Fly Fishing Iowa

With many trout streams and rivers flowing through the state, Northeast Iowa presents anglers with abundant fly fishing opportunities. Although some sections of the streams are stocked with trout weekly, many other sections host native trout. This means that if you have the correct flies and a casting line, you are bound to have a great Iowa fly fishing experience.

Continue reading to discover some of the best locations for fly fishing in Iowa.

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9 Best Places for Fly Fishing in Iowa

1. Turkey River

Turkey River

The Turkey River meanders through the Big Strings Trout Hatchery, which makes the area an interesting fly fishing destination, not only for local Iowa residents but also for folks from other states.

Northeast Iowa has plenty to offer besides its trout streams, there are also incredible camping sites that offer amazing shoreline fishing places with great access. There is even a carry-down boat launch.

The Turkey River is stocked with Rainbow Trout and Brook Trout twice weekly between April and October. The river provides a 500-foot casting opportunity like no other, coupled with incredible surrounding landscapes.

There is no catch and release order or the limit to the length of the trout you can fly fish from the Turkey River. As a bonus, the corridor is also home to walleye and smallmouth.

You might want to keep in mind that even the smaller fish in the river can put up a tough fight, sometimes even more than the larger fish in the river.

2. Waterloo Creek

Waterloo Creek

Waterloo Creek is 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 water is divided into two sections — the lower part just below Highway 76 is an artificial lure and catch and release area, while the upper part is regularly stocked weekly with Rainbow Trout and Brook Trout from April through October.

The fish species are about 10-12 inches long, which is quite impressive.

The creek is a northeast Iowa favourite, for visitors from both inside and outside Iowa because it hosts a high population of wild Brown Trout. The brown trout population is believed to be about 4,000 fish per mile, and fish can measure up to 23 inches.

The surroundings are serene, making the whole region a fly fisher’s paradise.

3. Yellow River

Yellow River

If you don’t want to wade while fly fishing, you can head down to Yellow River with your kayak or canoe. The Volney Canoe Access features a public access carry-down boat launch to make life easier.

The Yellow River flows between the Yellow River State Forest and Waterville, and it is stocked annually with fingerling rainbows and browns. While Iowa only allows a bag limit of 5 fish here, they don’t have a length limit if you are fly fishing trout.

Try not to be surprised when you reel in a smallmouth bass around these parts of Northeast Iowa. There are plenty of them here.

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 Brookies and Rainbows weekly from April to October. There are also a few wild Brown Trout in the area. There are an estimated 136 trout per mile here, which isn’t that bad.

The region around Paint Creek hosts many different amenities designed to enhance your Iowa fly fishing experience, and the trout stream access is excellent. There are amazing campsites just bordering the fly fishing spots on Paint Creek. There are also picnic areas and public restrooms.

You can expect to catch Brown Trout, Brooks and Rainbow trout while you are here.   

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

As you wait for the trout to strike from the streams, you can marvel at the wonders of nature around you, including the lush foliage, tree-lined banks and the richly textured Iowa landscapes.

5. Bloody Run Creek

Bloody Run Creek

The Bloody Run Creek is located in Clayton County, IA, just about two miles west of Marquette. The creek provides over six miles of trout stream for fly fish anglers to cast their lines into. The creek is also stocked weekly from April to October with Browns, Rainbows and Brookies. You can use the lure of your choice here to attract the fish to the surface.

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.
It is a great location for beginners to experiment on new angling skills.

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

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 have fun in this part of Iowa.

Coldwater Creek is stocked weekly with an abundance of Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout and Brookies. In addition to aquatic life, you can also expect to find other wildlife in the area.

This is a great Iowa trout fishing location and an amazing destination for spectacular natural views.

7. Baileys Ford

Bailey's Ford

Baileys Ford, located not far from the city of Manchester Iowa, offers amazing Iowa trout streams. You should plan a visit to visit this amazing destination, not just for the fly fishing but for the scenic surroundings. Check out the beautiful woodlands at Bailey’s Ford County Park.

If you have the right flies and just a little patience, you can reel in wild Brown Trout.

When you visit this fly fishing stream in Iowa, you will both the time you spend fly-fishing and relaxing at the campsite.

8. Lower Swiss Valley Creek

Lower Swiss Valley Creek

The Lower Swill Valley Creek isn’t far from Dubuque and Mississippi River and it is where angler’s dreams come true. This stream boasts weekly restocking of trout and beautiful surroundings worthy of a postcard.

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

You can choose to spend a day or even the whole of your summer around these parts of Iowa for a fly fishing experience of a lifetime.

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 shore fishing but also for enjoying the scenic landscape.

if you are lucky, you can expect to reel in Rainbows, Browns and Brookies. Bear Creek is stocked weekly from April through October, but it is important to understand that this is not a cold water stream like other trout streams in Iowa — it does not support trout over the summer.

Trout Fishing Iowa References

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

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