The Iowa River
I35 to Hwy. 30

bottom composition - begins w/ mud and sand, changing to limestone, sandstone and boulder rock. then to gravel, sand and marl

best level for fly fishing = below 6.25 ft. at Steamboat Rock. Click here for current level at; Rowan, Steamboat Rock, Marshalltown

primary fly species = common carp (crayfish, hellgrammites, Hexagenia mayfly and other insect larvae, etc.), smallmouth bass (shad, shiners, crayfish), northern pike (suckers, stonecats) channel catfish (crayfish, minnows, leeches, etc.)

long-shot secondary species = redhorse suckers, walleye
WHAT WHERE FEATURES
Oakland Iowa River Access - canoe access Oakland Dr. between I35 and Oakland
mostly mud banks w/ logjams in the bends - some carp opportunities may arise around occasional gravel bars otherwise it's not what we call fly water.
Popejoy Conservation Park - camping, canoe access CR S21 immediately southwest of Popejoy, Iowa
Bigelow Park - canoe access Ee Ave. - the only road bridge crossing the river between Popejoy and Alden, Iowa wide, shallow sand bottom with some drop-offs in bend pools, logjams.
The river above Bessman - Kemp park tends to be wide and shallow, the bottom is mostly fist sized broken limestone from bank to bank. It is similar to certain areas in the upper sections of the Shellrock and Cedar rivers where the river sits on top of the limestone rather than being cut into it. So there are few deep eddies or pockets. It is a good place to fly fish for carp. Click here for an instructional video made in this area.
Bessman-Kemp Park - camping, canoe access Ee Ave. immediately northwest of Alden river begins to deepen and slow due to water backed up above the Alden dam.
Alden City Park, Ilco Park, Alden Canoe Launch boat ramps off Main St. (S27-S25) in Alden - above and below the dam Below the dam is best in spring and early summer when high water, and/or spawning draws fish upstream. Click here to fish for carp and northern pike below the dam.
Excellent fly water. Between Alden and Iowa Falls the river is lined with limestone walls and is very rocky. There are many riffles, eddies, pockets etc. Small pike and carp are the main items, some smallmouth. The short distance between the two dams favors omnivores like carp. Unlike the Alden dam the area between Alden and Iowa Falls is best during late summer or fall when float tubers are not using the river. As you near Iowa Falls the river deepens and slows due to water backed up behind the Iowa Falls dam. Rock walls still line the river, along with houses and docks, but the bottom turns to mud and carp keep it stirred up to the point where it is difficult to sight fish for them, pike are available but also more difficult to get with a fly rod due to increasing depth. Fish can move from this deep water in Iowa Falls to the dam in Alden in a few hours so spawning migrations are not necessarily epic events and it is sometimes best to cover the whole area. Click here for a video tour from Alden to Iowa Falls.
Weaver Park, Dougan's Landing - boat ramps above the dam D15 (River Road) in Iowa Falls, Iowa There are several other parks in Iowa Falls above the dam. Below the dam access is not so good, better to launch from the Hardin County Conservation Access.
Hardin County Conservation Access - boat ramp first road going south off D15 east of Iowa Falls There is broken limestone along the river bottom and lining the banks here and through many of the areas downstream. These areas attract carp in summer.
Gravel bottom makes the river wide, shallow and swift. There are a few limestone outcrops that create off-current pockets, but they are not very deep. Click here for a short video tour.
Cross' Ford - camping, canoe access Where Oo Ave. crosses the river north of Owasa , IA There is a small, sharp bend right in the park with deep pools and logjams on its outside. Another nice bend pool is a short distance downstream. Larger pike sometimes use this area if good numbers of suckers are present, otherwise it may hold juvenile pike. Click here for a video tour.
There is some gravel, and low riffles dropping off into deeper soft-bottomed runs through here. This section (Cross' Ford to Eagle City Access) is popular with float tubers during summer.
Eagle City Access - camping, canoe access Off 160th St. near Eagle City, IA. Eagle City is not a city, or a town. As far as I can see it consists of two farm houses and some abandoned out-buildings. It may be the site of an abandoned town? It is shown on page 30 of the DeLorme, Iowa Atlas and Gazetteer. Otherwise use these coordinates;
N 42o 28' 16"
W 93o 08' 43"
Some of the riffles are low, long gravel riffles, but others create deep eddies, as do some rocky creek mouth deltas. Further down the river straightens and becomes shallow and sandy before making another turn below a marl bluff. A few large pike (by Iowan standards not Canadian standards) roam this area, but they are sparsely scattered and tend to lurk around logjams and fallen trees where fishing is difficult, carp and bass fishing is mediocre. Bald eagles are often seen hunting suckers near the low gravel riffles. See below for a video tour.
