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Ottumwa Stories: Our Favorite, Not-So-Secret Fishin’ Holes

Published August 12, 2020

This is definitely the summer of rediscovering fun outdoors. With the Des Moines River running through the middle of town and several ponds and lakes all in one place, Ottumwa is the perfect destination for a fishing excursion. And around here, we’re happy to share some of our favorite fishing spots with you!


1. Pioneer Ridge, located just south of Ottumwa on Highway 63, has three ponds stocked with bluegill, bass and catfish. While you’re there, check out the two-story nature center and explore their 15-mile trail system.


2. The Des Moines River is home to channel catfish, flathead catfish, goldeye, northern pike, paddlefish, saugeye, shortnose gar, shovelnose sturgeon, smallmouth bass, walleye and white bass. Start your river fishing adventures at the Market Street Municipal Parking Lot, where there’s direct access to the water. And in the unlikely event you don’t catch anything, there are great restaurants within walking distance in Downtown Ottumwa.


3. Follow the Wapello County Trail System along the Des Moines River both east and west to find some great fishing locations. There are plenty of places to park if you’re driving, and you can find a trail map HERE.


4. Sycamore Wildlife Area is an open grassland native prairie featuring a 5-acre fishing pond in the center, stocked with bluegill and crappie. You can find this fishing spot 2 miles north of Ottumwa on Sycamore Road. The pond is just a short walk from the parking lot, which on the east side of the wildlife area.


5. Rock Bluff Park is another great location along the Des Moines River for catching catfish. Head northwest of Ottumwa on H21/Rock Bluff Road to find an excellent area to bank fish or simply enjoy leisurely time along the river shoreline.


When you catch the Big One on your Ottumwa fishing trip, make sure you post pictures of it on social media, tagging @GreaterOttumwaCVB and using our hashtags: #ottumwa #ottumwaiowa #ottumwalovenotes #exploreottumwa #discoverottumwa #traveliowa #thisisiowa

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