Lake Manawa, just 3 miles from my home, is the lake I fished as a boy with my Dad. We rowed a 14 foot wooden boat all over the 700+ acres of water fishing for bass, crappie and blue gills. Motor boats were unheard of in the late 40’s and early 50’s and it was a rare site to see a speed boat ripping across the lake and maybe even pulling a water skier. The lake was considerably deeper with depths down to 10 to 12 feet in the deeper parts of the lake. Today the standing weeds are gone, along with the lily pads that held some of the finest bass you could catch. On the south end was a string of rusted out cars in the water. This was tin can dike and you could fish the edges. Today that has been totally submerged by the silt and is a very shallow area.
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I am planning to fish the eastern shoreline where the homes are located and fish early in the shallows and near their docks for bass. I did this as a boy with my dad struggling with the wooden boat and oars. For a scrawny ten year old it was a lot of work. I should mention, we had no life jackets, and there was no regulation that said we had to have one on or even in the boat.
The west shore line that once held standing cabbage grass in five to ten feet of water is now silted in. However, this is the area that is good fishing. Surprisingly, the Iowa DNR has stocked the lake with walleye and I have caught some in the real early spring. I do have to admit, conditions at that time could not have been more perfect and the water temperature was about 55 degrees. I was told that 58 degrees was the temperature that a person should look for when working this lake for walleye.
Southwest Iowa has been blessed or cursed with plenty of rainfall this spring. Since it was a relative dry winter the rains have been a blessing for farmers that needed the moisture, and now it may become a curse as they have too much. I waited for the some southerly to southwesterly flow to move in. I could not hunt turkeys as the areas I had planned to hunt were very muddy. Then the right morning came.
I put at the Council Bluffs Fish and Game Club and scooted over to the west shore line. The shore is lined with rip rap and the depth drops quickly to about 4 to 5 feet. There is some underwater growth of some weed that goes from the shore to about 3 feet of water, then nothing but mud. Then it will gradually slope to about 6 feet. To the east of the beach there is a hole that goes down to about 8 to 10 feet. I have never pulled a thing from that location, but one can always hope.
The Flicker Shad was hooked up and was trolled along the bank. S turns were made from about three feet of water and then slowly turning out to about five feet of water. This pattern was repeated the length of the shoreline to the south end. The starting point was the first large tube that boats use to come out from a landing on the small lake to the west of the highway.
Initially there was no action, and it made for some disappointment. Continuing the pattern all at once something hit the lure so hard that is broke the line and the lure was lost. There are wipers in the lake, and I have caught some small ones before. Still, no walleye, and the conditions are perfect. Ten minutes later wham, something took hold and stayed on. Fishing with an ultra-light, my hands were full and there was a good fight on, but when it could be seen, it was not a walleye. Landing the fish, it turned out to be a fresh water drum. I have always considered this fish not to be edible, but the Iowa DNR on the weekly fishing report said it was very good fare if properly prepared. I need to find out what that consists of.
Another one hit the lure, and this was followed by another. Still, they were thrown back, but the fishing was hot. It was just not the specie that was hoped for. After about 45 minutes, eight fish were caught, all thrown back, and all on a Flicker Shad. After four hours on the water and trying other sites the day was thrown in, but I did have some action. Now for the research to see if a fresh water drum is an edible fish and is good to eat.
Good fishing, good hunting, and good luck. Hank