Largemouth bass fishing in the state of Iowa has increased in popularity over the years as fishing opportunities have become more established. According to David L. Moeller, of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, largemouth bass were the preferred species of fish for nine percent of Iowa anglers ten years ago. Five years later, the percentage of anglers who cited the bucketmouth as their favorite fish jumped to 17 percent. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are native to Iowa, but habitat change and stocking has forever redistributed these fish.
Historically, largemouth bass were originally sampled in some of the backwater areas and oxbows of the Missouri River watershed. Today, largemouth bass are distributed throughout the state, offering top-notch angling opportunities. Smallmouth bass were native to Iowa, particularly in the Mississippi River watershed and before the impoundment of the Mississippi River for navigation. Smallmouth bass were much more abundant.
Today, abundant populations of smallmouth bass are found throughout central and northeastern Iowa, particularly in swift-flowing, less turbid rivers and small streams that are part of the Mississippi River watershed, including the Cedar, Shell Rock, Winnebago and Upper Iowa rivers. A particularly great success story for smallmouth bass is also the Great Lakes region of northwestern Iowa.
The state-record largemouth bass for Iowa is a respectable 10-pound, 12-ounce fish caught out of Lake Fisher, located in Davis County, in May of 1984. While this record has stood for more than twenty-five years, there are several 7-pound-plus bass that are getting caught out of Iowa farm ponds each season. Really, some of the biggest largemouth bass caught in Iowa each year come out of tiny farm ponds, according to Eric Naig, marketing manager for Northland Fishing Tackle. Naig grew up in the small town of Cylinder, Ia., and spends a considerable amount of time fishing for bass across the state.
Huge bass hidden in private farm ponds is nothing unique to Iowa but, according to Naig, these productive jewels might be more accessible than many anglers might think, and that is why we will include some of this private pond strategy in this years Iowa bass forecast. These ponds produce fish early in the season and are one of the hottest opportunities for bass-heads in the Hawkeye State.
Other great options include the Great Lakes region of northeast Iowa for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. The state also has a handful of man-made reservoirs, which have also created some very respectable opportunities for largemouth bass. The Mississippi River is a respectable largemouth bass fishery that seems to keep getting better each season. The stretch of the Missouri River around Sioux City downstream to Monona County has also quietly developed into a respectable bass fishery, albeit for smallmouth. Some of the top prospects for this upcoming season are highlighted right here.
Finding a place to catch big bass in Iowa is much easier than getting permission to hunt, states Naig, matter of factly. Finding hot farm ponds and gravel pits on private property takes a little bit of sleuth work but this detective effort is worth the time as the biggest largemouth bass caught each season in Iowa typically come from these little ponds. To catch the state’s biggest bass, forget about scum frogs and Texas-rigged worms for a second and approach this fishing like you would hunting. That means walking up to a barn or farmhouse with a smile on your face and a warm handshake.
Many of these landowners will let you access their property to fish these private ponds, according to Naig. There might be some stipulations or rules when fishing on private property, much like hunting. Some farmers, for example, want some of the small bass or bluegills removed or they might not let you keep the really big fish as they typically want the anglers fishing their ponds to help in the management. Most of the fishing is done from shore or perhaps there might be situations where there are private accesses or vehicles can get close enough to the pond where kayaks, belly boats and canoes can be used to fish. Finding these hotspots takes a little bit of extra effort, but the end result is some of the best bass fishing Iowa has to offer.