Catfish, bass and walleye are just a few of the fish you can catch at some of Des Moines’ best fishing spots, from the slow-rolling waters of the Des Moines River to the many deep reservoirs that dot the Iowa landscape.
- Easter Lake – This 179 acre lake on the southeast edge of Des Moines offers an enormous abundance of crappie and bluegill, along with a healthy largemouth bass population and lots of 15- to 20-inch channel catfish. Several parks and fishing piers provide access.
- Grays Lake – Despite its small size, 96-acre Grays Lake is one of the better catfish lakes in the Des Moines area, and a population of hybrid striped bass offers a unique angling opportunity in the region. Boats are restricted to electric motors only, and the small lake is perfect for fishing from a kayak or float tube. Grays Lake Park provides plenty of access, including a hiking trail that encircles the lake.
- Saylorville Reservoir – About 20 minutes from downtown Des Moines, Saylorville Reservoir spans nearly 6,000 acres, with several parks and recreation areas around the shore that provide boat launch sites, fishing piers, shoreline trails and bank fishing access. The lake supports a diverse fishery, with some of the best biggest panfish (crappie, bluegill and white bass) in the Des Moines area. Catfish are also abundant, and largemouth bass, northern pike and walleye are available to anglers.
- Des Moines River – What better way to spend a lazy summer day than drifting a bait for catfish on the Des Moines River? Some of the best fishing for both channel and flathead catfish can be found in Des Moines’ namesake river, which flows right through the heart of the city with half a dozen public access sites along the way.
- Red Rock Reservoir – It takes about 45 minutes to get to Red Rock Reservoir from Des Moines, but the drive is worth it for anyone looking for great fishing. The reservoir is one of the best bass fishing spots in the region, with lots of largemouths in the 12 to 16 inch range. Good fishing for crappie, catfish and white bass is also available. State Parks and US Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas cover nearly the entire shore.
Before you hit the water at any of the Des Moines area’s best fishing spots, be sure to pick up a current Iowa fishing license. You can get a license through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website, and at most bait shops and sporting goods stores in the Des Moines area.