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Fishing for Trout in Iowa

Welcome to Iowa Trout Country!

Iowa's trout program consists of 50 catchable rainbow and brook trout fisheries, seven special trout fisheries, seven urban trout fisheries, and 26 put-and-grow trout fisheries. Most of these must be maintained by stocking because successful natural reproduction of trout occurs in a few Iowa waters. Six trout fisheries, however, offer excellent angling opportunities for catching wild, naturally-sustaining brown or brook trout populations.  These various types of trout fisheries have been developed to enable the trout angler to select the types of trout fishing preferred.

On the trout streams page, information is provided on each stream's location, qualities, and other additional tidbits for you to get the most out of your fishing experience. Location maps are made using State of Iowa GIS maps and Rural Address Maps provided by the respective county engineer's office.  An overview map of all the trout streams in Northeast Iowa is available online, or a printed version can be requested by emailing the DNR or calling the DNR Phone Center at 515-725-8200.

On your next outing in Northeast Iowa, plan to visit one of Iowa's three trout production facilities- Manchester, Decorah, or Big Springs. The grounds to each facility are open to the public year round from sunrise to sunset. Fisheries employees are present during office hours to answer your questions pertaining to all of Iowa's fisheries programs as well as current trout stream conditions.

Catchable Trout Streams

Want to know when trout are going to be stocked in your favorite stream? Please see the proposed stocking schedules for the current year, for all hatcheries combined or individual hatcheries. For current trout stream or urban stocking information, call 563-927-5736.

Trout Streams stocked - Master Calendar
Trout Streams stocked by Big Springs Hatchery
Trout Streams stocked by Decorah Hatchery
Trout Streams stocked by Manchester Hatchery

Put and Grow Streams

Iowa's put and grow streams offer unique trout fishing opportunities.  They are particularly suited for those anglers who prefer a solitary fishing experience and the opportunity to catch a few stream-reared trout, with the possibility of catching a real trophy-sized fish. For more information about a particular put and grow stream, contact the local Fish Management Office.

Urban Trout Fisheries

The Urban trout stocking typically occurs between October and Early April.  The urban lakes trout program is an effort to introduce trout fishing to more anglers across the state.  These cool weather stockings provide easy-access trout fishing opportunities in areas that cannot support trout during the summer months.

All winter stocking events are weather dependent and ice quality dependent. Currently ice on these areas is marginal at best. Dates and times may change due to weather, please check back often for possible changes.

 Urban Trout Stocking Dates (2014-2015)
 Ada Hayden, Ames  Story County  Feb 7  12:00 pm
 Bacon Creek, Sioux City
 Woodbury County
 Jan 17
 1:30 pm
 Banner Lake (South), Indianola at Summerset State Park  Warren County
 Apr 11
 12:00 pm
 Big Lake, Council Bluffs
 Pottawattamie County
 Jan 16
 1:30 pm 
 Blue Pit, Mason City
 Cerro Gordo County
 Jan 17
 11:00 am
 Discovery Park, Muscatine
 Muscatine County
 Mar 27
 10:00 am
 Heritage Pond, Dubuque
 Dubuque County
 Apr 18
 10:00 am
 Lake of the Hills, Davenport
 Scott County
 Mar 20
 10:30 am
 Moorland Pond, Fort Dodge
 Webster County
 Jan 24
 12:00 pm
 North Prairie, Cedar Falls
 Black Hawk County
 Apr 11
 10:00 am
 Ottumwa Park Pond
 Wapello County
 Mar 28
 11:30 am
 Petoka, Bondurant
 Polk County
 Jan 30
 11:00 am
 Prairie Park (Cedar Bend), Cedar Rapids
 Linn County
 Mar 28
 10:00 am
 Sand Lake, Marshalltown
 Marshall County
 Apr 18
 11:00 am
 Terry Trueblood Lake, Iowa City
 Johnson County
 Mar 28
 10:30 am
 Scharnberg Pond, Spencer
 Clay County
 Jan 31
 12:00 pm
 Wilson Lake, Fort Madison
 Lee County
 Mar 27
 12:00 pm

Note: All winter stocking events are weather dependent and ice quality dependent.  Currently ice on these areas is marginal at best.  Dates and times may change due to weather, please check back often for possible changes.

Kids Trout Fishing Pond
Big Spring Hatchery is the home of Iowa’s first kid's trout fishing pond.  The series of interconnected ponds offers a safe and convenient location for young anglers to learn the basics of fishing, while having an excellent chance of reeling in their very first trout.  A shelter is located adjacent to the pond where fishing poles and basic tackle is available if you don’t have the right equipment.  The pond is open for anglers 16 and under.  All kids must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult (fishing license + trout privilege).  There is a 2-trout limit per day, which includes trout caught and released.  Artificial tackle is recommended for anglers planning on catching and releasing.

