2019: Kid-Friendly FREE Fishing Days Events in Des Moines

2019:  Kid-Friendly FREE Fishing Days Events in Des Moines

At some point, just about every boy and girl will want to try fishing. Fishing is a time-honored, relaxing way for kids and parents or grandparents to spend quality quiet time together—and it’s a classic summer activity. Why not start with a FREE Fishing Days event to learn the basics and then head out to a local fishing hole to try it on your own?

June 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2019, are “Free Fishing Days” for Iowa residents.  This means that Iowa residents can try the sport of fishing without a license or trout fee.

To legally fish the rest of the year in public waters in Iowa, fishing licenses are required for anyone 16 or older (whether you plan to fish or just “help,” that means you, Mom or Dad!).  This includes fishing at city, county and state parks. You can purchase a fishing license on-line or from a licensed vendor. For additional information about fishing in Iowa here is a link to Iowa DNR’s 2019 Iowa Fishing Regulations.

FREE Fishing Days Events in Des Moines:


Family Fishing Fun

Join Dallas County Conservation Board during the Iowa Free Fishing Weekend at the Glissman Conservation Area on Sunday, June 9th at 4:30 to 6:30 pm. They will have their fishing gear ready to go as well as bait available. The Glissman pond has a good population of bluegill and smallmouth bass and is a great place for beginning and experienced anglers.


Kids Fishing Derby

Learn how to cast and fillet a fish for FREE on Saturday, June 1st 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. A parent or guardian must be present.  Register for the event on Ankeny Parks and Recreation’s website.

Des Moines

Fishing Basics

Learn about the different kinds of fish in Iowa, fishing safety, casting, and how to tie a hook with Polk County Conservation on Friday, June 7th, 9:00 am at Fort Des Moines Park, Shelter #1 (7200 SE 5th St. Des Moines). 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. No registration required.

Free Fishing Night

Join the Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department for a FREE fishing event on Friday, June 7th, 5:30 to 8:00 pm at Gray’s Lake (2101 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, IA 50315).  There will be fun stations set up where kids can learn about: casting, cleaning and cooking, fishing identification, fishing regulations, water safety, and more. 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.


Kids Fish Day

Have some fishing fun with Warren County Conservation on Saturday, June 1st, 9:00 to 11:30 am at the Annett Nature Center (15565 118th Avenue Indianola, IA).  Bring the whole family out to learn the art of fishing. Participants can learn the proper way to tie knots, cast and fish safely. The fishing competition will take place at Lester Pond. There will be awards and door prizes given out as well as a free hot dog picnic after fishing. Bring your own pole or borrow one of theirs. Bait will be provided. Please register so they know how many hot dogs they need.

2019:  Kid-Friendly FREE Fishing Days Events in Central Iowa – dsm4kids.com

Pleasant Hill

Pleasant Hill Annual Fishing Derby

The Pleasant Hill Annual Fishing Derby is on Saturday, June 8th from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon 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 ages 4 to 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 9th annual Big Creek Appreciation Day will be held on Saturday, June 1st 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.


Fishing Clinic

Urbandale Parks and Recreation will be hosting a free fishing clinic on Saturday, May 11th 9:00 to 12:00 noon at Walker Johnston Park Pond (9000 Douglas Ave, Urbandale, IA 50322). You’ll explore: casting, hooking, and landing the catch, tackle types, knot tying and tackle assembly, fish identification,water safety, regulations, and ethics. No registration is needed and you can come and go as it fits your schedule.

West Des Moines

Cops N’ Bobbers

The Cops N’ Bobbers Fishing Derby is celebrating its 20th Anniversary on Saturday, June 8th, 9:00 to 11:30 am at the City Hall Pond (4200 Mills Civic Pkwy West Des Moines, IA 50265).  This free, family event provides a great opportunity to learn about fishing. Iowa Conservation Officers and members of Scheels will be on hand to help young anglers improve their fishing technique. West Des Moines Police Officers will be available to measure fish and to interact with members of the community in a family friendly atmosphere. Registration is required. The first 150 youth participants will receive a free, event t-shirt.



Did we miss your family’s favorite FREE fishing event? Tell us in the comments below.

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