Iowa Fishing License: Your Complete Guide to Fishing in Iowa

So, you’re planning to go fishing in the beautiful state of Iowa? That’s fantastic! But before you can cast your line into the serene waters, there’s a bit of paperwork you need to sort out. Don’t worry, though, we’ve got you covered. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about Iowa fishing licenses, including who needs one, how to get one, and how much it will set you back.

Who Needs An Iowa Fishing License?

In Iowa, anyone who is 16 years of age or older needs a fishing license to fish in public waters. This applies to both residents and nonresidents of Iowa. If you’re fishing on private property, you don’t need a fishing license. However, it’s always a good idea to check with the landowner to make sure you have permission to fish. You wouldn’t want to get caught in a “fishy” situation, would you?

How To Get An Iowa Fishing License

Getting an Iowa fishing license is as easy as pie. You can purchase one online through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website or at one of their authorized license sales agents. These agents include local bait and tackle shops, sporting goods stores, and Walmart locations throughout the state. You can also purchase a fishing license over the phone by calling the Iowa DNR at 515-725-8200. Keep in mind that there may be additional fees for purchasing a license over the phone or at a license sales agent.

Types Of Iowa Fishing Licenses

There are several types of fishing licenses available in Iowa, depending on your residency status and how often you plan to fish. Let’s dive into the details:

Resident Fishing Licenses

Residents of Iowa can purchase an annual fishing license for $22.00. They can also opt for a three-year license for $62.00 or a seven-day license for $12.50.

Nonresident Fishing Licenses

Nonresidents can purchase an annual fishing license for $48.00. They can also opt for a three-day license for $19.00 or a seven-day license for $34.00.

Combination Hunting And Fishing Licenses

For those who enjoy both hunting and fishing, Iowa offers combination licenses. These licenses include both fishing and hunting privileges and are available to both residents and nonresidents. Prices vary depending on the length of the license and the residency status of the applicant.

Lifetime Fishing Licenses

Iowa residents also have the option of purchasing a lifetime fishing license. These licenses are valid for the lifetime of the purchaser and include both fishing and trout privileges. Prices vary depending on the age of the purchaser.

Disabled Fishing Licenses

Iowa offers discounted fishing licenses for disabled residents and nonresidents. These licenses are available for those who have a permanent physical disability that makes them unable to fish without assistance.

To get a disabled fishing license, applicants must show either a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs saying that their disability is related to their military service or a letter from a licensed doctor saying that they are disabled.

Anglers who live in or outside of the state can get disabled fishing licenses, which are good for a year from the date they are bought. The cost of a disabled fishing license is $3.50 for residents and $13.50 for nonresidents.

In addition to the discounted license fee, disabled anglers can get an annual habitat fee for free and can ask the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for special accommodations.

How Much Does An Iowa Fishing License Cost?

The price of a fishing license in Iowa depends on the type of license and whether or not the applicant lives in Iowa. As was already said, a resident fishing license costs $22.00 for one year, $62.00 for three years, or $12.50 for seven days. Nonresident fishing licenses are available for $48.00 for an annual license, $19.00 for a three-day license, or $34.00 for a seven-day license.

We’ve compiled a list of fishing licenses to make it easy for you to read and refer back to:

Resident Fishing Licenses Cost Purchase Online Online Delivery Point of Sale (POS)
Resident Fishing $22 Y Y Y
Angler’s Special – 3 Year Fish $62 Y Y Y
Bonus Line – 3rd FishLine $14 Y Y Y
Lifetime Fishing (65 years old & older) $61.50 Y Y Y
Outdoor Combo – Hunting/Fishing/Habitat $55 Y Y Y
Resident Trout Fish Fee $14.50 Y Y Y
Resident 1-Day Fishing $10.50 Y Y Y
Resident 7-Day Fishing $15.50 Y Y Y
Resident Boundary Water Trotline $26 Y Y Y
Non-Resident Fishing Licenses Cost Purchase Online Online Delivery Point of Sale (POS)
Non-resident Fishing $48 Y Y Y
Bonus Line – 3rd FishLine $14 Y Y Y
Non-resident Trout Fish Fee $17.50 Y Y Y
Non-resident 1 Day Fishing $12 Y Y Y
Non-resident 3 Day Fishing $20.50 Y Y Y
Non-resident 7 Day Fishing $37.50 Y Y Y
Non-resident Boundary Water $49.50 Y Y Y

Residents and non-residents can get licenses that let them hunt and fish at the same time. Prices vary depending on the length of the license and whether or not the person is a resident. Iowa residents can also buy fishing licenses that are good for life, and the price depends on how old the buyer is. Disabled fishing licenses are cheaper for both residents and people who don’t live in the state but have a permanent physical disability.

Iowa Fishing Regulations

When fishing in Iowa, it’s important to be aware of the regulations and guidelines set by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. These rules are in place to protect the fish population and make sure that the fishing industry will be around for a long time.

Size And Creel Limits

Iowa has size and creel limits in place for certain fish species. The size limit refers to the minimum size of a fish that can be legally caught and kept. The catch limit refers to the number of fish that can be caught and kept within a certain time frame. It’s important to check the size and catch limits for the specific body of water you plan to fish in before you start fishing.

