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Central & Southern Iowa - May 25-26

The story in Iowa continues to be about rain, high water levels, and water clarity. We went to fish a trio of lakes within a couple hours of Des Moines this weekend, Brushy Creek in Webster County, Big Creek in Polk County (not originally planned), and Rathbun Lake southeast, a sizable reservoir of the Chariton River near the town of Chariton.

Brushy Creek was a bit of a shot-in-the-dark but sounded interesting to try. It's primarily known as a bass and crappie lake, but the last DNR survey showed an average size walleye of 22 inches, so I was hoping we'd get a couple to verify that. It's basically a reservoir of a flooded forest, which gives it a ton of structure for fish, almost too much. It didn't really fit our style, and we weren't having any luck, nor were any of the other boats we saw. Oddly enough, the water clarity is also extremely high, even though the ramps and docks were nearly under water with the rain, so definitely a very different body of water to try targeting walleye.

We pulled out of Brushy and headed to Big Creek around 2:00 PM for something to try on the way back home. Here again we saw high water, docks almost flooded, and unlike Brushy Creek, the water clarity was almost zero. We went further south than normal to try to find clearer water and did get some action with small walleye and crappie, but nothing to take home.

Rathbun Lake was a place I was really looking forward to trying for the first time, and I think it still has potential, but again water clarity was awful after the rain. There was so much mud flowing in as well as debris, leaves, tree branches...I'm not sure how we caught the fish we did. I felt right at home with the layout and the structure, the familiar points, creek bays, high banks, and mud flats typical of my Missouri River experience, but water clarity didn't give us much of a chance to really get a feel for it. We managed two walleye, fourteen and almost nineteen inches, on minnows and flicker shads and got into a school of hungry wipers and crappie late in the day to at least fill our bellies for the evening.

I'm likely going to give Rathbun another shot when things settle down. The DNR has been stocking an insane amount of walleye in that place, and I've seen and heard of many nice walleye, both numbers and size, being caught there, plus it just had a good feel to it. Hopefully I'll be writing about that again soon.

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