Iowa Fishing Regulations

These are the fundamental rules that you must follow before you can set out with your fishing gear and begin fishing on the lakes and rivers of Iowa.



Fishing license

Licenses for fishing and hunting are available from the Department of Natural Resources in Iowa, which is open to both residents and non-residents. Full-time students, persons under the age of 18 who live with their resident parents, and members of the armed forces may all qualify as residents; however, it is important to note that you must have resided in the state of Iowa for 90 consecutive days immediately prior to purchasing or applying for a license.

If you are under 16 years of age, a member of the military, a patient in a substance abuse treatment facility, or a landowner, you only require a license in certain circumstances and do not require a license in other circumstances.


Equipment and practices

In order to catch your own bait with minnow traps, the traps must not be longer than 3 feet in length or wider than 4 feet in diameter. Minnow dip nets must not be wider than 4 feet in diameter or longer than 3 feet in length. Minnow seines should have a maximum diameter of 10 feet, and cast nets should have a maximum diameter of 20 feet.

When using hook and line, make sure you only use two lines and two hooks on each of them, as this is the maximum number of lines and hooks allowed on state waters. When fly-fishing, the same limit applies as when trolling with spoons and artificial bait. When fly-fishing, the same limit applies. Single, double, and treble hooks, on the other hand, are all acceptable.

If you’re ice fishing in Iowa, you can only use one tip-up and a line, or two tip-ups and no line, whichever is greater. However, if you want to increase your limit, you can purchase a third line fishing permit. Additionally, when fishing on the Mississippi, Missouri, and Big Sioux rivers, you have the option of using three tip-ups.

When fishing in the state of Iowa, it is strictly prohibited to cull any fish. Once you have reached the daily bag limit for a particular species of fish, you must release the remainder of your catch of that species.


Seasons and limits

All fish species, with the exception of threatened and endangered species, can be caught at any time of year without restriction. When it comes to fishing season, there are only a few exceptions to the rule.

Fishing for Muskellunge and its hybrids is only permitted on the West Okoboji, East Okoboji, Spirit Lakes, and boundary lakes between Iowa and Minnesota from May 21st to November 30th, when the lakes are in their natural habitat. The walleye, sauger, and saugeye seasons are open on the same three lakes mentioned above from May 6th through February 14th of the following year.

The Mississippi, Missouri, and Big Sioux rivers will be open to paddlefishing from March 1st through April 15th, and you can take advantage of this opportunity. It is legal to fish for shovelnose sturgeon on the Big Sioux River, but it is not legal to harvest the fish.

The number of daily bags varies depending on the type of water and the species of fish. The daily limit for black bass and northern pike is set at three per person (five per person on boundary rivers), twenty-five for bluegill and crappie, eight for catfish, one for muskellunge, ten for shovelnose sturgeon, and five for trout.

The following are the length limits that apply to landed fish that can be harvested. Inland waters require black bass to be 15 inches long, while streams and rivers require black bass to be 12 inches long. Muskellunge should be at least 40 inches in length, regardless of where they are caught. The length of paddlefish caught in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers is limited to a certain length. If it measures more than 33 inches in length or fits into a slot measuring 34-45 inches in width, it must be released immediately.

There is no possession limit for yellow perch or yellow bass or white bass or rock bass or their hybrids, with the exception of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, where you are limited to 25 bass and 25 yellow perch.

Even though these are general rules, inland waters, streams, boundary rivers, and lakes all have additional or modified limits. When you go fishing, make sure you are aware of the regulations that apply to the specific location.