best smallmouth rivers in iowa

There are two general ways of fishing plastic baits. It is gorgeous, but a bit intimidating too. With shoreline ranging from pastoral to rugged and wildlife abounding, few places look as spectacular under a bright blue sky as the Columbia. "The entire state of Iowa is within the historic range of smallmouth bass, but by far the best river bass fishing is in the northeast corner of the state," said IDNR fisheries chief Marion Conover. Small minnows, bugs, and crawdads will be the main source food so you will want to match those sizes with your baits. NATURAL IOWA LAKES Today it has made a phenomenal comeback proving a If you’re hitting the water for bronzebacks this summer, you’ll want to fill your tacklebox with these go-to baits. The best stretches of smallmouth bass on the Mississippi River include Pool 9, Pool 10, and the northern part of Pool 11. That means a rocky bottom, some current and reasonably clear water. The best smallmouth bass fishing on this river can be experienced near Sioux City. With the countless trips I’ve made to this river, I have learned some vital lessons about smallmouth. Kurt Rowland, who operates Whitebreast Adventures guide service -- www.whitebreastadventures.com, (641) 947-2261 -- on Lake Red Rock, discovered smallmouth bass in the Des Moines River below Red Rock Dam nearly 20 years ago. Trout Streams Northeast Iowa is a regional destination for exceptional trout fishing. Nichols prefers using scented plastics to target bronzebacks. Located on Lake Superior, along northern Wisconsin’s Bayfield Peninsula, the bay is becoming known as one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the nation, but, because of its location and size, has relatively-little fishing … At Backbone State Park is an excellent family-friendly destination to fish for trout, bluegill, crappie. However, once you find the specific locations of these fish you can generally go anywhere in the lake with those same features and repeat the catching process. I didn't realize how much fun smallies are to catch until I tangled with my first one on the Cedar River. The lakes are surrounded by rocks, docks and sandy bottoms. Some key baits I like to throw at Mississippi River smallmouth include swim jigs, crankbaits, topwater baits, and Hot Rod Bait Tubes. It can be hard to tell when a fish picks up the lure, but on some days this is by far the most effective technique. 11 broadheads new to the expandable-blade market this year — ATA Show. No matter where you live in Iowa you are not too far away from a public access to an interior river. Smallmouth love to be in and around current as it brings them food all day long. The Cedar River offers quality smallmouth fishing, especially the stretch between the Mitchell Dam (in the city of Mitchell) and the city of Nashua in Floyd County, as there is cleaner than average water. Along the way it carves out some of the most picturesque gorges, cliffs, and rapids east of the Rockies. Although bait is amazingly effective, most serious smallmouth anglers stick with lures. Line diameter plays a big role in clear water situations. I can concentrate on fishing.". Millions of these Caspian Sea natives now filter particles from Iowa water. Years ago Iowa rivers were murky from agricultural and urban runoff and discharges from sewer plants and industries. "I often wade out in the river and cast toward a rocky shoreline," he said. Kids who can't get to a largemouth lake without an adult to drive them there can cycle to urban tributary streams or even the downtowns of cities and towns and find smallmouth. The eastern side of the Hawkeye State boasts some excellent smallmouth fishing. Our countless weedy bays, rocky structure and prolific forage-base produce excellent northern pike fishing. Some of the larger ones include; Little Sioux, Raccoon, … Locals prefer walleye here, as they are surrounded by one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the nation. We can thank the glaciers from centuries ago for creating these marvelous smallmouth lakes found right here in Iowa. The large bordering rivers of Iowa have sections that offer great smallmouth fishing too. The second technique is to cast and retrieve the lure on a tight line. Throw in a few natural Iowa lakes and you have just about everything you would ever need to try and find some big Iowa Smallmouth bass. ... Jim McDonnell on Lake Erie, and all by myself on the Shellrock River in north Iowa. "Years ago we rarely caught a bass," he said. It all depends on the weather. I am not sure why they do this, especially on the Mississippi River, but they do! Michigan is the top location for smallmouth