The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

September 12, 2013

Changing seasons transform river activity

By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer

---- — CLINTON — As the joys of summer start winding down and the season begins to change, recreational boating is taking a back seat to fishing and hunting in the area.

According to Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Research Biologist Kirk Hansen, fall is one of the best fishing seasons of the year, yielding a variety of different species.

“In the fall there are a lot of fish, just with the water cooling temperatures,” Hansen said. “We usually catch more fish in the fall than we do in the spring because the fish are really moving around a lot.”

Part of the reason fish are not as active in the summer months is because of higher temperatures and heavier river activity. To avoid a lot of traffic, fish are more prone to find quiet, cool habitual areas.

Although the fish are less active in the summer, experienced fisherman are still able to round up strong numbers and enjoy the challenge they face.

“The fish find areas where they’re safe,” Hansen said. “Then it’s up to anglers to find where they are.”

Fish are not the only creatures of the river that search for areas away from heavy human traffic.

According to Ed Britton of the Upper Mississippi Wild Life and Fish Refuge, pelicans are highly prone to similar beaches that recreational boaters flock to, causing some issues between animal and human interaction.

“As a higher number of pelicans increase we start seeing issues with their interaction with boaters,” Britton said. “Typically the pelicans move out of the way but there is interesting dynamics out there.”

The pelicans began heavily nesting on area beaches around 2007, with about 15 to 20 pairs during that time. Since then, there are now a little more than 1,000 pelican nests spread across six beaches in this area.

Because of that increase, the Wildlife and Fish Refuge and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are looking in to creating more beaches around the area.

“We have very few beaches and that’s something we’re looking at long term because our pelican population needs the same beaches,” Britton said. “One of the things we really try to focus on are the potential conflicts between people and wildlife, so those are measures we are always discussing.”

In order to maintain a peaceful relationship between people and wildlife, there needs to be a level of respect between the two parties. As the season changes that is something for people to take into consideration when traveling on the river.

“This time of year there are sometimes issues but changing to fishing and hunting is kind of neat change in the season for us,” Britton said.