Iowa Trout Guide

Written by Michael Chilton

Fishing for trout in Iowa is one of the state’s most enjoyable activities and best kept secrets. It’s incredible the number of times I’m asked, “There are trout in Iowa?” Yes, and the fishing is pretty good. Brook trout, technically a member of the char family, are native to Iowa waters. There’s one stream in our state where brook trout have never been stocked, but are still abundant and reproducing naturally. Eggs are taken from the trout in this stream to be raised and stocked in other streams. Over 40 Iowa trout streams have natural reproduction occurring, primarily among brown trout. Most of these streams are supplemented with stocked trout. The Iowa DNR stocks fingerling brown and brook trout, and catchable sized rainbow and brook trout for the enjoyment of anglers.

Iowa trout fishing occurs in the northeast corner of the state, a place known as The Driftless Area, Iowa’s Little Switzerland, and The Coulee Region. This unique geological area was skipped over in the last glacial period, so it lacks glacial drift (sediment) from the last glaciation. As a result, the landscape is in stark contrast to the rest of the region. Large limestone bluffs, and beautiful valleys mark the area. This portion of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin contains the largest concentration of limestone spring creeks anywhere in the world! Trout love these little creeks that receive a constant influx of cold water that is amazingly consistent in temperature throughout the year.

Trout streams in Iowa range from tiny to small. Some are as wide as a sidewalk, and can easily be hopped over. Others can be around 60 feet wide in portions. Waters are generally slower moving. The small size means they can easily blowout after a rain event, but the spring water sources help clear them up.


Brook Trout– 7lbs, 19.75″, Fountain Springs

Brown Trout– 15lbs 6oz, 29″, North Prairie Lake

Rainbow Trout– 19lbs 8oz, 35″, French Creek


TROUT FEE: Iowa residents and nonresidents who are required to have a fishing license must pay the Trout Fee ($12.50 for residents or $15 for non-residents) to fish for or possess trout. Exception: Iowa residents and nonresidents under 16 years old may possess or fish for trout without having paid the Trout Fee if they fish with a properly licensed adult who has paid the Trout Fee and together they limit their catch to the one person daily limit of five trout. Children under 16 have the option to purchase their own trout privilege, which allows them to fish without a properly licensed adult and keep their own daily limit (5).

SEASON: All waters – Continuous

LENGTH LIMITS: None, except a 14-inch minimum length limit applies to all trout in Spring Branch Creek (Delaware Co.), from the spring source to County Hwy. D5X as posted, and on brown trout only in portions of Bloody Run Creek (Clayton Co.) where posted.

DAILY BAG & POSSESSION: All waters – Combined daily of 5 and possession of 10.

CATCH & RELEASE ONLY: All trout caught from the posted portion of Hewett and Ensign creeks (Clayton); McLoud Run (Linn), South Pine Creek (Winneshiek); and Waterloo Creek (Allamakee);

and brown trout caught from French Creek (Allamakee) must be released alive immediately.

SPECIAL RESTRICTIONS: Artificial Lure Only: Fishing in the posted areas of Bloody Run Creek, Ensign Creek, French Creek, Hewett Creek, McLoud Run, South Pine Creek, Spring Branch Creek and Waterloo Creek must be by artificial lure only. Artificial lure means lures that do not contain or have applied to them any natural or human-made substance designed to attract fish by the sense of taste or smell.


Trout Map1 (Google Maps)

Trout Map2 (DNR)

Here is a list of Iowa trout streams along with GPS coordinates. This list is published on the annual Iowa Trout Map brochure. Streams denoted with (P&G) are put and grow streams that are on private land and receive stockings of fingerling trout, or have naturally reproducing populations. You must receive landowner permission to fish them. Click the stream name to locate it on google maps, then find the landowner on this site: Beacon.

