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Fall Fly Fishing in Iowa

Fall is an incredible time to be outside. The cool, fresh air is welcomed after a hot, humid summer season. October is one of our favorite months of the year. The leaves are changing, the fish are happy, and the crowds on the rivers and lakes have diminished.

Walleye anglers are out in full force, and with good reason. These fish seem to become much more active (and catchable) during the fall. If you're chasing them on the fly, look to fish smaller streamers like a woolly bugger and keep it close to the bottom.

Other opportunities exist for the fly angler in Iowa, too. You will find fall to be a good time for striped fish (wipers and white bass), as well as crappie and bass. Many of these species are trying to bulk up a little bit before a long and cold winter shows up.

If you can, picking your days to fish is the way to go. Cloudy, mild days (50 degree range) are some of our favorite days to be on the water. While we still have water temperatures in that 50-60 degree range, fishing should be fantastic. Once those water temperatures drop into the 40s, a lot of our species slow their activities significantly.

White bass wiper fly fishing
Wiper putting on some bulk before winter

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 (10/19/2023)

Local Reservoirs: Water temps are on the drop and fish should be feeding much more to prepare for winter. White bass and wipers being caught - find the bait, and you will find the fish!

Local Ponds: This transition season is a great time to find fish in local ponds. Due to low water, it might be best to target some of the larger ponds in your area. Check the DNR's fish local page for a list of public waterbodies to explore.

Des Moines River: Find holes and find fish! It might take some walking, but if you put in the time, you can find some great walleye and catfish action right now.

-Flow below Saylorville

-Flow below Red Rock

Driftless Trout Streams (NE Iowa):

Browns and brookies have started spawning. 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!


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