Plenty of Iowans are hooked on fishing during the pandemic as a record of nearly 200,000 fishing licenses have been sold statewide this spring, which is up 30- to 40-percent from a year ago.
Joe Larscheid, Fisheries Chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says this is a free fishing weekend, today through Sunday. “Any Iowa resident can fish for free,” Larscheid says. “There’s bluegills and crappies close to shore. The fishing’s excellent. It’s a great chance if you haven’t got your license yet to get out with friends and family and enjoy Iowa’s natural resources.”
The popularity of some outdoor activities is booming with so many people working from home due to COVID-19 concerns. Larscheid says to use common sense and keep a good six feet of distance between yourselves and others while fishing.
“We have a lot of lakes in Iowa, a lot of ponds and rivers, there’s lots of places to spread out,” Larscheid says. “If there’s a bunch of people along one part of a shore, just find a part of the shore where you can practice social distancing and just get out and have fun. We’ve got plenty of room for everybody.”
Sales of fishing licenses in Iowa have been the best this spring since 2002, the year they became available electronically.
“We have record license sales in March, April and May,” Larscheid says. “A lot of people are out there fishing. It’s like opening day every day. People are staying home, they’re staying closer to home. Being outside, it’s easier to practice social distancing and have fun with your family and friends.”
Iowa fishing licenses are available in several types, including yearly, 7-day, or even just 24-hour licenses. Find a list of stocked lakes and ponds that are easily accessible in parks and along trails on the DNR’s interactive Iowa Community Fisheries Atlas at iowadnr.gov.