Dredging officially began in May 2016 and for safety of lake users no boating will be allowed on the lake until 2018.  The dredge, which will be removing over 600,000 cubic yards of soil from the lake will be working through late fall 2016.  The lake will then be drained in late 2016 for in-lake restoration work and will remain empty through 2017.

Fishing Regulations Relaxed at Easter Lake

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will relax fishing regulations at Easter Lake in Polk County starting on June 1st, 2016, to allow anglers to more freely harvest game fish before the lake is renovated in 2017.

Anglers with a valid fishing license will be allowed to harvest any size or number of largemouth bass, channel catfish, and all other fish species from Easter Lake. Any number of fishing poles or jug fishing will be allowed. Anglers must remain in sight of these lines at all times, and follow all other fishing regulations and area rules. Trot lines will be allowed (name and address must be attached), however lines may not be set across the entire water body. It is illegal to sell fish or stock captured fish into public waters. Please note that due to the dredging pipe and dredge being in the lake, Polk County Conservation will not allow any boating activities on the lake during this project.

Plans to eliminate undesirable fish species, such as gizzard shad and common carp are part of a plan to further improve the lake’s water quality and recreational opportunities.

Liberalized fishing regulations for Easter Lake will remain in effect from June 1st, 2016 through June 1st, 2017. Specific regulation changes include:

•    Removal of bag and length limit restrictions on largemouth bass.

•    Removal of bag limit on walleye.

•    Removal of bag limit on channel catfish.

•    Removal of bag limit on crappie and bluegill.

•    Removal of the two line/two hook fishing restriction, however anglers must still adhere to the being within visual sight of the lines.

It is very important that anglers never transport and release common carp or any fish species into any water body. Gizzard shad and common carp populations in Easter Lake have reduced game fish populations, decreased water quality and limited fishing activity. All lake water from live wells and bait buckets must be drained before you leave the boat ramp.

For more information contact Iowa DNR Fisheries Biologist Ben Dodd at 641-891-3795.

Project Overview

Easter Lake is a man-made reservoir located within the city limits of Des Moines in Polk County, Iowa (Figure 1). The lake was constructed in 1967 on the site of the last operating coal mine in Polk County. The South Town Lake and Development Society, a neighborhood organization, promoted the use of this site as a park rather than its proposed use as a landfill. The lake is largely contained within the borders of Easter Lake Park, which is managed by the Polk County Conservation Board. Des Moines City Parks in the Yeader Creek watershed include Yeader Creek Park and Ewing Park. All of Easter Lake’s shoreline is in public ownership (Bachmann et al. 1994).

Easter Lake suffers from several water quality problems including poor water clarity, summer algal blooms, high sedimentation rates, and low oxygen concentrations in bottom waters during summer stratification. Numerous management practices, including dredging and sediment and retention pond construction, have been implemented to improve water quality throughout the lake’s lifespan. Despite these efforts, Easter Lake continues to experience water quality symptoms associated with cultural eutrophication. Easter Lake and Yeader Creek are not currently  listed on the Section 303(d) List of Impaired Waters because of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plan for nutrients and siltation prepared by Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2005. Easter Lake and Yeader Creek were assigned to Category 4a of Iowa’s Final 2006 Integrated Report which includes
threatened or impaired waters that have  an approved TMDL (Iowa DNR 2011 a).
State and City officials are working with concerned citizens to address water quality
problems in Easter Lake.


Updated Easter Lake Watershed Project TimelineNEWEasterLakeRestoration-Timeline


For more details visit watershed improvements page.