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Catch a memory when your favorite young angler hooks their first fish!
First Fish Bobber Logo

Catch a memory when your favorite young angler hooks their first fish! When you catch your first fish the Iowa DNR would like to commemorate the event with a frameable certificate of your accomplishment. Species, size of the fish or age of the angler is irrelevant only that it be the first fish that the angler has successfully landed. 

It’s easy and free to participate:

Apply for a First Fish Certificate or View/Search First Fish Entries

You can also download the First Fish Entry Form with details on how to enter.
Your child will receive a frameable certificate to commemorate this special event.




If you caught a big fish in Iowa, you could be a Master Angler!

Master Angler Logo

Sponsored by the Iowa DNR, the Iowa Master Angler Award recognizes memorable-sized catches for more than 40 fish species. Anglers who apply and qualify receive an official certificate and car/boat decal.


Submit Your Master Angler Catch or View/Search Master Angler Entries

You can also download a Master Angler Award Form with award criteria and details on how to apply.


Master Angler Award Rules
  • Fish must meet the minimum species length.
  • Length is measured from tip of the snout to the tip of the tail, except paddlefish, which are measured from the front of the eye to the fork in the tail and sturgeon which are measured from the snout to the fork in the tail. If there is some doubt about species identification, contact the nearest DNR personnel for verification.
  • A witness must verify fish size; any fish believed to be a new state record must be verified by a DNR Fisheries official.
  • The fish can be released and still qualify for an award.
  • You must have a valid Iowa fishing license and fish must be caught by legal methods according to Iowa law (check the Iowa Fishing Regulations).

Master Angler award levels:
  • Species Specialist - catch five of the same species meeting the minimum length criteria listed below.
    You will receive a certificate detailing the species for which you have received the award.
  • Master Angler - catch one fish meeting the minimum length criteria of any species listed below.
    You will be sent a certificate with picture and a car/boat decal.
  • Silver Master Angler – catch five different species meeting the minimum length criteria listed below.
    You will receive a certificate, Silver Medallion, and a car/boat decal.
  • Gold Master Angler - catch ten different species meeting the minimum length criteria listed below.
    You will receive a certificate, Gold Medallion, and a car/boat decal.

Minimum lengths and potential Master Angler hotspots:
  • Diamond Lake, Poweshiek County – use crankbaits or top-waters around brush piles, or rubber worms tossed into structure.
  • Lake Belva Deer, Keokuk County – use top-water baits close to shore or in shallow water.
  • Lake Geode, Henry County – use top-water baits in the upper arm and back of coves or crankbaits along the dam and weed lines.
  • ponds – about any bass bait will work. A rubber worm with little weight fished slowly along weed lines are especially effective. Make sure to get landowner permission before entering.
  • Lake Sugema, Van Buren County – use crankbaits along jetty, dam and shoreline riprap. Frog imitation baits fished in and among vegetation is effective.
  • Three Mile Lake, Union County – use a weedless spinner, crawler or jig through the flooded trees.
  • West Lake Osceola, Clarke County - use a weedless spinner, crawler or jig through the flooded trees.

 

  • Des Moines River, Polk County – fish eddies, woody debris and deep holes from Birdland Marina to Saylorville, with jigs, crankbaits and spinners.
  • Wapsipinicon River, Linn and Jones County – use crankbaits, spinners, twister tails or live crawfish below low head dams through the fall.
  • West Okoboji Lake, Dickinson County – fish deep rock piles with a live bait rig with either chubs or crayfish.

 

(Palmetto Bass)

  • Lake Macbride, Johnson County – use top-water and subsurface baits or troll shad colored crankbaits.
  • Lake Manawa, Pottawattamie County – fish the east shore around boat docks near inflow tube using twister tails and crankbaits.
  • Mississippi River Lock and Dam 15 in Sylvan Slough and below Lock and Dam 19 are the top places to catch wipers, but they can be caught below most of the lock and dams.
  • Saylorville Reservoir, Polk County – troll large crankbaits under schools of gizzard shad or fish below the Saylorville spillway.
  • Three Mile Lake, Union County – use a small crankbait or medium sized spinner near rocky or gravel areas at twilight. Any shoreline could hold fish, but the dam and east shore near the dam are the most popular.

 

  • Cedar River, Mitchell and Floyd County – fish deeper water in rocky areas when the water is clear and stable with live bait or minnow imitating lures.
  • Turkey River, Howard and Fayette County – fish deeper water in rocky areas when the water is clear and stable with live bait or minnow imitating lures.

 

  • Coralville Reservoir, Johnson County – use shad colored crankbaits trolled or cast along rocky shorelines, from the Mehaffey Bridge to the dam is best.
  • Mississippi River Pool 19 - in the late summer white bass like open water and Lake Cooper offers excellent fishing.
  • Pleasant Creek Lake, Linn County – use top-water or subsurface lures and look for jumping shad and fishing seagulls.
  • Spirit Lake, Dickinson County – use a top–water lure at inlet areas, like the footbridge, in early morning or at sunset. Watch the surface for activity.

