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Our picks for Iowa's top nine trout streams in 2017

  • 3/29/2017 11:54:00 AM
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More than 300,000 catchable-sized rainbow and brook trout, and 110,000 fingerling brown trout will be stocked in hundreds of miles of northeast Iowa streams between April 3 and October 2017.

Start planning your northeast Iowa trout fishing trips. Plan a day trip or spend the entire weekend at one of Iowa’s great state parks.

Here's our picks for Iowa's best streams to trout fish in 2017:

Our picks for Iowa's top nine trout streams in 2017 | Iowa DNRClayton County

1) Bloody Run Creek, 2 miles west of Marquette – lots of wild brown trout with 10- to 12-inch fish common. If you walk off the beaten path, you will find a portion of the stream where only artificial lures can be used and all brown trout must be more than 14-inches to be kept. Stream access is fairly easy for anglers with limited mobility. Try dangling a worm under a bobber in the deeper pools. Cast a lure in front of a series of bank hides and let it drift downstream for hit-and-run action.

2) Joy Springs, about 3 miles west of Strawberry Point – this popular spot  to  catch  brook and rainbow trout is just a little off the beaten path; it takes a short walk to get to the stream. It boasts large and deep pools that are usually fished with live bait, jigs or spinners. Most trout here are 10- to 12-inches with an occasional larger wild brown trout.

Delaware County

3) Bailey's Ford, 3 miles southeast of Manchester – catch stocked brook and rainbow trout along with an occasional wild brown trout. Easy access and a full-service campground stream-side make this one of the most popular trout streams in Iowa. Use jigs, spinners, prepared bait, and live bait in pools or in stream habitat features. Most trout here 10- to 12-inches. Avoid large crowds with trips on days without announced stockings.

4) Fountain Springs, 2.5 miles northeast of Greeley – this drive through park and stream, only a few miles off the paved roads, is stocked with brook and rainbow trout and also has a few wild browns. You don’t have to walk too far to fish for trout. The few deeper pools and runs hold most of the larger trout in this small water with long stretches of shallow bedrock riffle. Trout here are mostly 6- to 12-inches. Use live bait or artificial presentations.

Dubuque County

5) Swiss Valley, 3 miles south of Dubuque – catch stream-reared browns as well as stocked rainbows at Catfish Creek in Swiss Valley Preserve and Campground near the attractions and convenience provided by the City of Dubuque. A well developed trail system provides fishing access into an area known for scenic beauty. Use nightcrawlers, plastics, spinners, and jigs in large pools and along bank hides. Most trout caught here are 8- to 13-inches with a few large (16-inch) browns.

Fayette County

6) Glovers Creek, 3 miles southeast of West Union – Echo Valley State Park features a 2.5 mile nature trail and two trout streams (Glovers and Otter Creek) running through the park. The streams, set with a beautiful limestone bluff backdrop, offer easy stream access for anglers with limited mobility. More adventurous anglers can explore the stream-side paths to less-fished, even more scenic areas. On warmer afternoons and early morning, trout rise to hatches of stoneflies, midges and mayflies.

Jackson County
7) Big Mill Creek, about 5 miles west of Bellevue – Big Mill Wildlife Area has wild brown trout, and stocked rainbow and brook trout. Spinners, jigs and live bait are preferred options, but other tactics work, too. Stream access is easiest in the upstream portion of the wildlife area. Most trout here are 8- to 13-inches. Venture into Bellevue to enjoy the small-town charm of a Mississippi River community. 

Winneshiek County
8) Coldwater Creek, 3 miles northwest of Bluffton – chances are good you will catch a naturally reproducing brown trout here with more than 1,000 fish per mile. A lot of habitat work installed along much of the stream creates many hiding places for fish. It's one of the few streams that has limited natural reproduction of rainbow trout; you may find one of these stream-reared fish near the impressive cave mouth. Fly fishers using caddis flies, mayflies, and midges do well spring and fall. Use a variety of terrestrial insects such as hoppers and crickets in the summer. Try spinnerbaits, small crankbaits, jigs tipped with plastics, and a hook and worm in the deeper holes. 

9) Trout River, 5 miles southeast of Decorah –  a short walk from the parking lot will get you to the stream inside of  the Trout River Wildlife Management Area. Plenty of 9- to 12-inch stream-reared brown trout await with a few fish over 16-inches. The banks in this area are not too high, so fishing from shore is possible. The private property open to fishing downstream is better suited for fly fishing. Find a great deal of habitat improvements at both. Mayfly, midge, gnats, and caddis flies are common insects in these areas.

Check conditions before you go with the weekly Iowa Fishing Report or the 24-hour trout stocking hotline at 563-927-5736. 

Learn more about Iowa’s trout streams, including maps, stocking calendar, amenities, regulations and fishing tips on the DNR trout fishing webpage

Our picks for Iowa's top nine trout streams in 2017 | Iowa DNR