2018 Free Fishing Days Events in Central Iowa

2018 Free Fishing Days Events in Central Iowa

Find 2019 fishing events here.

Grab your poles, cast your lines, and try to reel in a big one! June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 2018, are “Free Fishing Days” for Iowa residents. Free Fishing Days is a great time to experience the sport, learn about our local resources, and become more environmentally aware. Whether you are a novice or a pro, here are a few fishing events in the Des Moines area that guarantee a fun family day and a reminder that “good things come to those who bait.” 

For additional information about fishing in Iowa here is a link to Iowa DNR’s 2018 Iowa Fishing Regulations.

Free Fishing Days Events in Central Iowa:


Family Fishing Fun

Join Dallas County Conservation and Iowa DNR at the Glissman Conservation Area for an afternoon of FREE fishing fun on Sunday, June 3rd at 4:30 to 6:30 pm. There will be a limited number of rods and reels that can be borrowed as well as bait and treats for the kids. A naturalist will be on hand to assist new anglers.


Ankeny Optimist Club Kids Fishing Derby

Learn how to cast and fillet a fish for FREE on Saturday, June 2 at 9:00 am to 12:00 noon at Hawkeye Park (400 NW Lakeshore Drive, Ankeny, IA).  The Fishing Derby consists of two training activities: Fillet School and Casting School. Participants are encouraged to bring their own fishing rod and tackle; rods and tackle will be available to those who don’t have their own. Bait provided. Fish will be cooked on-site, giving participants a chance to taste fish they catch. A parent or guardian must be present.  Register for the event on Ankeny Parks and Recreation’s website.

Des Moines

Fishing Basics

Polk County Conservation will host Fishing Basics at Fort Des Moines Park (Shelter #1, 7200 SE 5th Street, Des Moines) on Friday, June 1 at 9:00 am. Learn about the different kinds of fish in Iowa, fishing safety, casting, and how to tie a hook. It is Free Fishing Weekend in Iowa so no license is needed. Bait and poles will be provided. Feel free to bring a chair to sit in. FREE. No registration required.

Free Fishing Friday

Join the Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department for a FREE fishing event on Friday, June 1st at 5:30 to 8:00 pm at Gray’s Lake (2101 Fleur Drive (North parking lot) Des Moines, IA 50315). This is a general fishing clinic where kids can learn about: basic spin casting instruction, fish identification and fishing regulations. Bring along equipment if you have it. There will be limited equipment on hand to borrow.  All ages are welcome and there is no registration required.


Try your hand at carp fishing at Gray’s Lake (2101 Fleur Drive, Des Moines). The Iowa DNR and Izzak Walton League are partnering with Des Moines Parks and Recreation for this event on Saturday, June 2nd at 9:00 am to 11:00 pm  If you are new to Carp fishing, they will have bait and gear on hand and instructions to get you started. Carp caught may be kept by the fisherman or donated onsite to the wildlife rehabilitation organization S.O.A.R. No fee and all ages welcome.

Family Nature Club – Fishing

Cast your line on Saturday, June 2nd at 1:30 pm at Greenwood Park (4500 Grand Avenue, Des Moines). Come out to Greenwood Park and try out your fishing skills.  If you have hook, line and sinker skills or are just interested in giving fishing a try for the first time, don’t worry, staff will be there to help you.  Bait and gear will be on hand to use at no cost and it is Free Fishing Weekend in Iowa, so a fishing license is not required for anyone. Feel free to bring your own gear if you want. Please register for this event on Blank Park Zoo’s website.


Kids Fish Day

Celebrate Free Fishing weekend and have some FREE fishing fun with Warren County Conservation on Saturday, June 2 at 8:30 to 11:30 am. Bring the kids to Annett Nature Center to learn the art of fishing. Participants will learn the proper way to tie knots, cast and fish safely. There will be awards and door prizes given out as well as a hot dog luncheon following the fishing. If you bring a plain T-shirt it will get a special design while you fish. Feel free to bring your own pole or borrow one of theirs. Bait will be provided. Please register to give them a heads up you are coming.


Splash, Paddle, Dig

Jasper County Conservation is hosting a new event this year, Splash, Paddle, Dig. It will be held on Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon at Jacob Krumm Nature Preserve (15148 Jacob Avenue, Grinnell, Iowa 50112).  Activities will include kayaking/canoeing, Dutch oven cooking, fishing, guided hikes and a fossil dig! This event is FREE and for all ages. Participants are encouraged to bring snacks and/or a picnic lunch to enjoy at the park.

Pleasant Hill

Pleasant Hill Annual Fishing Derby

The Pleasant Hill Annual Fishing Derby is on Saturday, June 2 from 8:00 to 12:00 pm at Copper Creek Lake Park (4390 E. University Avenue, Pleasant Hill, IA 50327). Come learn about the following topics: equipment care/maintenance, fish identification, fishing regulations and water safety. Kids up to age 13 are encouraged to attend. Parents are required to attend this event with their child. The first 150 kids will receive a gift bag and t-shirt. Participants are encouraged to bring a fishing rod, extra bait and tackle. Limited bait will be provided.

Polk City

Big Creek Lake Appreciation Day

The 8th annual Big Creek Appreciation Day will be held on Saturday, June 2nd from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm at Big Creek Lake (8550 NW 142nd Street, Polk City, IA 50226). Many activities are planned for the day including a kids fishing clinic.

West Des Moines

Cops N’ Bobbers

Join the WDM Police Department on Saturday, June 2 for the 19th annual Fishing Derby to be held at the City Hall Pond (4200 Mills Civic Pkwy West Des Moines, IA 50265).  Registration starts at 8:30 am at WDM City Hall and fishing starts at 9:00 am. Teams must consist of at least one child under the age of 18 years of age and one adult 18 years old and up.  Contestants must supply their own bait, tackle and poles.   This is a catch and release event.

Does your family line up for a Free Fishing Days event in Central Iowa? If you do, we’d love to know which one is your fav?

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