Fishing in Iowa: From Coralville Lake to Coldwater Creek, Our Favorite Spots

Iowa is a Midwestern U.S. state that shares a border with Illinois and is located between the mighty Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. As well as offering fabulous fishing, Iowa is an excellent location for a family vacation. You can enjoy many family-friendly activities throughout the year. Trek out into the wilderness and get back to the Stone Age with a trip to one of Iowa’s many State Parks and ancient geological sites. But if your an avid angler, here are the 10 best fishing locations in Iowa.

You can also enjoy birding and wildlife watching amid the dramatic mountains, gorges, and woodlands. And for the more adventurous in your family, check out the mysterious Spook Cave or go geocaching for a day. And when you’ve tired of countryside activities, head into one of Iowa’s vibrant cities to take in historic landmarks, art collections and museums. Film buffs of the older generation might enjoy a day trip to the “Field of Dreams” movie site, while the kids play baseball on the actual film set.

Iowa is a land of endless cornfields and rolling plains and sunshine (so bring your shades), as well as seemingly endless waterways. In Iowa’s lakes, reservoirs, and ponds, you’ll find crappie, bluegill, muskie, Northern pike, and walleye. Head to one of the State’s many interior streams or rivers in search of trophy-size catfish, walleye, and smallmouth bass. Or you can try your luck in the Missouri River for sauger and blue catfish.

Fishing Licenses

If you want to enjoy any of the 10 best fishing locations in Iowa, you must have a valid license that you can produce for a Conservation Police Officer. So, remember to put your license in your tackle box before you cast a line. And if you’re over the age of 16, you will need a valid license to fish in this state. However, there are some exemptions, so the details are available on the IDNR website. You can buy a license online here too.

If you prefer, you can buy an Iowa fishing license from any of the authorized retailers on this list. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources manages fishing in Iowa and sets all the regulations surrounding angling. Note that you must have a separate permit if you wish to use trotlines. And if you don’t buy a third-line permit, you’ll be restricted to using no more than two lines. So each line may contain a maximum of two hooks.

Eating Your Catch

There are few things more satisfying than gathering around the campfire with your family to cook and eat your day’s delicious catch. If this sounds like fun, you’ll be pleased to hear that the majority of lakes, rivers, and streams in Iowa contain high-quality fish that’s safe to eat.

The IDNR and the Iowa Department of Public Health both provide helpful online information about fish consumption, together with a current list of fish consumption advisories for waterways within the State. So why not pack your toasting fork and some marshmallows too?

10 Great Fishing Spots in Iowa

Iowa boasts an impressive variety of fishing locations to appeal to the freshwater angler. so whether you’re a dedicated bass fisherman who enjoys trolling from a boat or you prefer the challenge of fly-fishing for wild trout from the bank or by wading, Iowa has something for everyone. And when the temperatures plummet in the winter, the Hawkeye State has some fantastic ice fishing opportunities, too.

And don’t forget Iowa’s officially designated State fish, the channel catfish, some of which are trophy-size. So here are the 10 best fishing locations in Iowa. Here’s what you can expect at each one on your next memorable fishing trip to this stunningly beautiful and diverse state.


1. Coralville Lake

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