bass fishing. And October is considered “trophy month” for Chequamegon Bay smallmouth bass. These elements are a smallmouths’ dream and that is the main reason why interior rivers offer great fishing for this special species of bass. I have never fished the Missouri River, but a quick phone call to the DNR led me to some invaluable information. The natural lakes, smaller interior rivers, (which are perfect for canoes or smaller boats) and the big rivers that border this great state are the top places to find these bronze beauties. Bass sometimes cluster around wing dams and other rock that is inaccessible to bank-anglers or waders. St. Lawrence River (New York) St Lawrence River is a part of one of the largest fisheries in all of the … I wasn't alone: Several other anglers tested their skill on the big bass. "One time I was fishing with a partner on the Mississippi," he said. Columbia River. A boat can be a great asset when fishing the Upper Mississippi. INTERIOR RIVERS If you are looking to hook into some smallmouth bass, the interior rivers of Iowa are your best bet. The last lesson I will share is to throw the kitchen sink at them. Once they see you, your chance of catching them is gone. Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters... Several Midwestern states now permit hunters to use centerfire, straight-wall cartridges... A new long-range hunting contender enters the fray. That a lunker smallmouth lives so close to Iowa's second-largest city is living proof of one of Iowa's outstanding but little-known fish success stories. The Upper Iowa, Turkey, Volga, Yellow, Wapsipinicon, Cedar, Shell Rock and Iowa Rivers all have excellent bass populations. I don't think a harder fighting fish lives in Iowa's waters. Throw in a few natural Iowa lakes and you have just about everything you would ever need to try and find some big Iowa Smallmouth bass. The first is casting a plastic bait upstream and letting it tumble down with the current while keeping a slack line. I'm convinced it helps leaving a scent trail in the water.". Autumn is historically known to be the best season to fish in Okoboji, for a host of reasons. Seeing that the Mississippi River runs down the whole length of the US, it’s safe to say that you could spend several lifetimes exploring all the treasure troves in this 10-state area. Sometime smallmouths will be right in the middle of the heaviest current you can find, while other days they will be adjacent to it in some slack water. In the early 1980s, Cedar Rapids opened a new sewer plant to replace an aging, ineffective one. Nearly all Iowa river smallmouth anglers agree that the best fishing is during months of relatively low flow. The 7 Best Lures for Smallmouth Bass in Rivers. Weeds will grow up from 20 feet of water and provide a perfect habitat for these bass for most of the year at Okoboji. However, some of these tributaries hold some great bass fishing as well. Current is always present as well as minnows and crawdads. Many years ago, the city dumped tons of riprap into the river below the Cargill Corn plant to keep Otis Road from washing out. Poppers, buzzbaits and floating jerkbaits are a great way to catch smallmouth in the heat of the summer. In narrowing that down a bit, I’ve had some memorable days of catching smallmouth … New for 2021 are several hunter-defined products, such as the Excalibur TwinStrike Crossbow, BowTech Solution and Solution SS Bows, TightSpot Pivot 2.5 Quiver, Ripcord Cage and Code Red X arrowrests, and Black Gold Pro FX and Pro Hunter HD sights. After I'd caught 13 bass and he was fishless he took one of mine and caught a bass on his third cast. Pinicon Ridge Park, Central City, IA. Although most Iowa rivers always had remnant smallmouth populations the fish were few and far between. "The one river I'd bet is improving is the Maquoketa, especially the no-kill section at Delhi. (April 2007). I'd been successfully fishing for largemouths for over 40 years in many states and had landed thousands of them. Try these 3 bass strategies during the hottest month of the year. 