Grab your gear, a beautiful, relaxing day on the water is calling your name. Greater Des Moines' rivers, lakes, and ponds are rich in biodiversity and provide all-day fishing fun. Ice-fishers, fly-fishers, and rod-and-reelers can find bountiful bodies of water all over the state, but here are a few of our favorite places to drop a line in the Greater Des Moines area.
Fort Des Moines Pond
Catch bluegill, catfish, crappie, and bass at Fort Des Moines Pond just southwest of Southridge Mall. This spot is an excellent location for families. With a trail around the lake, fishing pier, pedestrian bridge, and playground, all family members will surely be entertained during an afternoon of fishing.
If you're looking for a more non-traditional catch like carp and gar, this is the lake for you. The adjacent Raccoon River occasionally overflows and introduces different varieties of fish into this lake, but familiar species like bass, crappie, and bluegill are still maintained. Here you also have the opportunity to explore the lake in its entirety. Take a hike around the shoreline or rent a canoe on-site and paddle to the center of the lake.
Just north of downtown Des Moines, you can find Jester Park. This beautiful 1,675-acre park is well-known for its wide range of outdoor activities and home to three ponds packed full of bass, bluegill, green sunfish, and crappie. The clear walkways/entry points and abundance of smaller fish make this park perfect for beginners.
Copper Creek Lake
Head to Pleasant Hill for a more than pleasant fishing experience. Copper Creek Lake is one of the few bodies of water within the city that has a tremendous amount of white bass. So grab your friends and family and make a day out of it. With plenty of family-friendly amenities like playgrounds, trails, shelters, picnic tables, and a considerable amount of shoreline fishing spots, this lake has something for everyone.
Yellow Banks Park
If you're in search of a relaxing spot to fish, then head southeast of the city to Yellow Banks Park. You can go to this park time and time again and still find new places to cast your line. Fish the jetty, hike the trails, take a seat under the covered dock, spread out at the boat ramp, or camp out above the dam - there's an ample amount of secluded areas just waiting to be discovered.
Des Moines Water Works Park
Are you a social fisher? Then Des Moines Water Works Park might be the hub for you. There are many ponds sprinkled throughout this 1,500-acre park and vast grassy areas perfect for practicing your casting. The park is also a major intersection for many trails and is host to a popular arboretum that draws thousands of visitors during the spring season. So you'll undoubtedly encounter many friendly faces during your day of fishing.
You can find this fishing hotspot right outside of Bondurant. If you love large catfish and bluegills, then you'll love Lake Petocka. With clear water, big fish, and a small watershed, this is simply a fisherman's dream.
Middle Raccoon River
Located in Dallas County, this river flows from Lennon Mill Dam in Panora all the way downstream to Redfield. With many access points available at canoe launches and a large population of smallmouth bass, crappie, sunfish, walleye, carp, catfish, and pike, this river makes for an opportunistic day of fishing!
Ready to take on a new skill? Try fly fishing!
To the unfamiliar, fly fishing is only done on a river in Colorado or Wyoming. The reality is that most Iowans learn to fly fish a lot closer to home. Iowa has hundreds of miles of rivers, its own trout fishery in the northeast part of the state, and by some estimates, 80,000 farm ponds and hundreds of lakes.
To get started, you'll need a fly rod, flies, a few accessories, and the desire to learn. There are many online resources for beginners. The Orvis Learning Center has everything from basic casting to knot demonstrations to all-encompassing video tutorials. However, we recommend getting in touch with a local fly fisher who is eager to help someone new to the sport. If you're interested in learning more about fly fishing, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.