Iowa free fishing weekend is June 5-7

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Iowa residents may fish without a license Friday through Sunday, June 5-7, during the DNR’s annual free fishing weekend. There are a number of opportunities to fish locally, including off the fishing pier in Marquette, like Jenny Smith, of Cedar Rapids, took advantage of last week. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Iowa residents may fish without a license Friday through Sunday, June 5-7, during the DNR’s annual free fishing weekend.

“We want people to fish because it is a good, wholesome activity,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa DNR’s Fisheries Bureau, in a press release.

Since kids can fish for free in the state until age 16, the weekend is largely geared toward adults, said local DNR conservation officer Burt Walters.

“It gives people the chance to try it and see if they like it,” he said. “It’s like going to a basketball game without having to buy a ticket. If they like it, we hope they’ll go out and buy a license.”

While the free fishing weekend offers a good opportunity for beginning fishermen and women to test the waters and spend time with friends and family, Walters said it also gives adults a second chance at what may have been a favorite childhood pasttime.

“You’d be surprised by how many people grew up and left fishing,” he noted. “This is a shot to come back to it if you really enjoyed it as a kid.”

Walters said there are a number of opportunities to fish locally, including fishing piers in Marquette and Guttenberg. Fish, like bass, can also be plentiful when fishing off rock edges along the shoreline, across the railroad tracks. Wing dams (underwater, manmade barriers that extend from the shoreline and deflect current to the main navigation channel) are good for hooking walleyes. 

“For people who like to catch bluegills, good places are the snags along the shore edges,” Walters said, adding that trout fishing is also popular during those days. “The weekend is used pretty heavily.”

For those interested in taking advantage of the weekend, Walters advises everyone to pick up any trash. Fishermen and women are also reminded to use life jackets and have a throwable life preserver handy.

“If someone should fall in, then there’s something to toss in to grab onto,” he said.

Anyone who catches their first fish is encouraged to take a photo of it and send it in to receive the DNR’s first fish award. The DNR will commemorate the event with a certificate suitable for framing and the submitted photo.

Information on the first fish program is available in the Iowa fishing regulations and online at www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/MasterAnglerFirstFish.aspx.

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