A hidden gem

A short drive straight north will get you in the general area of two nice little lakes. The drive will take about 35 minutes or so to reach Pine Lake State Park on the east side of Eldora. Each of these two little lakes is quite different from the other, however both have a good population of fish that is well worth the drive. If fishing isn’t the only thing that you want to enjoy on the day, there are many other things at this state part as well. There are campgrounds and cabins to rent, a beach located on Lower Pine Lake, nature trails to bike, hike, run or walk and a fold course saddled right in the middle of the two lakes. It is a little slice of nature all packed into one park.

Lower Pine Lake is the lake that is directly to the east of the road that wraps through the state park. Both lakes have concrete boat ramps and plenty of parking available, however if you do not own a boat Lower Pine Lake is for you. There are trails that surround this lake which make it an east walk with fishing poles and gear to access much of the lake. On the south shore you will find deeper water, and on the north and west side of the lake you will find much shallower water. This lake offers largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, perch and yellow bass. The first three species are the most abundant. This time of year fish tend to shallow as the water warms up, however with the recent cooler weather they haven’t made a full out migration to the shallow waters. When they do in the near future, bluegills and crappies can be caught in those shallow areas near rocks or tree limbs. I like using a small jig and tube bait for panfish, moving it frequently until I find feeding fish. Bass in this lake love topwater baits and slow moving baits like worms, craws or jigs. This lake has a lot of positive qualities, however one thing that Lower Pine does more so than Upper Pine Lake is get muddy. Lower Pine Lake is a shallower lake by comparison, and will become muddy after heavy rains. It won’t clear up very quickly, so if you do go there and find the water dirty colored, head north a couple miles to Upper Pine, chances are the water clarity will be better and the fish will bite better as a result.

Upper Pine Lake is very different from Lower Pine Lake even though they are connected. Upper Pine Lake has very little shoreline access to bank anglers. There are few jetties on the west side of the lake and you can walk around on the dam face, but that is it. It is best to fish this lake from a canoe, kayak, or any boat. Upper Pine Lake has largemouth bass, bluegills, crappies, catfish, and a few perch. Bass and bluegills rule this lake as for population, so targeting those species will help you catch a few on your next trip. Bass in this lake can be caught in a variety of ways; topwater, worms, craw baits, jigs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits…just about anything you want to throw at them they will eat. OF course, certain days are better for a certain type of bait, so bring a good variety if you are in search of the green bass in Upper Pine. When fishing by boat you can access the channel bank on the east side of the lake. This has dozens and dozens of trees fallen into the lake. These are homes for bass and especially bluegills. Like I mentioned above, fishing shallow will be best as the water warms, and you simply can’t beat a small worm on a hook when chasing bluegills. A couple major rules when visiting the park lakes to consider and obey, only electric motors may be operated on the lakes, and all bass under 15 inches must be released immediately.

Pine Lake State Park is a hidden gem here in Central Iowa. Two different lakes with good populations of fish at both, beach, campground, trails, playground equipment, and even a golf course. It is a great place to take the whole family, or to disappear into nature waiting for that next bite. Enjoy the May weather, soon it will 90 and humid!

Contact Todd Reed at treedbass@yahoo.com and visit www.fishingwithtoddreed.com