First Fish Program

Catch a memory when your favorite young angler hooks their first fish!

It’s easy and free to participate – submit your entry online. You can also download the First Fish Entry Form with details on how to enter.

Your child will receive a frameable certificate to commemorate this special event.

Sponsored by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Help Your Kids Catch One!

A child’s first fishing trip is exciting for both parent and child. A fun experience can lead to future years of fishing enjoyment. Here are some simple tips for taking kids fishing.

bobber pack plenty of snacks and cold drinks   bobber choose a spot close to home
bobber morning trips are best – the fish bite better and kids have more energy   bobber make sure there are restrooms near
bobber pick a sunny day with moderate temperatures   bobber keep the trip short – a couple hours at most
bobber leave your fishing rod at home   bobber remember you are taking the kids — they aren’t taking you
bobber take plenty of breaks from fishing   bobber take pictures
bobber plan alternate activities to do if the weather turns bad or your child gets bored   bobber have fun!
bobber emphasize that fishing is fun, catching is a bonus      

 Fishing Trip Checklist:

  • bobbers
  • camera
  • cooler/ice
  • drinks
  • fishing license
  • fishing rods, youth
  • first aid kit
  • insect repellent
  • life jackets
  • snacks
  • sunglasses
  • sunscreen
  • wet wipes
  • worms

Safety Tips:

  • Bring a basic first aid kit with sterile bandages, tape, antiseptic, band aids, aspirin, scissors, wire cutters, tweezers, analgesic cream, sunscreen, and insect repellant.
  • A wide brim hat and sunglasses will keep the sun out of your child’s eyes and off his forehead. Avoid fishing in the middle of the day.
  • Life jackets are strongly recommended for children fishing around deep or fast-moving water. Make sure the life jacket fits your child snugly and won’t ride up around their face.

Who Needs a Fishing License? 

All anglers 16 years and older must have a fishing license to fish Iowa waters. Yearly, seven-day, or 24-hour licenses are available. Licenses are sold at several locations or online. Call 1-800-367-1188 to purchase a license 24 hours a day.

License fees and an excise on fishing equipment fund stocking, shoreline and fish habitat improvement, construction and repair of fish jetties, fish surveys, and angler education programs.

Fishing Regulations

There are limits on the size and/or number of fish you can catch at one time for some species. A more complete description of laws is in the Iowa Fishing Regulations, available where you buy a license and Department of Natural Resources offices.

Fishing Hot Spots  
Looking for a great place to take your family fishing? Escape to one of Iowa's many great fishing destinations. Check out our "Where to Fish" section!

Gear Up for Fishing
Start your family fishing trip in the right direction by picking proper equipment and bait, and getting your hook ready. Check out our "From Hookin' to Cookin'" section!

Catch and Release
Follow these simple tips to give the fish you release the best chance for survival.   

Lots of great smiles on kids learning to fish!