Iowa fishing license requirements are pretty straightforward – but remember that if you plan to fish for Trout, you’ll need a valid IA fishing license with the separate Trout Fee paid to be in compliance. 


Iowa Fishing Regulations

The State of Iowa states:

  • Iowa residents and nonresidents 16 years old and older must have a valid Iowa fishing license to fish private ponds and lakes, and trout streams.
  • You must have a valid sport fishing license to collect bait for individual use
  • You may use minnow traps no longer than 3 feet. Each trap, when being used, must have a metal tag attached and labeled with the owner’s name and address
  • You may use a minnow dip net no larger than 4 feet in diameter, you may use a cast net no larger than 10 feet in diameter and you can use a minnow seine not longer than 20 feet with mesh not smaller than one-quarter inch bar measure
  • You cannot stock any live fish, except for hooked bait, without the permission of the director of the Iowa DNR
  • You may not possess live Gizzard Shad at any lake
  • Taking or trying to take bait for commercial purposes from any Iowa waters, or transport minnows without a bait dealer’s license is illegal
  • You may use artificial light to take any fish except threatened or endangered species 
  • It is unlawful to dump bait in Iowa lakes, rivers or streams. Throw away unwanted bait in the trash. 
  • If keeping bait, you must exchange water in the bait buckets with tap or bottled water before you leave any waterbody to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species
  • You may not sort, cull, high-grade or replace any fish already in your possession. Participants in DNR-permitted Black Bass and catfish (five fish per boat restriction) tournaments are exempted.
  • You cannot use more than two jugs or more than two hooks on each jug. You cannot leave the jugs in the water unattended by being out of visual sight of the jugs
  • You cannot use more than five trotlines with a valid sport fishing license. These trotlines cannot have more than 15 hooks total.
  • You can only trotline fish in some counties, so check if the counties, you would like to fish in allows you to trotline fish 
  • You cannot use any grab hook, snaghook, any kind of net, seine, trap, firearm, dynamite or other explosives, or poisonous or stupefying substances, lime, ashes or electricity to take or try to take any fish.
  • When fishing by hook and line, you cannot use more than two lines or more than two hooks on each line when still fishing or trolling.
  • When fly fishing, you may not use more than two flies on one line
  • When you are trolling and bait casting, you cannot use more than two trolling spoons or artificial baits on one line

Fishing License Period

Iowa fishing licenses are available in several lengths with the annual license representing a great value, and the most popular option for most fishermen. Here are the options:

  • Daily fishing licenses
  • Weekly fishing licenses
  • Annual fishing licenses
  • Lifetime fishing licenses

Extra Licensing Fees

It’s important to remember that in the state of Iowa, there’s an extra fee to possess or to fish for Trout – Iowa residents and nonresidents (required to have a fishing license) must pay the Trout Fee to fish for or possess trout unless you’re under 16 years of age. 


Free Or Reduced Fee Iowa Fishing Licenses

The State of Iowa offers free fishing licenses or reduced fishing licenses for:

  • Low-income residents 65 years of age or older
  • Low-income permanently disabled residents
  • Residents of Iowa who are disabled Veteran’s
  • Anyone who was a prisoner of war during their military service

Fishing Licenses Are NOT Required For

Owners or tenants of land, and their children under 18, may fish on such lands without a license.