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Crappies and bluegills are biting in small ponds and lakes across Iowa. Spring panfish fishing is a great opportunity to introduce beginners of all ages to fishing.
“Late May and early June is an excellent time to take kids fishing since many species are spawning and do not spook as easily,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau.
“Parents can make the trip more memorable by bringing snacks, taking photos and celebrating each fish as if it were a record breaker,” said Larscheid. “Sharing and teaching fishing skills to our kids will help pass along this Iowa tradition.”
Look for any type of structure in the water, like rocks or a pile of brush or gravel to find bluegills or crappies. Bass will be around brush or boat docks or rock piles. Pinpoint panfish hotspots with downloadable fishing structure location maps available on the DNR’s Fishing Maps website.
“Keep the hooks, bobbers and bait small because panfish have small mouths,” Larscheid said. “The biggest problem we see is anglers using too heavy of line with large bobbers and hooks. Use as light of tackle as you can. I suggest using four pound line, a bobber the size of a quarter and a size 8 hook.”
“We have a lot of good fishing opportunities close to home,” Larscheid said. “Make sure a rod and reel are part of any weekend plans. Fishing makes memories that will last a lifetime.”
Anyone catching their first fish is encouraged to take a photo of it and send it in to receive the DNR’s first fish award. The DNR will commemorate the event with a certificate suitable for framing with the submitted photo. Apply for a first fish certificate online at https://programs.iowadnr.gov/masterangler/ or complete the form in the Iowa Fishing Regulations and mail it in.
Enjoy Iowa’s outdoors and spend some time fishing this spring. Find tips for catching crappie, bluegills and yellow bass on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov/fishing.