Iowa Bass Fishing Spots

Fishing Lake Okoboji with Kolbey Van Beek

Fishing Lake Okoboji with Kolbey Van Beek

Iowa may not get the recognition of other States for its bass fishing spots, but as you will learn in this interview, Lake Okoboji can produce some great days of fishing. We talk to Koleby Van Beet who has been fishing Lake Okoboji his entire life. He shares his approach to largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing Lake Okoboji.

How long have you been fishing Lake Okoboji?

I have been fishing Okoboji since I was about 3 years old. I live about an hour from the lake. My grandparents had a lakehouse on Okoboji growing up so I spent a lot of weekends there. Now my parents own the same house, and I get to the lake probably 3 out of 4 weekends a month.

Describe Lake Okoboji from a bass fishing perspective for someone who has never fished it before.

Lake Okoboji really has everything you want in a good bass lake. West lake is a deep and clear lake, as much as 100 plus feet in depth. It has lots of rock and almost too good of weeds.

The East lake only gets about 20 feet deep and stays a little dirtier throughout the year. So they both offer great fishing throughout the year and a fisherman can usually find fish however they want to catch them or whatever there strengths are.

Koleby with a Beautiful Lake Okoboji Smallmouth Bass
Koleby with a Beautiful Lake Okoboji Smallmouth Bass

What is the mix like between smallmouth bass and largemouth bass on the lake in terms of quality and quantity?

I would say the mix between the two is very similar to each other. Both fish have amazing numbers of 2 to 3 pounders with very good chances of catching 4 to 5 pounders about any given day throughout the open water season. 6 to 7 pounders show themselves every now and then as well.

The Lake is divided into west and east sections. What are the major differences between East and West for fishing?

Like I said earlier west lake is a spring feed lake which gets over 100 feet deep with amazing rock piles and weeds that can grow 15 feet tall in the peak of the summer. East lake doesn’t have the water clarity that west lake does but in the early parts of the year the fish really migrate towards it since it will warm up faster.

West lake is the better lake for bass fishing in my opinion. It is a fairly big lake especially for the Midwest area it is in but the number of bass in it is amazing.

Does the lake get a lot of boat traffic and pressure? 

During the summer months the lake is very busy with pleasure boaters as I call them. Most days I am off the water by 11 AM because it just isn’t worth the hassle beating myself and my boat up after that time.

Fishing pressure is fair to high also I would say. But there are always a few spots a guy can find to stay away from the majority of them and still catch fish if they want.

Two Impressive Lake Okoboji Largemouth Bass
Two Impressive Lake Okoboji Largemouth Bass

What do you consider a good 5 fish limit on the Lake? 

Most days it will take at least 20 pounds to win. I have had a few days on the lake where I have probably caught around 20 pounds or so but I am pretty new to the tournament scene and have only fished a few of them. My best finish was 4th place with 17.5 pounds. I hope to change that in the near future though!

On my better days It has been crucial to fish deep, 18 to 25 feet, and stay on the school of fish you are catching and catch as many as fast as possible. The schools of 4 to 5 pounders will maybe only give you a 10 minute bite period, especially during summer months.

What do you consider your favorite largemouth baits on Lake Okoboji? 

I will give you my 3 favorite baits: drop shot, Texas rig, and a finesse style jig. Drop shot is always tied on due to the clarity of the water and the amount of pressure these fish can get certain times of the year. Texas rig is key in the summer months for me to get through the thick weeds in deeper water and get to those bigger fish. And the jig is just an all around bass catching bait. I do like a smaller profile jig most times which imitates a small crawfish or bluegill which are main forage for these Okoboji bass.

What do you consider your favorite smallmouth baits on Lake Okoboji?

My all around favorite smallmouth bait is a drop-shot. Okoboji smallmouth can be super picky and I can really fish a drop shot slow through the good areas that I know hold fish. I keep that bait just off the bottom and in the strike zone.

5 Pound Lake Okoboji Smallmouth Bass
5 Pound Lake Okoboji Smallmouth Bass

Overall, what are 5 pieces of advice that you have for bass anglers fishing Lake Okoboji? 

  1. Always have a few spinning rods on deck. Okoboji can be a very finessey lake at times and especially to get some bigger bites you might have to down size.
  2. Don’t be afraid to fish deep. You can catch fish in shallow areas most of the year but most of the bigger fish will move to the deep weedlines towards the summer parts of the year.
  3. Get on the water early to maximize your time and for it to be most enjoyable without having to deal with the crazy amount of pleasure boaters. 
  4. Have good electronics, and getting out on the lake and graph areas early in the year before the weeds start to come up. This makes it a lot easier to pick out and waypoint the many good rock piles on the lake .
  5. Just like any lake I have had great days and I have had tough days. So don’t get discouraged if you spend a whole day and not catch much at all because the next day fishing a new spot or new way could lead to your best day on the water.

What is in store for your YouTube channel? 

I kinda go in streaks where I will post a few videos and then I won’t get into it for awhile like a lot of people do. But another thing Okoboji is known for is very good ice fishing, which I look forward to every year. I think it makes me a better finesse fisherman in the open water months and teaches me some days you have to slow down to get those better fish. I tend to create a few more videos during ice fishing season just because it is a little bit easier. So more than likely I will have some ice fishing videos in just a few months if I don’t have any open water videos until then.

Thank you Koleby. Will be following on Instagram @kolebyvanbeek.