County Stream Latitude Longitude
Allamakee Clear Creek (north) 43.4584227479512 -91.4183694537955
Allamakee Clear Creek (north) 43.4744026140256 -91.4119460192909
Allamakee Clear Creek (Lansing) 43.3592373142821 -91.2315598179154
Allamakee Clear Creek (Lansing) 43.3590603569199 -91.2397957062539
Allamakee Clear Creek (Lansing) 43.3606906041732 -91.2584305247422
Allamakee Hickory Creek 43.1159249568536 -91.4113312372019
Allamakee Little Paint Creek 43.1633739323163 -91.2331999191846
Allamakee Little Paint Creek 43.1907228731333 -91.2390006334903
Allamakee French Creek 43.4023131582825 -91.4022042164809
Allamakee French Creek 43.3751032477143 -91.3876367423982
Allamakee West Fork French Creek 43.371256078265 -91.3943779718604
Allamakee Paint Creek 43.1978935150109 -91.2885578059627
Allamakee Paint Creek 43.2110183271916 -91.3022876187775
Allamakee Paint Creek 43.219346421266 -91.3190367225067
Allamakee Paint Creek 43.2209367155598 -91.3542483461086
Allamakee Pine Creek 43.3973488198053 -91.605520409268
Allamakee Patterson Creek 43.3480365778547 -91.5683809426602
Allamakee Waterloo Creek 43.4593279356262 -91.5014767771725
Allamakee Waterloo Creek 43.4730625561033 -91.5145507233039
Allamakee Waterloo Creek 43.4909474966704 -91.5564021934715
Allamakee Wexford Creek 43.2734984703095 -91.1275888701482
Allamakee Teeple Creek (P&G) 43.2202732749879 -91.5089838109723
Allamakee Williams Creek (P&G) 43.1425627864716 -91.4517687839746
Allamakee Yellow River (P&G) 43.1386430589003 -91.3992483490675
Allamakee Waterloo Creek 43.4416611671633 -91.5124241039319
Clayton Bloody Run 43.0420713229355 -91.2076240291281
Clayton Bloody Run 43.0352056844015 -91.2404332954741
Clayton Bloody Run 43.0380240750783 -91.2178982482444
Clayton Bloody Run 43.0372805194062 -91.2623488066453
Clayton Bloody Run 43.029929062952 -91.2997870925245
Clayton Bloody Run 43.0306726292631 -91.3044267602815
Clayton Buck Creek 42.835363405407 -91.1506699545386
Clayton Buck Creek 42.8462903645224 -91.1707229768714
Clayton Buck Creek 42.8686880332169 -91.1967464060179
Clayton Buck Creek 42.8855760587249 -91.2045528733325
Clayton Sny Magill Creek 42.965731417662 -91.2142875371216
Clayton South Cedar Creek 42.8283714250302 -91.245030644207
Clayton Turkey River 42.9091541352794 -91.4742653898172
Clayton Ensign Hollow Creek 42.7556130829327 -91.5641705795744
Clayton Maquoketa River 42.6577207649335 -91.5881268294051
Clayton Joy Springs 42.6773033420314 -91.6013032118376
Clayton Mossey Glen Creek 42.7074303383816 -91.4251543511891
Clayton Bear Creek (Clayton) 42.6745462297707 -91.3984177593825
Clayton Miners Creek (Lower) (P&G) 42.7833848790062 -91.1177070052417
Clayton Miners Creek (Upper) (P&G) 42.7998937844168 -91.1394516436366
Clayton North Cedar Creek 42.9649663785576 -91.2279241217351
Clayton North Cedar Creek 42.9439785611732 -91.2416613251715
Clayton North Cedar Creek 42.9565143089314 -91.2294576175829
Delaware Bailey’s Ford 42.4459029280655 -91.4110637200897
Delaware Fountain Springs 42.6136065456145 -91.3057914372997
Delaware Little Turkey River (P&G) 42.6297108718719 -91.1580339141435
Delaware Richmond Springs 42.6338822394383 -91.5641317611527
Delaware Spring Branch Creek 42.4613157914367 -91.4021815349139
Delaware Twin Bridges Creek 42.6299260195277 -91.2892287265929
Delaware Grimes Hollow (P&G) 42.6430697838695 -91.1636923908078
Delaware Little Turkey River (P&G) 42.6179876520259 -91.1675446934458
Delaware Spring Falls (P&G) 42.6310019498468 -91.2686545289637
Delaware Upper Maquoketa 42.6214671515266 -91.5667907254009
Dubuque Bankston Creek 42.5585843102756 -90.9511743685025
Dubuque Monastery Creek 42.4109033923791 -90.7714497101463
Dubuque Swiss Valley Creek (Upper) 42.4163692651013 -90.7627989044866
Dubuque Swiss Valley Creek (Lower) 42.430145100511 -90.7403188061765
Dubuque White Pine Hollow Creek 42.6284483454692 -91.1203010620754
Dubuque North Fork Maquoketa River 42.4702649633327 -90.9725289243041
Fayette Bear Creek (Fayette) 42.8049285352882 -91.6941659772313
Fayette Brush Creek (Fayette) 42.7806740729388 -91.6871502933386
Fayette Glovers Creek 42.9509473632258 -91.7724995227453
Fayette Grannis Creek 42.8295605162999 -91.714074861944
Fayette Grannis Creek 42.8255653401225 -91.7277017694893
Fayette Mink Creek 42.8710711574326 -91.6508756461361
Fayette Mink Creek 42.8791639253187 -91.674886735399
Fayette Otter Creek 42.9361507148581 -91.6848154682236
Fayette Otter Creek 42.9467973037439 -91.7658398157969
Howard Bigalk Creek 43.4737388984232 -92.081786729038
Jackson Big Mill Creek 42.2692021589605 -90.5176977455169
Jackson South Fork Big Mill Creek 42.2655984301404 -90.5217313776015
Jackson Little Mill Creek 42.247972533659 -90.4766542903846
Jackson Brush Creek (Jackson) 42.2030968952276 -90.5719701878794
Jackson Brush Creek (Jackson) 42.1765502079761 -90.5768164098175
Jackson Ozark Springs (P&G) 42.2118517564148 -90.8722390129391
Jackson Tete des Morts Creek (P&G) 42.3747466916061 -90.6174968515661
Jackson Tete des Morts Tributary (P&G) 42.3420854178679 -90.6301521780627
Linn McLoud Run 42.0126926597094 -91.6679803705162
Mitchell Spring Creek 43.2269758226027 -92.7858929387164
Mitchell Turtle Creek 43.395998805451 -92.9082556574641
Mitchell Wapsipinicon River 43.4577032871281 -92.6252527089684
Mitchell Burr Oak Creek (P&G) 43.3292131504578 -92.7408593988868
Winneshiek Bohemian Creek 43.2145213001731 -92.061193495839
Winneshiek Coldwater Creek 43.4347052943459 -91.9509408153109
Winneshiek Coon Creek 43.3273422941412 -91.6369260390042
Winneshiek Dunning’s Spring 43.3111224047595 -91.7911142650611
Winneshiek South Bear Creek 43.443067272143 -91.6355962197135
Winneshiek South Bear Creek 43.4426121993003 -91.6749147577135
Winneshiek North Bear Creek 43.4729457776271 -91.63454863377
Winneshiek South Pine Creek 43.3770596043149 -91.6672625694953
Winneshiek Trout River 43.2757977463544 -91.666118083756
Winneshiek Trout River 43.2625106497442 -91.6677890547188
Winneshiek Trout Run 43.2816327193912 -91.7696540638772
Winneshiek Twin Springs 43.2977569371266 -91.8119580648167
Winneshiek West Canoe Creek 43.403119468906 -91.8095508777291
Winneshiek Pine Creek 43.4297733782955 -91.9134753064931
Winneshiek East Pine Creek (P&G) 43.4648362539678 -91.8971918533525
Winneshiek Pine Creek (P&G) 43.4567245319893 -91.9273115700419
Winneshiek Casey Springs (P&G) 43.3606059394407 -91.8696433474472
Winneshiek Middle Bear Creek (P&G) 43.4807380984658 -91.665049061475
Winneshiek North Canoe Creek 43.4049531858234 -91.770533011817
Winneshiek Tenmile Creek (P&G) 43.3332257624573 -91.8739555667169


