Missouri is a diverse state where you can find some of the best fly fishing in the midwest. There are many different types of fish that you can catch, and the state is home to many different kinds of waterways. Whether you want to fish in a river, stream, or lake, Missouri has something for everyone.
Some of the best places to fly fish in Missouri include:
- Table Rock Lake
- Lake Taneycomo
- Barren Fork Creek
- Eleven Point River
- Capps Creek
- Crane Creek
- Blue Springs Creek
- Bennett Spring State Park and more.
Missouri waters are teeming with fish, and anglers of all skill levels can find success fly fishing in the state. Whether you're from the midwest or looking for a location to travel to, check out some of these best places to fly fish in Missouri.
Best Fly Fishing locations in Missouri
Freshwater fishing in the Show-Me state is a must for any angler. The state is home to many world-renowned fisheries, and the variety of fish you can catch is astounding. From large and smallmouth bass to trout, there's something for everyone in Missouri.
1. Barren Fork Creek
Barren Fork Creek is a spring-fed stream in Central Missouri that meanders over a gravel and cobble bed containing watercress pools. It's a tributary of Sinking Creek, a tributary of the famous Current River. Fly fishing at Barren Fork Creek presents anglers with a real challenge, but it also provides them with fantastic possibilities to catch wild trout.
Twin Springs transforms a large portion of Barren Fork Creek into a lovely little spring creek. For the small stream size, stream-bred rainbow trout are relatively common, but many anglers consider the stream to be "technical" fishing water because of its challenging qualities.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Barren Fork Creek, Missouri:
2. Bennett Spring State Park
Bennett Spring State Park is a public park in Bennett Springs, Missouri, around twelve miles west of Lebanon on Highway 64 in Laclede and Dallas counties. The Bennet spring flows into the Niangua River and gives the park its name.
The spring has an average daily flow of 100 million gallons (380,000 m3). Fly fishing, camping, canoeing, hiking, and other activities are available at the park. The spring branch is stocked every day during the regular fishing season (March 1 through October 31).
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Bennett Spring State Park, Missouri:
3. Blue Springs Creek
Approximately 2.5 miles (4.0 km) southwest of Bourbon, Missouri, the Blue Springs Creek Conservation Area comprises 859 acres (3.48 km2). It is named for the Blue Springs Creek that crosses the conservation area for 3.7 miles (6.0 km), which then empties into the Meramec River to the east.
Four springs on neighboring private property feed Blue Springs Creek, which has a flow of between nearly four and seven million gallons of water each day. Rainbows are stocked in the area, and adjacent land supports a variety of game and nongame species.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Blue Springs Creek, Missouri:
4. Capps Creek
Capps Creek Conservation Area is located along the eastern border of Newton County, covering 721 acres. Capps Creek, which flows west to Shoal Creek, gets most of its year-round flow from springs and forms a cool water stream that has offered a trout management opportunity for more than 30 years.
Both rainbow and brown trout are present in the area. Small, damp bottomlands with rolling upland forests and grasslands make up the region.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Capps Creek, Missouri:
5. Crane Creek
Crane Creek Township is one of Barry County's twenty-five townships in Missouri. As of the 2000 census, its population was 923 people. Crane Creek Township was formed in 1848 and named for the creek that runs through it.
Crane Creek is the last remaining redband rainbow trout water in the world, with a pure McCloud River strain originating in California's McCloud River. This creek contains insect species such as caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies. Most fishermen will fish small, although larger nymphs like a hare's ear have been seen to work.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Crane Creek, Missouri:
6. Current River
The Current River is a 7th order stream that originates in the Missouri Ozarks and flows southeast into northeastern Arkansas, where it becomes a tributary of the Black River, a tributary of the White River, which is a tributary of the Mississippi River.