 

  • Arrowhead Lake, Sac County – drift the length of the lake with a small, brightly colored jig tipped with a small piece of bait.
  • Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo County – vertical jig or drift with a small jig tipped with a piece of night crawler or cut bait near the reefs, artificial weed beds or dredge cuts.
  • East Okoboji Lake, Dickinson – cast 1/32 ounce hair jigs tipped with a piece of night crawler at any of the bridges.

 

  • Green Island Wildlife Area, Jackson County – use spinners, crankbaits or worms
  • Mississippi River shallow backwater – use large minnows or a shiner rig and a steel leader to prevent break-off from their sharp teeth.

 

 

 

  • Lake Anita, Cass County – use a nightcrawler on the bottom.
  • Twelve Mile Lake, Union County – use night crawlers or a small chunk of liver on the bottom in three to five feet of water. Avoid areas with a lot of rooted vegetation.

 

  • Coralville Reservoir, Johnson County – bow fishing and fishing in the upper ends of the reservoir above I-380
  • Pollmiller Lake, Lee County – fish worms or prepared carp baits.
  • Three Mile Lake, Union County – use nightcrawlers or dough balls on the bottom in two to six feet of water at the upper end of the lake. Carp are most active during the evening and twilight hours.

 

  • Missouri River – use live bait in the deep water behind the wing dams.
  • Crawford Pond, Washington County – fish the eastern shoreline and the weed line.
  • Lake Belva Deer, Keokuk County – fish the jetties, fish habitat sites and upper end of the lake after a heavy rain. Use a bobber in the timber and jetties.
  • Lake Geode, Henry County – fish in shallow water in the morning or evening using chicken liver under a bobber. Structure also holds fish and drainage areas after a significant rain should be targeted.
  • Lake of the Hills, Scott County – use shad guts under a bobber to keep the bait above the thermocline.
  • Mississippi River Pool 19, Burlington to Keokuk – fish the Burlington Island complex of cuts and side channels, Montrose riprap banks and mouths of small creeks.
  • Pleasant Creek Lake, Linn County – use cut bait throughout the lake.
  • Silver Lake, Dickinson County – fish in the evening or after dark with cut bait on the bottom near downed trees.
  • Three Mile Lake, Union County – use sunfish or cut bait fished near the bottom during twilight or during the dark, in less than eight feet of water during the hottest of July and August.
  • West Lake Osceola, Clarke County - use sunfish or cut bait fished near the bottom during twilight or during the dark, in less than eight feet of water during the hottest of July and August

 

  • Coralville Reservoir, Johnson County – fish with live bullheads, green sunfish or chubs on the flats.
    Des Moines River, Central Iowa – use ditty poles with green sunfish, bullheads or large bait.
  • Larger Southwest Iowa Rivers – fish areas just upstream from log jams or fallen trees with live sunfish or bullheads during the evening and after dark.
  • Mississippi River Pool 16 and 18 – fish in the area where rivers drain into the Mississippi with a variety of live baits.
  • Lake Macbride, Johnson County – drift fish with a jig, a minnow or a jig and minnow under a bobber.
  • Lake Rathbun, Appanoose County – target submerged timber and other woody structure with a jig and minnow combo fished vertically or with a slow retrieve.

 

  • Mississippi River – fish the lock and dam tail waters and immediately below wing dams. Drum prefer quiet water and rocky areas. Use live crayfish. Drum will hit twice – the first strike kills the crayfish, the second they swallow it.
  • Spirit Lake, Dickinson County – drift fish a life bait rig tipped with a crayfish, minnow or nightcrawler in 20 to 22 feet of water.

 

  • Iowa River (Columbus Junction to Mississippi River) – cut bait works well.  Try tying a frayed rope just above the hook (so the strands of rope overlap the hook); when the gar bites, its many teeth get tangled in the rope strands allowing you time to reel in the fish.
  •  Mississippi River main channel–   need lots of hooks with a gar’s sharp teeth.
  • Des Moines River below the Red Rock Lake Dam – use a bow and arrow
  • DeSoto BendHarrison County - use a minnow under a bobber.
  • Iowa River (Columbus Junction to Mississippi River) – cut bait works well.  Try tying a frayed rope just above the hook (so the strands of rope overlap the hook); when the gar bites, its many teeth get tangled in the rope strands allowing you time to reel in the fish.
  • Mississippi River backwaters or more stagnate areas – use hooks that can penetrate a gar’s bony mouth; floating cranks work well.
  • Red Rock Lake and Roberts Creek Lake, Marion County – use a bow and arrow
  • Mississippi River –   use a small worm or piece of night crawler suspended along current breaks in side channel and tailwater areas.
  • Brushy Creek Lake, Webster County – cast near any rock piles, weed lines, jetties, dam face with bucktails, crankbaits or top-water lures.
  • Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo County – troll rock reefs or cast docks with muskie sized crankbaits.
  • Spirit Lake, Dickinson County – cast weed lines with large in-line spinners.

