Northern rivers experience freeze-up over the winter, creating asymmetric under-ice flows. Field and laboratory measurements of under-ice flows typically exhibit flow asymmetry and its characteristics depend on the presence of roughness elements on the ice cover underside. In this study, flume experiments of flows under a simulated ice cover are presented. Open water conditions and simulated rough ice-covered flows are discussed. Mean flow and turbulent flow statistics were obtained from an Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (ADV) above a gravel-bed surface. A central region of faster flow develops in the middle portion of the flow with the addition of a rough cover. The turbulent flow characteristics are unambiguously different when simulated ice covered conditions are used. Two distinct boundary layers (near the bed and in the vicinity of the ice cover, near the water surface) are clearly identified, each being characterized by high turbulent intensity levels. Detailed profile measurements of Reynolds stresses and turbulent kinetic energy indicate that the turbulence structure is strongly influenced by the presence of an ice cover and its roughness characteristics. In general, for y/d > 0·4 (where y is height above bed and d is local flow depth), the addition of cover and its roughening tends to generate higher turbulent kinetic energy values in comparison to open water flows and Reynolds stresses become increasingly negative due to increased turbulence levels in the vicinity of the rough ice cover. The high negative Reynolds stresses not only indicate high turbulence levels created by the rough ice cover but also coherent flow structures where quadrants one and three dominate. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.