Driftless Iowa Trout Fishing

A couple weeks ago I was fortunate enought to be able to spend a day of my vacation fishing in the Northeast corner of Iowa, also known as the Driftless Region.

I arrived on Sunday evening and planned on fishing all day Monday. Sunday night a big storm rolled through and dumped rain on the area. I figured it wouldn’t affect all the waters so I got up early and headed out.

driftless Iowa, fly fishing Iowa
Clear creek was not so clear.

I planned on fishing at least 5 different waters but found the majority of them high and the color of chocolate milk. The only waters that were not high and dirty were the South Bear Creek and Seiwers Springs from the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

I stopped at a the Highlandville general store to pick up something to drink and spoke to an older gentelman that was very helpfull on where and how to access the waters of the area. I made my way along the creek that has many runs and pools. I found some fish rising in the tailout of a pool and found a spot I could cast to them.

South Bear Creek Trout
South Bear Creek Trout

It wasn’t long and I my first rainbow to hand.

Driftless rainbow trout, Iowa fly fishing
Driftless rainbow trout

I landed three more fish before moving on the the next area. As I started fishing the next area I heared a big boom of thunder and the rain started pouring down.

south bear creek iowa, Driftless Iowa Flyfishing
Fishing in the rain can be productive.

It was fairly warm out so I contuined fishing and a few minutes later I landed my second ever brook trout.

Iowa driftless brook trout
Quick pic in the rain and then realese!

After a quick picture and release I decided it was time to go dry out. So I headed back towards Decorah to visit the Hatchery and fish the springs that come out of it.

The Decorah fish hatchery raised rainbow and brook trout that are stocked in the local waters. I took my wife and daughter to visit the hatchery. The rainbows are raised in concrete runways and the brook trout were kept in large pond impoundments.

rainbow trout feeding, Decorah fish hatchery
Callie enjoyed feeding the trout

pellet pigs, Decorah fish hatchery
They love the pellets

The brook trout loved the pellets too!
The brook trout loved the pellets too!

After visiting the hatchery I fished the springs outlet from the hatchery. The rain earlier in the day had the water a little off color but I figured I could still catch a few fish. I found a section that had a nice bend in the creek with a riffle that pushed into the bend. I drifted a few nymphs through the feeding lanes and didn’t get any stikes. I decided to switch to something with more action to it, so I decided to try swinging a size 10 Purple Haze softhackle. A few swings later I hooked up with a small rainbow.

Iowa rainbow
Iowa rainbow

As I fished on though the stream I kept hoping for a brown to complete my three species of Iowa trout. After several more small rainbows I finally hooked the brown I was hoping for. It wasn’t big but the colors made up for the lack of size.

brown trout, Iowa driftless brown trout, Iowa fly fishing, Driftless fly fishing
Brown trout from the driftless of Iowa!

After that fish I decided it was time to call it a day. After all I had to take my wife to Chicago for a Cubs game the next day, since she put up with me fishing away a day on our vacation.


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