Iowa has numerous fishing destinations and species that make it well worth an angler’s effort. Whether you are just passing through or are looking for a secluded location for excellent fishing, if you have a rod in hand visit Iowa.
The Mississippi River runs through Iowa, giving productive fishing among scenic bluffs, a few rapids, and the occasional valley. The state record bowfin which weighed in at over eleven pounds was caught from the Mississippi.
Catfish are sizable throughout the state, but especially so in the Mississippi River. There are a variety of catfish in the state, ranging from channel, flathead, blue, black bullhead, yellow bullhead, and several types of madtom catfish. Ten species of catfish in all! Most of the thousands of miles of stream in Iowa harbor catfish of some type.
You may be surprised to find Iowa on the list of the best trout fishing the Midwest has to offer. Trout are mostly from state fisheries, but that does not make them any less tasty. Spring Branch Creek is one of the best waterways for trout in the state. Of course, Trout River has its own merits. If you prefer fishing on larger waters West Okoboji Lake provides some amazing trout. Bear in mind that trout fishing requires an extra permit.
Iowa’s bass fishing is great, too, especially its variety: Smallmouth, largemouth, white, yellow, striped, and ocean striped. For yellow bass trek to Clear Lake. Hybrid striped bass grow to be some of Iowa’s largest bass, bypassing twenty pounds in some cases. Lake Manawa has several bass, including stocked hybrid striped. Lake Icaria is known for bass. Three Mile Lake is also popular for bass and a known site of many tournaments. For a large lake full of bass Red Rock is difficult to outshine.
Fly fishing along Iowa’s easy flowing streams can be a relaxing experience, or a thrilling one – with both having a chance at bounteous hauls. Bass, trout, crappie, and bluegill are the most popular fly fishing species in Iowa. The Cedar River is prime fly fishing territory for bass and crappie. French Creek is good for trout fly fishing, and is the site of the state’s rainbow trout record.
For one of the state’s more unique offerings try the trout-perch, a dark green fish that looks like a mix of its namesakes. This uncommon fish resides in the northeastern part of Iowa, including the upper section of the Mississippi River.
Licenses are necessary for everyone older then sixteen. Both residents and non-residents can buy one day, one week, and a yearly license. Residents can also buy a three year license, and non-residents can opt for a three day license. Some additional fees (for trout, water spot trout, and over the bonus line) may be necessary depending on where you fish and what you fish for. Seniors can buy lifetime licenses. Buy your license online or in person at a distributer. Your social security number is required. Or you can wait for Iowa’s free fishing days in June!
Whenever you head out fishing to a new place, it's always best to speak to local anglers. Use fishing forums to ask questions and learn about the most accurate and up to date conditions.