Summer Tips to Land Iowa's Big Fish
Posted: 07/05/2011
When 8-year-old Cyle Hawkins, of Toddville, went fishing with his dad, the thought of coming home with a new state record redear sunfish was probably not on the top of his mind.

Cal Hawkins took his son to a private lake near Belle Plaine last month when the younger Hawkins landed an 11.5-inch redear sunfish, which also happened to be the first fish for this budding angler. That one trip earned Cyle a First Fish award, a Master Angler award and he is in the running for a state record for the new category of redear sunfish.

This is the first year for two new awards from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, celebrating an angler’s first fish and big fish. 

The First Fish award recognizes novice anglers regardless of age with their photo on a certificate commemorating the accomplishment.  

The Master Angler award recognizes anglers who catch a memorable fish in Iowa that meets minimum length criteria with a certificate and photo, if submitted, and a decal for their boat or vehicle.
There are 41 species eligible for Master Angler awards including nine new species available for a state record.  In addition to redear sunfish, other new species include pumpkinseed sunfish, warmouth sunfish, common carp, blue sucker, white or spotted sucker, northern hog sucker, carpsucker and redhorse sucker.

Anglers who catch five different Master Angler qualifying species will earn a Silver Master Angler award which includes a silver medallion.  Anglers who catch 10 different Master Angler qualifying species will earn a Gold Master Angler award which includes a gold medallion.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in this program and it will be fun to see who earns the first gold master angler award and what species they catch and where to earn it,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of Fisheries for the Iowa DNR.

The program began on January 1 and so far, 106 certificates for First Fish and 206 Master Angler awards have been issued.

Larscheid said anglers looking to join the quest for the gold have a number of opportunities to land qualifying fish.  He asked his staff across the state to put together a list of locations where their data shows Master Angler level fish are, and based on their experience, how to catch them during the heat of July.

Largemouth Bass (22 inches to qualify)

Channel Catfish (30 inches to qualify)

Sunfish (Bluegills, 10 inches to qualify)

Sunfish (Redear, 11 inches to qualify)

Sunfish (Warmouth, 7 inches to qualify)

Sunfish (Pumpkinseed, 9 inches to qualify)

Smallmouth Bass (20 inches to qualify)

White Bass (17 inches to qualify)

Wipers (24 inches to qualify)

Brook Trout (15 inches to qualify)

Rainbow Trout (18 inches to qualify)

Brown Trout (18 inches to qualify)

Flathead Catfish (35 inches to qualify)

Crappie (15 inches to qualify)

Walleye (28 inches to qualify)

Yellow Perch (12 inches to qualify)

Muskellunge (45 inches to qualify)

Northern Pike (35 inches to qualify)

Freshwater Drum (25 inches to qualify)

Yellow Bass (10 inches to qualify)

Rock Bass (8 inches to qualify)

Bullheads (15 inches to qualify)

Common Carp (32 inches to qualify)