Iowa DNR Sturgeon Fishing Regulations

Iowa DNR Sturgeon Fishing Regulations
The rivers, lakes and streams of Iowa are home to three species of sturgeon. Primitive in character, these game fish are easily recognized by the rows of bony scales that partially cover their body. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the most common sturgeon in Iowa is the shovelnose. There is no open season for the two other species. Regulations are in place so that the sturgeon fishery remains healthy and well populated.


The fishing season for shovelnose sturgeon is open all year, but no harvest is allowed in the Big Sioux River and other closed areas in the state. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, all fishing on the Mississippi River's tailwaters at three navigation dams is closed from Dec. 1 through March 15.

These three tailwaters are: from Dam 11 at Dubuque downstream to the railroad bridge, from Dam 12 at Bellevue downstream to the mouth of Mill Creek and from Dam 13 at Clinton downstream to the downstream end of Stamp Island.

Possession and Size Limit

Anglers may fish for shovelnose sturgeon without any daily bag and possession limit in all waters except the Missouri River. In the Missouri River, the daily bag limit is 10 and the possession limit is 20. No length limits are in place for shovelnose sturgeon.


All anglers age 16 and above must have a valid fishing license to fish anywhere in the state. Residents and nonresident fishing licenses are available for purchase from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website and from license agents throughout the state.


It is illegal to possess endangered fish species in Iowa. This includes lake sturgeon and pallid sturgeon. If you catch one of these species, you must immediately release it. Lake sturgeon are characterized by their short snout that turns up at the end while pallid sturgeon have outer barbels that are twice as long as the inner barbels. The pallid sturgeon's inner barbels have a "U" shape.

Article Written By Rona Aquino

Rona Aquino began writing professionally in 2008. As an avid marathon runner and outdoor enthusiast, she writes on topics of running, fitness and outdoor recreation for various publications. Aquino holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and English from the University of Maryland College Park.

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