Fishing in Iowa

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Much of Iowa is dominated by the classic Midwestern landscape, complete with ponds and lakes that support all the favorite warm water species ? largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, walleye, and more. But in the northeast corner of the state, where a unique geological phenomenon took place over 12,000 years ago creating The Driftless Area, lives one of the country?s most treasured trout fishing destinations, often referred to as ?spring creek heaven.?

The Driftless Area is home to the world?s largest concentration of spring creeks, covering over 24,000 square miles of land between Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. Limestone bluffs and river valleys define this area, where thousands upon thousands of natural springs bubble up through limestone bedrock at a stable year-round temperature of 48 to 50 degrees, creating fertile streams rich with aquatic vegetation, abundant aquatic insects, and remarkably healthy populations of wild brown, rainbow, and brook trout. Within Iowa?s portion of the Driftless Area, there are hundreds of miles of fishable water for anglers to explore, some favorites being Waterloo Creek, North and South Bear Creeks, and French Creek. Epic hatches, beautiful wild trout, and ample public access make Iowa?s Driftless Area streams some of the finest fly fishing water you?ll encounter in the U.S.

While there is enough trout water within northeast Iowa to satisfy any angler for a lifetime, the rest of the state holds some fantastic warmwater fishing that shouldn?t be ignored. In northwest Iowa, West Lake Okoboji is where you go if you want to catch big bluegills that can reach lengths of 11 to 12 inches. Another small game fish worthy of pursuit with a fly rod are yellow bass found in Clear Lake located in north central Iowa. In western Iowa, anglers cast to the aggressive largemouth bass of Prairie Rose Lake. It?s important to note that most of these warmwater fisheries are only fly-fishable in the spring, summer, and fall, freezing over in the winter when ice fishing becomes the main pursuit.

IA Department of Fish & Wildlife
502 East 9th Street, 4th Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319-0034
P: 515-725-8200

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Iowa Fishing Articles

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It’s winter time and if you’re like me then you’re probably daydreaming of warmer weather and being on the river. You’re also probably behind the vice tying up dozens of flies for the months ahead....

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Posted on January 21, 2016

Proper fly fishing gear is essential. Along with the reel, flies and line, the most important gear is the fly rod. Fly rods may vary in length from 6 - 12 feet and come in different weights, colors,...

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Guides based in Iowa

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By the next generation, Trout Unlimited will ensure that robust populations of native and wild coldwater fish once again thrive within their North American range, so that our children can enjoy...

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