The Current River measures approximately 184 miles (296 km) in length and drains roughly 2,641 square kilometers (6,840 km2) throughout mostly Missouri but with a small portion in northeastern Arkansas. Fishing here can be excellent, with a variety of species such as smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and brown trout present in the river.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Current River, Missouri:
7. Eleven Point River
The Eleven Point National Wild and Scenic River, as it was designated in 1968, is a 44-mile picturesque stretch of water free of reservoirs with a largely natural shoreline and watershed. This section of the river, between Thomasville, Missouri, and the Highway 142 bridge, is located near Gatewood, Missouri. It became one of the original eight National Wild and Scenic River System units in 1968.
The Ozark-area Eleven Point River meanders through the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. Its route is traced in the shade of steep cliffs, through sloping wooded valleys, and low-lying riparian habitats. Starting near Thomasville, barely a little stream at its headwaters, it widens greatly in size and depth as it travels southeastward.
The confluence of the Greer spring branch and the river marks the beginning of trout fishing season. The blue ribbon trout section continues for about 6 miles to Turner Mill spring, where rainbow trout can also be caught.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Eleven Point River, Missouri:
8. Hickory Creek
Hickory Creek is an unincorporated hamlet in southwest Grundy County, Missouri, United States. The community is located on the banks of Hickory Creek, a tributary of the Thompson River, six miles south-southwest of Trenton.
With plenty of character and interesting features such as fallen trees and strategically placed boulders, it offers several fair-sized riffles with nice deep pools to explore.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Hickory Creek, Missouri:
9. Lake Taneycomo
Lake Taneycomo is a man-made lake or reservoir in Taney County, MO, on the White River in the Ozark Mountains. The lake extends from Branson westward into Stone and Christian counties. The lake is a popular trout fishing destination stocked with rainbow, cutthroat, brown, and brook trout.
According to some anglers, the cold water of Lake Taneycomo has long been recognized as one of the best trout fishing lakes in the country. The Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery, built by the Missouri Department of Conservation in 1957, began operations. The first trout were stocked in Lake Taneycomo in 1959.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Lake Taneycomo, Missouri:
10. Little Piney Creek
The Little Piney Creek is a stream in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri's Phelps and Dent counties. It is a tributary of the Gasconade River. The creek rises from at least five springs, including Lane Spring, which serves as the centerpiece of the Lane Spring Recreation Area.
Trout fishing can be enjoyed for miles downstream from the springs, although their lower limits may be frustratingly difficult to tackle in summer.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Little Piney Creek, Missouri:
- Glo Bug Red Dot - Size 10
- Half Chernobyl in Tan/Yellow - Size 10
- Slump Buster with Cone in Black - Size 6
11. Maramec Spring Park
Maramec Spring is situated in the east-central Ozarks of Missouri, close to St. James, on the Meramec River. It is part of a Karst topographical region with numerous springs and caves, and it has an average discharge rate of 153 cubic feet (4.3 m3) per second.
The spring and 1800 acres (7.28 km²) are owned by the James Foundation, which keeps it as a public park. The Missouri Department of Conservation runs a trout hatchery and fishery at the site.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Maramec Spring Park, Missouri:
- Slump Buster with Cone in Black - Size 6
- Hare's Ear in Natural - Size 18
- Flashback Pheasant Tail in Gold - Size 20
12. Meramec River
The Meramec River, often called the Maramec River, is one of Missouri's longest free-flowing waterways, draining 3,980 square miles (10,300 km2) and meandering 218 kilometers from headwater southeast of Salem to its mouth on the Mississippi River near St. Louis at Arnold and Oakville.
The trout stretch from the Highway 8 bridge down to Scotts Ford — a little over 8 miles of fishable water in all. Fishing the Meramec can be challenging as the river bends and winds through Missouri farmland and woodlands. But the effort is worth it, as anglers can find good numbers of brown trout, rainbow trout, and smallmouth bass.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Meramec River, Missouri:
- Zebra Midge Curved Silver - Size 18
- Pheasant Tail Jig in Natural - Size 12
- Walts Worm Olive with Flash - Size 16
13. Mill Creek
Millcreek is a community in the Castor Township of Madison County, Missouri. The tiny creek once had a large population of wild rainbow trout before declining to just a few. The good news is that instead of being hatchery-stocked like most Missouri tributaries, the fish are wild rather than captive bred. Fly fishing at Mill Creek is best from March to October.
