McLoud Run
Urban fly fishing for Rainbow trout in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

This trip was a blitzkrieg style of fly fishing. A two hour trip through rain and thunder, two hours to recon and catch an urban trout, and a two hour drive home. A lot of missed hook sets, but a lot of fun.


A quick trip to the Quad Cities put me within a 2 hour drive from the only urban trout stream in Iowa. I figured it was worth the drive to check it out, so my Dad and I piled into the “Hellhound Train” and hit the road in the middle of a statewide thunderstorm. Even if we were rained out, or if the creek was too fast to fish, I’d get to spend some quality time with my old man.

McLoud Run is a cold water stream that runs through the middle of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, just outside downtown. Running along 380 between 42nd Ave and Cedar Lake, the stream maintains a cool 55° temperature and offers a unique trout fishing experience.

The DNR annually stocks this stretch with Brook Trout, Rainbows, and Brown Trout. It is a delicate ecosystem that has had some fish kills, but trout can reach the 12″ to 18″ range. Catch and release is required as well as the use of artificial lures. McLoud Run offers riffles, deep holes, cut banks, and shallow stretches. Combine these with tight overhanging brush and you have incredible, but very challenging, trout habitat.

We had 6 hours to complete this trip and that included 4 hours of driving. Once we found parking along the Cedar River Trail, we threw on the rain gear and hopped on the bike path. We headed north and found that the creek was low but most brush and debris along the bank was pushed down and looked as though the creek had previously been running very high. With the long shallow stretches, we stayed on the move looking for a deep hole or cut that would be holding fish.

The first spot we hit was a deep hole with a drain bringing rainwater into the creek. A creek chub smashed the fly on the first cast but no trout seemed to be active. We headed back towards the parking lot to head south of our starting point, and cross the bridge to walk on the train track side of the creek. The vegetation was thick on the bike path side and soaking wet from the rain. Once we crossed the tracks the sun came out and we found some runs that cut around power line towers. We concentrated our efforts here as they created nice deep cuts with a stronger current that could be bringing in food and higher oxygen levels to the fish.

Leech with egg fly has been my go to fly for trout in urban water. It is unfortunately usually dirtier and almost always has natural leeches. I decided to stick with this fly and it paid off. Drifting the fly through the run, the current would pull it down and bring an easy meal to the trout waiting below. We put 3 urban rainbows in the net in about a half an hour below the power line towers, but also missed a lot of hook sets. Having only a two hour window to recon, it was nice to find some fish. A decent sized brown trout also came up and charged the fly on the surface but didn’t take it. They seemed to charging and slamming into the fly to stun it instead of biting.

Urban flyfishing in Cedar Rapids was a fun and unique experience. Please be courteous to fellow fisherman and treat this precious natural resource with respect if you ever get the chance to fish it. Tight lines!

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