Family Fishing Fun in Des Moines

This article is sponsored by the Iowa DNR.

family fishing funIowa’s largest cities continue to thrive and build new neighborhoods. Many city parks and residential areas have public ponds for family fishing fun. Neighborhood ponds are great places for residents to spend time together outdoors. Partnerships with city officials, community, and neighborhood groups help boost community pride while providing a safe, convenient place for families to fish.

Creating a welcoming environment

The DNR’s Community Fishing Program helps cities improve the fishing in their ponds by offering tools and tips to solve common problems like lots of aquatic plants, small fish, and undesirable fish species. Fisheries biologists monitor the fish populations at these small ponds and stock fish as needed to increase the chance of catching fish. They also advise cities to update or add restrooms, playgrounds, and picnic areas close to neighborhood ponds so everyone can enjoy their fishing experience. Often walking or bike trails are added to help residents easily get to the pond.

Don’t forget a fishing license! Kids under 16 do not need a fishing license, however, parents WILL need a fishing license if you assist your child in any way (removing the fish from the hook, etc). Get your fishing license at Go Outdoors Iowa. An annual fishing license is $22 and goes back to the Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund to keep improving fisheries and wildlife habitats. 

family fishing fun

Where to fish in Des Moines 

There are lots of great places to fish in Iowa communities, but many anglers don’t know where they can fish close to home or work. The Community Fishing Program collaborated with city governments to identify public ponds and river access in their cities. Signs posted at these ponds quickly identify them as places where you can fish. 

Gray’s Lake Des Moines in Gray’s Lake Park at 2101 Fleur Drive. Paved parking and trails, picnic area, beach, playground, and restrooms. Catch largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, white bass, crappie, and river species.

Witmer Park PondDes Moines 1610 34th St, Des Moines
Many new updates including a new trail, fishing pier, playground equipment, designated parking, and bathrooms. 

City Pond – West Des Moines behind the West Des Moines Public Library (4000 Mills Civic Parkway). Paved trail from the library or the West Des Moines City Hall. Close to Southwoods Park (350 S. 35th Street ) with disc golf, picnic tables, trails, and nature preserve. Catch largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, and channel catfish.

Terra Lake Johnston 6300 Pioneer Parkway Johnston. Amenities include walking trails, a park, picnic shelter with restrooms, shore fishing, and a fishing pier. Catch largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish.

Sawgrass Pond Ankeny 2200 SW 36th St, Ankeny. Features a walking trail, shelter, picnic tables, playground equipment, a bathroom, and off-street parking. . Catch largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, and fishing fun

Iowa anglers can find these and more community fishing destinations with our mobile-friendly, interactive Community Fishing Atlas available on the DNR website at Additional locations will be added as cities expand or add new public fishing spots.

Ready to get out there with your family? Check out our Tips for Fishing with your Family

Connect with Iowa DNRDNR


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