Iowa Fishing Tournaments

Please reference the information below the Obtaining a Tournament Authorization and Guidelines sections to familiarize yourself with the look and feel of the new online tournament application system. To apply for fishing tournaments please use our Special Events System.

In 2008 and 2009, the Natural Resource Commission adopted rule changes for the Iowa DNR's fishing tournament permit program. The date for submitting applications for fishing tournaments has been changed to September 1. Since 2010, a $25.00 administrative fee has been charged for fishing tournament applications. The fee is used to partially offset the costs incurred to administer the tournament program, including development and maintenance of the online application and payment system. This web site system is only method to apply for and get approval for fishing tournaments. All tournaments are listed on the DNR's web page. Refer to the instructions below to use the tournament application system.

Beginning in 2014, all bass tournaments in June, July and August will end at 2:00 PM, with the exception of evening tournaments starting after 4 PM. Fisheries biologists across the state felt that holding fish in live wells during warm water conditions causes undue stress and higher latent mortality. This new rule will be enforced statewide. An exception to this rule exists, allowing tournaments to continue past 2 PM, if the tournament holds multiple weigh-ins, at least once every four hours.  The Iowa DNR agrees with many of the recommendations in the Keeping Bass Alive publication by B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportman Society) and suggests that all tournament sponsors review this document and encourage the implementation of these practices to help maintain a healthy bass fishery in Iowa.

Since 2000 Iowa DNR has had a policy to prohibit walleye kill tournaments during the months of June, July and August.

Obtaining Tournament Authorization
Authorization by the Department of Natural Resources is required to conduct a fishing tournament on public waters under the jurisdiction of the state. Fishing clinics and youth fishing days are excluded.  Fishing tournament means any organized fishing event, except for department-sponsored fishing events held for educational purposes, involving any of the following: (1) six or more boats or 12 or more participants, except for waters of the Mississippi River, where the number of boats shall be 20 or more and the number of participants shall be 40 or more; (2) an entry fee is charged; and (3) prizes or other inducements are awarded.  Separate authorization is needed for each tournament. Access the online system and complete the Fishing Tournament application form.

Applications for tournaments are accepted only via the online application system, and applications can be completed starting on September 1 for the coming year. Authorizations are not transferable.  Applications must be received by the area fisheries management biologist at least 30 days prior to the proposed event.

The authorization letter must be in possession of the sponsor or their representative and be available at the contest site for Department representative during contest hours.

Approval of any tournament application is at the discretion of the fisheries management biologist. The DNR may impose special conditions not specifically covered herein for any fishing tournament if deemed necessary to protect the resource or to assure public safety. Special conditions may include, but are not limited to:
  • aerated live wells
  • release of live fish
  • fish measured to length and released from a boat
  • designated release areas
  • designated release persons
  • multiple weigh-ins when water temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit
  • scheduled weigh-in no later than 2:00 PM in the months of June, July, and August
  • no weigh-in tournaments allowed for walleye, northern pike, and muskellunge in the months of June, July and August

Some of these guidelines requirements are programmed into the online application system, so that applications not adhering to these guidelines cannot be submitted in certain situations. 

Tournament size:
  • on lakes less than 100 surface acres - a 15 boat maximum
  • on lakes greater than 100 surface acres - a maximum of one boat per ten surface acres (Biologists may waive this rule in special cases.)
The number of tournaments at any one access area during a given day may be restricted if deemed necessary to avoid congestion with the public or competing tournaments.