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Young boy fishing in an Iowa farm pond

Iowa Ponds

An Iowa pond is the perfect spot for many fun outdoor activities, such as swimming, fishing, hunting, trapping, camping and picnicking. Many Iowans’ first fishing experience was at one of our 110,000 ponds. 

Iowa's ponds reflect the fertility of its agricultural land. A pond in Iowa will support more fish than ponds in most other states. This high fertility provides excellent fishing opportunities, but can also create vegetation issues in ponds. A pond plant identification guide can help you identify the plants growing in your pond so you can correctly manage them. Find more information on the aquatic plants in ponds webpage or download the printable stocking and managing Iowa ponds handout.

Life in a pond is a complex system with many life forms dependent on each other. Small single and multicellular plants called plankton live in ponds. These microscopic plankton are eaten by animal plankton as well as some crustaceans, insects and tadpoles living in the pond. Small fish, crayfish and frogs eat the animal plankton, crustaceans and insects and are then eaten by larger fish. Bluegills, although they may grow to nine inches and over, eat mostly animal plankton and insects throughout their lives, while bass eat plankton and insects only during their early stages. As bass get larger, they become the major predator in a pond eating fish, crayfish and frogs. Each link in this web of life is needed to survive. People, actively looking for and eating fish caught from the pond, forms the final link in the chain. Proper management of the pond and its surroundings is important to keep the pond healthy.


Find tips for stocking a farm pond on the Pond Stocking and Management page.

Learn more about Aquatic Plants in Ponds.

Ready to get started? Check out our Pond Design information.

If you need help to diagnose problems or evaluate your pond for stocking, contact your local DNR fisheries management biologist.

How to Fish For...

Iowa’s fishing opportunities are as diverse as the fish you can catch. Choose one of Iowa's most popular species for tips and techniques from the experts.

Common pond fish:
Fishing for Bluegill
Fishing for Largemouth Bass
Fishing for Channel Catfish

Bass, Largemouth

Channel Catfish