If you are interested in becoming an angler, the first weekend in June is the perfect opportunity to explore fishing in western Iowa. Iowa residents can try fishing without buying a license on June 2, 3 and 4, as part of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) free fishing weekend. All other regulations remain in place.
Fun, hands-on fishing events will be offered across Iowa to help families new to fishing get started. Check the general fishing calendar on the DNR website at for a list of free fishing events. Get tips for taking kids fishing and catching crappie and bluegills on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/Ready-to-Fish.
If there isn't an event near you, or if you want to explore another area, check out our list below of 15 fishing spots in western Iowa. The list includes one spot in each county on western Iowa's scenic byways.
Fish year-round at Scharnberg Park! The 15-acre pond has bass, bluegill and channel catfish. The pond is stocked yearly by the Urban Trout Stocking program which stocks 1,500 Rainbow trout in October or November and January or February of each year. With 2 rock fishing jetties and 1 handicap accessible fishing pier, accessibility to the pond is excellent.
Willow Lake Recreation Area has a 27-acre lake with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish, and black crappie. The legal size limit of bass is 15 inches or more; anything under must be released immediately. There is a boat ramp and parking lot; electric motors only. Fishing jetties and a pier also provide access to deeper waters without the need for a boat.
Gilbert Pond at Big Lake Park. Paved trails, picnic area, playground and restrooms. Catch largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish. Rainbow Trout stocked each fall and winter.
Pony Creek Lake has approximately 1,300 feet of shoreline access for anglers and canoers on an 82-acre lake. Anglers will most likely encounter: largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, carp and yellow bass. The lake access area is well groomed and has a gravel-parking lot which handles overflow crowds from Pony Creek Park. It is located approximately 3/4 mile north of Pony Creek Park (56235 Deacon Road) on Deacon Road.
Pinky's Glenn is a roadside park just west of Tabor, slightly off the beaten path and featuring solitude and scenery. The park shelter, picnic tables and restrooms are all located conveniently near the main road. Visitors can take a circular path around the grounds and discover varieties of birds and wildlife. Tucked away at the back of the park is a beautiful pond suitable for fishing.
The 70-acre lake at Littlefield Recreation Area is a popular fishing spot. It contains channel catfish, crappies, bluegill, largemouth bass, and carp. The lake is also popular for swimming with its 400 foot long beach.
Whiterock Conservancy offer access to 12 fishing ponds around the property, free of charge. The Garst Family invited local residents to fish on these ponds in the 1950s and Whiterock is proud to continue this tradition. Pond 5 on the map, locally known as Anthofer Pond, is closed due to low water levels. A map of all the ponds can be downloaded here.
Resources & Prizes
If you catch the fishing bug during free fishing weekend, purchase a fishing license with the DNR Go Outdoors Iowa online licensing system
Find a list of stocked lakes and ponds that are easily accessible in parks and along trails on the Iowa DNR’s interactive Iowa Community Fisheries Atlas.
Iowa DNR is partnering for a second year with MyCatch by Angler’s Atlas to conduct a statewide walleye fishing challenge starting May 1 through June 30.'
Anglers will have the chance to win numerous local prizes, worth over $6,000, in addition to $5,000 in statewide weekly prizes.
Register for the Iowa Walleye Challenge today. There is a $25 fee to enter the tournament; only paid participants qualify for prizes.