15-inch minimum: Publics Lakes including Coralville, Rathbun, Saylorville and Red Rock Reservoirs 16-inch minimum: Swan Lake (Carroll) 18-inch minimum: Ada Hayden (Story) Ahquabi Hooper (Warren) Big Creek Thomas Mitchell Yellow Banks (Polk) Casey (Tama) Cold Springs (Cass) Green Valley (Union) Hendricks (Howard) Krumm (Jasper) Little Wall (Hamilton) Lost Grove (Scott) Mill Creek (O’Brien) Pleasant Creek (Linn) Smith (Kossuth) South Prairie (Black Hawk)

Catch-And-Release Policies

In Iowa, some bodies of water have catch-and-release policies in place. This means that all fish caught must be immediately released back into the water. This helps to maintain the fish population and ensure that future generations of anglers can enjoy the sport.

Seasonal Restrictions

Iowa also has seasonal restrictions in place for certain fish species. Some species may be off-limits during certain times of the year to protect them during their breeding season or other vulnerable periods.

Restricted Areas

There may be places in Iowa where fishing isn’t allowed or where you can only fish in certain ways. It’s important to check the regulations for the specific body of water you plan to fish in before you start fishing.

Regulations for Specific Fish:

Species Season Length Limits Daily Bag and Possession Limits
Blue Gill, Crappie, Pumpkin Seed 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 daily 15 and combined possession at 30.
Frogs (not including endangered crawfish frog) No Closed Season None All frogs except bullfrogs and crawfish frogs combined daily of 48 and possession of 96. Bullfrogs daily and possession are 12.
Muskellunge (including hybrids) Open Season on West Okoboji, East Okoboji and Spirit Lakes (Dickinson County) and on Iowa-Minnesota boundary lakes from May 21-Nov30 annually 40 inches minimum Daily and possession of 1
Mussels (except endangered mussels such as Zebra mussel) No closed season, but only allowed to take mussels during sunrise to sunset hours None Missouri and Big Sioux River – only dead shells harvested. The possession limit is 24 whole mussels or 48 shell halves.
Northern Pike No closed season None Daily of 3 and possession of 6 on Inland Waters. For Boundary rivers, daily of 5 and possession of 10 on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Daily of 6 and possession of 12 on Big Sioux River.
Paddlefish Mississippi River is open from Mar 1 through April 15. Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers are from Feb 4 through April 30. Mississippi River is a 33-inch maximum. Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers have a 35-45 inch slot limit. If the limit exceeds, you must release it. Daily of 2 and possession of 6. Can take 1 paddlefish with each paddlefish tag
Shovelnose Sturgeon No closed season none None except for the Missouri River. Missouri River has a daily bag limit of 10 and a possession limit of 20.
Trout (Brook, Brown and Rainbow) No closed season None Combined daily of 5 and possession of 10
Turtles (common snapping, spiny softshell, smooth softshell and painted No closed season None Daily of 4 for common snapping, 1 spiny softshell or smooth softshell, 1 painted and possession of a maximum of 100 pounds of live turtles or 50 pounds of dressed turtles. The daily catch may not exceed the possession limit.
Walleye, Sauger & Saugeye Continuous except for West Okoboji Lake, East Okoboji Lake, Spirit Lake (Dickinson). Open season for these three lakes is from May 2nd, 2020, through Feb 14, 2021. None Combined daily of 5 and combined possession of 10.
Yellow Bass, White Bass, Rock Bass & Hybrid (Wiper) No closed season None None except for the Mississippi River and connected backwaters, which is a daily bag limit of 25 and a possession limit of 50 for white and yellow bass combined and Rock bass.
Yellow Perch No closed season None Daily of 25 and possession of 50. There is no daily or possession limit on the Missouri River.

Where To Fish In Iowa

Iowa is home to many lakes, rivers, and streams that offer great fishing opportunities. Here are some of the top places to fish in Iowa:

Lakes

  • Spirit Lake
  • West Okoboji Lake
  • Clear Lake
  • Saylorville Lake
  • Rathbun Lake

Rivers And Streams

  • Mississippi River
  • Cedar River
  • Iowa River
  • Raccoon River
  • Turkey River

Ponds

  • Wilson Lake
  • Lake of the Hills
  • Scott County Park Pond
  • Blue Heron Lake
  • Prairie Park Fishery

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need A Fishing License If I’m Fishing On Private Property?

No, a fishing license is not required if you’re fishing on private property. However, it’s always a good idea to check with the landowner to make sure you have permission to fish.

Can I Buy An Iowa Fishing License Online?

Yes, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has a website where you can buy a fishing license.

Can I Fish Without A License If I’m Under 16 Years Old?

Yes, anyone under the age of 16 is not required to have a fishing license to fish in public waters in Iowa.

Can I Use A Drone To Fish In Iowa?

No, the use of drones to fish is prohibited in Iowa.

What Is The Penalty For Fishing Without A License In Iowa?

In Iowa, fishing without a license is a simple misdemeanor that can cost up to $105 in fines and court costs. Repeat offenders may face higher fines and even possible jail time.

Conclusion

Fishing is a popular pastime in Iowa, and the state offers a variety of fishing opportunities for anglers of all ages and abilities. Whether you’re a resident or a nonresident, there are several types of fishing licenses available to suit your needs.

If you have a permanent physical disability, Iowa offers discounted fishing licenses to help make the sport available to everyone. Be sure to check the regulations and guidelines for the specific body of water you plan to fish in, and always remember to respect the landowners and the environment when you’re out on the water.

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