Hosting a portion of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers as well as some 90,000 ponds and a myriad of lakes and trout streams, Iowa has some awesomely diverse angling options within its boundaries. However, before you grab your fishing pole and hop in the boat, it's imperative to know what you can legally catch and what will get you into trouble with the law.
Unlike many states, with few exceptions (like fishing for invasive species), anglers in Iowa who are age 16 and older need to have a valid fishing license whether they are trawling public or private waters and always have to adhere to size and bag limits for their daily catch. The exception to this rule pertains only to the fishing license, for which landowners or tenants and their children younger than age 18 do not need a license to fish on their property, although they must still follow the state requirements for size and number of fish caught per day, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
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The size of a fish and the number you are allowed to catch each day varies depending on the species for which you are fishing. For the full scoop on bag limits and size requirements in Iowa, it is best to download the state's fishing regulations manual
, which is updated each year.
Here are the requirements for catching some of the most popular fish in the Hawkeye State.
1. Black bass
There is no designated season for largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass in Iowa, but depending on where you are fishing, the bass must be a minimum of 16 inches to 18 inches to be taken. Smaller fish must be immediately released and in certain lakes, like Brown and Wapello, catch and release is the only way to hook bass legally. There is a combined daily bag limit of five and a possession limit of 10.
2. Bluegill and crappie
For these small pan-fry delicious fish, there is no length limit and also no season. Anglers can take 25 bluegills and 25 crappies per day on public waters. There is no daily limit for either in private water.
There is no length limit for any of the catfish found in Iowa — species include blue, flathead, and bullhead — and also no season to fish them. There is a combined daily limit of eight fish with the exception of bullheads, for which there are no limits.
This article is for information only. Please check current regulations before fishing.
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