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a Mom and son fishing off a dock

Explore more than 90 fishing spots in nearby parks in the Des Moines metro. Find one near you on our interactive map. We have plenty of options to help you find a spot that is less crowded, so you can easily keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and other groups. If the parking lot is full when you get to a fishing spot, pick a new location or come back at a time that is not so busy like early morning or later at night.

Buy Your Fishing License Online

Getting started is easy!

Fishing is fun, inexpensive and a great activity for kids of all ages. What are you waiting for? Grab your family and reconnect with nature. 

Have fun and "fish local" today!

Sign up for Des Moines Metro Fishing News

It’s so easy to buy your fishing license. Just go to our Go Outdoors Iowa online licensing system.

Anyone 16 years and older must have a fishing license to fish Iowa waters. Anglers under the age of 16 may fish Iowa waters without a fishing license and may fish for and keep their own limit of fish, except when fishing for trout they must share their limit with a licensed adult or buy their own trout fee to keep their own limit of trout.

Yearly, seven-day, or 24-hour fishing licenses are available.

2020 Iowa Fishing Regulations


Gear to get started

You don't need much to go fishing. With just a few pieces of basic gear, you'll be reeling in fish and making new memories in no time.

  • A close-faced reel with a thumb button to release and stop the line is a great choice for beginners. Watch this video to learn how to hold a spincasting rod and reel.
  • A small tackle box filled with basic necessities.
  • Size 6 or 8 hooks are best for panfish. 
  • Bobbers keep bait off the bottom and where the fish are. They go under when you have a bite. Try 1-inch or smaller for panfish.
  • Night crawlers are great for beginners. Thread a piece of worm on a hook for panfish.
Stay safe: Physical distance tips

Be careful and responsible when fishing and abide by these physical distancing and safety protocols to help stop the spread of COVID-19.


  • Once you find your fishing spot, keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and other groups.
  • Stick with your immediate family, but keep groups to fewer than 10 people.
  • Bring lures from home instead of buying bait to minimize your interaction with other people.
  • Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands often.
  • Take your own beverages and snacks.


Get to know Iowa fish

Check out these helpful tips to help you identify Iowa fish.

Learn how to catch fish

You can fish any time, but they usually bite best from 30 minutes before sunrise until two or three hours after the sun is up. They get hungry again 30 minutes before sunset and bite well for about an hour or two.

Try these easy tricks on how to fish for the most popular species in Iowa.

Know your knots

Knot tying is an essential skill for beginning anglers to learn. Try these tips to help get you started.