Monday, March 13, 2017

Spring Urban Trout Stockings start March 24

Spring urban trout stockings are a great place to take kids to catch a fish. DNR fisheries staff release will between 1,000 to 2,000 rainbow trout in 10 lakes across Iowa in March and April as part of its cool weather trout program

Many locations will also host family fishing events to help you be successful with tips and tricks from the pros. Here's the schedule:
March 24
10:00 am: Discovery Park, Muscatine
Lake of the Hills, Davenport
Wilson Lake, east of Donnellson
March 25
11:00 am: Ottumwa Park Pond, Ottumwa
11:00 am:  
Terry Trueblood Lake, Iowa City

April 8
10:00 am: North Prairie Lake, Cedar Falls
Banner Lake South, north of Indianola

April 15
10:30 am: Prairie Park, Cedar Rapids

April 22
10:00 am: Heritage Pond, Dubuque
Sand Lake, Marshalltown

Try trout fishing this spring - invite your neighbors, friends and kids to come along. All you need to get in on the fun is either a small hook with a nightcrawler or corn under a small bobber, or small simple spinners such as a panther martin or mepps. 

Learn more trout fishing tips on the 
DNR trout fishing webpage.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Winter Urban Trout Stocking Schedule

Winter urban trout stockings are a great place to take kids to catch their first fish. DNR fisheries staff will release between 1,000 to 2,000 rainbow trout in seven locations across Iowa as part of its cool weather trout program that brings trout to lakes and ponds that cannot support them during summer months. 
2017 Winter Urban Trout Stocking ScheduleJan. 14, Blue Pit, Mason City, 11 a.m.
Jan.14Scharnberg Pond, Spencer, Noon
Jan. 20, Moorland Pond, Fort Dodge, 11 a.m.
Jan. 20Big Lake, Council Bluffs, 3 p.m.
Jan.28Lake Petocka, Bondurant, Noon
Feb. 4Ada Hayden, Ames, Noon
Feb. 4 Bacon Creek, Sioux City, 1:30 p.m.

Bundle up, grab the kids and try trout fishing this winter. Attend a family fishing event to help you have success and fun while fishing with tips from the pros

Dates and times may change due to weather, check the DNR website  for cancellation or rescheduling information.
This popular program is supported by the sales of the trout fee. You need a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. Learn more about trout fishing in urban lakes on the DNR trout fishing webpage.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Spend a winter day ice fishing

Get a group of friends and/or family together, bundle up and try ice fishing this winter.

Check the weekly DNR fishing report for ice conditions across the state before going out. Smaller bodies of water usually freeze faster and thicker than larger lakes or river backwaters, which often have a warmer current moving through.

At a minimum, four inches of clear blue ice is recommended for fishing. Be especially careful on ice around submerged trees and emergent vegetation, this ice tends to be weaker. If the ice does not look right, find a different spot.

“Most Iowa lakes are full of bluegills, which are the easiest and most often caught during the winter,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of fisheries for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“Start with a no. 8 hook or a tear drop and tip it with a wax worm. Drop the baited hook to the bottom of the lake, then lift it back up about a foot.

Lakes in northern Iowa will have yellow perch and walleye in addition to bluegills.  In the south, crappies join bluegills.  “You catch an occasional catfish, northern pike, largemouth bass, and other species, but not as consistently,” Larscheid said.

Use the DNR's online maps of the lake you are going to fish to find edges of creek channels, fish mounds, brush piles and rock piles that likely hold fish. Printable maps and the online Fishing Atlas are available on the DNR website. If you have previously bookmarked the fishing atlas on your smartphone, update the link to the new mobile friendly version to view the latest features.

“You can position yourself right over the habitat, place your bait and lure it front of the fish and can catch a lot of fish per trip,” said Larscheid. 

Use small hooks, small bait and light fishing line. Small jigging spoons are commonly used to catch walleye and crappie. Drop your bait and leave it alone, or slowly jig to attract the fish.

