Fishing frenzy

Annual Free Fishing Weekend scheduled for June 1-3

T-R FILE PHOTO This year’s Iowa Department of Natural Resources Free Fishing Weekend comes June 1-3, and it provides an opportunity for Iowa residents to get on the water and cast a line without a fishing license. In Marshall County, fishermen and -women can check out Sand Lake and Green Castle, as well as stretches of the Iowa River.

Every year, Central Iowans have a chance to cast a line and fight a lunker without worrying about stopping to get a fishing license on the way to the lake.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will hold Free Fishing Weekend June 1-3, and Marshall County has offerings for those taking advantage of the opportunity.

“Sand Lake and Green Castle are the two public bodies of water,” said Marshall County Conservation Director Mike Stegmann. “We’ve been stocking them both for four years that I’ve been around; we’re always trying to supplement the natural populations of the lake, to get a good balance of the predator fish and the panfish.”

At Green Castle, located just south of Ferguson, he said non-motorized boats like kayaks and canoes can be used. Shore fishing is also popular at the 16-acre lake.

Sand Lake, located just east of Marshalltown on Main Street Road, allows boats with electric motors. Stegmann said the lake hosts game fish like largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill and trout.

Another water body to try is the Iowa River, which flows past Marshalltown to the north and east.

“You’ve got your four public (Iowa) River access points: Three Bridges, Furrow Access, Timmons Grove and Forest Reserve,” Stegmann said. “There’s a lot of good catfish in the river, and there are walleyes.”

Smallmouth bass can also be found in the Iowa River, he said.

“This is a great time to take kids fishing or invite a neighbor or friend to come along,” said DNR Fisheries Bureau Chief Joe Larscheid. “You’ll have a buddy forever and someone to always back up your big fish stories.”

While the event allows anglers over 16 years old to fish without a license, all other state fishing regulations will apply.

“You don’t need a license to fish, but you still need your trout stamp if you’re going to try to catch trout,” Stegmann said.

Size, bag and possession limits will remain the same.

Stegmann said safety should be a top priority anytime anglers hit the water, whether they’re on a boat, wading or fishing from shore.

“Be aware of your surroundings when you’re out on the water, especially moving water like the Iowa River,” he said. “There are underwater hazards in all bodies of water that people aren’t aware of.”

With safety in mind, Larscheid said Free Fishing Weekend is a good time to relax.

“Grab your family and your poles, get away from daily life stresses and create special memories,” he said.

For more information on fishing in Iowa, visit www.iowadnr.gov/fishing or www.co.marshall.ia.us/departments/conservation/fishing