In Iowa, ice-out fishing for channel cats is in

As winter continues to melt away in Iowa, channel catfish are close to shore and eager to bite in many lakes and the large reservoirs across the state, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

After eating light during the winter, channel catfish go on a feeding frenzy in early spring, eating gizzard shad and other small fish that died over the winter.

When the ice goes off, a winter’s worth of dead baitfish drift into shallow water for channel catfish to devour. Find actively feeding fish on the windblown shorelines and points where dead shad have been blown into and the shallow water warms quickly, the Iowa DNR said, adding that anglers should keep the wind in their face and try different locations until finding actively feeding fish.

Use cut shad or shad parts fished on the bottom, according to the agency. It can be difficult to keep the bait on the hook, so try using a 1/0 to 3/0 bait-holder hook, the DNR added. And bring along disposable latex gloves to handle the bait and help keep the smell off your hands.

Catfish are one of the most abundant game fish in Iowa and can be found in almost every body of water across the state. Check the weekly fishing report to find out where the catfish are biting.

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