Ice conditions change constantly and its thickness can vary across the lake. Drill test holes near shore and periodically as you move to measure the thickness and quality of the ice. Don’t go out alone and always let someone else know where you will be and when you expect to return home. Carry about 50 feet of rope, a throwable floatation seat cushion and your cell phone.

For more ice fishing tips, visit the DNR website at

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fall Urban Trout Stocking Schedule

Grab your neighbors, friends and kids and try trout fishing this fall. DNR fisheries staff will release between 1,000 to 2,000 rainbow trout in seventeen locations across Iowa as part of its cool weather trout program that brings trout to areas that cannot support them during the summer months. 

Fall urban trout stockings are a great place to take kids to catch their first fish. Trout are easy to catch using the most basic fishing gear. A small hook with a nightcrawler or corn under a small bobber to casting small simple spinners such as a panther martin or mepps is all you need to get in on the fun.
2016 Fall Urban Trout Stocking Schedule
Oct. 13, North Prairie Lake, Cedar Falls, 11 a.m.
Oct. 13,
Sand Lake, Marshalltown, Noon
Oct. 14, Lake of the Hills, Davenport, 10:30 a.m.
Oct. 14, Terry Trueblood Lake, Iowa City, 11 a.m.
Oct. 20, Big Lake, Council Bluffs, 3 p.m.
Oct. 20, Banner Lake (South), Summerset State Park, Indianola, 11 a.m.
Oct. 21, Lake Petocka, Bondurant, Noon
Oct. 28, Ottumwa Park Pond, Ottumwa, 11:30 a.m.
Oct. 29, Discovery Park, Muscatine, 10 a.m.
Oct. 29, Wilson Lake, Fort Madison, Noon
Oct. 29, Heritage Pond, Dubuque, 11 a.m.
Nov. 5, Scharnberg Pond, Spencer, Noon
Nov. 8, Bacon Creek, Sioux City, 1 p.m.
Nov. 9, Moorland Pond, Fort Dodge, Noon
Nov. 18, Ada Hayden, Ames, Noon
Nov. 18, Prairie Park (Cedar Bend), Cedar Rapids, 10:30 a.m.
Nov. 23, Blue Pit, Mason City, 11 a.m.

You need a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. The daily limit is five trout per licensed angler with a possession limit of 10. Children age 15 or younger can fish for trout with a properly licensed adult, but they must limit their catch to one daily limit. The child can purchase a trout fee which will allow them to catch their own limit.
Find more tips for catching trout on the DNR website.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall Trout Fishing Destinations

Start a new fall tradition with a trip to northeast Iowa’s hundreds of miles of trout streams. From easily accessible streams in state or county parks, to those found in Iowa’s most wild and remote natural spaces, there are plenty of places to catch rainbow, brown and brook trout.

Admire the vibrant fall scenery while testing your trout fishing skills at one of these destinations.

