November 29, 2021

Fishing is a fun activity that the entire family can enjoy together, from kids to grandparents. It’s a wonderful way to get back to what’s important. Participation in fishing also helps fund fishery management so our lakes and rivers have robust fisheries. The Des Moines River in Downtown Des Moines holds channel and flathead catfish, white bass, and walleye — all great fish to eat.  Fish is a part of a healthy diet, and the Iowa Department of Public Health recommends eating two meals of fish per week.

The Benefits of Fishing

Fishing is an inexpensive, relaxing activity and can provide a healthy source of protein, but many Iowans are unaware of local fishing opportunities, or don’t have the skills to be successful. This is especially true of the Hispanic community. Fishing participation among the Hispanic population lags behind other groups, with only 9% participating nationally, compared to 18% of the US population overall.

Urban Fishing Efforts in the U.S.

Recent research conducted by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and Responsive Management supports the importance of providing urban fishing programs and reaching out to Hispanic families and underrepresented demographic groups. America is becoming more urbanized, and the American general population is becoming more diverse. It’s important to bring the fishing experience directly to growing populations of Americans.

Iowa Vamos A PescarTM Grants 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Fish Iowa! Program has partnered with RBFF since 2018 to promote and support efforts to reach and teach diverse audiences through Vamos A PescarTM efforts. Grants have funded events in the Des Moines Metro, Cedar Falls, Perry, and Marshalltown. These efforts were accomplished through a variety of partnerships  — DNR, city park and recreation departments, county conservation boards, Iowa State University Extension, various nonprofits, and members from the Hispanic community. Efforts focus on overcoming barriers to participation and building support networks within the community.

Vamos A PescarTM  grants are meant to fund  efforts that educate and engage families in high-density Hispanic communities through urban fishing programs, classes and fishing activities.  Applications are being accepted through December 8, 2021 for the 2022 programming season. For grant guidelines and applications, contact Barb Gigar at

You can find out more information about the George H.W. Bush Vamos a Pescar Education Fund at Check out the DNR Fish Local page for more information about places to fish in your community.

About the Author: Barb Gigar designed, and has coordinated the Fish Iowa! Angler education program for the Iowa DNR for more than 30 years. Fish Iowa! provides training, educational resources, and equipment for fishing education programs through local partners across Iowa.