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Brown Trout

Brown Trout


brownish in color, shading to green and yellow; large dark spots on sides surrounded by a yellow "halo"; fingerlings stocked into streams, weights over 3 pounds are trophy sized


Brown Trout Distribution

coldwater streams in northeast Iowa


aquatic insects and their larvae, other aquatic life

State Record

15 pounds, 6 ounces - North Prairie Lake, Blackhawk County, June 1995 - Gerold Lewis, Gladbrook, Iowa

Expert Tip

try fly-fishing around fallen trees and under cut banks


The original stock of brown trout was introduced into Iowa from Europe in the late 1800`s. Some natural brown trout reproduction occurs, but it is generally very limited by poor water quality caused mainly by extensive soil erosion, winter flooding and stream bank erosion from cattle grazing. Presently most "put and grow" streams are stocked once each year with fingerling brown trout. A few trout streams are stocked only with browns, and most trout streams receive at least some brown trout.

As its name implies, the color of this trout is generally brown, shading into a background of green and yellow. Spots on the sides of brown trout are generally larger and more prominent than on other trout, and they are often bordered with a light-colored "halo." Few, if any, dark spots are found on the tail fin. The leading edge of all belly fins on brown trout is yellow or about the same color as the body. Lower portions of young brown trout are yellow, fading to gray or white underneath. Males, during the breeding season, often exhibit vivid yellow to reddish-yellow colors along the belly region and a sharply hooked lower mandible. The vomer, a bony structure in the roof of the mouth, has sharp teeth in an alternating or "zig-zag" row. There are 115 to 150 scales in the lateral line.

Brown trout spawn during October and November, depositing their eggs in saucer-shaped nests called redds, which are dug by the female in the clean gravel lining the bottom of spring-fed streams. The redd is created by the fish while lying on its side and rapidly beating its tail in an up-and-down motion, allowing the current to move the gravel slightly downstream. Up to two males then move alongside the female and the eggs and sperm are deposited simultaneously into the redd. The female then moves to the upstream edge of the redd, again beating its tail on the stream bottom, burying the eggs in gravel. After spawning is completed, the eggs are abandoned. The eggs incubate through the winter, hatch during late winter, and the tiny fry emerge from the gravel during the first warm days of spring. This whole process is, of course, temperature dependent. With a constant water temperature of 50 degrees F hatching occurs in 41 days. The number of eggs produced depends on fish size. An 8-inch mature brown trout may spawn 200 eggs, while a 10-pound female might spawn over 8,000 eggs.

Fingerling brown trout released at a length of 2 l/2 inches in May will average about 7 l/2 inches one year later and begin entering the catch during that summer. Browns grow nearly one inch per month during mid-summer, with much slower growth in spring and fall, and like most fish, usually no growth occurs during winter. Growth of hatchery-reared fish is constant when water temperature and feeding levels are uniform, averaging slightly over one-half inch per month. A 10-inch brown trout stocked from an Iowa hatchery is probably about 18 months old. Trophy-sized fish over 3 pounds have probably survived in our streams for at least 3 years.

Brown trout strongly orient to hiding cover at the first sign of bank movement, be it fishermen or a fish-eating bird. They seem capable of survival in a variety of coldwater streams as long as there is ample protective cover and water temperature does not continuously exceed 70 degrees F. Brown trout feed largely on terrestrial and aquatic insects, worms and small crayfish. Fish become important in the diet of larger browns. Daily feeding patterns change seasonally with varying water temperature and light intensity. Peak insect drifts will often occur after dark, and browns are well-known for their nocturnal feeding. Brown trout are very capable of switching from life in a hatchery to that in a stream environment and adapt readily to a diet of natural food items.

Brown trout will remain our most important fish for fingerling stocking and for our special regulation trout streams due primarily to their ability to survive well under different stream conditions. They are probably the most tedious species of trout for the average angler to catch, but as a result they provide the greatest challenge to dedicated trout fishermen.