  • Brush Creek, Fayette County – located in Brush Creek Canyon State Preserve near Arlington; a steep narrow path through the forest leads you to the stream. Catch stream-reared brown trout up to 17 inches. Stream access gets better after the first frost. Bring along a variety of minnow, creek chub or crawdad imitation lures or flies.
  • Ensign Hollow, Clayton County – abundant wild brown trout with 10-13 inch fish common at the Ensign Hollow Wildlife Management Area. Access along shorelines improves in the fall after frost. Trout are usually near bank habitat. Use spinners, jigs or flies in patterns that mimic minnows, hoppers or caddis.
  • Little Paint Creek, Allamakee County – find wild brook trout up to 11 inches in the upstream end of Little Paint Creek nestled in the Yellow River State Forest. The narrow valley of Little Paint offers some of the best fall colors. Rainbow and brook trout are stocked weekly through October.  Look for trout behind larger boulders and under rock ledges.
  • Maquoketa River, Clayton and Delaware County – miles of public access for stream-reared brown trout and stocked rainbow trout. Catch 10-12 inch rainbows as well as some browns up to 16 inches. Look for rainbows in pools and runs; brown trout will be near wood habitat. Try long casts with spinners, spoons and swim baits to search for active fish and cover lots of water. 
  • Mill Creek, Jackson County – catch wild brown trout and stocked rainbow trout on Mill Creek and wild browns at South Fork Mill Creek, located in the Big Mill Wildlife Area west of Bellevue.  Use spinners, jigs and live bait. Work from downstream to upstream with long casts for the best chances at catching “shy” trout.  Most trout here are 8-13 inches.
  • Sny Magill Creek, Clayton County – abundant wild brown trout with 12-14 inch fish common along with stocked rainbow and brook trout. Several access points are available along this 7.5 mile stretch of coldwater. Lots of habitat work has been done along this stream corridor enhancing the plethora of deeper holes and long runs. Try a flashy spinner or a worm on a hook under a bobber in the deeper holes.
  • South Pine Creek, Winneshiek County – find Iowa’s native brook trout here. Be prepared to walk 1.5 miles along a mowed path passing oak forests and upland prairies. The water is clear and the stream is very narrow, so be ready to sneak up on these fish. Bait cannot be used here; try terrestrial patterns such as ants, hoppers, crickets and small mayfly and midges. All brook trout must be immediately released alive.
  • Spring Branch Creek, Delaware County – one of the best opportunities in Iowa to catch a “trout trifecta” (brook, brown and rainbow trout) in a single trip. Bait is not allowed here; fish feed on a variety of insects including caddis, mayflies and midges.  Small patterns (size 16 and smaller) are the standard, but larger flies including hoppers and streamers are good fall choices. A favorite destination among fly fishers with its good insect hatches and great public access to more than 1.5 miles of coldwater stream.
  • Swiss Valley, Dubuque County – catch stream-reared browns as well as stocked rainbows at Catfish Creek in Swiss Valley Preserve and Campground near the attractions and convenience provided by the City of Dubuque.  A well-developed trail provides fishing access into an area known for fall beauty.  Fish large pools and along bank hides with nightcrawlers, plastics, spinners and jigs.  Most trout here are 8-13 inch with opportunities to catch a few large (16 inch) browns.
  • Turtle Creek, Mitchell County – this 3 mile gem with deep holes and long riffles is reminiscent of a stream once found in the rolling prairies. It’s open landscape and low banks make it fairly easy to access.  Rainbow and brook trout are stocked weekly through October. Catch wild brown trout up to 16 inches. Use terrestrial insects such as hoppers and crickets.

Learn more about Iowa’s trout streams, including maps, amenities, regulations and stocking schedules on the DNR trout fishing webpage. You need to have a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. Check conditions before you go with the weekly Iowa Fishing Report.






Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Iowa Outdoor Expo for Kids and Families

September 24th & 25th
Saturday: 9am - 6pm & Sunday: 10am - 4pm
Des Moines Izaak Walton League and Water Works Park
4343 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines

Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day by bringing the entire family out for a fun weekend discovering new and exciting ways to enjoy Iowa's outdoors. 

With over 50 free hands-on activities and daily family presentations, visitor's are able to learn, observe and experience recreation opportunities in the great outdoors. Instructors will be on hand to teach the activities, offer guidance and tips for them to enjoy the activity when they are on their own.

