Upper Iowa River (below Decorah)

General Information

County: Allamakee
Location: This stretch includes Winneshiek and Allamakee County. A popular access is at Lower Dam about 11 miles northeast of Decorah.
Acres: 57.00
Maximum Depth:
Motoring Restrictions: None

Nearby Parks

Amenities

Amenities at Upper Iowa River (below Decorah) include:
  • Boat Access
  • Picnic Area
  • Restrooms
  • Camping
  • Good/Excellent Shorefishing
  • Gravel Boat Ramp
  • Hard Surface Boat Ramp
  • Carry Down Boat Launch
Be prepared for some unstable weather Thursday through Sunday. Localized flooding is possible is areas with repeated thunderstorms. Wild parsnip continues to be a problem along trails and accesses. Wear light clothing to protect exposed skin from sun and the effects of wild parsnip. For current angling conditions, please contact the Decorah Fish Hatchery at 563-382-8324.
Smallmouth Bass - Fair:
Walleye - Slow:
Water levels continue to fall but flows remain elevated. Water temperatures in the mid 70's with improved visibility. A variety of baits are working but nightcrawlers work best in stained water. Visit https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ia/nwis/rt for current water level information.
Channel Catfish - Good: Bank anglers are catching fish using a jig tipped with a crawler with weight to keep it on the bottom.
Download Printable Lake Map

You can zoom in on the map for bathymetric information for some lakes

The Fishing Regulations brochure is available for download. The summaries listed below are a partial listing provided for your benefit.

  • Brown Trout
    • Season: Continuous
    • Daily Bag Limit: combined trout (brook, brown, and rainbow) - 5 fish
    • Possession Limit: combined trout (brook, brown, and rainbow) - 10 fish
    • Length Limit: none
    • Other: Anglers must have paid the Trout Fee to fish for or possess trout
  • Channel Catfish
    • Season: Continuous
    • Daily Bag Limit: combined: channel, blue and flathead catfish, 15 fish
    • Possession Limit: combined: channel, blue and flathead catfish, 30 fish
    • Length Limit: none
    • Other:
  • Freshwater Drum
    • Season: Continuous
    • Daily Bag Limit: none
    • Possession Limit: unlimited
    • Length Limit: none
    • Other: May be taken by hand fishing, by snagging, by spear or by bow and arrow, day or night.
  • Northern Pike
    • Season: Continuous
    • Daily Bag Limit: 3 fish
    • Possession Limit: 6 fish
    • Length Limit: none
    • Other:
  • Rainbow Trout
    • Season: Continuous
    • Daily Bag Limit: combined trout (brook, brown, and rainbow) - 5 fish
    • Possession Limit: combined trout (brook, brown, and rainbow) - 10 fish
    • Length Limit: none
    • Other: Anglers must have paid the Trout Fee to fish for or possess trout
  • Rock Bass
    • Season: Continuous
    • Daily Bag Limit: none
    • Possession Limit: unlimited
    • Length Limit: none
    • Other:
  • Smallmouth Bass
    • Season: Continuous
    • Daily Bag Limit: Catch and release only
    • Possession Limit: Catch and release only
    • Length Limit: Catch and release only
    • Other: Winneshiek County, extending downstream from the Fifth Street Bridge in Decorah as posted to the upper dam
  • Walleye
    • Season: Continuous
    • Daily Bag Limit: combined walleye, sauger and saugeye; 5 fish
    • Possession Limit: combined walleye, sauger and saugeye; 10 fish
    • Length Limit: none
    • Other:
  • White Sucker
    • Season: Continuous
    • Daily Bag Limit: none
    • Possession Limit: unlimited
    • Length Limit: none
    • Other: May be taken by hand fishing, by snagging, by spear or by bow and arrow, day or night.
This fifty seven stretch of river starts below lower dam about 11 miles northeast of Decorah and gently flows through many remote scenic areas where it empties into the Mississippi River. The last 8.6 miles of the river are channelized and has a sandy silt bottom. There are no dams to portage around in this section. There are many great access points from below lower dam to Hwy 76 bridge and a multitude of outstanding holes to fish between each. During the summer months, anglers should concentrate efforts around the mouths any number of cold water tributaries that empty into the river. Anglers should have no problem catching Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, Rainbow Trout, and Brown Trout. The best way to get around this section of river is by canoe, kayak or small johnboat powered by shallow drive motor. (2016)

Contacts

Fish Surveys

Lake Fish Survey Data Data from the most recent fisheries survey of this lake is provided on this external web site. This data may include information from various netting surveys and/or electroshocking surveys. Data includes numbers of fish sampled, and fish size ranges. Not all lakes are sampled every year.

Lake Mini-report

Lake Reports Summary report information about selected (~130) lakes regarding water quality, upstream land use, usage, economic value and more. Reports are customizable by the user to include only that information which the user desires to include.

Water Quality

Iowa-Caught Fish Are Safe to Eat, In Almost All Cases

The vast majority of Iowa’s streams, rivers and lakes offer safe and high-quality fish that pose little or no threat to human health if consumed. Some limitations may apply for young children and pregnant women. Here’s a Fish Consumption Fact Sheet from the Iowa DNR and the Iowa Dept. of Public Health for more information. Here is a list of current fish consumption advisories for Iowa lakes and rivers.