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INDIANOLA, Iowa – A popular central Iowa lake will be dry by early August after crews began draining it Thursday. The 115-acre Lake Ahquabi, set in a 700-acre park, is infested with invasive Gizzard Shad and drawing the lake down will remove them. The Iowa DNR will also make improvements to the campground and shoreline while the lake is down.

Park ranger Craig Oberbroeckling says the park has seen heavy use recently and is due for some refreshing. Other projects include some renovations to shelters, some of which were built in the 1930s, and the accessible fishing pier. Fish habitats and a fish cleaning station will be added too.

The upper campground improvements will help accommodate the larger campers and RVs popular now. The lower portion of the campground will have electric sites added.

Fishing restrictions have been lifted at the park as well. While a fishing license is still required, there is no longer a minimum length for largemouth bass or a daily catch limit. “Basically, anything you catch you can keep,” says Oberbroeckling. He warns that as the lake drains the exposed bottom might have a dry crust but there will be a lot of muck underneath.

Oberbroeckling says the lake will be empty in 4-6 weeks and the entire project will be complete in about two years, barring weather or other delays. Look for fishing to be back to normal in 3-5 years.

Lake Ahquabi is in Warren County, about 25 miles south of Des Moines.