Iowa DNR's Twitter Iowa DNR's Flicker Iowa DNR's YouTube Iowa DNR's Pinterest Iowa DNR's Facebook | Iowa Outdoors Magazine | News | Contact Us

Site Search  search button

Brook Trout

Brook Trout


top portion of back covered with lighter "worm-like" markings on a darker background; vivid white line on front edge on lower fins; male develops deep yellow-red-crimson colorations with red and pale yellow spots along the sides during the breeding season; fish over 1 pound are trophy sized


Brook Trout Distribution

natural reproduction now limited to two smaller streams in Jackson and Clayton counties


insects and other small aquatic life

State Record

7 pounds, 19.75 inches long- 1996 - Doug Kovarik, Marion, Iowa

Expert Tip

use fine line and approach pools quietly to improve your fishing


The brook trout is native to Iowa. They were originally found in abundance in most spring-fed streams of northeastern Iowa, although some fishery investigators believe they were wholly restricted to the Upper Iowa River drainage. Confirmation of the original distribution is difficult because early explorers referred only to the fish as "mountain" or "stream" trout, without bothering to describe identifying characteristics. Natural reproduction of brook trout is presently limited to two small streams in Jackson and Clayton counties. Future expansion of brook trout populations into other streams will probably be dependent on transplanting fish from existing populations, or more likely, wild brook trout from other states that can be stocked in our streams.

Brook trout are readily recognized and distinguished from other trout by two main characteristics: vivid white lines on the front or leading edge of the lower fins, and the top portion or back is covered with light wormy streaks or mottlings on a darker background called vermiculations. The dorsal fin has ten rays and is also strongly mottled. The vomer is trough-shaped, with the teeth restricted to the front portion. Brook trout feel soft to the touch because of the very small scales that cover the entire body. About 230 occur along the lateral line, and they are more deeply embedded than other trout in the genus Salmo.

Wild brook trout at spawning time are among the most beautiful of all fishes. Male trout, during this late fall period, develop a deep red-yellow-crimson coloration along the belly. The sides of the fish often have numerous red and pale yellow spots, with each spot sometimes surrounded by a blue-colored circle.

Brook trout spawn from late October to November. Redds or nests are constructed by females in clean gravel areas, often near the headwaters of spring-fed streams. Females are capable of detecting upwelling springs or other gravel areas with ground-water flow and often deposit their eggs in these habitats. At a constant water temperature of 50 degrees F the eggs will hatch in about 45 days. In colder water the eggs might not hatch until January or February. The tiny fry stay buried in the stream gravel and survive on natural nutrients stored in the yolk sac until the water temperature begins to rise in early spring. At this time the fry swim up through the open crevices of the gravel bottom and begin searching for tiny insect life to feed upon.

Females mature at about two years of age, with most males becoming mature during the first year of life. Young females spawn between 200 to 500 eggs, but a larger fish may produce 2,500 or more. Brook trout reach a length from 3 to 6 inches the first year, 7 to 9 inches the second, and 10 to 13 inches in the third year of life. Brook trout weighing over one pound are considered a trophy since life expectancy is seldom longer than 3 years.

Individual brook trout live in the confined areas of our small streams, often spending most of its life in a single pool-riffle. Three habitat components are required for brook trout survival: resting areas in pools, feeding sites near riffles or swiftly flowing water, and escape cover which is normally found along undercut banks, beneath tree limbs or under large rock ledges.

The diet of brook trout includes fish, small crayfish, or even snails, but insects, both terrestrial and aquatic, generally make up the bulk of the forage. In streams containing watercress, brookies feed heavily on scuds, which are small amphipods often found in abundance near springs.

The fact that brook trout are native to this state will always make it paramount to our aquatic fauna. Its beautiful coloration and scarcity add measurably to its aesthetic value. In order to survive, brook trout must have the coldest and cleanest of stream conditions; continuous pollution, heavy siltation, or water quality degradation will extirpate the species forever. Should the brook trout disappear, so will the last of our purest coldwater streams.


Present in these Iowa water bodies:

Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Sand Lake Marshall On the Northeast edge of Marshalltown 95.00
Terry Trueblood Lake Johnson 1.5 miles south of Hwy 6 on Gilbert Street in Iowa City. 90.00
Prairie Park Fishery Linn 1.5 miles SSE of Cargill on Otis Road, along the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids 42.00
Paint Creek Allamakee Located in Yellow River State Forest, 3 miles west of Harpers Ferry off of State Forest Road or CR B25. 11.00
Waterloo Creek Allamakee Streams runs through Dorchester along Waterloo Creek Drive and Highway 76. 10.50
Maquoketa River (trout portion) Clayton The Upper Maquoketa River from Joy Springs downstream to Backbone Lake contains trout year-round. The area 3 miles southwest of Strawberry Point off 400th is stocked with catchable fish. 8.00
Bloody Run Creek Clayton Located 2 miles west of Marquette off of Highway 18. 6.50
North Bear Creek Winneshiek Located 2.5 miles northeast of Highlandville. 6.00
South Bear Creek Winneshiek Located at Highlandville. 5.20
Trout River Winneshiek Located 5 miles southeast of Decorah off of 133rd Avenue. 5.00
Sny Magill Creek Clayton Located in the Sny Magill Wildlife Management Area, 3 miles southwest of McGregor along Keystone Road. 5.00
Coldwater Creek Winneshiek Located 3 miles northwest of Bluffton off of Coldwater Creek Road. 4.00
Little Paint Allamakee Located in Yellow River State Forest, 3 miles west of Harpers Ferry just off of State Forest Road or CR B25. 3.00
Pine Creek Allamakee Located on Pine Creek Wildlife Management Area, 2 miles northeast of Sattre on Balsam Road or CR W60. 2.50
Otter Creek Fayette Located 3 miles southeast of West Union. 2.50
Fountain Springs Delaware 2.5 miles northeast of Greeley along Oak Road. Most of the fishery lies within Fountain Springs County Park 2.30
Spring Branch Delaware 3 miles east-southeast of Manchester off 205th Avenue. Parking available near highway 20 overpass and Manchester Fish Hatchery 2.20
Turtle Creek Mitchell Located about 1/2 mile north of St. Ansgar off of Highway 218. 2.20
Trout Run Winneshiek Located on the south side of Decorah off Trout Run Road. 2.20
Upper Swiss Valley Creek Dubuque Located 3 miles south of Dubuque near Swiss Valley Nature Center, just off Swiss Valley Road 2.10
North Cedar Creek Clayton Located 3 miles west of McGregor off of CR B60 or Ivory Road. 2.00
Clear Creek Allamakee Stream runs along Highway 9 through Lansing. Public angling access is at the County Park located off South Road Drive. 2.00
Dalton Lake Jackson 1m SE Preston 2.00
South Pine Creek Winneshiek Located 1.5 miles southeast of Sattre. 2.00
Brush Creek Jackson Located 2 miles norteast of Andrew just south of 261st street. 1.90
Buck Creek Clayton Located 3 miles northeast of Garnavillo. 1.70
Hickory Creek Allamakee Located 1 mile southwest of Volney off of Hickory Creek Road. 1.50
Grannis Creek Fayette Located in Grannis Creek Wildlife Management Area, 3.5 miles southeast of Fayette off of Grannis Road. 1.50
Casey Springs Winneshiek Stream located north of Decorah. T99N, R9W, S25, 26 1.50
Richmond Springs Delaware 3 miles south of Strawberry Point. Located entirely within Backbone State Park. Closest to north park gate access. 1.40
Wexford Creek Allamakee Located 5 miles north of Harpers Ferry on the Great River Road or CR X52. 1.40
Middle Bear Creek Winneshiek Stream located 7 miles northeast of Highlandville. T100N, R7W, S14, 15, 16 1.30
Bear Creek Fayette Located 6 miles southeast of Fayette off of Kornhill Road or CR C24. Access from 128th Street. 1.20
Little Turkey River Delaware 3 miles east of Colesburg in Hoffman Wildlife Managment Area off Hubbard Road 1.20
Turkey River Clayton Located 6 miles northwest of Elkader at Big Spring Hatchery. 1.00
Twin Bridges Delaware Just south of Highway 3 about 5.5 miles west of Colesburg in Twin Bridges County Park 0.90
Mink Creek Fayette Located on private property 1.5 miles north of Wadena, access on Bighorn Road. 0.90
Big Mill Creek Jackson Located on Big Mill Wildlife Management Area, 4.5 miles west of Bellevue just south of Mill Creek Road. 0.90
Spring Creek Mitchell Located on the west edge of Orchard. 0.80
Lower Swiss Valley Creek Dubuque Located 3 miles south of Dubuque in Swiss Valley Park just off Swiss Valley Road 0.80
Glovers Creek Fayette Access in Echo Valley State Park, about 3 miles southeast of West Union. 0.80
Joy Springs Clayton South on Alpha Ave, off Highway 3 about 3 miles west of Strawberry Point in Joy Springs County Park. 0.80
Little Mill Creek Jackson Located on Little Mill Wildlife Managment Area and private property 2 miles west of Bellevue, with parking south off 216th street. 0.70
Ozark Springs Jackson T86N - R1E; Section 32 0.70
Bigalk Creek Howard Located 7 miles northeast of Cresco. 0.60
Bankston Creek Dubuque Just south of Park Hollow Road, 3 miles north of Bankston in Bankston County Park 0.60
Baileys Ford Delaware 3 miles southeast of Manchester - follow signage from Jefferson Road. 0.60
South Cedar Creek Clayton Located 2 miles south of Garnavillo and may be accessed from Jigsaw Road. 0.50
Twin Springs Winneshiek Located on the west side of Decorah in Twin Springs City Park. 0.50
West Branch French Creek Allamakee Located on French Creek Wildlife Management Area 6 miles northeast of Waukon. 0.40
Bohemian Creek Winneshiek Located about 1.5 miles east of Protivin. 0.30
Dutton Springs Creek Fayette Located 3 miles northeast of West Union in Dutton's Cave Park. 0.27
Dunning Spring Winneshiek Located in Dunnings Spring Park on the north side of Decorah off Ice Cave Road. 0.20