Trout Hatcheries Cold-water Stream Fish How to ... 
 Big Springs Fish Hatchery  Brook Trout  Fish for Trout
 Decorah Fish Hatchery  Brown Trout  Spin fish for trout
 Manchester Fish Hatchery  Rainbow Trout  Fly fish for trout
   Mottled Sculpin  Cleaning Catfish
   Slimy Sculpin  Clean and cook a fish
     Hatchery spawning and fertilization
     Rod & Reel Cleaning

Trout Stocking Event

Urban Trout Stocking Event

Trout Regulations

TROUT FEE: Iowa residents and nonresidents who are required to have a fishing license must pay the Trout Fee ($12.50 for residents or $15 for non-residents) to fish for or possess trout. Exception: Iowa residents and nonresidents under 16 years old may possess or fish for trout without having paid the Trout Fee if they fish with a properly licensed adult who has paid the Trout Fee and together they limit their catch to the one person daily limit of five trout. Children under 16 have the option to purchase their own trout privilege, which allows them to fish without a properly licensed adult and keep their own daily limit (5).

SEASON: All waters - Continuous

LENGTH LIMITS: None, except a 14-inch minimum length limit applies to all trout in Spring Branch Creek (Delaware Co.), from the spring source to County Hwy. D5X as posted, and on brown trout only in portions of Bloody Run Creek (Clayton Co.) where posted.

DAILY BAG & POSSESSION: All waters - Combined daily of 5 and possession of 10.

CATCH & RELEASE ONLY: All trout caught from the posted portion of Hewett and Ensign creeks (Clayton); McLoud Run (Linn), South Pine Creek (Winneshiek); and Waterloo Creek (Allamakee);

and brown trout caught from French Creek (Allamakee) must be released alive immediately.

SPECIAL RESTRICTIONS: Artificial Lure Only: Fishing in the posted areas of Bloody Run Creek, Ensign Creek, French Creek, Hewett Creek, McLoud Run, South Pine Creek, Spring Branch Creek and Waterloo Creek must be by artificial lure only. Artificial lure means lures that do not contain or have applied to them any natural or human-made substance designed to attract fish by the sense of taste or smell.

Angler Conservation Easements and Acquisitions
The majority of Trout Country is under private ownership, however, the Iowa DNR does purchase land along some of Iowa’s trout streams from willing buyers to provide trout fishing on publicly owned land.  Those streams flowing through privately owned land require permission to fish from the landowner, unless the stream has an Angler Conservation Easement.  Angler Conservation Easements along trout streams in northeast Iowa provide water resource protection, fish habitat restoration, and public recreation.  Conservation easements are an important partnership with participating landowners.  Your cooperation will protect these “Trout Trails” and allow the public to fish as guests of the landowner.  Always respect private property and Leave No Trace.
Look for Public Fishing signs on one of your favorite trout streams indicating public fishing.  Always ask the landowner for permission first, if the stream is not marked.

Habitat Improvement
The goal of stream improvement remains the same regardless of the structure--to improve and maintain quality water and trout habitat for the benefit of both the trout and trout angler.  Fisheries personnel conduct an active stream habitat improvement program on trout streams.  The first step consists of minimizing erosion of topsoil into the stream by applying proper agricultural practices on the land upstream.

Habitat structures such as rock deflectors and bankhides are installed to provide protective cover, create holes and increase stream current to remove silt and expose the underlying rock streambed.  Bank stabilization projects occur on public and private owned properties. Cutbanks are stabilized by backsloping, covering the lower bank with rock and seeding the entire bank with grasses. This stabilizes the bank and provides shade to the stream and overhead cover for the trout. Landowners interested in improving  the habitat in their trout streams are encouraged to contact the Decorah or Manchester fish management biologist for assistance with project planning and potential funding sources.

Fish Restoration
Brook trout from South Pine Creek and brown trout from French Creek are spawned and stocked as fingerlings into coldwater streams with suitable temperature and habitat requirements. These wild fingerling trout survive much better than their domestic hatchery counterparts and also have a better chance of spawning naturally in the stream in future years. Using this stocking technique several populations of naturally reproducing brook and brown trout have been established in Northeast Iowa streams. These populations are self sustaining and need no additional stocking. Anglers can expect high numbers of 8-12 inch brown trout in these populations with trophy fish of up to 20 inches are also present.