Monday, January 9, 2012

trout river, iowa driftless report

County- Winneshiek
Miles- 13.5
Tributary To- Upper Iowa River
Nearest Major City- Decorah
Access- 133rd St. between Hwy 9 and Old Stage Road
Trout Caught- Mostly browns with a few rainbows

trout river in iowa has some pretty browns
Who would have thought that I would be trout fishing in January? Inspired by a blog post from John over at “Currents“, a somewhat local blog I have been following intently more recently, I pack my bags and headed on a road trip west. Located just a few short miles from Decorah, the Trout River is noted in the Fly Fishers Guide To Wisconsin and Iowa as a beautiful and scenic trout fishing experience. The Trout is said to contain all three common species of trout with some natural reproduction found in the brown and brook trout. There are two separate access points for anglers to enjoy on the Trout, both are on the same stretch of 133rd Street just a mile or so apart from one another. The water here was clear enough to see good numbers of trout holding around the deep wood and in the guts of the pools. That super clarity also made for some extra spooky trout. Tread lightly and cast no shadows seems to be some good advice on the Trout River.

the upper wooded access on trout river
The upriver section is a much more woodsy fishing experience. Here, the Trout River zig-zags through the landscape at a much quicker pace. Riffles and fast runs scar the stream bed carving out some dramatic cut banks and some nice pockets on the outside of bends. Rock and gravel substrate deposits were found frequently especially in areas where the constant flow had worn and cut away at the streamside bluffs. Working your way downstream you will come across 2 very deep and very fishy pools. Both of these were very productive stops but end of the public access comes up fairly quickly. Working upstream from the parking area there is plenty more water. On the way to the headwaters you should take note of the much higher gradient. More minor cuts and pockets and a lot less of the very deep pools were found in that direction.

the lower pasture access on trout river
Down stream was more of a pasture setting where a fat and swollen river tends to meander into some much larger pools. Fast water was more infrequent but when found on top of a nice pool it was sure to be holding some fish. Much slower flows added to extra ice build up around the edge of the banks but I still found this water to be very fishable. This section I didn’t have the chance to explore as thorough as the other but if I was searching exclusively for some larger fish in this system it would be my first choice for a starting point.

In summary, nymphing faired much better then streamers today with the majority of the fish falling for the trusty pink squirrel. The upriver pools yielded all browns and I didn’t get into the rainbows until I moved downriver.


  1. Love the color on those Browns.

  2. we are having awesome weather ourselves. It is putting a damper on the ice fishing but its nice to open water fish this time of year.

  3. Yeah, but there is something to be said for ice fishing. I miss it already.

  4. A nice way to spend a January day.


  5. Hey Blake - I've have yet to fish Trout River. Looks like a great stream. Thanks for the shout out!


  6. A friend and I fished the Sny Magil and Paint Creek on Saturday. We each caught 7 trout. Browns and Bows, mostly drifting scuds and midges.

  7. i was also thinking about hitting the paint but decided on hitting north bear before heading home. report will follow in the next few days

  8. Blake
    These are super looking areas for the trout to hang out. What length rod are you using? The reason I am asking is one looked like tight casting and of course the pasture area any length would work. Are you tight lining with the nymphs? Thanks for sharing

  9. Now that is a proper fishing report. Thank you for sharing and for your generosity with the details, much appreciated.

  10. Thanks gone fishing much appreciated