Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Part III: Lured to the water in Clear Lake, Iowa June 3, 2015

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A view of Clear Lake from the public boat landing at the end of Main Avenue.

A view of Clear Lake from the public boat landing at the end of Main Avenue.

IT IS THE LAKE or the Surf Ballroom, I expect, which draw many to visit the community of Clear Lake in northern Iowa.

The Walleye Classic opened Saturday morning under foggy skies.

The recent Walleye Classic opened under foggy skies.

At 3,684 acres with 14 miles of shore line and an average depth of 10 feet, the lake is among Iowa’s largest.

This sign along Main Avenue welcomed anglers to the annual Walleye Classic.

This sign along Main Avenue welcomed anglers to the annual Walleye Classic.

The only fish I saw while in Clear Lake was a clay one in an outdoor sculpture at the Clear Lake Arts Center.

The only fish I saw while in Clear Lake was a clay one in an outdoor sculpture at the Clear Lake Arts Center.

A fitting decal on a pick-up truck parked lakeside.

A fitting decal on a pick-up truck parked lakeside.

Anglers fish in a lake known for walleye. While I was in town, the Clear Lake Fishing Club was hosting its annual Walleye Classic.

The public dock stretches and corners into Clear Lake.

The public dock stretches and corners into Clear Lake.

I wasn’t interested in fishing, but rather in following the shoreline, in viewing the lake. Water mesmerizes, soothes. And I was seeking a bit of calm, a respite from the worries of life, a place to celebrate 33 years of marriage. I found that in Clear Lake, where I walked a short distance onto a dock in a public access area at the end of Main Avenue and focused on the water.

Teens' shoes abandoned along the brick pathway by the public beach.

Teens’ shoes abandoned along the brick pathway by the public beach.

The docked Lady of the Lake.

The docked Lady of the Lake.

A couple was fishing right next to the tethered cruise boat.

A couple was fishing right next to the tethered cruise boat.

On the opposite side of a public boat landing, my husband and I crossed the sandy beach to water’s edge. He dipped his hand into the water, declared it cold. Not unexpected on May 15. We observed a young family testing the waters, teens tossing stones into the lake, and, farther down, a couple fishing next to the tethered Lady of the Lake. The cruise boat tours the lake.

Boats stacked behind the Clear Lake Yacht Club next to the public access.

Boats stacked behind the Clear Lake Yacht Club next to the public access. The club features numerous racing events.

This art, photographed at J Avenue, a shop located on Main Avenue, summarizes lake activities.

This art, photographed at J Avenue, a shop located on Main Avenue, summarizes lake activities.

The single boat I spotted speeding across the lake Friday afternoon.

The single boat I spotted speeding across the lake on Friday afternoon, May 15.

Boat traffic was minimal during our visit. Too early in the season. Weather too dreary. But I expect on a summer weekend, this place is crazy busy with anglers, boaters, sunbathers and others recreating on and along Clear Lake.

Plant growth in the lake tints the water green.

Plant growth in the lake tints the water green.

The name is a bit of a misnomer. Water quality and clarity are not clear. We’re not talking pea soup, but green. Definitely not clear like northern Minnesota lake clear, although clearer than I expected.

The only sunset I saw was this one in a painting at the Clear Lake Arts Center.

The only sunset I saw was this one in a painting at the Clear Lake Arts Center.

I read that the lake setting presents spectacular sunsets. If not for the clouds and grey skies prevailing during our visit, I might have experienced that.

Many of the downtown shops sell water/lake/nautical themed art like this photographed at The Red Geranium.

Many of the downtown shops sell water/lake/nautical themed art like these photographed at The Red Geranium.

Still, I was not disappointed. Clear Lake is lovely. Not just the lake, but the community.

FYI: Please click here to read my first and second posts in this series from Clear Lake, Iowa. Check back for more stories in this seven-part series.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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24 Responses to “Part III: Lured to the water in Clear Lake, Iowa”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    So fun to see Clear Lake through your camera this week. You are capturing the essence of this great town. Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    Very inviting account of this Iowa lake town. I suspect the color of the water has something to do with water runoff/fertilizer. It is an issue in many waters adjacent to farmlands.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Lakes are at their best in the spring when the water is cold. The water is clear and the speed boats still hibernate beneath their tarps.

  4. Katy Flint Says:

    Hopefully you can return and take a cruise on the Lady of the Lake sometime this summer! It is the best way to see the lake!

  5. Sarah O Says:

    Love my hometown! If you’re interested in CL history with tons of cool photos, check out the Lost Clear Lake Iowa Facebook page.

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    Lovely photos… makes me want to hop in the truck and cruise on up north for a few days relaxation on the lake!

  7. I haven’t been fishing in probably 25 years but these pictures make me want to sink a line in or maybe I could just sit and knit.

  8. Annie Says:

    Am enjoying this so much. Am a native Laker and it’s fun to see what we see daily but through a different set of eyes.

  9. My son-in-law would love that decal “Born to fish.. Forced to work” He’ll get up at 3 am and go fishing for a couple of hours before he goes to work, that’s how much he loves fishing.

  10. plk Says:

    Thank you for your tribute to Clear Lake. It is a lovely little town. Busy in the Summer but that’s ok. We like sharing. Come back again. 🙂


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