Here's the great thing about fishing in Iowa: you can fish all year round so you don't have to worry about when the 'season' starts.

Iowa is home to more than 150 county and state lakes, multiple interior rivers and streams, and the mighty Mississippi and Missouri rivers. It's a great state for anglers. Fishing is a great activity to keep the kids entertained, spend quality time outside, enjoy nature and stay active.

There are a few new things this year to keep in mind before you grab your net and pole and head out to the great outdoors.

No matter where you are or what type of fish you're trying to catch, you need to start with the basics. But first, take note of a few changes.

What's New?

  • New protective Walleye limit on Clear Lake, Storm Lake, and Iowa Great Lakes starting Jan. 1, 2022
  • You can harvest Brown Trout at South Pine Creek in Winneshiek County starting Jan. 1, 2022
  • Fish for free without a license June 3-5, 2022
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1. Get a license

Iowa residents and nonresidents 16 years and older must have a valid fishing license. There are a few exceptions like if you're on active duty with the Armed Forces of the US, a minor student of the state school for the deaf, or a patient of a substance abuse facility accompanied by an employee of a substance abuse facility. You can buy your license at the Iowa DNR, bait, and tackle shops, and here online.

2. Be a Responsible Angler

Be considerate of other anglers, clean up any litter, recycle fishing line, and obey all fishing regulations. I make it a point to pick up any trash I see, even if it's not mine.

3. Trout Fees

Iowa residents and nonresidents are required to pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout.


4. Know the Rules

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources posts rules and restrictions on its website. You can download the pdf file here. 

Getting Started

You don't need much to get started. Make sure you have your license. You can even get a handy dandy hard plastic card for an extra $5 so you won't have to worry about your paper license getting wet.

Iowa DNR
Iowa DNR

With just a few pieces of gear, you'll be reeling in fish in no time. Here's what the Iowa DNR suggests to get started.

  • A close-faced reel with a thumb button to release and stop the line is a great choice for beginners. Watch this video to learn how to hold a spin casting rod and reel.
  • A small tackle box filled with basic necessities.
  • Size 6 or 8 hooks are best for panfish.
  • Bobbers keep bait off the bottom and where the fish are. They go under when you have a bite. Try 1-inch or smaller for panfish.
  • tackle box

    The Iowa Department of Natural Resources website is a bountiful font of information. Learn about where to fish, what to bring, when fish are biting and so much more. The Iowa DNR even has an app you can download that's filled with helpful tips, fishing locations, and rules and regulations. Now grab your pole and tackle box and head outdoors for some great fishing fun.

    Need more inspiration? Watch this video from Travel Iowa and see why Iowa is a great place to fish.

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