Get an Iowa Fishing License: Step-by-Step Breakdown

Last Updated on May 26, 2023

Iowa has some of the most diverse freshwater fish species in the country. These fish include largemouth bass, trout, bluegill, smallmouth bass, crappie, channel catfish, yellow perch, muskie, and walleye. 

In order to fish in Iowa, it is necessary to obtain an Iowa fishing license so you can legally fish in the many lakes, ponds, rivers, and reservoirs the state offers.

I’ve been getting my license for years and have plenty of experience on the subject. Before you grab your rod, make sure you’ve got a license and understand all the regulations. 

Who Needs a Fishing License in Iowa

In Iowa, both residents and non-residents over age 16 are required to obtain a fishing license to fish in all Iowa waters. Iowa is one of the best places to fish in the Midwest because there are ample fishing opportunities. 

There are thousands of rivers, ponds, lakes, and reservoirs in the state parks, Missouri river, and Mississippi river that contain multiple, like crappie, black bass, and bluegill.

Before fishing in these Iowa waters, it is essential to have an Iowa fishing license. 

All anglers must follow the Iowa Bay fishing regulations for the area they choose to fish and for the fish they intend to catch. 

What Age Do You Need a Fishing License in Iowa?

Lake Okoboji in Iowa

The Iowa fishing license age is 16 and older. Residents and non-residents that are younger than 16 can fish without a license, but they might need to purchase a trout fee.

In Iowa, a trout fee must be purchased to legally keep or fish for trout in the Iowa waters. 

When children under 16 fish for trout without a license, they must share their limit with a licensed adult if they do not purchase their own trout fee.


There are multiple types of fishing licenses available for residents of Iowa age 16 and above.

Residents can purchase various fishing licenses, such as the resident fishing license, angler’s special license, one-day fishing, seven-day fishing, boundary water trotline, bonus line, and a trout fish fee. 

Residents under the age of 16 can fish without a license but must still follow all Iowa fishing regulations and must purchase a trout fee if necessary. Senior citizens, age 65 and above, can also purchase a lifetime fishing license.


Iowa non-resident fishing licenses are available for anyone over the age of 16. Non-residents of Iowa have multiple options to choose from for their fishing licenses. 

They can choose the non-resident fishing license, bonus line, trout fish fee, one-day fishing, three-day fishing, seven-day fishing, and boundary water fishing.

Non-residents must follow the Iowa fishing regulations and must purchase a trout fee if fishing for or possessing trout. Senior citizens, age 65 and up, can purchase a lifetime out-of-state fishing license in Iowa.

Combo Hunting/Fishing License

Only residents have the opportunity to purchase combo hunting and fishing licenses in Iowa. The outdoor combo license for hunting, fishing, and habitat is available to purchase online or in person for those with fishing and hunter education. 

Many Iowa residents and visitors enjoy the combo license because it gives them the freedom to fish and hunt, all using one license.

Trout Stamp

A trout stamp is required in Iowa in addition to the purchase of an Iowa fishing license. Trout stamps are necessary for all anglers, both residents and non-residents of Iowa if they plan to harvest trout. 

While anglers younger than 16 do not need to purchase a fishing license, they must purchase a trout stamp if they plan to harvest trout.

If they plan to fish for trout with an adult with a fishing license, they must share the trout stamp with the adult and follow all regulations. 

A trout stamp may also be known as a trout fee. Trout fees/stamps can be purchased online or in person.

Under 16 License

Residents and non-residents of Iowa can legally fish under the age of 16, and they do not require a fishing license. However, they may still need to purchase a trout stamp if they plan to fish for trout.

How to Buy an Iowa Fishing License 

Iowa lake

You can purchase your Iowa Fishing License online or in person from a local retailer. 


The easiest way to buy an Iowa fishing license is online. To get your fishing license online, you must sign up or log in on their website. 

You must complete a form with your personal information, such as your date of birth, address, and social security number.

Once completed, choose the type of fishing license you wish to obtain. You can pay for your license online, making it simple, and you can print out your fishing license at home.

Local Retailers

There are 700 local license vendors, retailers, and bait shops in Iowa where you can purchase your fishing license, including all Walmarts and Dick’s Sporting Goods. 

You must give the local license retailer your personal information, and they will print out your fishing license the same day. You can also get your fishing license at your local recorder’s office from the county recorder.

How Much Is a Fishing License in Iowa

Fishing License TypeResident License FeeNon-Resident License Fee
Iowa Fishing License$22.00$48.00
Angler’s Special Three-Year Fish$62.00N/A
Trout Fish Fee$14.50$17.50
Bonus Line – Third Fish Line$14.00$14.00
Lifetime Fishing (over age 65)$61.50N/A
Lifetime Trout Fee (over age 65)$65.00N/A
Boundary Water Trotline$26.00$49.50
One Day Fishing$10.50$12.00
Three Day FishingN/A$20.50
Seven Day Fishing$15.50$37.50
Outdoor Combo – Hunting/Fishing/Habitat$55.00N/A

There are various fishing licenses available for residents and non-residents in Iowa to purchase.

While there are some licenses that are specifically for residents or non-residents, generally, most licenses are geared toward both residents and non-residents. 

For example, the Iowa Lifetime Fishing License is only available for residents and the Three Day Fishing License is only available for non-residents.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Lake Okoboji in Iowa

Can you fish without a license in Iowa?

You can only fish without a license in Iowa if you are younger than 16 years of age.

Any residents or non-residents wishing to fish in the state of Iowa, such as the Fort Des Moines Pond, must have a valid fishing license to fish in any of the Iowa waters. 

However, military personnel or active duty armed forces can fish or hunt in Iowa without a license, as long as they are a legal resident of the state.

How much is a nonresident fishing license for the state of Iowa?

A general non-resident fishing license in the state of Iowa is $48 for one year. 

Non-residents can also purchase the one-day fishing license for $12.00, the three-day fishing license for $20.50, the seven-day license for $37.50, boundary water trotline for $49.50, and bonus line for $14.00.

If fishing for trout, the trout fishing fee is $17.50 for non-residents.

How do I get a free fishing license in Iowa?

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources allows individuals who have a permanent, severe physical or mental disability to have a free fishing license. 

For a person to get a free fishing license for a severe physical disability, the person must have impaired use or mobility of the hand or arm, they require the full-time assistance of another person, or they require a wheelchair for mobility.

A person can receive a free fishing license for a severe mental disability if they have a chronic condition in which they are mentally impaired, have limitations regarding life activities, language, learning, mobility, and capacity for independence.

How much is a senior citizen fishing license in Iowa?

The only senior fishing license available in Iowa is the resident lifetime fishing license for $61.50 and a resident lifetime trout fee for $65.00.

If seniors would prefer a general Iowa fishing license, they can purchase the regular license for $22.00 (resident). 

How can I renew my fishing license?

You can renew your Iowa fishing license annually online or at a local retailer by completing the form and printing out the new license.

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand how to go about purchasing an Iowa fishing license, you can obtain your license today either online or at a local retailer. 

As anglers, it is essential to help fund the organizations that help keep Iowa’s waters clean and beautiful, like the Iowa DNR. 

Purchasing a fishing license helps to restore and enhance wildlife projects across the state. To find some of the best places to fish for bass in Iowa, check out our interactive bass fishing map!