Fishing in Iowa

Last updated on July 8th, 2021 at 04:32 pm. Originally published on July 7th, 2021

Iowa is a beautiful state to explore, from the Missouri River on its western side to the Mississippi River on its east. You can find many great outdoor adventures in this state, including rappelling, canoeing, swimming, and camping. The best activity, however, may be fishing. First, check the state fishing regulations and get your license. Then, check out these good spots to figure out where to fish in Iowa. 

The sun sets behind a shadowed bluff on the bank of a flowing river.

Fishing Spots in Iowa

Rathbun Reservoir

Fed by the Chariton River, Rathbun Reservoir near Centerville is the largest lake in Iowa. Fish in the early spring in the fingers of this lake near south-facing shorelines for crappie using a 1/64- to 1/32-ounce jig under a bobber. Move to red clay shorelines once water temperatures reach above 58 degrees. Once summer temperatures arrive, watch for active crappie near the water’s surface as you can be sure there are more underneath them, and fish that area using a longlining technique. 

Black Hawk Lake

Black Hawk Lake is the southernmost glacier lake in the United States. You can catch various fish on this lake, including walleye, bass, muskie, crappie, perch, bluegill, catfish, and bullheads. Anglers can easily launch their vessels at the public boat dock that has a nearby parking lot with 25 spaces. A fishing pier that is handicapped accessible, and shore fishing Iowa at this location is often great at this lake near Lake View. 

Clear Lake

Clear Lake is a fantastic spot to catch 17- to 24-inch walleyes and 40- to 42-inch muskies. It is also a terrific place to go crappie fishing. Trolling the north border of this lake is often the best way to catch your limit of walleyes. Fish for muskies along the docks at this lake near Clear Lake. If you are fishing in the spring from shore, try the little part of the lake on its west side. Fall fishing, especially starting at Dodger’s Point and going southward, can be a great time to fish this lake from the shore. 

Lake Macbride

Lake Macbride near Solon is the only lake in Iowa where anglers can catch Kentucky spotted bass. These fish are aggressive, and they often jump up to 11 feet in the air before finally surrendering. Fish for Kentucky spotted bass near rocks and not far from the shoreline using lures resembling crayfish. This 940-acre lake also has black crappie, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, and walleye. 

Prairie Rose Lake

Prairie Rose Lake near Harlan is a fabulous place to fish for bluegill. This lake was completely renovated in 2011 with pea gravel spawning beds, so you should fish that area in the spring. Many rock habitats were installed across the lake during the renovation, and those areas make great places to fish for largemouth bass. There are six fishing jetties, so fishing from land is easy. 

Rock Creek Lake

Rock Creek Lake near Kellogg is a great place to fish for crappie and catfish. Additionally, anglers can catch largemouth bass, bluegill, hybrid saugeye, and walleye. There are many fishing jetties around this 490-acre lake, with some of them being handicapped-accessible. Five boat ramps make it easy for anglers who prefer to fish from the water to launch their vessels, and boat rental is available. 

Mississippi River

From near the 600-foot-tall river bluffs in Northern Iowa to the flatter sections to the state’s southern part, anglers find many good fishing spots along the Mississippi River. Fish for walleye, sauger, and paddlefish below the navigation dams in the spring and fall. There are 58 launching sites on the Iowa side of the river. During the winter months, walleye and sauger fishing near Dubuque can be outstanding. 

Missouri River

If you love catfish, then fish the main channel of the Missouri River. Green sunfish and bullheads often make great bait when fishing for catfish. Blue catfish weighing over 101 pounds and channel catfish weighing more than 38 pounds have been caught. The best walleye fishing on this river is usually along where its many small tributaries enter it. This is especially true in the early spring if you can find some fast-moving water near Sioux City. 

Where to Fish in Iowa

If you love lake fishing, then head to northeast Iowa, especially around Waterloo and Cedar Rapids. This area is also filled with many small trout streams that are fun to fish. You will also want to fish the Okoboji area around Spirit Lake with its many interconnected lakes. Both sides of the state offer excellent river fishing. Iowa’s interior rivers, like the Des Moines, can be fantastic places to catch smallmouth bass. 

Camping and Fishing in Iowa

Iowa’s state parks, recreation areas, and forests have more than 4,500 campsites. Generally, reservations can be made three months in advance, and campsites near the state’s most popular fishing destinations often fill up quickly. There are also many private campgrounds in the state, but they may also be filled if you wait too long. Therefore, it is best to make your reservations as early as possible to get prime camping spots. 

Be sure to make a list of the fishing equipment that you need to take with you. This includes your fishing rod, your reel, and your favorite tackle. You also will want to bring along your fish-cleaning equipment and a way to keep the fish cold until you get back to your RV. 

Before you go, read this fishing blog filled with helpful tips that you may have never known or may have forgotten. 

With an RV rental, your fishing trip will be a little more comfortable! After you’ve spent a long day fishing, grill up your catch right at your campsite. Then, retire inside to enjoy all the comforts of home on board your RV. Plan your perfect fishing getaway with an RV rental from RVshare.

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