Okoboji fishing has been red hot this spring and summer in the Iowa Great Lakes, and I am not referring to the weather! When I'm not guiding customers I've struggled some days on which lake I'd like to fish and which species I'd like to target. My wife and business partner refers to this as "Fish Fever" and the symptoms include a lawn with very long grass, lots of sleepless nights and sometimes smelling like fish which I refer to as spring aftershave. I digress but back to the point, no matter which lake you fish right now in the Iowa Great Lakes, anglers are having great success and easily put fish in the net. Here's a quick rundown of our season to date for Okoboji fishing with Iowa Great Lakes Outdoors, Inc. since April.
We started out the spring of 2016 after ice out fishing Minnewashta and East Okoboji targeting Yellow Bass, Crappies, Perch and Bluegills. The panfish bite on these 2 lakes was exceptional due in part to good water clarity on both lakes most of the spring. We boated a fair share of larger Yellow Bass in excess of 9" in addition to Crappies measuring 9-11" throughout April. In addition, we caught a number of nicer Bluegills for East Okoboji and boated several perch through late April and early May and June. Our primary presentation for fishing panfish this spring was slip bobbers fished with "Drop Kick" jigs from Clam Pro Tackle tipped with plastics or live bait. This is a great setup not only for days when the fish are extremely agressive but also for days when they are not. A smaller presentation on the end of the line is pretty hard for any type of panfish to resist. The Yellow Bass bite continues to be strong on East Okoboji and will only get better as we approach the end of July and get into August and September.
Walleye fishing this spring on Big Spirit Lake for us was fair to good. We had some days where the fish were "ON" and the next day where the switch was flipped in the "OFF" position. However, the days when the walleyes cooperated were some of the most exciting days of the season to date for me as we chased them with crankbaits. There's just something about running crankbaits behind planer boards to put big walleyes in the boat for the camera lense that I cannot pass up early in the season. Good baits this spring have been the #9 Berkley Flicker Minnow in Purple Flash and one of my favorites, a Rapala #8 Shad Rap in Perch fished behind an Offshore Tackle OR 12 Planer Board. In addition to walleyes there has been a decent bite for Smallmouth Bass this spring on Big Spirit, and the Yellow Perch bite is the other surprise in the last 2 weeks. Perch can be found along bottom transitions adjacent to deeper breaks as well as in the basin on Big Spirit Lake in the last week. Vertical jigging with spoons or mini jigs with plastics is a safe bet to put some of these tasty fish in the fry pan. The Perch on Big Spirit right now are really nice with lots of 9-12" fish being caught and this is great to see again on Iowa's largest natural lake.
West Okoboji fishing this spring has been a mix of Bluegills and Yellow Bass for us with the occasional Walleye, Perch or Crappie being caught as well. Fish have moved out to the deeper weed edges and this is one of my favorite times of the year to fish panfish on West Okoboji and target them with slip bobbers. Don't be afraid to break out your ice fishing jigs and fish them under floats with live bait, like wigglers or meal worms, or even plastics. Ice fishing jigs are extremely effective in the summer for chasing bluegills or other panfish.
There has been a great Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass bite going the last 3 weeks and we've had some fun with these fish with guide trip customers on West Okoboji. My favorite presentation this spring was a VMC Spinshot Dropshot hook and weight fished with a 7" Berkley Powerworm in Electric Grape. The Largemouth and Smallmouth absolutely could not resist this presentation and we had some heavy fish in the boat for catch and release pics. Bass fishing on West Okoboji can be pretty exciting and there are days where the "Big Bass" come out to play and it can be some of the best rod bending action there is in Iowa.
July is here and without a doubt will go by quickly as it does every year. Okoboji fishing is good right now I find myself already looking to September and October as the lakes shape up for some tremendous fall fishing. This summer is looking like the bite this fall on all 3 lakes should be really good and some of the biggest fish of the open water season will be waiting for anglers as they put on the feed bag in preparation for winter months. Until fall arrives.....just fish, and above all enjoy the long days we have on the water this time of year with family and friends. Before we realize it, hunting season will be here and all of us will be anticipating the arrival of first ice! To keep up to date on the latest fishing information follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or check out our website igloutdoors.com
Captain Chad Loreth