Iowa Fishing Licenses, Laws, and Regulations
Iowa offers some of the best fishing in the Midwest. There are thousands of lakes, ponds, rivers, and reservoirs stocked with an abundance of panfish such as bluegill and crappie. Some lakes are famous for catching trout, pike, pikeperch and musk. Giant catfish and perch live in the rivers inland. Avid anglers know that they should purchase an Iowa fishing license before packing their fishing gear. The rules and regulations of the Iowa Bay fishing code depend on the area you plan to fish and the species you plan to catch.
An Iowa fishing license can be obtained online through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website. Fishing licenses can also be purchased from fishing license agent offices in Iowa.
Fishing rules and regulations are strictly followed and enforced to safeguard the legacy of future generations. As not all fishing spots appear to have the same fishing rules and regulations, all anglers are encouraged to read these rules and regulations.
Iowa Fishing Licenses
Iowa residents are entitled to free annual fishing licenses if their annual household income is below the federal poverty line set by the U.S. Department of Health. Anyone over 65 years of age and permanently disabled does not need to buy an IA fishing license. Proof of age, income and benefits in the event of permanent disability is required.
Conscientious anglers help conserve and conserve natural resources. A responsible angler must follow basic fishing guidelines to reduce the negative impact of the earth’s reserves and ensure that they are doing their part in the conservation process. Part of the effort is to educate others about the importance of protecting the environment and wildlife.
Got an Iowa fishing license
There are several ways to get a fishing license.
- Online – To purchase an Iowa fishing license, you must go to the Go OutDoors Iowa online licensing system. https://gooutdoorsiowa.com/
- In the top left corner there is an option that says “Buy Licenses, Buy Tags, and Register for LOT”.
- From there you can create your account or log in.
- Then follow the instructions provided and add the privileges (licenses, permits, registrations and tags) of your choice to your shopping cart.
- Complete the checkout process with a Discover, Mastercard, or Visa. (Please Note: A convenience fee of USD 2.50 plus 2.5% of the purchase price will be added to your cart.)
- Once you have completed your purchase. Make sure to print out your licenses and permits. After your transaction you will receive a confirmation email with an electronic PDF copy of your available licenses. You can also have these licenses sent to you.
- Go to a local license dealer. 700 different dealers are available.
- Visit a bait store near you to purchase a fishing license
As a resident of Iowa, you can choose a three-year, one-year, or other short-term license. You can even purchase an outdoor combo license that allows you to fish and hunt.
Types of Iowa Fishing License and Costs
We have compiled a list of fishing licenses for you to easily read and look up:
|Resident fishing licenses||costs||buy online||Online delivery||Point of sale (POS)|
|Resident fishing||$ 22||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Angler’s Special – 3 years of fish||$ 62||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Bonus line – 3rd fish line||$ 14||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lifelong fishing (65 years and older)||$ 61.50||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Outdoor combo – hunting / fishing / habitat||$ 55||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Resident trout fishing fee||$ 14.50||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Resident 1-day fishing||$ 10.50||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Resident 7 day fishing||$ 15.50 each||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Resident Boundary Water Trotline||$ 26||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Fishing licenses for non-residents||costs||buy online||Online delivery||Point of sale (POS)|
|Non-resident fishing||$ 48||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Bonus line – 3rd fish line||$ 14||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Non-resident trout fish fee||$ 17.50||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Non-resident 1 day fishing||$ 12||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|3-day fishing for non-residents||$ 20.50 each||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|7 days of fishing for non-residents||$ 37.50||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Non-resident border water||$ 49.50 each||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Anyone 16 or older who wishes to fish in Iowa waters must have an Iowa fishing license.
Under 16 license:
Both residents and non-residents under the age of 16 can fish without a license, but may have to pay a trout fee when attempting to catch fresh trout.
Fishing license exemption:
Except for residents and non-residents under the age of 16, other categories do not require a fishing license. Deaf and blind people in the sense of underage students of the state school for the blind and the state school for the deaf are allowed to fish without a fishing license.
People who receive additional help under Chapter 29 can fish without a license. These individuals are underage residents of other government agencies under a human services division and district care residents.
Military members on leave in active service in the Bundeswehr are also allowed to fish without a license. These individuals must have documented vacation papers and a copy of a recent income statement showing a tax deduction for Iowa income tax on hunting and fishing.
Checking your fishing license:
When attempting to fish in Iowa public waters, you will usually be asked to show your fishing license or proof of ID for exemption. Conservation or law enforcement officers are allowed to view your license. The owner or the person who has legal control over the land or water you fish also has the right.
Iowa Fishing License Renewal:
To renew your Iowa fishing license, follow the steps to purchase.
Iowa fish size and limits
A daily catch limit of 3 and a possession limit of 6. For new anglers, a catch limit refers to the number of species they are allowed to kill or hold. A possession limit is the total number of fish from all fishing days that a person is allowed to own at any given time.