 

  • Mississippi River - target where tributaries enter the Mississippi River where pike will take refuge in the cooler water. Use medium to heavy weight gear and live bait with a steel leader or daredevil spoons.

 

  • Bellevue Tailwater in Mississippi Pool 13,   Jackson County – use legal sized snagging hooks in  40- to 60- feet of water. Short season - March 1 through April 15.
  • Clinton tailwater in Mississippi Pool 14, Clinton County – use legal sized snagging hooks in 40- to 60- feet of water. Short season - March 1 through April 15.

 

  • Mississippi River Pools 9 to 13 – fish the vegetation in backwaters with a minnow under a bobber or switch to a crawler long the lower portions of wing dams.

 

  • Mississippi River tailwaters of lock and dams – jigs and minnows work best. Early spring and late fall or winter is best.
  • Mississippi River tailwaters of lock and dams – bounce a weighted jig or minnow off the bottom just below the navigation dams. Early spring and late fall or winter is best.
  • Mississippi River – bounce a night crawler along the bottom near wing dams or closing dams on main channel borders.
Includes Highfin Carpsucker and River Carpsucker

  • Des Moines River – use small jigs in March/April.  The Scott Ave bridge is a good spot to catch carpsuckers
  • Mississippi River  – use worms on the wing dams.
  • Skunk River – use a red worm or chunk of night crawler fished on the bottom below snags and other structure in the river.
  • Des Moines River – use small jigs in March/April.  The Scott Ave bridge is a good spot to catch quillback
  • Mississippi River  – use worms on the wing dams.
  • Skunk River – use a red worm or chunk of night crawler fished on the bottom below snags and other structure in the river.
Includes Golden Redhorse, Greater Redhorse, River Redhorse, Shorthead Redhorse and Silver Redhorse

  • Shell Rock River – use live bait with small gear fished on bottom in riffles or shallow runs
  • Briggs Woods Lake, Hamilton County – use a piece of night crawler on a number 8 hook fished along the weed line.
  • Lake Belva Deer, Keokuk County – drift fish with typical bluegill baits above the thermocline. Target the contour of the creek beds.
  • Lake Geode, Henry County – drift fish and vertical jig the drop-offs. Use dark colored baits when the water is clear or bright colored baits if the water is stained.
  • Lake Sugema, Van Buren County – move often and target timber areas as well as underwater structure, and drift fishing.
  • ponds – use typical bluegill baits and target weedy or woody habitat. Often a worm and a bobber works best.
  • White Oak and Shagbark ponds, Shimek State Forest, Lee County – use any bluegill baits around structure.
  • West Okoboji Lake, Dickinson County – vertical jig with a number 8 hook and split shot over deep rock piles with a leech or crayfish.
  • Yellow Smoke Lake, Crawford County – use a 1/32 ounce to 1/64 ounce black hair jig tipped with a wax worm and fish near submerged trees or just above the thermocline.

 

  • Lake Darling, Washington County – use a small chunk of night crawler under a bobber near rip-rapped shores or brush piles. 
  • Lost Grove Lake, Scott County – use a small chunk of night crawler under a bobber near rip-rapped shores or brush piles. 
  • Prairie Rose Lake – use small jigs tipped with crawler fished around the rocks.

 

  • Lake Ahquabi, Warren County - fish near the bottom in open pockets of the dense submerged vegetation, using 1/32 ounce or 1/64 ounce black feather jig.
  • Lake Anita, Cass County – redear are snail eaters so look for submerged vegetation and use a 1/32 ounce or 1/64 ounce black feather jig.

 

  • Mississippi River – fish the backwaters and around wing dams and closing structures, riprap and other rocky habitat.
  • Conklin Fish Farm, Cass County – make sure to check closely because warmouth look similar to green sunfish.

 

  • All catchable stocked trout streams receive an equal number of brood stock rainbow trout. A variety of live bait and artificial lures will work.

 

  • Spring Branch Creek, Ensign Hollow and the Upper Maquoketa River – fish the bank hides or large downed trees.
  • The Catch and Release areas on French Creek and the downstream portion of Waterloo Creek are restricted to artificial lures only and fish must be released. Midsummer has abundant hatches of aquatic and terrestrial insects and water levels tend to be stable.

 

  • Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo County – troll crankbaits over the artificial weed beds on the north shore.
  • Lake Rathbun, Appanoose County – fish submerged points and humps, troll crankbaits or drift fish live baits.
  • Storm Lake, Buena Vista County – troll crankbaits, Lindy rigs or 1/4 ounce jigs with a twister tail around the dredge cuts or rock piles.
  • North Raccoon River, Sac, Carroll and Greene counties – cast 1/4 ounce jigs tipped with a 3-inch fire tiger colored twister in eddies, current seams and scour holes.