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Panfish Fishing In Iowa For 2024

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Guide to fishing for panfish, sunfish, perch and bluegill in lakes and ponds.

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Panfish fishing in Iowa

Iowa offers excellent panfish fishing opportunities, providing young anglers with a chance to experience the thrill of catching sunfish and perch. Panfish fishing is particularly well-suited for youth fishing as these fish are often abundant, eager to bite, and can be found in various locations across the state. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about panfish fishing and identify popular sunfish fishing waters in the state.

Bluegill Fishing Basics Video

The core principles shown in this video will work for most sunfish, perch and other panfish.

2024 Panfish Fishing Options

Sunfish, including bluegill and redear sunfish, are popular targets for panfish anglers in Iowa. These colorful fish are known for their feisty nature and can be found in lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers. Sunfish are often found near submerged structures, vegetation, or around docks. Young anglers can use basic fishing techniques such as using a small hook, bobber, and worm as bait to entice sunfish to bite. Catching sunfish provides exciting action and helps young anglers develop their fishing skills.

Perch, specifically yellow perch, are another common panfish species in Iowa. They are highly prized for their delicious taste and make for a great fishing experience for young anglers. Perch are typically found near weed beds, rocky areas, or near the bottom of lakes and ponds. Anglers can use small jigs tipped with live bait or small minnows to attract perch. These fish can be caught throughout the year, with winter being a particularly productive season for ice fishing.

Panfish fishing provides youth anglers with an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of fishing, including casting, hooking, and reeling in fish. The relatively small size of panfish makes them manageable for young hands and allows for a sense of accomplishment when successfully landing a fish.

Iowa's lakes, ponds, and rivers offer a wealth of panfish fishing opportunities, making it an ideal destination for youth fishing. Participating in youth fishing events, family fishing clinics, or joining a local fishing club can further enhance the experience by providing young anglers with guidance, education, and a chance to connect with other young anglers who share their passion for fishing.

Panfish fishing in Iowa not only offers the thrill of catching fish but also provides an avenue for young anglers to appreciate nature, develop patience and discipline, and create lasting memories with friends and family. It's a wonderful way for youth to experience the joys of fishing and foster a lifelong love for the sport.

Throughout the state you can find waters with populations of sunfish, including bluegill, flier sunfish, green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, longear sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, redbreast sunfish, redear sunfish, rock bass, tilapia, warmouth, white bass, white perch, yellow bass and yellow perch. Ice fishing for perch and bluegill is popular at most lakes in winter.

Best Panfish, Bluegill, Sunfish & Perch Lakes In 2024

All the major lakes including Big Creek Lake, Big Spirit Lake, Black Hawk Lake, Browns Lake, Brushy Creek Lake, Clear Lake, Coralville Lake, DeSoto Lake, East Okoboji Lake, Five Island Lake, Lake Icaria, Lake MacBride, Lake Manawa, Lake Red Rock, Little River Lake, Little Spirit Lake, Lost Grove Lake, Lost Island Lake, North Twin Lake, Okamanpeedan Lake, Pleasant Creek Lake, Rathbun Lake, Rock Creek Lake, Saylorville Lake, Silver Lake, Storm Lake, Three Mile Reservoir, Trumbull Lake, Twelve Mile Creek Lake and West Okoboji Lake have quality populations of panfish.

2024 Top Producing Panfish Fishing Lures & Bait

Check out the top producing lures and bait for bluegill, redear sunfish, rock bass and warmouth, as well as other smaller sunfish. Click here for the best lures for white bass, yellow bass, white perch and yellow perch.

Fishing Boats For Rent In Iowa

In-state panfish, sunfish and perch



World record: 4 lbs 12 oz

State Record: 3.13 lbs

Green Sunfish

Green sunfish

World record: 2.2 lbs

State Record: 2.06 lbs

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Pumpkinseed sunfish

World record: 2 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 0.96 lbs

Redear Sunfish

Redear sunfish

World record: 5.4 lbs

State Record: 2.31 lbs

Rock Bass

Rock bass

World record: 3.0 lbs

State Record: 1.50 lbs



World record: 2.4 lbs

State Record: 1.13 lbs

White Bass

White Bass

World record: 6.8 lbs

State Record: 5.11 lbs

Yellow Bass

Yellow bass

World record: 2 lbs 15 oz

State Record: 1.75 lbs

Yellow Perch

Yellow perch

World record: 4 lbs 3 oz

State Record: 2.79 lbs

Click the images and links above for species details.

Iowa State Record Sunfish

The state record bluegill was caught from a farm pond.

The state record green sunfish came from a farm pond.

The state record pumpkinseed sunfish came out of Lake Petocka.

The state record redear sunfish came out of a farm pond.

The state record rockbass was caught in the Mississippi River.

The state record warmouth came out of a farm pond.

The state record white bass came from East Okoboji Lake.

The state record yellow bass was served up by Lake Manawa.

The state record yellow perch was caught from a private pond.

The term "panfish" comprises many species, each called by a variety of names. The bluegill tops the list and is the most common.


Chances are there are no lakes of any consequence in IA that do not have a population of panfish. One or more species of sunfish populate virtually all warm water streams, ponds and lakes throughout Iowa, and around the world for that matter. They can survive in waters that provide their natural food source of minnows, insects, crustaceans and worms. Their competitive nature amongst themselves, for food, makes them relatively easy to catch.

Panfish are prolific spawners and repopulate the waters as fast as they are harvested. A common problem with panfish fishing is that the waters are under-fished causing panfish to overpopulate. As a result they tend to stay small in size due to lack of food source.


Sunfish information in other states.

AL Panfish & Sunfish Fishing AR Panfish & Sunfish Fishing AZ Panfish & Sunfish Fishing CA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing CO Panfish & Sunfish Fishing CT Panfish & Sunfish Fishing DC Panfish & Sunfish Fishing DE Panfish & Sunfish Fishing FL Panfish & Sunfish Fishing GA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing HI Panfish & Sunfish Fishing IA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing ID Panfish & Sunfish Fishing
IL Panfish & Sunfish Fishing IN Panfish & Sunfish Fishing KS Panfish & Sunfish Fishing KY Panfish & Sunfish Fishing LA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MD Panfish & Sunfish Fishing ME Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MI Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MN Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MO Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MS Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MT Panfish & Sunfish Fishing
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