Hands-on activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Fishing- Reel Fishing, Bow Fishing, Casting games, Fish ID tank, Fish Printing, Fish Cleaning & Cooking
  • Water Sports- Canoeing, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Life Jacket Safety, Knot Tying
  • Kid's Corner- Fossil & Treasure Dig, Live Animals, Minnow Races, Build a Bird Feeder, Fish Cleaning
  • Camping- Tent Demonstrations, Dutch Oven and Game Cooking
  • Buckskinners Encampment- Traditional encampment, Blacksmith Shop, Tomahawk Range, Atl Atl
  • Archery- Beginners Foam Range, Traditional Range (9 and over), 3D Range, Aerial Range, Tree Stand Safety
  • Shooting Sports- Trap Shooting (height requirement), Sling Shot, BB Gun Range, Air Gun Range
  • Wildlife & Hunting- Furharvesting and Trapping in Iowa, Waterfowl Hunting, Turn In Poachers (TIP), Wild Game Care/Food Safety, Turkey Hunting
  • Conservation- Urban Garden Program, Polk County Soil & Water Conservation, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Sierra Club, Urban Pollinator Program, Outdoor Health
  • Raptor Release- SOAR (release times available at the Registration Tent)
  • Live Game Field Dressing- Milo Locker
The Iowa Outdoor Expo is sponsored by the Izaak Walton League, Polk County Conservation, Des Moines Parks and Recreation, the U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance Foundation, SOAR Saving Our Avian Resources, Weatherby Foundation International, Friends of NRA, MidIowa Bassmasters, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Theisens Home-Farm-Auto, Milo Locker, Shallow Water Investigators Bowfishing, Northern Lights Pizza, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and many more. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fall Fishing Hotspots

Fall fishing is one of Iowa's best kept secrets. The air is cool, the views are picturesque and the fish are pulling out of their late summer slumber.

Add one of these destinations to your fall fishing itinerary.

  • Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo County - yellow bass fishing is excellent in the fall. Use small jigs tipped with nightcrawler, minnows and cut bait. Stay on the move to find schools of fish. The average size yellow bass is 9 inches. A number of Master Angler qualifying yellow bass (10 inches) are available to catch this fall.
  • Coralville Reservoir, Johnson County – fall bite is best for walleyes and white bass here; throw crankbaits on sloping rock banks. Catch crappies near brush or steeper rock banks on jigs or minnows.
  • Don Williams Lake, Boone County - a strong black crappie population welcomes anglers.  Drift the middle of the lake with small jigs in early fall. Fish will move to structure in late fall – quickly locate structure in the lake with the printable fishing structures map.
  • Lake Anita, Cass County, and Viking Lake, Montgomery County - try around the numerous brush piles for largemouth bass over 20 inches. Fishing will heat up as the water temperature drops this fall.
  • Lake Iowa, Iowa County – try small jigs or worms around brush piles or along weed edges to catch bluegills up to 9 inches and redear sunfish up to 12 inches. Catch 9-11 inch black crappies around brush on jigs or minnows.
  • Lake Macbride, Johnson County - catch 13-20 inch walleyes, with much larger fish available; troll crankbaits or cast jigs to rock reefs and humps in 8-15 feet of water.  Cast jigs or minnows around/over the brush piles for 10-12 inch crappies. Wiper fishing picks up in the fall; try crankbaits and swim baits fished off points and rock reef edges for 14-28 inch wipers with 3-6 pounders being an average fish.
  • Lake Manawa, Pottawattamie County - a fall trip has the potential to put a trophy walleye or wiper on the line.  Use twister tails or shad raps on the rocks lining the west shore of the lake for walleyes.  Wipers tend to hang out on the north shore near the inlet.
  • Mississippi River  - fall smallmouth bass fishing can be fantastic. Cast close to rock piles or rocky shoreline with current; smallmouths often hide in rock crevices and rarely venture more than a foot from the rocks to feed.  Locate where tributary streams enter the Mississippi River with electronic printable river maps. Find rock lines and piles near the confluence of these rivers starting in late September, early October for a hot bite.   
  • Urban Trout Lakes  - unique trout fishing opportunities for novice and young anglers across the state.  Visit trout for a list of urban trout lakes and when each will be stocked. Watch the fish being stocked and attempt to catch your first trout.
Find a new favorite fishing spot with the interactive Fishing Atlas. A complete list of places to fall fish in Iowa including lake maps, directions and amenities, is available on the DNR Places to Fish webpage. Check conditions before you go with the weekly Iowa Fishing Report.