Present in these Iowa water bodies:

Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Yellow River Allamakee T96N, R6W, S3 to T96N, R4W, S24 25.00
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
North Prairie Lake Black Hawk SW edge of Cedar Falls 10.00
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
French Creek Allamakee Located on French Creek Wildlife Management Area and private land 6 miles northeast of Waukon. 5.60
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
Clear Creek (put and grow) Allamakee Located on Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area, 4 miles east of Dorchester along Sleepy Hollow Drive. 3.40
Little Turkey River (put and grow) Delaware 4 miles east of Colesburg off Hubbard Road 3.20
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
Coon Creek Winneshiek Located in Coon Creek Wildlife Management Area, 7 miles northeast of Decorah. 2.60
Otter Creek Fayette Located 3 miles southeast of West Union. 2.50
Wapsi River Trout Section Mitchell Located 0.5 mile west of McIntire. 2.50
Pine Creek Allamakee Located on Pine Creek Wildlife Management Area, 2 miles northeast of Sattre on Balsam Road or CR W60. 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
Trout Run Winneshiek Located on the south side of Decorah off Trout Run Road. 2.20
Turtle Creek Mitchell Located about 1/2 mile north of St. Ansgar off of Highway 218. 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
Burr Oak Creek Mitchell Stream located just north of Osage. T98N, R16W, S4, 5, 9, 10 2.00
White Pine Hollow Dubuque This fishery is located primarily within White Pine Hollow State preserve, about 2 miles northwest of Luxemburg. Access to this fishery is difficult. A small parking area is available on the east side of the preserve. Best fishing is on the west side. 1.80
Buck Creek Clayton Located 3 miles northeast of Garnavillo. 1.70
Brush Creek Fayette Located in Brush Creek Canyon State Preserve, 1.5 miles north of Arlington off of CR C2W or 90th Street. 1.60
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
Patterson Creek Allamakee Stream located 4 miles northwest of Waukon. 1.40
Richmond Springs Delaware 3 miles south of Strawberry Point. Located entirely within Backbone State Park. Closest to north park gate access. 1.40
Hewett and Ensign Creeks (Ensign Hollow) Clayton Located on Ensign Hollow Wildlife Management Area about 5 miles north of Strawberry Point. Access is provided on the north side of 322nd street. 1.30
Middle Bear Creek Winneshiek Stream located 7 miles northeast of Highlandville. T100N, R7W, S14, 15, 16 1.30
Grimes Hollow Delaware 1.5 mile east of Colesburg off Hubbard Road. T90N-R3W; Sections 2, 3. 1.20
Little Turkey River Delaware 3 miles east of Colesburg in Hoffman Wildlife Managment Area off Hubbard Road 1.20
South Fork Mill Creek Jackson Located in Big Mill Wildlife Management Area between Bellevue-Cascade Road and Mill Creek road about 4 miles west of Bellevue. 1.10
Tete des Morts River Jackson Located near St. Donatus. T87N, R3E, S4 1.10
Mink Creek Fayette Located on private property 1.5 miles north of Wadena, access on Bighorn Road. 0.90
Twin Bridges Delaware Just south of Highway 3 about 5.5 miles west of Colesburg in Twin Bridges County Park 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
Spring Falls Delaware T90N - R4W; sections 1, 2, 12 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
Miners Creek Clayton Stream is located west of Guttenberg. T92N, R2W, S7, 18 and T29N, R3W, S12 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
Bankston Creek Dubuque Just south of Park Hollow Road, 3 miles north of Bankston in Bankston County Park 0.60
tributaries to Tete des Morts River Jackson Located near St. Donatus. T87N, R3E, S16, 17, 23 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
Mossy Glen Clayton 5 miles northwest of Edgewood at the termination of the Level B portion of Eagle Ave. Road damage from weather has made access to this site difficult for all vehicles. Not recommended for low-clearance or 2-wheel drives. 0.50
Bear Creek Clayton Bixby State Preserve, 2 miles north of Edgewood just east of Fortune Road. 0.50
North Canoe Creek Winneshiek Stream located north of Decorah. T99N, R8W, S2, 11, 14, 15, 22 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
Monastery Creek Dubuque Monastery Creek can be accessed through the Dubuque County Swiss Valley Nature Preserve about 4 miles SW of Dubuque off of Swiss Valley Rd. 0.20