9 Best Places for Trout Fishing in Iowa – Where to Fish IA

fly fishing iowa

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With many trout streams and rivers flowing through the state, Northeast Iowa presents fly anglers with abundant fly fishing opportunities.

Although some sections of Iowa trout streams are stocked with trout weekly, many other sections host native trout. This means that if you have the right flies and present them well, you are bound to have a great Iowa fly fishing experience.

Below you will find our picks of the 9 Best Places for Trout Fishing in Iowa along with how to access them, the flies to use, plus the rules and regulations that every fly fisherman trout fishing in Iowa must follow.

1. Turkey River

Turkey River

The Turkey River is one of the cold water streams you simply must fly fish when trout fishing in Iowa.

The river runs through the Big Strings Trout Hatchery, which makes it an easy fly fishing destination to catch fish on and is also ideal for a beginner fly angler.

The IOWA DNR stocks the Turkey River with rainbow and brook trout twice weekly between April and October meaning it is teaming with stocked trout eager to eat your flies. You will also finde smallmouth bass and walleye in this river, so you never know what you might catch plus some larger fish too.

Unlike other Iowa rivers, this is particualrly easy to trout fish since it’s wide and has very little foliage around it’s banks. This means you can throw a 50-foot cast with ease and it’s a great place for beginners to practise.

The river is also host to plenty of campsites so you can stay overnight plus a carry-down boat launch and the surroundng landscapes are stunning.

There is no catch and release allowed on this river and no continuous length limits of the fish you can keep, ideal if you want some trout for dinner.

Where To Fish On The Turkey River

Park up on the other side of the river from the hatchery. This is near the camp grounds and you can then fish up or down stream from there. See the map below.

Recommended Flies For The Turkey River

  • Stimulators
  • Adams
  • Hoppers
  • Ants
  • Beatles
  • Prince Nymph
  • Copper John
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph

2. Waterloo Creek

Waterloo Creek

Waterloo Creek is a tributary of the Iowa River that is about 10 miles long. The source of the river starts at Bee Creek in Minnesota. The creek is a premier northeast Iowa fly fishing destination.

The reason this creek is a northeast Iowa favorite, for Iowa residents and beyond is because it hosts a high population of wild brown trout through natural reproduction.

The wild trout population is believed to be about 700 fish per mile, and fish can measure up to 23 inches so you chances of catching an Iowa trophy fish are real on this creek.

The water is divided into two sections -the lower part just below Highway 76 is an artificial lure and catch and release area only. Artificial lure means lures without bait or anything that can be added to attract fish, like a scent. Note that all trout caught in this section must be released alive immediately.

The upper part is stocked weekly with rainbow and brook trout from April through October, making fishing easy.

The fingerling trout are about 10-12 inches long when they enter the water, which is quite impressive and you can find rainbow trout larger than this. The surroundings are serene, making the whole region a fly fisher’s paradise.

Minnesota rivers also offers a lot of adventure for anglers that are into trout fishing.

Where To Fish On Waterloo Creek

On the map below you will find the beginning of the catch and release artificial lures section only. This is where to fish for the larger brown trout, you can then head upriver to target the other trout fish species.

Recommended Flies For Waterloo Creek

  • BWO
  • Parachute Adams
  • Klinkhammer
  • Wooly Bugger
  • Caddis Flies
  • Hoppers
  • Ants
  • Beatles
  • Prince Nymph
  • Copper John
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph

3. Yellow River

Yellow River

The Yellow River flows between the Yellow River State Forest and Waterville, and it is stocked annually with fingerling rainbows and browns. Try not to be surprised when you reel in a smallmouth bass in this river either as there are plenty of them here.

While the Yellow possess trout and smallmouth in it’s every so stunning deep pools, wade fishing it is not an option. Most of the river flows through private land so there is only one way to fish it, on a kayak or canoe.

The Volney Canoe Access features a public access carry-down boat launch to make life easier and if you have access to a kayak or canoe, it is certainly worth the effort. This river is teaming with fish that don’t see flies often.

Iowa fishing regulations only allows a one person daily limit of five trout here, they don’t have a length limit if you are fly fishing trout but smallmouth must be 12 inches or above.

Where To Fish On The Yellow River

You’ll find the perfect spot to launch you canoe or kayak on the map below and then you can enjoy a long drift, hopefully catching lots of fish. Just be sure you find a place to pull them and to follow your own daily limit.

Recommneded Flies For The Yellow River

  • Streamers
  • Wooly bugger
  • Ants
  • Beatles
  • Prince Nymph
  • Copper John
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph

4. Paint Creek

Paint Creek

Paint Creek, located about 3 miles west of Harpers Ferry, is a tributary of the Upper Mississippi River that stretches for about 11 miles, cutting through the Yellow River State Forest.

The river is stocked with brook trout and rainbow trout weekly from April to October. There are also a few brown trout in the river too with an estimated 136 brown trout per mile here, which isn’t that bad.

Add the stocked fish to that number and you should be catching a trout every cast!

The region around Paint Creek has some great amenities. There are solid campsites not far form where you would cast a line, picnic areas, and public restrooms. If you want a family camping Iowa fly fishing experince, this is the place to do it!

