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redwing 06-14-2013 09:46 AM

Need help with fly fishing N.E. Iowa in July

I will be in Waterloo for the month of July helping my son with a basement remodel. I would like to fish up in the N.E. corner of IA and camp 2 nights. This will be much different then I have fished in my home state of CO. I read about the french, bear rivers. What would be good rivers to fish? What type of flies and sizes.

Thank you for your support and knowledge. I will fish during the middle of the week.


ted4887 06-14-2013 02:50 PM

Re: Need help with fly fishing N.E. Iowa in July
Hey Redwing,

First off, you will enjoy the area. The number of trout in the Driftless is really astonishing.

July is an interesting month, in that we don't really have any major hatches going on quite yet. Hoppers will start to show up in numbers towards the middle of the month and last through the freeze. Tan/green has always been a very productive color pattern for me. My personal favorite is a simple black foam beetle pattern though. This is a pattern that I will fish from spring all the way through the first hard freeze. It's lethal on our streams.

The streams you mentioned are great places to start. They're heavily fished, although in July you shouldn't have much traffic to deal with. You can camp right on Bear Creek at one of a few different access points. Simple campsites, but they'll serve you well. Nothing beats waking up next to a gently flowing spring creek :).

One word of caution is to either wear waders, or if you want to wet wade, a heavier pair of pants or even jeans. We have wild parsnip, which is essential like Poison Ivy's evil twin. It's some gnarly stuff that will ruin your trip in a heartbeat if it touches bare skin. So make sure you're wearing long sleeves and pants if nothing else.


Other than terrestrials like hoppers, beetles, and ants, all of your general nymphs will work well. Things like pheasant tails, pink squirrels, hares ears, black wet flies, caddis pupa any sort of wet fly will all work. Bring a few brown caddis patterns, as well as some Adams dries. Don't forget some streamers in case we get some spring rains. You might surprise yourself with the size of fish that you manage to catch in the area if the streams get a little murky.

Another option in the area is the Upper Iowa. Check it out if you want to change things up from trout to smallmouth.

If you have more specific questions, feel free to pm me and I'll help you out as best I can.

mbchilton 06-14-2013 03:01 PM

Re: Need help with fly fishing N.E. Iowa in July
I just got back from a week fishing in NE Iowa. It's incredible. You'll be there for hoppers. It's the best time of year. Waterloo Creek is my favorite Iowa stream. It's halfway between the Bears and French Creek. Do yourself a favor and buy Jene Hughes' book "The Complete Guide to Iowa Trout Fishing." I've also written some things on my blog.

Keep us posted.

itchmesir 06-14-2013 09:29 PM

Re: Need help with fly fishing N.E. Iowa in July
I'm with Ted on trying out Bear Creek... Free camping can be found there and so can some big trout.

redwing 06-15-2013 10:36 AM

Re: Need help with fly fishing N.E. Iowa in July
Thanks to all of you for the info.

I have been on the web looking up wild parsnip. have you seen a lot of this on the banks of the streams. I have real problems with poison ivy and do not want problems with parsnip. If you walk through the parsnip and get it on your waders and go to take them off and touch the sap can you get burns from this, as I can with poison ivy due to the oils.

Do you folks us midge patterns or more larger size flies.


mbchilton 06-15-2013 11:25 AM

Re: Need help with fly fishing N.E. Iowa in July
I've walked through tons of wild parsnip in my waders this year, but never had burns after touching my waders later.

One of my friends has been using midges a lot, but I've had a lot of luck using buggers. Honestly, you'd be fine if you didn't pack anything but sz 16 bwo's, hoppers, and sz 14 copper johns. That's all you need.

redwing 06-15-2013 12:30 PM

Re: Need help with fly fishing N.E. Iowa in July
Thanks for the reply,

I have all those flies and will watch out for parsnip. Also read both of yours blogs.


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