On any given day, license plates in the parking lot at the 120-acre Volga Lake north of Fayette reveal anglers traveling from a dozen counties or more, hoping to try their luck at a good catch. It isn't unusual to find 30 or more vehicles near the boat dock even on the coldest days of winter, and twice as many as that, in the summer.
For some anglers coming to this lake in Northeast Iowa's Fayette County there's a definite goal to return home with a meal of pan fish, while others are satisfied to throw back their catches, having simply enjoyed a day outdoors.
For Roger Boleyn, there's nothing better than a meal of crappies and blue gill on his dinner table.
As he watches his line through a small circle of ice on a January day, Boleyn describes the flavor and texture of Frog Hollow's crappies like that of "eating candy." And, he says, "there's gotta be a million of 'em in here."
With the lake being just a 10-minute drive from his home, the Elgin man fishes every day if he can. On this particular Saturday, he's paired with Barry Schrag to huddle in a tent with a propane heater aiming to get their limit of 25 pan fish each. With 18 crappies in hand and six more hours of daylight left, they're well on their way.
But even though Schrag and Boleyn were getting a good catch, a few feet away a group of men from Howard County had caught very little. The four men had returned a catfish or two to the water and by noon they were packing up to try their luck elsewhere.
Anglers who frequent the Volga River Rec Area's lake know the four main species of fish in the lake are crappies, bluegill, channel catfish and large-mouth bass. According to a wildlife fisheries biologist there are good numbers of bass and catfish. In fact, 1,900 eight-inch channel catfish are stocked every other year.
Grass carp that were stocked in the early 1980's reproduced enough that there's still a presence, even though stocking of the species ended a decade ago. The fish, designed to keep grass vegetation in check, are an appropriate balance in the lake. Because Frog Hollow Lake is part of a state recreation area, the Iowa DNR manages the 5,500-acre property. The growth rate of fish in the lake is monitored annually.
Fishing enthusiasts have aided DNR staff in improving the environment for fish by dropping cedar and other scrub trees into the 120-acre lake.
The lake is fed by the runoff from an approximate 6,000 acre watershed.
Volga Lake is located three miles north of Fayette on Highway 150, then east on Ivy Road (about another three miles.) Follow the signs.