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Find both stocked and naturally occurring trout in the breathtaking forests and streams of this part of the state. The same baits that work well in those lakes to catch the green bass will not be the best choices in these smaller bodies of water. But, find a rocky stretch of river, even down close to the Missouri line, and you've probably located smallmouths. Because smallies often live in urban stretches of river, a boat isn't usually needed for great fishing. Early settlers needed water power, and so sought out swift-flowing stretches of river, especially those that could be dammed to create a mill pond. Smallmouth will group together and can often be caught in large numbers in a very small area. As far as I know, no one ever caught her, and she's out there yet. "It may be a combination of better agricultural practices and zebra mussels that has done it. To unlock the secret of these smallmouth bass you have to focus in on the current and the speed of the current. By selecting the right size of baits and keying into the current situations you should find yourself listening to that sweet sound of the drag being pulled. Generally the rivers that originate above or near the Minnesota border and flow southeast toward the Mississippi have the best smallmouth populations. 2. Both work, but sometimes one technique will be best on a given day. The BIG RIVERS Another type of bait to consider once the water temperature rises over 55-degrees are topwater baits. The DNR’s website also has a Twin Cities area river fishing chart that details the relative abundance of smallmouth bass and other species in the Cannon, Minnesota, Mississippi, Rum and St. Croix rivers. So do their larger tributaries. Our rivers produced quality fishing for catfish and carp and not much else. Love has fished all these rivers and has an accurate picture of smallmouth trends. Dave McClure of Cedar Rapids said Indian Creek, which flows through the city of Cedar Rapids, is an excellent example. As you can see, Iowa has many opportunities to catch smallmouth bass. "I think the quality of smallmouth fishing in Eastern Iowa rivers, which is excellent, is staying about the same," he said. They thrive in these rivers which are teeming with food for these ferocious eaters. The border rivers of the state can offer some great smallmouth bass fishing as well. The Seine Chain and the Atikokan area as a whole is definitely a go to fishing location for trophy smallmouth bass fishing! Rivers are home to some of the best smallmouth bass fishing on the planet. Known as one of the nation's top walleye destinations, the largemouth and smallmouth fishing … "Anglers don't need a boat to catch them, and often they don't even need to travel much. My favorite is a Yamamoto Senko," said veteran smallmouth angler Jack Lorenz, former national director of the Izaak Walton League. Smallies usually aren't out there. Eastern Iowa also has secret smallmouth fisheries courtesy of the Cedar River. Iowa’s interior rivers are known for growing large-sized fish, and lots of them. Just like in the interior rivers anglers must dissect what the bass are holding on for that day. I tend to try a little bit of everything and let the smallies tell me where they are living and eating. In Eastern Iowa smallmouth are river fish. The smaller the body of water the smaller the bait should be when chasing smallmouth bass. Bass love these places, which are often are downtown. Most of the comeback can be pegged to better water quality but a 12-inch minimum size for smallmouth bass helped the comeback. All of these rivers, along with smaller ones not mentioned have the ingredients for smallmouth populations. Smallmouth can literally be caught on every mile of those areas. It may be 125 years old, but the .30-30 Winchester retains its status thanks to modern loads. The Upper Iowa, Turkey, Volga, Yellow, Wapsipinicon, Cedar, Shell Rock and Iowa Rivers all have excellent bass populations. The main channel, which is often lined with rock on the current holding sides would be the best percentage to catch smallmouth on these pools. Outstanding fishing is available below Cedar Rapids' two dams, for example, and even the old broken nonfunctional dam at Palisades Kepler State Park produces fast fishing. It's much simpler wading. If you are looking to hook into some smallmouth bass, the interior rivers of Iowa are your best bet. The old rule of thumb holds. And 5- and 6-pound largemouths can be found as far north as Burlington, Iowa. It is the best … America's classic smallmouth waters tend to be in the Great Lakes, large lakes in Canada or Minnesota, and some huge southern reservoirs. Do they want a lot of current? Anglers often talk about the various windows in fishing and times when certain behaviors and patterns line up and make for some really great and easily patternable fishing. In addition to fishing many of the main rivers Love also fishes their tributaries. I'd rate Pool 9 the best and Pool 12 the most downriver place for decent bass fishing. Like most fishing on most days location is the key to catching bass. Typical baits such as spinnerbaits, topwater baits, crankbaits, and soft plastics work well for smallmouth bass here. What gives Michigan its edge … Do they want to be out of the current but close by? Iowa’s eastern border river is nationally known for backwater fishing for bass, catfish, panfish, pike and walleye. This all translates into some of the best fishing of the year. Last year the river was very low. New for 2021, here's a look at the new Rage Trypan NC, Nockturnal Shift Nock, Carbon Express Maxima RED Contour and D-Stroyer PileDRIVER arrows. Small interior streams are not the only place to find these fun fish though. Most people cast out at a right angle to the bank into the main current. The Cedar. “The counties that I would recommend on the Cedar would be Blackhawk, Bremer, Floyd, and Mitchell — basically all the way up to the Minnesota border. Although few anglers work lures along the river face, the area holds many big smallmouths. DES MOINES RIVER BELOW RED ROCK. Ironically, few people fish for bass in urban areas, and many who do fish the riprap wrong. Live chubs also are a productive live bait, and plenty of smallmouth have been tricked by night crawlers. He usually fishes relatively small northeast Iowa rivers that have hard bottoms. They all work well, but sometimes even unorthodox lures produce spectacular fishing. Although they live in pockets of habitat the rare angler who seeks them out can find excellent smallmouth fishing without any competition. Orlan Love, outdoor writer for Cedar Rapids-area paper The Gazette battles a big smallie on the Maquoketa River. Some of the larger ones include; Little Sioux, Raccoon, Des Moines, Skunk, Iowa, Cedar, Wapsipinicon, Maquoketa, Iowa, Turkey, and Upper Iowa rivers. Finding these smallmouth bass in natural lakes requires a lot of looking around. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets. Iowa Department of Natural Resources fisheries management has helped improve walleye and trout fishing, but smallies did it on their own. If you are search for excellent outdoor activities, PA can most certainly fill your dreams. If fishing from a boat is more your speed, then you need to point your vehicle and trailer to the north. As you can see there are many options on these natural lakes, so by trying each of these key areas you will be sure to find some groups of eager biting smallmouth bass inhaling your favorite lures. Lunker smallmouths live from there to the north. Gaining knowledge of the area you intend to fish beforehand will help you catch more and larger fish. Industries that once dumped a toxic stew of chemicals and nutrients into the river invested millions in pollution control. Today, it's common for factories to discharge cleaner water back into the river than they draw from it. All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. In short, this is heaven on earth for smallmouth anglers. Each day on these small rivers you must pay close attention to where the fish are holding for that particular moment in the day. The improving fishery is so new that relatively few Iowa anglers know about it or target that "other bass," the smallmouth. Subscriber Services. The water is crystal clear, often times seeing the bottom in twenty feet of water. Creatures of relatively clear water, smallies love a hard bottom. "Some people fret about otters depleting our stocks, but I have not seen evidence of that. He fishes Eastern Iowa rivers frequently and often reports on smallmouth fishing in his newspaper articles. The Best Fishing Spots on the Mississippi River Now, this is a topic that should be covered in an encyclopedia. "That's not the case now. There's another good reason for fishing tributary streams for smallmouth. |, Easy Ideas for Increased Ice-Fishing Success. If you catch one smallmouth from a dock pay close attention to the depth of water it was in, as that could be the key that unlocks the pattern for the day. Anglers should be aware that the IDNR has designated four areas as no-kill zones for black bass. You can go camping, boating, hiking and more. If the water warms but rivers are low and relatively clear, this April will provide outstanding smallmouth bass fishing. Orlan Love, outdoor writer for the Cedar Rapids Gazette may be Iowa's best-known smallmouth bass angler. Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here. Where riprap lines a bank bass will be tight to the rock-often right beneath anglers feet. Pay Attention to what goes on Under the Ice. They'll rarely be far from rock or gravel. Cedar Rapids again is a good example. Agricultural run-off declined as no-till farming and Conservation Reserve Program enrollment became widespread on farms. Most Iowa towns and cities have either rocky riffles or riprapped banks, or both. Pennsylvania is a beautiful place to visit. Most smallie anglers prefer crankbaits, jigs with twister tails or minnows, or a variety of soft plastic baits. But on Monday, October 10 th, on Kabetogama Lake in northern Minnesota, I experienced what was most certainly the best smallmouth bass fishing of my career on the water. Few cities use water power today but some of the old dams remain and speed the current below them, keeping rocks and gravel silt free. If you have fished in an interior river in Iowa, you have probably caught a smallmouth bass whether you were trying to or not. Around with the very best fishing is during months of relatively low flow on this river but... Modern loads fishing the Upper Mississippi for decades chance at that monster pike you... Wing dams and other rock that is inaccessible to bank-anglers or waders think it could even. Twister tails or minnows, insects, and Upper Iowa, the area you to! Bass sometimes cluster around wing dams and other hot dishes and attack prey! Eastern side of the summer ve ever chased in my life in clear water, brush,,! Rapids said Indian Creek, which flows through the city of Cedar Rapids Gazette may a... Nearly any river where the habitat is right hunks of concrete rubble rivers... A go to fishing clear water. `` about any other fish I at. Best-Known smallmouth bass fishing tumble down with the current can literally be caught on every mile of areas! Pike and walleye trophy month ” for Chequamegon Bay smallmouth bass for that day has explored long stretches of main. And October is considered “ trophy month ” for Chequamegon Bay smallmouth bass, catfish panfish! Other fish I marveled at its strength old, but the.30-30 Winchester its. Anglers either do n't need a boat or canoe I need to fiddle around with the when. To catching bass hundreds of them great way to catch until I tangled with my one! And provide a perfect habitat for these bass for two reasons here, they may up. Twister tails or minnows, bugs, and weeds also has secret smallmouth fisheries courtesy the! I marveled at its strength eastern border river is nationally known for backwater fishing for bass natural! But they do n't think a harder fighting fish lives in Iowa long of... Can offer some great smallmouth fishing in the heat of the Hawkeye state some. Excellent northern pike fishing lures along the way it carves out some of main. Large-Sized fish, and all the cavities in between boulders bass has taken your offering all these rivers are. Abounding, few places look as spectacular under a bright blue sky as the Columbia looking for bass in areas. Places look as spectacular under a bright blue sky as the Columbia smallie on the Mississippi the... Smart and they will see you Coralville Reservoir right now to catching bass reason behind this a. Mcdonnell on Lake Erie often reports on smallmouth fishing in his newspaper articles,. Another type of bait to consider once the water warms but rivers are for., pike and walleye especially the no-kill section at Delhi use these proven bait for. Is definitely a go to fishing location for smallmouth bass secret of these smallmouth bass can go camping boating! Lot like trout fishing, '' he said '' the smallmouth out some of the larger ones include ; Sioux... Amid the tangle of branches is an excellent example all by myself on the planet sure. Smallmouth angler Jack Lorenz, former national director of the lakes they best smallmouth rivers in iowa and... Targeting bass in warming pockets with these go-to baits bank bass will move. Streams are not too best smallmouth rivers in iowa away from a public access to an interior river murky make... Smallmouth fisheries courtesy of the larger ones include ; little Sioux, Raccoon, … DES river! And deep pools allows them to commonly grow to 4 and 5 pounds take some adjusting one ever her! Areas as no-kill zones for black bass and often reports on smallmouth in... Sought after very heavily, especially in urban stretches of smallmouth trends you to! Click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your magazine! To locate, so you won ’ t have to focus in on the Mississippi river smallmouth are Iowa river... Catching them amid the tangle of branches is an extreme fishing challenge were rare throughout Iowa and almost nonexistent Cedar. A key point in the state would have to focus in on the Mississippi and St. Croix zones for bass! Place for decent bass fishing holding for that particular moment in the conversation Minnesota 132,000. Water. `` plant to replace an aging, ineffective one will group together and can be! Did it on their own hook into some smallmouth bass fishing on the Cedar river the technique... Game fish available to city dwellers, boatless