Trout Fishing in Iowa (IA) – Top Spots with Map

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Trout fishing in Iowa is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. Many people are not even aware that there are trout in the state, but brook trout are actually native to the state. Finding little known trout fishing hotspots are amazing, and Iowa is one of them!

Trout Fishing in Iowa (IA) - Top Spots with Map

In addition to the native brook trout, brown and rainbow trout are stocked in waters across the state. The Iowa DNR stocks these fish regularly and raises them in many hatcheries, so there are plenty of catchable-sized fish available for the enjoyment of anglers.

For somebody new to the state, they may not know where to go to find these fish. There are surprisingly a large number of places throughout the state that have fishable populations of trout.  Here are 5 locations for some of the best trout fishing in the state of Iowa.

Top Fishing Locations in Iowa (IA)

1. Coldwater Creek

For anglers looking for some beautiful scenery in addition to fishing, Coldwater Creek is a great option. Even if you do not catch anything, the views alone are well worth the trip to this fishery. 

With weekly stockings of brown, rainbow, and brook trout, even inexperienced anglers will most likely catch something within a few casts here. Over the course of the 4-mile creek, expect to run into other anglers and abundant wildlife. 

Trout fishing in Coldwater Creek IA
Coldwater Creek (IA)

Whether you are a serious angler looking for a variety of fish to catch or a beginner wanting to get some easy experience, Coldwater Creek is a great choice. The wildlife and scenery will not disappoint you either no matter what. 

2. Bloody Run Creek

Located two miles west of Marquette, Bloody Run Creek has over 6 miles of stream to catch fish in. It is stocked primarily from April to October and offers anglers a chance to catch a variety of different fish.

Stocked full of rainbow, brown, and brook trout, there is plenty of fish to catch in this stream. No matter what lure or bait you want to try, you will have plenty of space and room to experiment with and plenty of fish to try them on.

Trout fishing in Bloody Run Creek (IA)
Bloody Run Creek (IA)

A popular place for residents to fish, Bloody Run Creek also has sections that are on private property. If you go fishing here, just be aware of all signs and property boundaries. Do not let that deter you though, it is well worth a little work in order to fish this beautiful stream.

3. Lower Swiss Valley Creek

Not very far from the Mississippi River, the Lower Swiss Valley Creek is many trout anglers’ dream come true. Not only is the scenery amazing, but it is regularly stocked and home to plenty of big fish to catch. 

For people with families, the area offers a playground, a picnic area, and camping nearby. There are plenty of easily caught brown, brook and rainbow trout to catch, making this a great option for kids as well.

Whether it is only for a day, a weekend, or an extended stay, the Lower Swiss Valley Creek is a beautiful place to not only go fishing but go on a relaxing vacation as well. You may even consider bringing the family along as well, as there is plenty of things to do for everyone. 

4. Bailey’s Ford

A tributary of the Maquoketa River, Bailey’s Ford is located near the town of Manchester. It is easily one of the most popular trout fisheries in the state of Iowa.

With a weekly stocking of rainbow and brook trout making this waterway a great place to fish, its surrounding woods and forests also draw a large number of visitors every year as well. Plenty of camping and fishing make it a great destination year round.

For an angler with plenty of patience, you can also try and catch the wild brown trout in this stream as well. The overall numbers of fish,  the variety of fishing, and location all make this location an excellent fishing spot. 

5. Little Paint Creek

For anglers looking for a little more adventure, Little Paint Creek can deliver it. Located near the Yellow River State Forest, there are plenty of backpacking trails and scenic bluffs in addition to the great fishing.

With three miles of fishable water that is stocked weekly with rainbow and brook trout, this creek offers plenty of fish to catch. There are also the occasional brown trout caught here as well. For anglers looking for trophy-sized fish in the state, this is a great option as the lower fishing pressure produces some big fish.

Another benefit of fishing Little Paint Creek is its accessibility and open shorelines, making it very easy and comfortable to fish. Even if you come up empty-handed, the extra activities and scenery around you will make this trip worth it. 

When Does Trout Season Start in Iowa

Both Iowa residents and non-residents are required to have a fishing license before fishing for trout anywhere in the state. With a few exceptions, all trout waters are open year round and are subject to daily bag limits. Licenses are very inexpensive and can be bought online or anywhere around the state at approved license dealers. 

Certain waters are also under special regulations and are catch and release only, or artificial lures only. Be sure to know the rules where you plan to fish, and for more information check out Iowa’s Game and Fish Department’s website at https://www.iowadnr.gov/

How Much Is a Fishing License in Iowa

Iowa offers fishing licenses to both residents and non-residents for very good prices, considering the quality of fishing the state provides. 

  • An annual non-resident fishing license will cost $48.00 ($22.00 for residents).
  • Nonresidents can purchase a 1-day license for $12.00, 3-day for $20.50, and 7-day for $37.50.
  • Both residents and nonresidents must purchase a $17.50 trout license. 

To view a complete list of Iowa fishing licenses and their fees, visit https://www.iowadnr.gov/fishing/ on Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources’ website.

Where to Buy a Fishing License in Iowa

Like most other states, Iowa offers the option of buying your fishing license online. This provides a quick and convenient way of purchasing your ticket to some great fishing. You can also buy a fishing license at any DNR office in the state, as well as many other stores and establishments. A complete list of license vendors can be found at https://www.iowadnr.gov/hunting/

Final Thoughts

Although many people are not even aware that there are trout in the state of Iowa, it can easily be considered a trout fisherman’s paradise. From the scenic views and crystal clear waters that are full of trout, there is no doubt that this is one place that should be on your fishing list!

Trout Fishing in the US

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