Like other areas in Iowa, there is no length limit on fish caught, but there is a bag limit of 5 fish.

As you wade the streem you can marvel at the wonders of nature around you as the landscape here is simply stunning!

Where To Fish On Paint Creek

The map below deatils where to park you car. You’ll notice it is right next to the creek for easy stream access and there are numerous camp grounds just upriver from there.

Recommended Flies For Paint Creek

  • Stimulators
  • Hoppers
  • Beatles
  • BWO
  • Parachute Adams
  • Various Nymphs as above
  • Streamers

5. Bloody Run Creek

Bloody Run Creek

The Bloody Run Creek is located in Clayton County, IA, just about two miles west of Marquette and is one of the great fly fishing spots in Iowa, especially for beginners.

The creek provides over six miles of trout stream for fly anglers and it is packed full of brown, rainbow, and brook trout as it is stocked with these fish weekly from April to October.

There are sections of the creek where you can only fish with artificial lures it is in these sections that any brown trout caught must be released unless it is over 14 inches. You can take rainbows and brook trout as you please, just stay withing the bag limit.

There are also campsites near the Bloody Run Creek, giving anglers plenty of room to go fly fishing with their families. You can let your kids play nearby as you spend your day angling.

Just make sure you read the signs properly so you don’t end up trespassing. Some parts of the creek are inside private property.

Where To Fish On Bloody Run Creek

You are best off parking at Bloody Run County Park and fishing up from here as this is public access with both camp grounds and other amenities.

Recommended Flies For Bloody Run Creek

  • Stimulators
  • Hoppers
  • Beatles
  • BWO
  • Parachute Adams
  • Various Nymphs as above
  • Streamers

6. Coldwater Creek

Coldwater Creek

As the name suggests, Coldwater Creek is a cold water stream that offers scenic surroundings and incredible fly fishing opportunities for Iowa trout.

Even if you don’t catch anything while at Coldwater Creek, you are guaranteed to enojy it as between the tree lined banks and thw wildlfie, the setting is stunning.

Coldwater Creek is stocked weekly with an abundance of Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Brook trout, so you should catching something in a matter of minutes.

This is a great Iowa trout fishing location for beginners as the fishing is easy, and it’s fun for the pros too since it is so beautiful.

The state of South Dakota also offers awesome spots for fly fishing. So trout fishing south dakota can be your next fly fishing trip.

7. Baileys Ford

Bailey's Ford

Baileys Ford, located not far from the city of Manchester Iowa, is one a favorite of the Iowa trout streams. The stream is home to wild wild brown trout which require a ton of patience to catch along with my more foolish stocked rainbows and brook trout.

The fly fishing is one great thing about Baileys Ford, and the surroundings are another. You will find stunning woodlands, camp grounds, and lots more to explore while you are thgere. It’s also a great place to go camping and fly fishing with the family.

8. Lower Swiss Valley Creek

Lower Swiss Valley Creek

The Lower Swill Valley Creek isn’t far from Dubuque and the Mississippi River and it is where an angler’s dreams can come true.

This stream boasts weekly restocking of trout and beautiful surroundings worthy of a postcard. The fish are are easy to catch so if you want to teach your kids to fly fish, this is a good place to do it.

In addition to the fly fishing, there is also a picnic area, nearby campsite, and a playground, making the whole area a family-friendly fly fishing destination.

9. Bear Creek

Bear Creek

Bear Creek is one of many Iowa trout fishing streams located in Fayette County, about 6 miles southeast of Fayette. You can easily access the water via 128th Street.

The area is not only excellent for fly fishing but also for enjoying the scenic landscape. You can expect to see rainbows, browns, and brookies rising to your dry flies here.

Bear Creek is stocked weekly from April through October, but this is not a cold water stream like the other trout streams in Iowa and thus it does not support trout over the summer. You will want to pay special attention to the stocking schedule and fish a few days after.

If you’re planning on visiting Missouri on your next trip, There are a lot of Missouri trout streams where you can surely enjoy fly fishing.

Local Fly Shops In Iowa

It’s always a good idea to head to a local fly shop before fly fishing in a new area. You’ll ger advice on what flies are working, which sections to fish, and more. Here are some good ones to head to:

Recommended Fly Fishing Guides In Iowa

I love starting a trip with a day of guided fishing as it gets you in the swing of things very quickly. Here are some great guides to fish with in Iowa:

Iowa Fishing License & Regulations

Everyone must have a fishing license to fish in Iowa and have paid a trout fee to go with it in order to catch trout. Anglers under 16 years of age can fish wihout a fishing license and trout fee if accommpanied by a properly licensed adult with a trout fee.

Anglers under 16 years can buy their own trout privilege and license to fish without a licensed adult if they wish. This applies to both Iowa residents and non-residents.

You can biy your fishing license and trout fee online here or from one of these many vendors.

You must also follow the state regulations when fishing in Iowa which you can find here. There differ between streams and sections on streams so be sure to read up on them.

Winding Up

Thanks for reading my atrcile about trout fishing in Ioaw. I hope you enjoyed it and are now clued up as to where and how to have the best fly fishing experience Iowa has to offer. Between all the rivers and the frequent stocking, you are going to have a blast!

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