OTTUMWA — It’s common to see people fishing in Ottumwa. If there aren’t people with lines in the water at Ottumwa Park, anglers can usually be found trying to tempt fish from the Des Moines River.
Ever wonder how much time Iowans spend fishing, though?
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources released an estimate for 2018, and the answer may surprise you. Collectively, Iowans spent 10.5 million days fishing last year. That’s up from a still-hefty total of 8.3 million days in 2007.
The IDNR calculated the figure by questioning more than 1,600 Iowans with fishing licenses about how frequently they go fishing, where they do so and what fish they’re after. The fishing locations are varied. Eleven percent of respondents fished most often in the Mississippi River, making it the most common site. Another 10 percent prefer to fish in private ponds. The Des Moines River was a distant fifth on the list, a favored location for 4 percent of Iowa anglers.
There was some evidence programs like the urban trout stocking, which brings trout to Ottumwa twice each year, has an effect. While most ponds people fish at are in rural areas, people who live near sites that have an urban or community fishing program did fish more frequently in cities.
A large majority of people who have fishing licenses have gone fishing within the past year. More than eight in 10 found time to grab a rod and head out to fish. And the survey found people are slightly more likely to do so now than in the last poll from 2007.
Bass, bluegill and crappie are sought by a majority of Iowa anglers. And 49 percent of those who responded went for catfish.