By Brad Lane
From the state’s running rivers to its serene lakes to its secret destinations, Iowa is an incredible place to fish. Anglers will find everything from largemouth bass to crappie to catfish. With the right bait and in the right spot, you might snag that big catch. Here are the five best fishing holes in Iowa.
Pinicon Ridge Park in Linn County is a popular place for many types of outdoor adventures including hiking and camping, but for those anglers out there, the one reason to check out this county park is the fishing. Featuring smallmouth bass, bigmouth buffalo, and northern pike, among many other fish species, fishermen and fisherwomen can cast out their bait into this river anytime of the year with a good chance to catch something. The Iowa DNR recognizes the Wapsipinicon River and the Pinicon Ridge Park access as some of the most premier fishing in the state of Iowa, so it’s no secret spot, but with plenty of fish to catch and plenty of room to cast out a line, you can see for yourself what makes this a great fishing location in Iowa.
Perhaps the only home to the prized Kentucky spotted bass in Iowa, Lake Macbride is an angler’s dream come true when it comes to high-quality fishing. Besides the Kentucky spotted bass, Lake Macbride also is home to walleye, catfish, and musky, and with seven boat ramps available, plus rentals on shore, the possibilities are endless for your next big catch. Lake Macbride is a popular spot not just for the anglers also, and within your fishing visit you can expect to see many other Iowa denizens playing on the shore, hiking the trails or staying at the campgrounds. Whatever activities you decide to add onto your fishing adventure at Lake Macbride State Park, you’ll be sure to catch a great time exploring the waters of this man-made reservoir.
Recognized as the first county conservation man-made lake in the state of Iowa, Hannen Lake within Hannen Park is a stocked-full fishing adventure waiting to happen. Featuring 45 acres of water to fish in and boat upon, there is good chance you’ll catch black crappie, bluegills or largemouth bass, making for an exciting moment every time you reel something in. The Iowa DNR also stocks this man-made lake with catfish throughout the year, giving every angler even more variety of what they can catch at Hannen Lake, and with an RV campground not far from the shore, this is one fishing hole in Iowa that can be easily explored for multiple days at a time.
The Iowa DNR operates eight different trout hatcheries throughout the state, and while all offer excellent places to cast a line, the Big Spring location in Elkader seems to stand out the most. Perhaps it’s the flow of the Turkey River of which Big Spring flows into, or maybe all the amenities including a trout pond, a kid’s fishing spot and primitive campgrounds, whatever it is, this Elkader fishing spot is one of the best in the state. Anglers need both a fishing permit and trout stamp to catch this magnificent fish, plus some patience and a good eye, but land yourself the big one and you’ll be permanently hooked on the trout fishing found at the Big Spring.
Comprising the main attraction for Lake Darling State Park, Lake Darling itself is a premier Iowa fishing destination featuring black crappie, bluegill, and largemouth bass. Located four miles west of Brighton, Lake Darling draws many visitors throughout the year, and while you can expect to find a lot of fishing poles on the shore and in the water, with over 300 acres of lake to explore, including a 1.5-mile paved fishing trail, there is plenty of space to play. The Iowa DNR does stock the lake periodically throughout the year, but the lake provides enough habitat for many fish to flourish on their own. While it’s never a guarantee to catch anything on any fishing trip, with the scenic surroundings of Lake Darling, it is a guarantee to have a good time at this great fishing spot in Iowa.