DNR free fishing weekend kicks off Friday

Iowa’s annual free fishing weekend starts Friday, but recent flooding in central Iowa might limit the options of where you can cast your line.

Mike Stegmann, director of the Marshall County Conservation Board, said the public bodies of water around the county will not be conducive to fishing after nearly 10 inches of rain fell on the area last week, and one popular fishing spot still remains closed.

“The [Iowa] River of course is still swollen,” he said. “Green Castle is dropping to the level where we want it, but Sand Lake is still closed because flood waters are still inundating the parking lots.”

Stegmann said all of the flood waters need to recede before they can get into Sand Lake to make repairs necessary to reopen the area.

John Steinbach, DNR game warden for Marshall County, said the flooding will cut down on the number of people fishing locally this weekend.

“People are going to have to go away from the flooded areas because of safety reasons,” Steinbach said. “Putting a boat in any kind of flood water is not the safest thing.”

Other areas that weren’t as heavily affected by the flooding, Stegmann said, are Union Grove and Otter Creek parks in Tama County, Hickory Grove in Story County and places like Lake Red Rock and Saylorville Lake north of Des Moines, which serve as alternative places that are great for fishing.

“There’s other bodies of water in short driving distance,” he said.

Both Steinbach and Stegmann warned people taking advantage of the free fishing weekend to be aware of the recent flood waters and remember things are not back to normal.

“People need to be aware of the obstructions in the water,” Stegmann said.

“Don’t go swimming, have a life jacket on close to the water and don’t drive through the standing water,” Steinbach said.

Fishing licenses can be purchased after this weekend at stores like Walmart, Kmart and The General Store, Steinbach said. Iowa law requires all people 16 and older to have a valid fishing license.

“We do write citations if you don’t have a license,” he said.

Free fishing weekend runs through Sunday.