Hardin City Access - canoe access At the 170th St. bridge there is a very small parking area by a farm house. There is a large hair pin shaped bend in the river around the abandoned town of Hardin City. The straight aways tend to be shallow, sand bottomed with strong current and fallen trees due to erosion, the bend has some low riffles and pocket waters that hold carp and suckers. Get ready to log some serious river miles as we video tour from Eagle City to the Steamboat Rock dam.
There are some low riffles and deepish runs around the hwy. 20 bridge. Above the Steamboat Rock dam the water deepens and slows, catfish may concentrate in this pool during fall and winter, but carp and pike tend to stay spread out in the river in my experience, or at least until ice has formed over the slow water here. See above for a video tour.
Steamboat Rock dam- major impasse - Camping and canoe access above the dam at Pine Ridge Recreation Area. Canoe access below the dam at Iowa River Canoe Launch D35 (Main St.) in Steamboat Rock, Iowa Below the dam sandstone cliffs border the river, riffles, rock outcrops, and eddies become prominent, smallmouth bass fishing is good, there are many small pike in the river since the good spawning conditions of 2008. The Marshalltown dam does not block migrating fish during high water. The next major impasse is at the Amanas meaning prolonged highwater during seasonal migrations can bring fish into the Steamboat Rock area from a hundred miles away. The onset of cold weather seems to have the greatest influence on migration out of the area.. Smallmouth bass, carp, and suckers tend to be the most consistent, while pike, catfish, walleye, etc. seem to be migratory. Early to mid summer is prime float tubing time and weekends see the river full of noisy drifters between Steamboat Rock and Eldora. Some fish will still bite if you use the strategies outlined in Iowa river section of "The Fly Rod Walleye Project".
Tower Rock Park S56 East off S56 immediately south of Steamboat Rock is Tower Rock Park. Tall sandstone cliffs, a small camping area, a canoe or kayak could be carried down here as well. See below for a video tour.
Falling Rock Access - carry down canoe access Turn north on Uu Ave. where 215th St. crosses the river between Steamboat Rock and Eldora Above this access there are more sandstone cliffs, riffles and eddies, below here the rock slowly begins to give way to gravel, then sand and marl bluffs. Click here for a video tour from Steamboat Rock to Eldora. Click here for an interactive adventure.
Pine Lakes State Park - boat ramp, several camping options, bike trail, 2 lakes. S56 at 175 on the eastern edge of Eldora, Iowa Click here for the IDNR's Pine Lake webpage
Below Eldora the river is generally shallow and sand bottomed with few current breaks to hold fish. The South Fork of the Iowa joins here it flows quickly over shallow sand and can add turbidity to the river. Migrating fish move through this area quickly.
David Bates Memorial Park - camping, canoe access Take D65 west from Whitten, Iowa where the pavement turns south continue west on the gravel road. not much to hold fish in the area
Daisy Long Memorial Park - camping, boat ramp D67 between Union, IA and Whitten There are deep slow moving pools here above a major riffle. Fish may gather or at least rest for awhile in these pools during late fall or winter if the water level is low enough to make the riffle a significant obstacle. I've been there a couple times when it was fast and furious for quality smallmouth, but I've also found nothing there about twice as often. Maybe a small pike following the fly out of a pool, or some carp moving slowly away in a tight group.
Between Union and Marshalltown the river has been straightened, and confined in a man-made channel. Nothing to hold fish in the area.
Riverview Park borders the river on the north edge of Marshalltown. Marshalltown, IA There are many sharp bends with logjams in this area.
Furrow Access - boat ramp E35 east of Marshalltown
3 Bridges County Park - boat ramp 3 Bridges Road north off Quarry Road The bottom is mostly mud and sand now, but there are a few scattered gravel riffles that can hold walleye around them. Catfish hang out in the backwaters and logjams. Shiners are thick through here and the best way to fish these bends is to anchor and drift a live shiner through the bend pool under a float rig. Flies and lures are less effective here because the many logs and branches tend to snag on the retrieve.
T37 bridge The Mag Holland public hunting area is a somewhat interesting area near a rock quarry. Haven't explored it, just driven past.
Mc Coy Landing - boat ramp C Ave. just northwest of the Hwy. 30 bridge
BACK to the navigation page