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Walleye season opens May 6 on Iowa’s Great Lakes

  • 4/18/2023 4:20:00 PM
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The 147th walleye fishing season officially opens May 6 at Spirit Lake, East and West Okoboji lakes.

“Walleye populations on the Iowa Great Lakes are in very good shape,” said Mike Hawkins, fisheries biologist for the Iowa DNR, “Ice didn’t leave the lakes until mid-April. Fish will likely be more active as they make up for lost time.”

Walleye season opens the first Saturday in May and runs through February 14 each year on Spirit Lake, East Okoboji Lake and West Okoboji Lake. The protected slot limit on walleyes is 19 to 25 inches, with only one walleye over 25 inches allowed per day.  The protected slot limit applies to Spirit Lake, East and West Okoboji Lake, Upper and Lower Gar Lake and Minnewashta Lake. The daily limit is three walleyes with a possession limit of six.

The walleye season will be opening in the Iowa Great Lakes, but the lakes offer great fishing for a variety of other species.  Panfish, northern pike, and smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing can be very good as the water warms. Water levels on the Okoboji chain are just a little above crest level with water flowing over both the Spirit Lake and Lower Gar spillways. 

For many anglers, this will be their first trip on the water for the season. Checking your safety equipment and making sure your boat is ready to get out on the water can help ease congestion at busy boat ramps.

The Iowa Great Lakes Chamber of Commerce will host the 41th annual Iowa Great Lakes Walleye Weekend Fishing Contest in conjunction with the opener.  For more information on the contest, visit their website at

Anglers are encouraged to participate in the Iowa Walleye Challenge hosted by the Iowa DNR Fisheries Bureau. Angler catch information from this tournament will provide valuable data to help fisheries biologists manage Iowa’s walleye populations. For more information and to sign up visit