VENTURA, Iowa - The chilly weather rages on in our area, but that's not stopping avid ice fishers from helping an organization dedicated to waterfowl and their habitats.
If you ventured out to the McIntosh Woods area of Clear Lake on Sunday, you may have noticed about 40 or so fishers and portable ice huts dotted around the frozen over lake, trying to reel in bluegill, perch and yellow bass, as part of the inaugural Frozen Feathers Ice Fishing Contest, organized by Ducks Unlimited.
Blake LeClair is the Northern Iowa Regional Director, and organizes the many events that the organization holds throughout the year.
"It's something different outside of our regular dinners and banquets that people go to, and trying to network outside of our normal realm."
Sunday's contest is one way to help promote their mission of conservation and preservation of wetlands and other waterfowl habitats, with one of their key regions of focus being the Prairie Pothole region, of which Iowa and Minnesota are a part of.
"You've got Ventura Marsh about a half mile away, and there's marshes south of here and north of here as well, that Ducks Unlimited has had a hand in. A lot of people don't see the projects that we do, but there are a ton of them around."
"Our whole purpose is that we're trying to leave legacies for kids moving up through this. We have the ability to use the lands we're putting in. We want our kids and their future kids to have that ability to use them properly as well so they can hunt and fulfill this passion."
Mike Shannon is Iowa's regional biologist for Ducks Unlimited, and goes across the state working on projects like the Living Lakes Initiative, as well as projects along waterways like Skunk and Des Moines Rivers. He says their restoration and conservation projects, such as a recent project at Rice Lake in Worth County, has a full-circle effect to them, particularly in the region, which is where the majority of North America's ducks and birds breed.
"That benefits water quality, that benefits fish, lots of other wildlife, recreation like paddling, birdwatching - it's all related. We go look at a project, say it's a duck project, but it's really not."
The fish caught today will go to the Iowa Raptor Project at Lake MacBride. Around 67 1/2 lbs. of fish were caught.