19 09, 2018


The Upper Iowa River Watershed supports cold and warm water fish species but three dams restrict fish movement and species prevalence. Smallmouth bass, walleye, trout, and non-game fish are abundant throughout the river. Trout are especially prevalent near the mouth of coldwater streams, and more than 30 of these streams make their way into the Upper Iowa River. Below the dams, sauger, sturgeon, northern pike, flathead and channel catfish, yellow perch, and white bass migrate up from the Mississippi River. Smallmouth bass and walleye prefer rocky or sandy substrate, especially in the deepest pools. Dead trees, boulders, and root [...]

19 09, 2018


Tens of thousands of residents and visitors each year utilize the Upper Iowa River and its corridor for recreational activities including canoeing, kayaking, fishing, tubing, wildlife watching, camping, and other activities. Canoeing and Kayaking The Upper Iowa River is perhaps the most widely-recognized river in Iowa and one of the first in the nation to be nominated as a national Wild and Scenic River in the 1960s. Thanks largely to private landowners and organizations that own and care for it, the river corridor has retained its scenic and natural character and become a premier recreational river. Paddlers will share this [...]

9 06, 2017

In the News: Farmers’ Water Quality Efforts Help Trout Flourish in NE Iowa

Trout need clean, cold water to survive. And thanks to many Iowa farmers who are taking on the challenge to improve water quality, the fish are getting just what they need in northeast Iowa. Farmers and landowners are improving the trout habitat with watershed and land use improvement projects that control erosion and reduce the amount of sediment in the water. That’s good news for the fish, anglers and local economies in Iowa’s Driftless region, where annual spending on fishing and tourism is estimated at $20 million. The recovery of Iowa’s trout streams has been remarkable. In 1980, only six [...]

16 05, 2017

Rare Lake Sturgeon Spawning in the Upper Iowa River

Decorah Fish Hatchery Natural Resource Technician Chris Larson is sharing a story with decorahnews.com about a lake sturgeon caught by  Rob Griffith of Urbandale, Iowa: Griffith caught the fish in the Upper Iowa River on May 5th.  Lake sturgeon are considered an endangered species in Iowa.  They are found occasionally in the Mississippi River and in some of Iowa's interior rivers as they move into these rivers to spawn. They are considered a primitive fish since they have cartilage instead of bones and have been around for millions of years. Their numbers have declined in the last century due to [...]

1 05, 2017

Trout Fishing is Big Business in the Driftless Area

Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp at the Decorah Fish Hatchery Trout streams in Northeast Iowa bring in significant visitor spending, according to a new economic impact study released last week. Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp, Northeast Iowa RC&D Executive Director Lora Friest, and Trout Unlimited’s Duke Welner spoke at report’s unveiling Friday afternoon at the Decorah Trout Hatchery. The new report quantifies the direct, indirect and induced effects of trout fishing in the Driftless Area. Based on a survey of trout anglers who purchased trout stamps in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the report details the demographics of trout [...]

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