Fishing Licenses in Iowa


A recreational fishing license is mandatory for the majority of sport fishing opportunities in Iowa. Since Iowa is not a coastal state, a saltwater fishing license cannot be purchased. However, a recreational fishing license or commercial fishing license is necessary depending on the area a fishermen chooses to fish and his or her age. The most common type of license in Iowa is a sport fishing license, where fishing is done as more of a hobby than a means for business.

The reason why Iowa requires sport fishing licenses is to help conserve the natural resources of the state so that future anglers can too, enjoy game fishing. Iowa has established its own set of fishing regulations and rules in order to protect the fish populations. To learn more about these rules, as well as how to obtain a freshwater fishing license, continue reading below.

Who needs a fishing license in Iowa?

A game fishing license to legally catch fish is required by both residents and non-residents in Iowa older than 16 years of age. Fishermen who are younger than 16 years of age can legally fish without a license. Other fishermen not required to have a recreational sport license to fish in Iowa include minor students of the State School for the Blind and State School for the Deaf, minor residents under state institution or county care residents and military personnel on active duty or on authorized leave who are residents of Iowa.

Commercial fishing permits are required by any angler who will catch fish deemed underused, undesirable or injured from the Mississippi. The permit is also required in order to operate commercial equipment. In some cases, a commercial freshwater fishing license is the only way to legally catch certain species of fish in Iowa.

Iowa Fishing License Requirements

The requirements to purchase a recreational fishing license in Iowa are minimal. Anglers older than 16 will need a fishing license. A sport fishing license is not required for those who are younger than 16 years of age. Payment will need to be made in full before being able to fish legally. The game fishing license will also need to be furnished when necessary.

Types of Fishing Licenses in Iowa

In order to legally catch fish in Iowa, a recreational freshwater fishing license will be required. There are various types of sport fishing licenses available in the state, which is why it is important for anglers to understand what it is they seek to catch. The two categories in which IA fishing licenses fall under are the resident freshwater fishing license and the non-resident license. Resident sport fishing licenses and nonresident licenses include:


  • Annual Fishing License.
  • Angler’s Special 3-Year Fish.
  • Bonus Line – 3rd Fish Line.
  • Lifetime Fishing License.
  • Resident Trout Fish Fee.
  • Resident One-Day Fishing.
  • Resident Seven-Day Fishing.
  • Resident Boundary Water Trotline.
  • Non-resident Fishing License.
  • Non-resident Trout Fishing Fee.
  • Non-resident One-Day Fishing.
  • Non-resident Three-Day Fishing.
  • Non-resident Seven-Day Fishing.
  • Non-resident Boundary Water Trotline.

What types of fish can I catch with fishing license in Iowa?

There are a variety of freshwater fish that anglers can find at the end of their line in Iowa. A freshwater fishing license allows anglers to catch species such as:


  • Bluegill
  • Bass (largemouth and smallmouth)
  • Channel catfish
  • Crappie
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Muskie
  • Yellow perch

What types of fish require special fishing permits or tags in Iowa?

While there are many types of fish that can be caught using a regular recreational fishing license, there is one type of fish that requires a special permit in order to possess it. The trout fishing fee can be added to any sport fishing license in order for residents and non-residents to legally fish for it. The trout fishing fee must be paid by anglers older than 16, or younger than 16 if not fishing with a properly licensed adult.

How long is a fishing license valid in Iowa?

There are different options for recreational freshwater fishing licenses in Iowa in terms of the length of time the license is valid for. Depending on how long a fishermen chooses to fish, the license will vary. Which game fishing license will fit his or her needs best is up to the discretion of the angler.

How much does a Iowa fishing license cost?

The costs for recreational fishing licenses in Iowa range, depending on the length of time the license is good for as well as the type of license needed. In addition, the resident sport freshwater licenses will be much less expensive versus the non-resident licenses. The resident recreational fishing licenses are:

  • Annual Fishing License – $19
  • Angler’s Special 3-Year Fish – $53
  • Bonus Line – 3rd Fish Line – $12
  • Lifetime Fishing – $52.50
  • Resident Trout Fish Fee – $12.50
  • Resident One-Day Fishing – $9.50
  • Resident Seven-Day Fishing – $13.50
  • Resident Boundary Water Trotline – $22.50
  • Non-resident Fishing – $41
  • Non-resident Trout Fishing Fee – $15
  • Non-resident One-Day Fishing – $10.50
  • Non-resident Three-Day Fishing – $17.50
  • Non-resident Seven-Day Fishing – $32
  • Non-resident Boundary Water Trotline – $42.50

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Are fishing license discounts available in Iowa?

Common discounts for recreational fishing licenses can be found when purchasing a hunting and fishing license together in a bundle. Additionally, the most common discounts for fishing licenses are through resident purchases. Discounts for purchasing the resident recreational fishing license will apply to anglers who can prove they are residents of Iowa.

Where can I get a fishing license in Iowa?

A freshwater fishing license in Iowa can be purchased either online or in person. For anglers who wish to buy a recreational fishing license in Iowa online, he or she will need to visit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and create an account. Anglers can also purchase a sport fishing license in person, by visiting the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to find a local fishing license vendor.

How can I replace my Iowa fishing license?

Circumstances arise when a recreational fishing license becomes damaged, destroyed or lost and an angler may need a replacement. Anglers can contact their local Iowa Department of Natural Resources office for more information about replacements. Fees for replacing a fishing license may apply.


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