BOARD VOTES: Riverwalk Fishing Off Limits

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A plan to shut down some of the Des Moines' most popular fishing spots is moving forward.

From litter to fish carcasses and empty beer cans, people have been complaining about the mess that anglers leave on the banks of the Des Moines River, downtown.

The Des Moines Parks and Recreation board voted Tuesday to make fishing off-limits in certain areas including the Principal Riverwalk Trail, the Center Street pedestrian bridge and the MLK Street bridge. The proposal will now go to the Des Moines City Council on June 9th, where they can vote on the proposal as is or make changes.

Those who love to fish hoped the board would consider other options.

"I think it's preposterous," Curtis Faizon said.

Jen fletcher, a marketing supervisor for the parks and rec department said the restrictions are needed to keep these well-traveled public areas free of filth.

"Fish remnants, general trash. What we're trying to do is ask people to clean up after themselves. It's a brand new facility, a $30 million facility that's new to Des Moines and we want to keep it as nice as possible,” Jen Fletcher said.

The board also considered installing signage encouraging clean-up and forming volunteer committees to assist with keeping fishing spots clean.

The Iowa DNR was on board with the signage and volunteer clean-up teams but prior to the vote said those ideas need a chance to work before limiting places to fish.

"Let’s try this first and see if there are any conflicts. I’d rather not restrict at the beginning anticipating conflict. Let's work together in being better and cleaning up after ourselves,” Fisheries Bureau Chief Joe Larscheid said.

If a volunteer clean up team is formed, Faizon says sign him up.

"People figure trash will blow in the water. That's not the right thing to do,” Faizon said.

Many anglers say if there were more trash cans, they would clean up more of their mess.


  • Rebecca Warner

    I thought the idea was to improve downtown area for all residents not just a select few. I agree that people need to pick up after themselves. But in all honesty, I have seen as many dirty diapers as fish parts so maybe we should ban babies too. And the people in motorized wheelchairs and carts drop things and can’t pick them up, so do they need to be banned as well? How are they going to keep the bird poop, the squirrel dropping from messing up their 30 million dollar project? Maybe they need to be less concerned for the objects they paid for and more concerned about the people who use it.

  • tony

    I fish a lot on the bridge near principal’s easy access for an amputee like myself. Sure there are miles of bank but unless that woman plans on carrying my gear guess I’m screwed. Most anglers do pick up after themselves. Cannot speak for the bikers or bb fans. Scott street needs trash cans. Totally agree. Fishing is positive thing…take it away from the people…the kids …especially, you will be doing a great dis-service to them.

  • Rebecca Hergert

    I’m not into fishing here.
    But if you have access of garbage bins up, that would help.
    I think back home in Cedar Rapids, they still are able to fish on the bridges.
    I would not complain to much here. cause RAGBRAI leaves more of a mess, then fisherman!!

  • CJ

    People have been fishing there long before a walkway was put it. Maybe developers should have thought of this BEFORE investing the money. In a $30 million budget, there was not enough money to invest in trash cans? I find it ironic they plan to erect a huge fishing pole statue yet not allow any fishing.

  • Hugo S LaVia

    Same reason the bike path went to the south side of the river from Gray’s Lake Park to downtown: shield the pretty white rich folk from the reality of poor people in their perfect little home town. I can STILL see the homeless camps.

  • William Denison

    This is really all about a small handful of folks who feel they are the elite of DM and that the folks who are fishing are scary looking eyesores along their own personal walking/bike trails. Its not like the DMPD doesn’t have enough to do all ready but now have to go after a few people minding their own businness enjoying the outdoors in their own way. Its no wonder people are so unhappy in that hellhole of a city.

  • do ur job

    Apparently someone’s banana seat is stuck up someone’s tuckus and its irritating their self righteous button. They already take over the highways in which I have to slow down for THEIR enjoyment and the city built them special bike lanes-USE THEM! I would walk some of the trails, but running me over is forTHEIR enjoyment too. Not putting your trash away is just as self serving as those complaining.

  • RoccoB

    Mostly Asians and coloureds who do the fishing anyway.
    So I can see how there is copious amounts of trash left around.

  • Dustin Martin

    That’s so dumb. I always pick my trash up. Maybe they should put trash cans up, it would cost way less money to do that then enforce all this nonsense.

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