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Iowa Fishing Licenses
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Find info on Iowa Fishing Licenses and Regulations Online.


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Getting an Iowa fishing license is a requirement for anglers whether you have never participated in the sport of fishing or you are a veteran. The state has numerous licensing credentials at your disposal. On a wide scale, Iowa fishing permits are issued to residents, nonresidents, seniors, military members and veterans. Although Iowa fishing licenses are typically good for a period of a year, you may also apply for a lifetime permit, which will last the duration of your life. In order to find an approved retailer near you to get started on your fishing license application process, visit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website. This department is in charge of issuing both fishing and hunting licenses in the state. Find the retailer closest to you by making your way to the License Retailer page. After you have entered either your ZIP code, county or city, you will then be directed to a screen that contains full information about all license agents in your area. The Department of Natural Resources now allows prospective anglers to buy a fishing permit in Iowa online as well, regardless of whether you are a resident or a tourist of the state. To complete this freshwater fishing permit transaction, you must first create your own IDNR Customer Account. Once you have provided all the necessary information, you will then be ready to purchase your license to fish in IA. For more information on how to get a fishing license in Iowa, click this link. There are various recreational fishing licenses in Iowa, but the two main types include:

  • New fishing licenses.
  • Commercial fishing licenses.

Iowa New Fishing Licenses

To get an Iowa fishing license through the IA Department of Natural Resources, you must fill out a fishing license application. For example, if you would like to acquire a resident fishing license in Iowa, you will need to complete an Application for Iowa Residency In Order To Acquire Resident Licenses and Privileges form. With this application, you must be ready to provide one of the following documents to prove your residency:

  • A recent paystub that was issued in the past 90 days
  • A utility bill (electric, water, internet, cable, landline phone, etc.) that was issued in the past 90 days
  • A lease contract or mortgage agreement
  • Your Iowa car registration
  • Your Iowa driving license

Individuals who are younger than the age of 16 are not required to get a fishing license in Iowa. However, you may still need to pay a set trout fee if you intend to catch this particular type of freshwater fish. Residents can purchase a one-day license, a three-day license, a seven-day license, an annual license or a lifetime license, depending on their preference.

Note: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources allows residents to engage in free fishing for a period of three days in June, during the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this summer month. The department also permits students of the State School for the Blind and the State School for the Deaf to fish for free. If you are a resident with an annual household income that is considered below the poverty level, you can apply for a free annual fishing permit as well.

Iowa Commercial Fishing Licenses

An Iowa commercial license to fish is offered to professional anglers who are interested in catching and selling certain species of fish or marine life. Before you get a commercial fishing license in Iowa, consider any of the following credentials offered by the state:

  • Aquaculture unit license
  • Wholesale bait dealer license
  • Retail bait dealer license
  • Commercial turtle buyer license
  • Commercial roe buyer license
  • Commercial fish helper credential
  • Fish importation permit

All of the aforementioned licenses are only issued once the proper commercial fishing license application has been filled out, the requested documents have been presented and any set fees have been paid.

If you intend to catch and sell mussels, you are only permitted to do so during the open season in Iowa. You must also be careful not to get mussels for bait during the time of sunrise or sunset. This specific mollusk can only be taken using a pole, a line or your hand.

If you would like to partake in state park fishing for the purpose of commercial sale, review the Iowa Commercial Fishing Guide to familiarize yourself with all the rules and regulations of fishing in these state bodies of water.

Fishing Frequently Asked Questions

Oftentimes you can buy a fishing license through your state’s fishing department website. You will most likely need to create an account on the webpage and have a printer nearby to finalize your transaction. Make sure to also have a valid credit card on hand, as no other form of payment is accepted by state departments online. Take note that, as proof of your residency, you may be required to enter your driver’s license number.
In a general sense, a good number of states offer the following types of fishing licenses: a regular fishing license and a commercial fishing license. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to get a saltwater license to fish, if you are by coastal waters. In addition to these permits, you may be required to buy a fishing stamp, depending on the specific type of fish species you intend to catch.
A regular fishing permit is often valid for the period of a full year. However, you may also have the option to obtain a license to fish that is good for 24 hours or 72 hours, for example. In some instances, a weekly fishing license or a lifetime license may also be available. Lifetime licenses to fish are the most suitable option for those anglers who intend to fish for the duration of their lives. Keep in mind that if you would like to continue fishing after the expiration date of your current licensure, you will be required to get a new permit to fish.
The fees related to a state fishing license may vary, depending on a few factors. But senior residents and military veterans can usually get a fishing license that is free of charge, as long as they can present official documentation that supports their residency or military service. Resident licenses to fish are often more affordable than nonresident licenses. The most costly licenses are for those who would like to get lifetime credentials.
In the event that you have lost your fishing license or it was stolen, the most common way to obtain a duplicate is through your state’s fishing department. You may be required to make an in-person visit to a nearby office or to contact a licensed agent directly. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to order a fishing permit replacement online. But, to be sure, it is important that you double check with your state department first, as you may also need to bring in certain documentation, such as your driver’s license or ID card.
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