Fishing is more popular in Iowa now than ever before and state officials are hoping to keep riding that wave by luring more people to the sport with free fishing tomorrow through Sunday.
Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa DNR’s Fisheries Bureau, says Iowans can try fishing without having to buy a license this weekend. He says it’s an excellent way to get hooked on what could become a lifelong pastime.
“Go to our website for tips on fishing and also where to go fishing and how to take care of your catch,” Larscheid says. “We have a lot of county partners and city partners and different organizations that put on fishing clinics, including our own clinics. If you can find a clinic close to your area, if you’re new to fishing, you can really get some great tips on how to be successful.”
In recent years, Iowa has experienced a drop in hunting license sales as there are so many entertainment options vying for our attention, though fishing remains a favored activity.
“Last year during the COVID crisis, we had an all-time record high of fishing license sales and this year is right behind that, so we’ve had two solid years in a row of increases in fishing participation,” Larscheid says. “Over the last ten years, we haven’t really seen the drop in numbers that we have seen in hunting.”
Iowa boasts hundreds of lakes and thousands of miles of rivers, plus, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get outfitted for fishing. “If you have a friend that’s an angler and is willing to take you, that’s the best way to get introduced to fishing,” Larscheid says. “There’s a lot of fishing clinics, especially during Free Fishing Weekend, and we have those interspersed throughout the year. Just check our website for one close to you, and at those clinics, we normally provide equipment for people to use.”
To encourage young anglers, the DNR is also offering a frameable certificate of accomplishment when they catch their first fish. Find details about that and much more at the Iowa DNR website.