Beautiful Morning on Lake Manawa

My wife feeds Hummingbirds and with fall approaching they are feeding heavily.  Fun to watch. 

 

Lake Manawa, an old oxbow lake, was an outstanding fishery when I was a boy and fished with my dad.  There were no outboard motors to push us around the lake so he would rent a wooden row boat from Campbell’s Marina and we would row or I would row the boat all over the lake.  It was work! Then my parents joined the Council Bluffs Fish and Game Club and they had aluminum boats.  We still rowed, but it was a lot easier than the old wooden boats.  What was really interesting was we did not wear life preservers and did not know that any existed at the time.  The other interesting item is that the boats would sink if they filled up with water.  There was no flotation built into the boats.

Later when I carried papers, I was able to save up enough money and bought a used 7.5 horse Scott at Water outboard motor.  It was a two cycle and the gas/oil mixture was built into the top of the motor.  For a 12 year old boy, I was in hog heaven just having that motor to push us around the lake.  We still did not have any life jackets and there was no regulation that required us to do so.

Where is all this going?  The lake silted in and over the years became more of a speed boat and recreational boating lake.  I always visited with the Park Rangers at sport shows and asked about the fishing.  It slowly came back and the boundary areas were generously made into no wake sections, but it was still shallow not being much over 6 feet deep with a few deeper holes.

Walleye were stocked in the lake and there were reports of catching them on the west side of the lake.  Some had luck, but most had little or no action.  Then came the big announcement.  The lake was to be dredged.  There is a God!  Everyone I knew hoped the whole lake or at least the west side would be dug deeper.

The dredge material was to be used by the Iowa Department of Transportation as fill where they were building highways and other structures needing fill dirt.  As the dredging took place, it was noticed that the dredge was in one general area and not moving around the lake.  The spot was on the point sticking out into the lake.  Material was taken out of that area and it made a big hole in the lake bottom.

When I talked with the Park Ranger one afternoon, he said to fish that hole as he knew of people that had picked up some nice fish.

Pam and I loaded up one morning and went out to find the hole.  The state has provided the fishermen and boaters with three really good boat ramps with good docks and ramps.  At my age, I will no longer struggle to get an 18.6 inch boat off a trailer and get it back on again.  We used the boat ramp on the west side of the lake.

Good dock with side rail padding  so you don’t bang your boat and a good concrete ramp with a gradual drop into about four feet of water.  

 

Pam is in charge of the boat.  Please note over Pam’s left shoulder in the background are restroom facilities provided by the state of Iowa.  This is one of those modern no flush toilets. 

 

You drive under the road to the main body of the lake.   The water here was about 3 to 4 feet deep and I kept the motor tilted up.  Closer to the tube the water went down to 2 feet, but once inside the tube it went down to 4 and to 5 on the outside.  If you use this boat ramp, just beware there is shallow water getting out of the bay right before the tube.  

 

Once onto the main body of the lake we headed over to the point sticking out into the lake.  This was the general area where the dredge was located.

Two years ago this was the location where the dredge was located.  It is not hard to find.  They pulled up the material all around the front of this peninsula and ran pipes on the bottom of the lake pumping water and material to an area south of the lake. 

That piece of equipment was anchored and pumped the material from the dredge through a series of pipes to the dirt pile south of the lake.  

 

Moving slowly we watched the graph and Wow! It went from 5 feet of water right down to 10 feet and gradually deeper. It was a vertical drop so this was the place.  Instantly, after clearing the drop off we started graphing fish in 8 to 10 feet of water.  The deeper we went the more fish we graphed.  The picture below shows a good place to start.  It is a no wake buoy just off the tip of the peninsula.

I am looking straight west and the buoy is in the background.  Notice the large white house off to one side.  If you see the buoy and the house you are in the right place.  Start fishing right at the buoy.  On the shore there is a large log about 6 foot long.  When you see the log you will be in 14 feet of water and will be about 10 yards from the shore.  

The water was greenish brown so I used a spinner with a crawler (we used to call them worms) and dropped it down to the bottom and pulled it up a foot or so, The spinner had a little brownish color on it moving to chartreuse.  It does not take long to make it across the hole.  You will know it when you reach the other side as the water goes up to about 5 to 6 feet. 

The buoy is on the east side of the hole and when you reach that spot you will run out of deep water.  

 

We worked the hole first with the multicolored spinner back and forth a few times and switched to a chartreuse spinner with crawler.  Each of us had a couple of smacks, but nothing took hold.  We then added bottom bouncers to make sure the bait was well down to the bottom and worked that setup.  We got nothing.

Next we switched to one of my favorite lures, the Berkley Flicker Shad.  This lure is better known as the “Finger Shad” by my wife and I. The reason for renaming it to the Finger Shad is because its many little hooks tend to hook fingers easily.  We have learned from experience! We tried to move closer to the edge of the hole and circled around allowing the lure to do its magic.  Nothing.

By now the sun was up high and it was time for lunch, and we folded our tent.

Heading back into the tube under the road.

Inside the tube.

There is a large dead tree close to the tip of the peninsula and at the top was an eagle.   Sorry this picture is so bad, but we took it with our I-phone and there was a lot of distance.  We forgot to take our good camera that would have brought it in really close.   The I-phone just doesn’t do well with distances.  

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

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