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Iowa Trout! And the Driftless Region

brown trout (Salmo trutta) Iowa Driftless region
Driftless brown trout

Iowa usually is given the stereotype of flatlands and corn fields... which, to be fair, is generally true. However, Iowa also has some scenic gems and some great trout fishing.

Bloody Run Trout Fishing Iowa Fly Fishing
A scenic Driftless stream

We just got back from a day in the Driftless region with some clients. The Driftless is a special place for recreation, natural beauty, and coldwater streams that hold some native (brook trout) fish and many wild trout. Even though the rain had some streams muddied, we found some good water and got into a few fish.

Decorah is a sort of "hub" for the Driftless region, and is a fantastic place for a family vacation or a weekend getaway. Decorah has restaurants, shops, coffee, and a fly shop (Rod & Rivet - tell Dre in the fly shop hello for us). There are lots of rental options and lodging available, as well as campsites available for rent throughout the area.

Iowa rainbow trout stocked fly fishing

Iowa Driftless streams have a variety of species, including some with native species like brook trout, smallmouth bass, shiners, suckers, and other natives. These streams also have wild brown trout and stocked rainbow trout that tend to be popular targets among anglers and people looking to eat a few fish.

If you're interested in chasing wild trout in Iowa, get in touch with us. We love chasing all kinds of Iowa fish species, and the Driftless region is a great place to spend time. Contact us for availability and let's get you on the schedule.

Fishing Report

Click here for the Iowa DNR's Fishing Report (05/02/2024)

Local Reservoirs: Crappie are starting to move in shallower, and depending on your location, they are very catchable on nymphs and streamers. Other species like bass, walleye, and white bass are also much more attainable quarry with these warming water temperatures.

Local Ponds: Bass and bluegill fishing will continue to be good for the next month. Be conscientious of the fact that your pond may receive lots of fishing pressure. If your local fish are on spawning beds and constantly being harassed by anglers, don't be afraid to give them a break and minimize their stress levels.

Check the DNR's fish local page for a list of public waterbodies to explore.

Des Moines River: Big rains = big flows. Some reports of carp being caught in backwaters and flooded areas; main river is chocolatey and not ideal for fly anglers at the moment.

Driftless Trout Streams (NE Iowa):

Have some mayfly, midge, and caddis patterns along, especially on the cloudy days. Flows may fluctuate in localized areas of the Driftless; we were planning to float on Saturday but the bigger rivers blew out. Some creeks were still in very fishable condition, and don't be afraid to try a few spots if one location doesn't work out for you.

-Copper John (14-18)

-Pink Squirrel (14-18)

-Woolly Buggers

-Parachute Adams (14-20)

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


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