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7 Iowa Fish With Open State Records: How to Catch a Record Fish

  • 6/9/2015 10:51:00 AM
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Be the first in the history books by catching one of these 7 Iowa fish species without a current state record! | Iowa DNRPut your name as the first entry in the history books by catching one of these seven fish species we added to the eligible State Record Fish species list in 2013. With no records for these fish currently,you can be the first to set the record! Try these tips to help you catch a record fish.

UPDATE: State records have been claimed for all these species.

Follow the links for more information and images of each fish.

Brown bullhead – Try clear, vegetated backwater lakes off the Mississippi River, such as the Sny Magill Complex, Bussey Lake and Pool 9, and the Iowa Great Lakes.  Try to catch this fish with a nightcrawler fished on the bottom. UPDATE: State record brown bullhead caught Aug. 25, 2015 by Dick Newcomer: 1.25 lbs.

Mooneye – Head out to the Mississippi River, especially the tailwaters below the lock and dams, or lower ends of larger tributary rivers such as the Des Moines, Iowa, Wapsipinicon, Maquoketa, Turkey, Yellow and Upper Iowa.  These fish are minnow eaters, so fish for them like you would for white bass or crappies.  UPDATE: State record mooneye caught Oct. 23, 2016 by Tricia Steines: 1.52 lbs.

Pumpkinseed – The Iowa Great Lakes (East and West Okoboji, Spirit Lake and the lower chain of lakes) and the Mississippi River, its backwaters and tributaries like the Yellow River and the Maquoketa River are where to go to find pumpkinseed.  Pumpkinseeds have been commonly sampled in small tributary streams to the Wapsipinicon River in the Clinton and DeWitt areas.  Pumpkinseeds often consume snails they pick off of aquatic vegetation, so fish for them with a small chunk of worm near aquatic plants. UPDATE: State record pumpkinseed caught June 5, 2020 by Rick Olson: 0.96 lbs.

Silver carp is one of 7 Iowa fish species without a state record on the books | Iowa DNRSilver carp – these filter-feeding fish will rarely be taken on a hook and line, so snagging is the likely method for, well, “snagging” this state record.  Since snagging is a legal method of take for rough fish, it would be accepted for a state record.  Below the dams at Red Rock, Ottumwa, and Rathbun are places where silver carp tend to congregate. Larger silver carp can be found at Keokuk and at the mouth of the Skunk River. Be aware though, when silver carp feel vibration from a boat, they can jump out of the water 10 feet or more into the air. UPDATE: State record silver carp caught June 2, 2018 by Billie Summers: 62 lbs.

Smallmouth buffalo – while it is possible to catch these fish on a hook and line, snagging is the most likely way to get this state record.  Smallmouth buffalo are common in the Des Moines River below the Red Rock dam, as well as other large interior rivers like the Iowa and Cedar. The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers have some nice smallmouth buffalo. Iowa’s large flood control reservoirs (Red Rock, Rathbun, Saylorville and Coralville) all have populations of smallmouth buffalo. UPDATE: State smallmouth buffalo caught Dec. 1, 2021 by John Dirks: 43 lbs.

Warmouth is one of 7 Iowa fish species without a current state record - here's how to catch one | Iowa DNRWarmouth – this panfish is found in the backwaters ofthe Mississippi River and tributaries like the Cedar River and the Wapsipinicon River. It has also been sampled in a small pond in Adair County called the Cocklin Fish Farm.  It is likely also in many small ponds and streams throughout southern Iowa.  Fish for them with a small chunk of worm near aquatic plants.  UPDATE: State record warmouth caught June 4, 2015  by Celsey Rynearson: 1.13 lbs.

Yellow bullhead – this fish has been sampled in hundreds of streams, rivers, ponds and lakes across Iowa.  The mostly like place to catch a yellow bullhead is Ingham Lake in northwest Iowa, but you can also try East Okoboji or Silver Lake in Dickinson County, Lost Island Lake or Elk Lake in Clay County, and the lower end of the Cedar River.  Try to catch this fish with a nightcrawler fished on the bottom. UPDATE: state record yellow bullhead caught Sept. 28, 2018 by Troy Dibbern: 2.40 lbs. 

The yellow bullhead is one of 7 Iowa fish species without a current state record - here's how to catch one | Iowa DNRIf you catch a new all-time state record fish, it must be examined and verified by DNR fisheries personnel. A photo of the fish and angler are required. One witness must attest to the weight of the fish to the nearest ounce on scales legal for trade.