Raccoon River


Des Moines, IA
United States United States
41.5794, -93.6121
200 Miles

The Raccoon River is a tributary of the Des Moines River in central Iowa in the United States. As measured from the longest of its three forks, it is 200 mi (322 km) long. Via the Des Moines River, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.

The Raccoon River flows for much of its length as three streams:

The North Raccoon River is substantially the longest of the three. It rises north of Marathon in northeastern Buena Vista County and initially flows southwardly into Sac County, where it turns southeastward for the remainder of its course through Calhoun, Carroll, Greene and Dallas Counties. It passes the towns of Sac City, Jefferson, Perry and Adel.

The South Raccoon River, about 50 mi (80 km) long, rises in northeastern Audubon County and flows generally southeastwardly through Guthrie and Dallas Counties, past the town of Guthrie Center.

The Middle Raccoon River, 76 mi (122 km) long, rises in northwestern Carroll County and flows generally southeastwardly through Guthrie and Dallas Counties, past Carroll, Coon Rapids, Springbrook State Park, Panora and Redfield. A dam in Guthrie County causes the river to form Lake Panorama. It flows into the South Raccoon River about 1 mi (2 km) south of Redfield.

The north and south forks join in Dallas County just west of Van Meter, and the Raccoon River flows generally eastwardly into Polk County, past Walnut Woods State Park and West Des Moines. It joins the Des Moines River just south of downtown Des Moines.

THE LENON MILL to the Redfield Dam portion of the river is one of central Iowa's premier smallmouth bass stream fisheries, and is home to walleye and channel catfish. Snags located in the bend areas, mid-water boulders and pool areas are the best places to try fishing in this stretch. This area is a designated catch-and-immediate-release area for all black bass, with standard regulations applied to other fish species.


Holes, boulders and larger snags, majestic timber.


FISHING, PARTICULARLY FOR channel catfish, is a favorite activity along the lower stretch. Walleye and flathead catfish are also found in this area. Anglers would be well-advised to try a variety of lures and tackle. As in most rivers, areas of snags and larger “holes” are the best.

Spot Access:
Boat Ramp, Parking (car/truck), Parking (boat/trailer), Picnic Area, Power Boats Allowed, Swimming Area, Shore fishing access, Camping, Beach, Fly Fishing, Wading
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Bass, Smallmouth (Micropterus dolomieu)


Catfish, Flathead (Pylodictis olivaris)


Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum)



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