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
Thunderstorms possible through the weekend but nothing severe. Temperatures ranging from mid 70's to 50's. Barring more rain, clarity should improve and water levels should remain stable. Flows remain elevated on rivers. Caution is advised. For more information, contact Decorah Fish Hatchery at 563-382-8324.
Channel Catfish - Fair: Bank anglers catching catfish using worms fished on the bottom. Use just enough weight to keep bait down but can still feel the strike.
Smallmouth Bass - Fair: Smallies hitting spinnerbaits and jigs tipped with plastics. Target shallow graveled areas.
Walleye - Fair: A variety of lures working for walleye. Fish the slack water and eddies below dams and off channel areas.
Water levels steady with high flows. Clarity is good. Use care when paddling. Read the water ahead. When in doubt, get out. Water temperatures are in the low 60's. A variety of fish are biting.
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

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.