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 balls provide fish habitat, but beware, they also create dangerous undercurrents. Local trout fishing maps and guides can be picked up locally or downloaded from northeastiowarcd.org. The iowadnr.gov fishing website provides information on fishing regulations, licenses, and weekly fishing reports. Connections with other local anglers can be made through the Iowa Coldwater Conservancy, Trout Unlimited (including the Iowa Driftless Chapter), or the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association.
Each Thursday afternoon, the Iowa DNR publishes a free fishing report for Iowa streams, rivers, and lakes. Visit https://www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/Fishing-Reports and search for the “Upper Iowa River” or “Decorah District Streams” for information on what fish are biting.
The Upper Iowa River Watershed boasts 152 miles of Cold Water Stream segments, providing ample opportunities for trout fishing. Upper Iowa River cold water streams are featured in the Trout Fishing Maps and Guides for Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties.