Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On French Creek In Iowa
Iowa's French Creek is located in the northeastern
section of the state in the Driftless area. It is a beautiful
spring creek trout stream approximately ten miles long
that is ranked among the best the state has to offer. The
very fertile spring creek water stays cool in the summer
and has plenty of food for the trout including a large
population of crustaceans and aquatic insects.

This stream isn't stocked at all and is managed strictly as
a wild trout stream. It has a good population of both
brown and brook trout. Some  claim it has as many as
2500 trout per mile and that is a lot for such a small
stream. Most of the brook trout are located in the upper  
section of the creek and most of the browns in the lower

The Driftless region of the mid-west consist of an area of
the northeast corner of Iowa, the southwest corner of
Wisconsin, and the southeast corner of Minnesota. The
region has a peculiar type of terrain that's the result
being by- passed by the last continental glacier. The
area's limestone ridges were not ground into boulders
and gravel that geologists once called glacial "drift".
Within the Driftless area, there are hundreds of springs
with clear, cold water that are capable of supporting a
diverse aquatic food chain necessary to sustain native
brook trout and wild brown trout.

French Creek has a large amount of public water
especially considering it is only about ten miles long.
Over six miles of it can be accessed by the public
upstream of Hartley Drive. Much of the stream flows
through the French Creek Wildlife Management Area.
Only artificial lures and flies are permitted and the brown
trout must be released.

The upper part of French Creek consist of two feeder
streams and contain mostly all brook trout. It is fairly
tightly enclosed by trees which provide shade and helps
keep the water cool; however, It does make for some
tight casting conditions. As mentioned above, the lower
section, downstream of French Creek Drive, has the
highest number of brown trout.

One of the primary foods for the trout are scuds. They
are plentiful and trout can be taken on them year-round.
Sowbugs are also very plentiful. Aquatic insects consist
mostly of Blue-winged Olives but there are a few
other species of mayflies including plenty of Tricos.
Several species of caddisflies exist in the stream and
provide some  good top  water action at times. There are
tons of midges, damselflies, dragonflies, and during the
warmer months, plenty of terrestrial insects.

Spring is a good time to fish the creek due the aquatic
insect hatches.
Fly fishing French Creek gets a little tougher during the
hot summer months but the water stays cool enough for
the trout to survive and they can still be caught in the
deeper pools.
Fall is an excellent time for fly fishing Waterloo Creek,
actually the best time to catch the larger size brown trout.
As long as you can get around on the streams and are
willing to brave the cold weather, you can catch trout
throughout the winter months. The spring water
originates from the ground at a relatively constant

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Flies
Type of Stream
Spring Creek

Brown Trout (Wild and stocked)
Brook Trout (Native and stocked)


Northeaster Iowa

Nearest Towns

Open year-round

Good with ample public and some
private sections

Non-Resident License
State of Iowa

National Weather Service Link

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