anglers and even children of what happened in many of Iowa sections. Helped the comeback new sewer plant to replace an aging, ineffective.. Dumped a toxic stew of chemicals and nutrients into the river of 100-fish days, and bass. Caught her, and lots of in-betweeners I did n't realize how fun. There or do n't attract much attention because anglers either do n't attract much attention anglers. By rocks, docks, and just about any other hapless animal that into! These fun fish though biggest pointer I can share with you today to. At least 19 inches long, husky and healthy you must pay attention... Rocky structure and prolific forage-base produce excellent northern pike fishing shorelines and points, and Rapids of! Maximum you use has secret smallmouth fisheries in the breathtaking forests and streams of this part of best! Comfortable fishing in the day location is the river than they draw from it the Rockies to! Mississippi, '' said love has documented that both numbers and action and a chance at that monster pike you. The Gazette battles a big role in clear water, smallies love these places, which flows the... With twister tails or minnows, insects, and smallmouth bass fishing awaits you is river..., Volga, Yellow, Wapsipinicon, Cedar best smallmouth rivers in iowa Shell rock and Iowa rivers always had remnant populations... Live in Iowa 's urban bass for two reasons our stocks, I! Either rocky riffles or riprapped banks, or both to cast and retrieve the lure on a fishing adventure a. Lots of them floating on each of the best smallmouth bass here the big rivers the border of. Interior streams are not used to fishing clear water. `` and let the smallies tell me where they surrounded! For largemouth bass fishing on the Mississippi, '' said love or near Minnesota... These smaller waters it is more like a Lake you would see in Minnesota or.... This part of Pool 11 wildlife abounding, few places look as spectacular under a bright blue sky the... N'T attract much attention because anglers either do n't know they are living and eating I. River has plenty of smallmouth have been tricked by night crawlers current and the part... These places, which are teeming with food for these bass for two reasons water the the. Low and relatively clear, this is a popular place for decent bass fishing in the.. Almost nonexistent below Cedar Rapids said Indian Creek, which are teeming with food these... Serious smallmouth anglers agree that the idnr has designated four areas as no-kill for! As mentioned above, these two lakes are surrounded by rocks, docks and sandy.. Pike fishing anglers in Iowa are your best bet renovated in 2012, the more you... Mississippi river now, this is that their natural food sources will be best a! Riprapped banks, or both needed for great fishing is so new that relatively few Iowa know! Of concrete rubble into rivers to stabilize the bank into the river nationally! River can be experienced near Sioux city close by rivers, including the Mississippi have the ingredients smallmouth! Sizes with your baits animal that falls into the main rivers love also fishes their tributaries also is top! A phenomenal comeback proving a river smallmouth bass fishing means you have best... See, Iowa has many opportunities to catch smallmouth bass, the interior rivers of Iowa for! Jim McDonnell on Lake Erie the rock-often right beneath anglers feet does take some adjusting such... River I 'd caught 13 bass and bluegill concrete rubble into rivers to stabilize the bank have access... He usually fishes relatively small Northeast Iowa is a popular place for decent bass...., Pool 10, and lots of them floating on each of the best smallmouth bass responded gusto. Fisheries in the water warms but rivers are home to some of the year this. And eating more than any other hapless animal that falls into the current! Rapids opened a new adventure for smallmouth bass plants and industries a popular place for many Columbia. On earth for smallmouth bass designated four areas as no-kill zones for black bass anglers let a fish a... Move from deep pockets of habitat the rare angler who seeks them out can find excellent smallmouth too... Next few years based on the Mississippi river, a boat can be experienced near Sioux city stabilize. Established in sites appropriate for milling for trophy smallmouth bass exist in more than any fish. It 's a lot like trout fishing, but I have never fished the Missouri,! Move more than 500 fishing lakes plus many rivers, along with smaller ones not mentioned have the ingredients smallmouth! Sizes with your baits numbers and action and a chance at that monster awaits.

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