Washington Evening Journal
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With summer’s temperatures soaring to their highest of the season, Iowa’s lakes and reservoirs will be busy places as Iowans of all ages look to escape the heat. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is reminding boaters to exercise safe boating practices and to have a designated boat operator who abstains from drinking alcohol.
Susan Stocker, boating law administrator and education coordinator for the Iowa DNR said the goal is to reduce boating accidents, injuries and fatalities caused by alcohol impaired operators.
“Alcohol reduces reaction time and the ability to make quick sound judgments in an emergency situation. Then if we factor in the wind and sun and glare off the water combined with the water movement that enhances the effects of alcohol, and that leads to a dangerous situation waiting to happen,” Stocker said. “Boat operators are responsible for everyone on their craft as well as watching all around them for other boaters and personal watercraft coming from all directions. It’s important that the operator avoid alcohol while in this role.”
The Iowa DNR partners with other state, county and local law enforcement to make the waters and roads safer. Iowa’s boating while intoxicated (BWI) blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 percent was aligned with that of motor vehicles in 2011. So far this year, there have been 13 BWI arrests reported to the DNR.
While the BWI laws do not restrict passengers from drinking, Stocker encouraged them to know their alcohol limits.
“We want everyone to enjoy their time on the water, but do so safely and responsibly,” she said.
Top 5 bodies of water for BWI arrests in 2020
1. Lake Rathbun
2. Mississippi River
3. Coralville Lake
5. Saylorville Lake
•25 BWI arrests
•Five out of eight boating fatalities involved alcohol
•11 of the 38 accidents reported involved alcohol
•66 BWI arrests
•Two out of six fatalities involved alcohol
•Seven out of 22 accidents reported involved alcohol
•39 BWI arrests
•Three out of eight fatalities involved alcohol
•11 out of 31 accidents reported involved alcohol
Catfish are biting
Fishing for catfish is a fun summer tradition for many Iowa families. You can always count on channel catfish when the bite slows down for other fish in the heat of Iowa summers.
“Catfish will bite most of the time, no matter what the water temperature,” explains Daniel Vogeler, Iowa DNR fisheries technician. “They are biting in most lakes, ponds, rivers and streams across Iowa.”
Bring along two coolers with ice, one to keep your bait firm and fresh and another to keep your catch cold and preserve that great taste.
Catfish have a great sense of smell and taste. Try prepared dip baits, chicken livers, minnows or chubs, green sunfish, bluegill, crawdads, frogs, night crawlers or dead, but fresh, goldeye or gizzard shad.
Lakes stratify, or form layers, this time of year, with cool, oxygen-deprived waters sinking to the bottom. Don’t fish in water deeper than 8 to 10 feet on most lakes.
Look for areas with vegetation, brush piles or rock. Fish the upper ends of the larger reservoirs where the water is shallower and baitfish like gizzard shad gather. Use baits fished on the bottom or suspended off the bottom with a bobber and let current or breeze move the bait to find active catfish.
Iowa rivers are loaded with catfish. Look for fish around downed trees and brush piles, but don’t overlook rock piles or other objects that deflect water and form a current seam. Position your bait just upstream of brush piles so the scent of the bait is carried downstream into the structure to draw the catfish out. Anchor the bait with a heavy weight so it doesn’t drift into snags. If fishing the big rivers, try upstream and on the tips of wing dikes and wing dams on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.