Spring Saga at Sugema

With Capt. Dave Nichols

Every spring, I get a weekend outing with my deer hunting companions in southern Iowa. We do a little work on the deer property, pond fish and occasionally hit the lakes of southern Iowa for a day. This year we spent an evening and a morning on Lake Sugema, 3 miles south west of Keosauqua, Iowa. Sugema is a 547 acre impoundment with lots of timber and a reputation as a good but challenging fishery. We always are looking for the crappies at Sugema and they were plentiful and active on our arrival Friday night with fish up to 15”. With overcast skies we spent a couple hours drift fishing, anchored, and slowly pulling a jig and minnow combo, tube jigs, twister tails or slip bobbers and they all worked. The reports for the Lake indicated that the fishing on the west end was better due to higher water temps and we found this to be true. However the reports indicated that many of the fish had moved into the shallows for spawning but we couldn’t find those fish. The active fish were in 10-13’ of water in the mouths of the spawning coves. Water temps in the mid to upper 50’s were the best we found with an occasional sun baked shore getting to the magic 60 degree level. We also discovered that the walleyes were cooperating and spent some time rigging for eyes. There were lots of fish in the 10-14” range and several larger fish up to 18”. Saturday morning greeted us with washed out, clear skies and a solid WSW breeze. The bite was off slightly but we continued to find pods of active fish as we moved around the west and middle sections of the lake. Water temps had dropped a bit overnight and did not return to the high 50’s until we were pulling off the water later in the day. The walleyes continued to bite and some sorting was required but by early afternoon we had amassed enough eaters that we were provisioned for a fish fry that evening. We pulled off the water early in the hopes of finding some of those elusive southern Iowa morel mushrooms. Unfortunately, we were stumped despite checking multiple sites with several allegedly skilled morel wranglers. The consensus was that it was still a bit early for the mushrooms and they would be coming on in the next week with warmer weather. All in all it was a great outing in early May for southern Iowa. Remember when fishing Sugema that this impoundment was built in the “new” style and the DNR did not remove any timber or other hazards before flooding the lake. On Sugema, the boater must operate with care and at a slow pace to avoid equipment damage or worse. Good fishing and tight lines.

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