Des Moines River

The Des Moines River was ranked the top spot to fish in Wapello County in the latest issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine. The list was compiled by DNR staff.

OTTUMWA—As February fades and March emerges, Wapello County residents gear up for spring fishing season. In the latest issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine, the staff at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources dished out a list of the best fishing spots in all 99 counties.

The Des Moines River came out on top in Wapello County, where sturgeon, walleye, white bass, channel and flathead cats can be spotted. In Davis County, hit Lake Wapello State Park for "unmatched bass fishing," according to Mark Flammang, DNR Fisheries Biologist. Also look out for good blugill, improving crappie numbers and a revamped, rebuilt campground.

"The Des Moines River is an excellent fishery and it's important resource for Wapello County," said Flammang. "It holds a various number of species, it's an excellent place to go."

Lake Wapello State Park is touted as one of the best place for large mouth bass and very popular among anglers to fish.

"It's very common to see fish up to 19 inches in the lake," said Flammang. "We've restocked large mouth bass, crappies and hybrid striped bass, it'll be a good year."

Not only are are Lake Wapello State Park and the Des Moines River great places to fish, the pond Ottumwa Park is becoming a great location for local urban fishing, due to a collaboration between the Iowa DNR and the City of Ottumwa Parks and Recreation department.

"We've been working together to improve fishing in the area by renovating and upgrading the quality of fish that people will find in the local ponds," said Flammang.

The group has removed all of the dead fished, restocked the pond and allowed them to return back to the area. The purpose of this process is to improve local urban fishing access to residents within city limits.

"It's very rewarding from our standpoint," said Flammang. "The best scenario is being able to catch quality fish right outside your back door and Ottumwa Park has an excellent shoreline with great access."

According to Flammang, the trout stocking programs is one of their most successful. This spring’s stocking has been set for March 26. Fishing for trout requires both an Iowa fishing license and a trout stamp. You can find regulations on the fishing page at You can also purchase your license online through a link on the page.

— Megan Berberich can be reached at and followed @CourierMegan.


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