Iowa DNR releases 2022 Updated Fishing Regulations

Iowa DNR releases 2022 Updated Fishing Regulations

January 12, 2022

Muskies, native to the upper Mississippi River drainage, have been found in Iowa’s rivers since the late 1800’s. The first attempt to stock muskies into Iowa lakes began in 1960 to offer anglers another trophy sport fish. Thanks to improvements in hatchery practices, additional areas are now stocked. Find muskies in Big Spirit, Little Spirit, East and West Okoboji, Clear Lake, Brushy Creek, Black Hawk Lake, Big Creek, Three Mile, Lake MacBride, Hawthorn Lake, Pleasant Creek, Lost Grove Lake, Lake Sugema, Deep Lake, Upper Gar, Minnewashta Lake, Lower Gar, Little Sioux River, Cedar River, Iowa River, Shell Rock and the Des Moines River.

Muskies are often caught in the spillway below reservoir dams or downstream of low head dams. Some muskies are caught with live bait or twister tails in eddies and other current seams.

Since muskellunge are stocked in low densities, they are not found everywhere in a lake. Side scan sonar, underwater cameras and GPS systems can help you find a weed line along with specific key features within the habitat such as inside turns, small points that extend out into deeper water or clumps of aquatic plants that are denser than the rest of the weed bed. Use a GPS unit to help you come back to these locations throughout the fishing season.  

Once water temperatures reach the mid-60s and after the fish have recovered from the spawning season, muskies start to eat more often. Find active fish in weed lines close to drop offs on natural lakes, bulrush beds and rock reefs. Boat docks can provide excellent cover for muskies to trap their next meal in lakes that lack lots of aquatic plants.

Look for muskies in creek channels that wind through flooded timber. Rock jetties and armored shorelines, such as the face of a dam, will also hold muskies. Try also road beds, constructed rock piles, earthen mounds and brush piles. Look for places where many habitat types cross, such as where a weed line meets an old road bed with rock piled on it.

Though Musky Shop strongly promotes catch and release.  Residents of Iowa will be allowed one Musky daily limit with a length over 40" with a much higher bag for Northern Pike. (see charts)

In order to fish responsibly and follow all Iowa regulations as a resident or visitor, please see the 2022 Regulations Manual.