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Species Variety

Iowa isn't known for its fishing, but we think it should be.

Why would anyone want to fly fish in Iowa? Why not just wait until you're out in Colorado or Montana to learn to fly fish?

Here at Fly Fish Iowa, we want to help showcase the incredible diversity of species within Iowa’s fisheries. Having a variety of small streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds provides varied habitat, and this allows for so many different fishes to be targeted with the fly rod. (Did he really just say fishes?)

Zack with a common carp on the fly
Eric with a brown trout from an Iowa stream

That's right, fishes. "Fishes" is a term that refers to multiple species of fish being present. For example, last week in an outing, we caught yellow bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, common carp, quillback, and black crappie. We caught six different fishes. If you go out to the water and catch three walleye and six white bass, you could say that you caught nine fish (and/or two fishes).

A shorthead redhorse from the Des Moines River

The species variety that we get in our Iowa fisheries is incredible. Most fishermen and women in Iowa think about largemouth bass, walleye, trout, catfish, and maybe white bass/wipers as main targets. Fly anglers typically only think about pursuing trout, and possibly pursuing largemouth bass and panfish. While these are all fantastic targets, there are so many other cool species to pursue in Iowa.

Other common fish species in Iowa include bigmouth and smallmouth buffalo, quillback carpsucker, various sucker species, gar, freshwater drum, common carp, northern pike, yellow perch, a variety of sunfish, and many more. The cool part: all of these can be targeted and caught using fly fishing tactics.

Along with that, at Fly Fish Iowa, we want to show people that with some TLC and some hard work, we can even improve our water quality. While healthy fish populations aren't necessarily the most important result of clean waters, they certainly do benefit from clean water. Some fish species can only tolerate living in cleaner waters, so if we have cleaner waters, we are paving the way for those populations of fish to be able to proliferate or grow in their length and weight classes- think smallmouth bass.

This will take time, advocation for localized Best Management Practices (BMP's), and a broad education into water quality issues in Iowa (among other things, including a good chunk of $). Unfortunately, there are a few major issues that plague many of Iowa's watersheds and negatively impact water quality.

Kent Park Lake in Oxford, Iowa is a great example of this. Water quality was so poor in 2016 that the lake had high levels of E. coli and was subject to large, regular algal blooms. It was affected by poor agricultural practices and excessive nutrients entering the lake unnecessarily. After a multi-million dollar restoration project, the lake is in great shape for swimming, as well as a great location for fishing.

Greg with a Kent Park Lake bluegill

Let’s keep enjoying the state we live in, and find ways to make the quality of our waterways even better. How can we do this? More to come in a later post.

Shannon with a nice walleye on the fly

Fishing Report

Click here for the Iowa DNR's Fishing Report (08/04/2022)

Saylorville: Some white bass being caught along drop-offs to deeper water. Catfishing with bait has been good.

Big Creek: Wipers/white bass have been sporadically feeding topwater in the mornings and evenings. Walleye have moved to deeper water, but are still worth targeting near submerged drop-offs and structure. Bluegill bite has been great.

Local Ponds: Weeds are starting to build up around the edges of central Iowa ponds. Water temperature in many local ponds (which are really rainwater basins) tends to become very warm. Find shade, drop-offs, or coldwater inlets to these ponds.

Des Moines River: Flows continue to drop. Water temps are at typical summer levels, which drives some fish like walleye deeper, but there are still good numbers of fish to be caught around structure and during mornings and evenings. It is a great time to chase new species, just head to the river and see what you can catch!

**Use Caution below Saylorville; flows may fluctuate as work is being done to clear debris from the spillway. For more info on this project, see this link.

Get in touch with us to book a fly fishing trip in Iowa!


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