Construction of the trail connection from the Cedar Valley Trail to the Prairie Park Fishery Loop is scheduled to begin this week, weather permitting. The Prairie Park Fishery Loop is expected to be closed through June 1, 2013.
Prairie Park Fishery provides opportunities for fishing, ice fishing, picnicking, paddle sports, scuba diving and geocaching. The park is ADA accessible and a 1.7 hard surface trail loops around the 65 acre lake offering excellent views for hikers, walkers, bicyclists and bird watchers. The fishery conforms to State DNR Lake Fishing Regulations. Boat power is limited to electric trolling motors. No speed boats, jet skis, or sailboats are allowed. Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Prairie Park Fishery is open year-round, seven days per week, from 6:00 a.m. to dusk (one half hour after sunset). At exactly one half hour after sunset the gates will be locked. Any vehicles left inside the park will remain there until the following morning when the park reopens.
This new park was previously owned by the Martin Marietta Company and served for more than 50 years as a quarry. When sand mining of the quarry was finished, the company very generously donated the property with the lake to the City for use as a nature/recreation site. A REAP grant provided the initial seed money for the park.
By Iowa standards, the lake at the fishery is deep with unusually clear water. It includes two basins. The larger east basin is about 30 feet deep with steeply sloping banks. The water stratifies in winter and summer, restricting aquatic life in deeper areas. This is a very atypical Iowa lake and anglers will find most success fishing shallow benches that extend out into the basin and along drop offs. The west basin is smaller and shallower. It is more typical of Iowa lakes and has much fish structure. This basin will generally provide better angling than the deep water areas. A boat ramp is near this basin.
The lake is most effectively fished from a canoe, kayak or rowboat. Shore anglers should be cautious about steep banks, but there is good access to parts of the lake from the shoreline.
Fish species present include walleyes, bluegills, black crappies, large and smallmouth bass, white and yellow bass, channel catfish, and an array of rough fish. Because the lake connects to the river during flood stage, any fish species present in the river may live in the lake. In general, largemouth bass, bluegills, and crappies are most common in shallow water near woody structures. Smallmouth bass are most common along rocky shore areas and white and yellow bass tend to cruise over deeper water.
The lake offers outstanding paddling opportunities inside city limits. Birders will find a wide range of water and shorebirds. A large flock of migrating pelicans also visit the lake each fall.