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2023 Season Recap: Fly Fish Iowa

Updated: Feb 1

Smallmouth bass fly fishing in Iowa
A late-summer smallmouth from Iowa

Into the cold season we go.

Our 2023 season at Fly Fish Iowa is essentially complete. Midwestern fly fishing opportunities dwindle significantly in the colder weather, but it is also a good time to reflect on the past few months exploring our unique fisheries.

It has been a fantastic season on the water here in Iowa. Some highlights include:

  • 10 different fish species in the net caught by guests throughout the year

  • lots of "first fish" on the fly rod

  • raft adventures and paddleboard outings

We started out with a few outings in May and June as our rivers came down and found a good variety of species in our local waters.

common carp fly fishing
Common Carp on the fly in Iowa

In July, we took a break and went on an adventure to Montana for a few weeks.

In August and September, we were able to find a few fish as the temperatures started to cool our waters and increase fish feeding activity a bit.

Fly fishing white bass striped bass hybrids in Iowa
Wiper (striped bass x white bass) from Iowa

A quick trip to Minnesota with Regal Beagle Fly Fishing is also tough to pass up.

As we progress into November and beyond, many of our Midwestern fish species become difficult to chase with fly gear as our water temperatures drop into the 40s. Trout are still a very viable option, and our Driftless region of Northeast Iowa has many miles of streams worth exploring. Be sure to avoid sections of cleaned gravel (redds) in order to protect wild brown trout eggs and fry.

Rainbow Trout Fly Fishing in Iowa
Rainbow Trout in the Iowa Driftless Region

Thanksgiving season is here, and we are VERY thankful for all who made our 2023 season memorable. We can't wait for 2024's season!

Publication Alert

I wrote an article for Montana Fly Fishing Magazine that features the work of Public Land and Water Access (PLWA), an organization in Montana that advocates for public land and water staying public. While Iowa doesn't have the amount of public land that Montana does, I encourage you to check out PLWA and their work to get an idea of what it looks like to advocate for keeping public lands in public hands (Iowa could learn a thing or two from Montana).

Fishing Report

Click here for the Iowa DNR's Fishing Report (11/16/2023)

Local Reservoirs: Water temps are on the drop; fish being caught on jigs and plastics, but sounds like slow presentations work best. Not great for fly fishing.

Local Ponds: Target ponds during the warmest times of day. Fish slow. Check the DNR's fish local page for a list of public waterbodies to explore.

Des Moines River: Find holes and find fish; going to have to fish low and slow.

Driftless Trout Streams (NE Iowa):

Browns and brookies spawning season: Watch for redds, and don't tread on redds!

Baetis and midge patterns will be good options, and don't be surprised to see fish up on the surface, especially on cloudy days!

Be sure to abide by Iowa's state fishing regulations, and know before you go.


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