Iowa DNR Considering Virtual Fishing Tournaments

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DES MOINES, Iowa — There’s still a thin sheet of ice out on Saylorville Lake but ice fishing, at least in Central Iowa, is done for the season. It’s also not warm enough for open water adventures, at least not yet, but the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is talking fishing these next few weeks. The DNR is considering a new way to compete on the water by having anglers use technology to record their big catch.

They’re called virtual fishing tournaments, or catch photo release (CPR) tournaments. It’s already happening across the country, but soon it could be coming to Iowa. Virtual fishing tournaments could be added to the Iowa DNR’s definition of a fishing tournament.

This really appeals to those fishing on kayaks, according to the Iowa DNR Chief of Fisheries, Joe Larscheid. Basically, once someone catches a fish, they place it on a standard measuring board, snap a picture with their smartphone, and then release the fish before submitting the photo to the tournament.

“It can create a lot of excitement because it’s easy to participate. You don’t have to dedicate one or two days at an event at a certain lake. It can spread across an entire state. So your local water bodies, your ponds, your lakes that you’re used to fishing can be a part of a tournament that normally aren’t part of a tournament. We hope this is going to increase participation,” Larscheid said.

It’s also better for the fish because they can be almost immediately released back into the water. 

“Live well procedures in bass, walleye, and catfish tournaments are much better, but the reality is you put them in the live well, they could be in there 4-5 hours sometimes all day. You truck them across the lake to a weigh-in procedure and then you release them back in the lake. The beauty of this system is the fish are caught and immediately released. They go right back into the water,” Larscheid said.

The Iowa DNR has scheduled listening sessions from noon to 2 p.m. on March 5 to discuss this as well as other possible rule changes. There are five locations where individuals may convey their comments if they choose. They are listed below:

  • Wallace State Office Building, 502 East Ninth Street, Des Moines
  • Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery, 122 252nd Avenue, Spirit Lake
  • Cold Spring District Office, 57744 Lewis Road, Lewis
  • Manchester Hatchery, 22693 205th Ave, Manchester
  • Lake Darling District Office, 110 Lake Darling Road, Brighton


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