In terms of length restrictions, the length varies depending on the lake you visit.
- At least 15 inches: Publics Lakes including Coralville, Rathbun, Saylorville, and Red Rock Reservoirs
- At least 16 inches: Swan Lake (Carroll)
- At least 18 inches:
- Ada Hayden (story)
- Hooper (warren)
- Big brook
- Thomas Mitchell
- Yellow Banks (Polk)
- Casey (Tama)
- Cold springs (Cass)
- Green Valley (Union)
- Hendricks (Howard)
- Crooked (jasper)
- Little Wall (Hamilton)
- Lost Grove (Scott)
- Mill Creek (O’Brien)
- Pleasant Bach (Linn)
- Blacksmith (Kossuth)
- Southern Prairie (Black Hawk)
Snap and release rules:Catch and Release only on Lakes Brown (Jackson) and Wapello (Davis). All 12 to 16 inch fish need to be on the lake Hawthorn, Mahaska, to be released. And all 12 to 18 inch fish must be released at Sugema Lake (Van Buren).
Regulations for certain fish:
|species||season||Length restrictions||Daily baggage and possessions restrictions|
|Blue gill, crappie, pumpkin seeds||No closed season||None||Inland Waters – 25 daily for Bluegill and 25 daily for Crappie|
|catfish||No closed season||None||Inland lakes – catfish combined daily at eight and possession 30, no limit for bullheads
Inland Streams – Catfish combined 15 daily and combined possession with 30.
|Frogs (excluding the endangered lobster frog)||No closed season||None||All frogs except bullfrogs and lobster frogs combined 48 daily and possession of 96.Bull frogs daily and possessions are 12.|
|Muscle lungs (including hybrids)||Open season on West Okoboji, East Okoboji and Spirit Lakes (Dickinson Counties) and the Iowa-Minnesota Border Lakes from May 21 to November 30 annually||At least 40 inches||Daily and owned from 1|
|Mussels (except for endangered mussels such as zebra mussels)||No closed season, but mussels are only allowed from sunrise to sunset||None||Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers – only dead clams harvested. The ownership limit is 24 whole mussels or 48 shell halves.|
|Northern pike||No closed season||None||3 every day and possession of 6 on inland waters. Boundary Rivers 5 daily and 10 owned on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. 6 daily and owned by 12 on the Big Sioux River.|
|Paddle fish||Mississippi River is open March 1 through April 15. Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers are open February 4th through April 30th.||Mississippi River is a maximum of 33 inches. Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers have a slot limit of 35-45 inches. If the limit is exceeded, you will need to release it.||2 daily and possession of 6. Can take 1 paddle fish with each paddle fish day|
|Shovel nose sturgeon||No closed season||none||None but the Missouri River. Missouri River has a daily baggage limit of 10 and an ownership limit of 20.|
|Trout (brook, brown and rainbow)||No closed season||None||Combined daily from 5 and possession by 10|
|Turtles (common snap, prickly softshell, smooth softshell and painted||No closed season||None||4 daily for ordinary snapping, 1 spiky softshell or slick softshell, 1 painted and held up to 100 pounds of live turtles or 50 pounds of clothed turtles. The daily catch must not exceed the ownership limit.|
|Zander, sucker & suction eye||Continuous except West Okoboji Lake, East Okoboji Lake, Spirit Lake (Dickinson). The open season for these three lakes runs from May 2, 2020 to February 14, 2021.||None||Combined daily from 5 and combined ownership from 10.|
|Yellow Bass, White Bass, Rock Bass & Hybrid (Wiper)||No closed season||None||None except for the Mississippi River and the connected backwaters, which combines a daily bag limit of 25 and an ownership limit of 50 for white and yellow perch and is rock bass.|
|Yellow perch||No closed season||None||25 daily and owned by 50. There is no daily or owned limit on the Missouri River.|
The best fishing spots in Iowa
We have put together a few spots for the best fishing spots to help you in your search.
For families and group trips, we recommend Black Hawk Lake in Lake View. This lake was renovated in 2012 and is great for fishing for all ages. If you fish at Ice House Point, you may find 8 to 10 inches of bluegills and crappies. You will also find tons of largemouth bass, catfish, and musk. This place is also public with numerous hiking trails and parks for family fun.
If you are more experienced and want to catch the coveted trophy fish, Clear Lake in north central Iowa is an ideal choice. This lake is great for shore and boat fishing with some of the best pikeperch fisheries. You can catch 14 to 20 inch pikeperch weighing 8 pounds or more. You can also find yellow bass, yellow bass, and crappie. This location has a handy fish cleaning facility so you can maintain your fishing gear.
You can also visit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website, which has a fishing atlas that shows you every public fishing spot you can fish in Iowa! The spots are divided into counties so you can find them easily. https://programs.iowadnr.gov/maps/fishingatlas/default.html