Regional Reports-Midwest

The Cage Catfish Program, a cooperative effort between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and 43 County Conservation Boards, makes for some great fishing on Iowa's small reservoirs. Each spring DNR biologists transport 114,000 four-inch catfish to County Conservation Board lakes, where they are placed in cages and fed daily. The cats are released in the fall when they weigh nearly a pound, providing immediate angling fun for reservoir fishermen. "The program was designed to raise catfish big enough to escape predation," says Lannie Miller, fisheries biologist. "Now, with better quality fish and better feed, it's become a put-and-take fishery." "We like the program," says Rick Schneider, director of the Woodbury County Conservation Board. "It's good for anglers and it's good public relations for us." Roughly 90 percent of the catfish are caught within the first year, leaving 10 percent to achieve trophy proportions. Contact: Iowa Department of Natural Resources (515-281-4687).