Interior Rivers

Upper Iowa River (above Decorah)

General Information

Location: This stretch is found in Howard and Winneshiek County. A popular access is found in Kendallville Park and Campground off of Hwy 139 about 8 miles northeast of Cresco.
Length in miles: 79.00
Motoring Restrictions: None

Nearby Parks

Amenities

Amenities at Upper Iowa River (above Decorah) include:
  • Boat Access
  • Picnic Area
  • Playground
  • Restrooms
  • Camping
  • Good/Excellent Shorefishing
  • Gravel Boat Ramp
  • Hard Surface Boat Ramp
  • Carry Down Boat Launch
  • Accessible Shoreline
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.
Flows remain elevated as water levels stabilize. Water temperatures are mid 70's with much improved visibility. Toss a lure upstream and let it float through the current along a ledge or current seam.
Smallmouth Bass - Fair: A nightcrawler or crawfish crankbait will attract a smallmouth.
Walleye - Fair: Try a jig tipped with a minnow, nightcrawler, or natural colored twister tail for success.
Download Printable River Map

  • 06/01/2015 - 3,687 Walleye (1.7")
  • 05/29/2015 - 7,720 Walleye (2")
  • 06/05/2014 - 6,040 Walleye (2")
  • 06/05/2014 - 9,060 Walleye (2")
  • 05/28/2014 - 22,500 Walleye (2")
  • 06/21/2013 - 4,263 Walleye (1.7")
  • 05/17/2012 - 22,500 Walleye (1.3")
  • 06/02/2011 - 5,600 Walleye (1.3")
  • 06/02/2011 - 16,900 Walleye (1.3")
  • 05/19/2010 - 5,490 Walleye (1.4")
  • 05/19/2010 - 16,560 Walleye (1.4")
  • 05/27/2009 - 5,600 Walleye (1.6")
  • 05/27/2009 - 16,900 Walleye (1.6")
  • 05/28/2008 - 4,510 Walleye (1.5")
  • 05/28/2008 - 13,610 Walleye (1.5")
  • 05/21/2007 - 5,400 Walleye (1.5")
  • 05/21/2007 - 16,600 Walleye (1.5")
The Fishing Regulations brochure is available for download. The summaries listed below are a partial listing provided for your benefit.

  • Bluegill
    • Season: Continuous
    • Daily Bag Limit: 25 fish
    • Possession Limit: unlimited
    • Length Limit: none
    • Other:
  • Brook 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
  • 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
  • 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: combined black bass, 3 fish
    • Possession Limit: combined black bass, 6 fish
    • Length Limit: 12-inch minimum
    • Other:
  • 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 seventy nine mile stretch begins at the Minnesota border and extends down through Decorah to the Lower Dam which is about 11 miles northeast of Decorah. The headwaters of the Upper Iowa actually begins in Minnesota near Leroy. The Upper Iowa is a paddlers dream but if you don't want to share your experience come during the week especially during the summer months. There are three dams in this stretch that must be portaged around, the Lidtke Mill Dam near Lime Springs and Upper Dam about 6 miles and Lower Dam 11 miles both northeast of Decorah. There is so much to see from the Chimney Rocks to Malanaphy Springs as one paddles it's hard to tell someone where to go first. Its also an outstanding fishery. The Upper Iowa boosts trophy sized Walleye thanks to the IA DNR's interior river walleye stocking program but also has an excellent Smallmouth Bass fishery. During April and May, be prepared for some amazing sucker fishing. (2016)

Contacts

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.

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