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Best Ice Fishing Lakes in Iowa

While lakes throughout the state may be freezing over, there is no reason that your fishing must take a winter hiatus.

Lakes in Northern Iowa are great for those who are looking to get some great ice fishing fun in during the winter months. Ice fishing in Iowa gets more and more popular each year, sometimes even surpassing the numbers of fish being caught in the summer, spring, and fall.

iowa ice fishing lakes

Over recent years, records have been broken for the size of yellow perch and walleye.

Walleye are a popular species found throughout Iowa, and there are many great lakes that will give you the opportunity to catch this delicacy.

People fish these waters to find great walleye opportunities, among other fish species. Throughout the waters of Iowa, you can find an abundance of other fish species like bluegill, perch, and crappie.

Top Places for Ice Fishing in Iowa

If you are looking to plan an ice fishing trip, you may have found your next destination. With pristine lakes and growing fish populations, Iowa is a great choice for anyone looking for an ice fishing destination.

So, without further ado we have put together our list of the best ice fishing lakes in Iowa.

These are the Best Ice Fishing Lakes in Iowa:

  1. Brushy Creek Lake
  2. Big Creek Lake
  3. Clear Lake
  4. Mississippi River
  5. Storm Lake


Brushy Creek Lake

For anyone who is looking for a great lake to catch walleye, Brushy Creek Lake should be your choice. Brushy Creek is about 690 acres and reaches depths of up to 75 feet deep.

This lake is in Webster County, just a short drive from both Leigh and Fort Dodge. Bushy creek is home to many different species of fish, but the walleye in this lake are one of the biggest draws.

The average size of walleye in this lake is around 22 inches long, while the largest over the last few years was 27 inches. While this lake is known for its walleye, it does have large populations of bluegill, perch, and crappie.

Big Creek Lake

While it may take a little bit longer to freeze than other lakes in the area, Big Creek Lake is great for ice fishing.

Big creek lake is a large and deep lake, which is why it takes longer to freeze. Since it takes longer to freeze, the ice will last longer into the season. The size of the lake means that there is enough room for everyone.

The lake is about a 30-minute drive northwest of Des Moines. Big Creek is great for bluegills and crappie fishing, as well as other species. You can also find good populations of walleye and bass here.

Clear Lake

Another great lake for ice fishing is Clear Lake, located in north central Iowa. This lake, located in Cerro Gordo County, spans 3,684 acres and has depths that can reach up to 19 feet.

Around ten years ago, a dredging project helped revitalize the lake and increase fish populations. The dredging project helped increase Muskie and walleye populations, as well as helped change traditional yellow bass movement throughout the lake. 

The project also helped increase lake water clarity. Clear Lake has also been named “Best Iowa Lake Town” and “A Top Vacation Spot” by The Des Moines Register and Midwest Living, respectively.

Mississippi River

Typically, when people talk about ice fishing on the Mississippi River, they are talking about the small backwater inlets and ponds.

These areas are typically home to natural nurseries and spawning grounds for fish that call the Mississippi River home. The best places to fish in the backwater are marinas because they offer easy access.

These areas are dredged so most deeper water fish look to winter here.

While the docks and marina property themselves are private property, the water itself is public land.

These areas make for good ice fishing, but if you are looking for other areas you may have to use an ATV or snowmobile to get to riskier areas.

You can expect to find bluegills, crappie, and other panfish throughout the Mississippi River.

Storm Lake

If you are looking for another great lake for walleye fishing opportunities, Storm Lake is one of the best around.

While there may not be many other fishing opportunities in this lake other than yellow perch, this is a must hit spot if you are ice fishing for walleye.

The walleye in this lake can reach lengths greater than 22 inches. Make sure you are keeping track of the size of your catches, because walleye from 17-22 inches must be released upon catching.


Final Thoughts on Iowa Ice Fishing

Over recent years, Iowa has become a more sought-after destination for ice fishing. In previous years, records have been broken regarding the size of yellow perch and walleye.

Winter fishing has grown more and more popular in Iowa because of these recent developments in both fish size and populations.

Start planning out your trip to Iowa today and pack your ice fishing gear so you don’t miss out on some of the best walleye fishing of the season.

If you’re looking for more trip ideas, check out our lists of the best ice fishing locations in Montana, Alaska, and more. For more useful tips and guides check out Fishmasters. 

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