Iowa DNR

Complete Guide to Iowa Trout Streams by Jene Hughes-Don’t go trout fishing in Iowa without it.

Flyfisher’s Guide to Wisconsin and Iowa-Not as much stream information as the Hughes book, but contains more details about nearby towns and logistical planning.

BioNet-Don’t click on this unless you have several free hours because you’ll be consumed by all the data compiled by University of Iowa researchers.

Trout Mapping Project-Iowa trout streams in google maps.

Driftless Trout Anglers-One of my favorite trout fishing forums.

Iowa Sportsman-The trout fishing forum isn’t as active as DTA, but some useful and entertaining posts pop up here.

Stream Fishing in Iowa– Not a super active forum, but very good content. You need to become a member to see the trout fishing section.


If you’re new to trout fishing or fly fishing, give one of these guides a call. They can teach you a lot in a day on the water.

Bear Creek Anglers

Driftless on the Fly

NEI Fly Fishing

Driftless Angler



Sportsmen Motel– Dorchester

My favorite place to stay when I’m trout fishing. $40 a night for a clean room is ridiculous. No, it’s not fancy, but you’re here to fish. It might take a little while for the hot water to get to your room, and don’t expect too much conversation from Jack, the owner.

Hotel Winneshiek– Decorah

The Winneshiek is great, and it’s set in the beautiful town of Decorah. It’s the most expensive option, and the one I choose when bringing my wife along. The hotel restaurant is worth checking out, and there are many other excellent places to eat in town.

Bear Creek Cabins– Highlandville

The proprietors operate several cabins right along South Bear Creek. Check out their reduced winter rates.

Elkader Inn– Elkader

Another unassuming, very tidy and clean little motel for a good rate.

Stoney Creek Inn– Waukon


Heart of the Driftless

Fly Fisherman Magazine

New York Times ’09

New York Times ’05



The Rebirth of Iowa’s Trout Streams

Conservation Groups

Trout Unlimited

North Bear (Des Moines)
Driftless (Decorah)
Spring Creeks (Iowa City)
Driftless Area Restoration Effort




    Jeffery Skeate (Author)

    Clear Creek Fishing (Fishing Luggage)

    High Horse Floatant (Fly Floatant)