When (and where) to fish

Iowa has over 50 trout fisheries that are available to the public that boast catchable rainbow, brook, and brown populations. With roughly 3 million humans in the state of Iowa, plus tourists, one would think it would be difficult to “get away from it all.” Not so. In a previous post, I described timing your trip with weather in mind. Equally as important is choosing a fishery that suits your schedule, abilities, and desires. Iowa boasts streams that are located in semi-urban areas to handicap accessible locations, to remote areas requiring a hike-in.

If your (and mother nature’s) schedule permits it, find a time to go that will offer the least amount of fishing pressure. Most times of the year, this naturally means Monday- Friday. Having miles of spring-fed creeks to yourself is the makings for a wonderful day. On my most recent trip, I was delighted to pull in and find my truck alone in the lot. Talk about excitement. I spent the whole day taking my time on each bend, trough, and ripple, looking at bugs and feeling no pressure to move on ahead. It doesn’t always work this way, and it’s a rare situation to feel overcrowded here in Iowa.


Don’t overlook night time fishing. Some streams provide some incredible late-evening hatches that many people miss. Even running a mouse pattern across the water in certain situations after the sun has set has been known to produce some hungry browns.

Think about the date you choose to go too. Two years ago, my wife and I went fishing on the evening of the fourth of July. What some might call “Independence Day party poopers” we call “strategically-timed fishing”. With the stream to ourselves, we got a whack at every run and un-fished area. After about an hour, Amanda had managed to hook into something BIG. She had found a remote run and when I got to her-  her rod was wrapped over with a fish holding deep, what turned out to be a 19″ brood bow.  She was thrilled, we took some pictures, and got the guy back in the water.  Any celebrating we did fell on deaf ears on the empty stream. Timing may or may not have helped, but the solitude was nice.

Sometimes you really get out what you put in. We have a few streams here in Iowa that do require a more serious walk-in. While not the rugged terrain of Colorado or Western states, negotiating timber, snow, or high grass of the summer can make for a hike. The first trips to a few these places is always exciting and sometimes interesting.   If you’re up for it, these places offer up some of the best small stream fishing you’ll find- hungry, brightly colored brookies and browns- as well as some of the most gorgeous landscape for pictures.

Look at some maps, your schedule, do some research, and plan accordingly. There is a stream for everyone in Iowa’s Driftless region.

With years of fishing streams in NE Iowa, Driftless on the Fly would love to be your resource and can help plan a day that will get you the most out of your time. Contact us for an unforgettable fly fishing trip.


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