used by shore, boat and ice anglers," said Lewis Bruce, DNR fisheries technician who organized the project. The search feature allows anglers to quickly zoom in on the lake of their choice. "If you zoom in on a lake and hover over a fish structure, more information about the specific structure will pop up," said Bruce.

"This is version one," said Bruce. Currently, 150 county and state lake contour maps are viewable along with 1,000 fish structure locations. Not all of the lakes with contours have fish structures. The fishing atlas will be updated annually each spring with new lake contours and fish structure locations. Future versions of the atlas will include added features and a more dynamic search function.

The online fishing atlas can be found by going to



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