If you've never considered yourself an angler, this is a weekend to try casting a line.
Today, Saturday and Sunday, Iowans can sit by lakes, streams and ponds with rod and reel sans fishing license.
Free Fishing Days is an annual event hosted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The purpose of the weekend is to "entice people to try fishing," according to Joe Larscheid, bureau chief of the DNR Fisheries Bureau.
"This is a weekend in June when the fishing is usually good," Larscheid said. Blue gills and crappies move closer to shore at this time of year, he said.
As some species finish spawning, they're close to the shore and extremely vulnerable, he said.
"Usually the simple presentation of a small jig with a little worm and 5 inches of line will hook a fish," Larscheid said. "You don't need sophisticated equipment to be successful. We want to encourage families to invest in a fishing license and fish all year."
At a glance
What: Free Fishing Days
Where: Across the state
When: Today, Saturday and Sunday
Why: To encourage people to go fishing.
Children under 16 years old can always fish without a license.
Matt Cosgrove, director of the Webster County Conservation Department, said he's glad the program exists.
"I like that it provides people with the opportunity - even if they're not a typical fisherman - to give fishing a try and see if it's something they can get involved in," Cosgrove said.
Some of the more popular fishing spots in Webster County include Brushy Creek State Recreation Area and Badger Lake at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, as well as small ponds throughout the county, such as ones near Moorland and Duncombe.
"Obviously along the Des Moines River is a popular spot, but it's a little high right now," Cosgrove.
The elevated river levels can make fish more difficult to catch, so more people are heading to lakes and ponds, he said.
Some of the fish people can expect to catch in the area, in addition to blue gills and crappies, are large mouth bass, catfish and walleye, he said.
While people 16 and older don't need a fishing license to fish this weekend, catch limits and other regulations still apply, Larscheid said. If an out-of-state fisherman would like to test the waters, Larscheid said there are one-, three- and seven-day licenses they can purchase.
"We try to cater to them as well," he said.
Both Larscheid and Cosgrove said they enjoy fishing in their free time.
"It's relaxing," Cosgrove said. "I just enjoy the time sitting by the water with family and friends, and if you catch something, that's just an added bonus."
Contact Lindsey Mutchler at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org