Iowa DNR benefits from record fishing license sales - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa DNR benefits from record fishing license sales

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources had record first quarter sales for fishing licenses this year, which translates to dollars coming in for fish and wildlife programs throughout the state.

At the Bait Shack in Dubuque, employee Matt McFadden said the store has sold many fishing licenses with the early warm weather this year.

"When the weather's nice, it's nothing to do a couple hundred in a week," McFadden said. "This year, when we really started seeing an increase in license sales was right around the first, second week of March when we had those really nice days, when it was 70, 80 degree weather. I mean, we couldn't keep up."

The fishing license rush came despite a sluggish start to the quarter.

"January and February were awfully slow because we didn't have any ice for ice fishing. So then with the early warm weather in March and that, it just boomed real fast," McFadden said.

Mike Steuck is fisheries supervisor for the northeast district of the Iowa DNR.

"Nice weather fishermen typically don't purchase their licenses until probably May or June," he said, noting this year's early rush.

Steuck said that by the end of March, the DNR had sold 100,072 fishing licenses this year. That's a 26 percent increase from the first quarter of last year.

"Hopefully, it will continue throughout the rest of the year, because those extra funds we get through fishing license sales help us put in more habitat, do more work on our lakes, do more studies to improve the fishing," Steuck said, "and also to stock more fish, raise more fish in our hatcheries to stock in our bodies of water."

It's a similar situation with the money from hunting licenses.

"That's one thing about hunting and fishing license dollars: it goes into protected trust fund that gets specifically spent on fish and wildlife activities," Steuck said.

He said the lower-than-average Mississippi River level this spring has played a role in the number of fishing licenses sold.

"Our water levels are down. It's clear, it's fairly calm, and it's easy fishing when the current's down," he said.

The little snow the upper Midwest received this winter translated to lower river levels.

The Iowa DNR is on Twitter and Facebook and posts updates about fishing and other topics.

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