To access Mill Creek: take the Doolittle/Newburg exit off I-44 and go south through Doolittle before descending into Newburg on Highway T. Follow T as it winds its way through the town, passing Little Piney Creek.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Mill Creek, Missouri:
14. Montauk State Park
Montauk State Park is a 3,000-acre (1,200 ha) public recreation area on the headwaters of the Current River in southwest Missouri, fifteen miles (24 km) southwest of Salem. The fish hatchery in the park is noteworthy for its rainbow and brown trout fishing.
There are also several natural springs at the park, including Montauk Spring, with a daily average flow of 53 million gallons. Fishing in Montauk Spring and its tributary streams is a popular pastime in the park. Anglers can also fish for trout in the Current River below Montauk Dam.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Montauk State Park, Missouri:
15. Niangua River
The Niangua River is a tributary of the Osage River in southern and central Missouri, United States. It is part of the Mississippi's drainage basin via the Osage and Missouri rivers. On Niangua River, anglers can expect good rainbow trout fishing.
Rainbow trout are stocked regularly, whereas brown trout are stocked annually. The White Ribbon Trout Area extends from the confluence of the North Fork and South Fork of the Niangua River upstream 14.5 miles (23.3 km) to the mouth of Bennett Spring State Park.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Niangua River, Missouri:
- Muddy Buddy in Black - Size 6
- Formerly Known as Prince - Size 14
- Elk Hair Caddis CDC in Tan - Size 16
16. North Fork of the White River
The North Fork of the White River is a 109-mile-long tributary of the White River, which it flows into near Norfork, Arkansas. It rises in Texas County's southeast corner and flows generally south through the southwest corner of Texas, eastern Douglas, and Ozark counties.
This stream, which starts at Patrick Bridge and extends for 6 miles downstream to Norfork Lake, is stocked with brown trout and provides the chance to capture a trophy. Easy access is available at Patrick Bridge and Blair Bridge, both state-managed access areas.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the North Fork of the White River, Missouri:
17. Roaring River State Park
Roaring River State Park is a recreation area with 4,294 acres located south of Cassville in Barry County, Missouri. The park contains trout fishing on the Roaring River, and seven different hiking trails open all year. Located in southwest Ozark mountains, Roaring River State Park is one of three state parks containing rainbow trout. Year-round anglers flocking to the park try to catch their lunker trout.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Roaring River State Park, Missouri:
18. Roubidoux Creek
The Roubidoux Spring is the primary source of cold water for the Roubidoux Creek trout stream, which runs right through downtown Waynesville. The spring itself is a must-see attraction for a variety of reasons. It's a popular swimming hole in the summertime.
Furthermore, the waters exit an impressive submerged cave system that is one of the greatest diving caves in the country.
Roubidoux Creek is a beautiful place to visit and offers great opportunities for fly fishing. The creek is well-stocked with trout, making it a perfect spot for novice and seasoned anglers. Experienced anglers will enjoy the challenge of trying to catch one of the creek's elusive wild brown trout.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Roubidoux Creek, Missouri:
- Flashback Pheasant Tail in Gold - Size 18
- Lighting Bug Pearl - Size 14
- RS2 in Gray and Olive - Size 20
19. Spring Creek
Spring Creek is another where rainbow trout naturally reproduce, similar to Mill Creek and Little Piney. This is a beautiful stream that also fits the bill as a great place to go for peace and quiet, as well as trout. Spring Creek is entirely home to native rainbow trout that were bred in the creek itself.
Wading is a must in the shallow waters of Spring Creek, but there are many good fishing spots to be found. The creek is located in the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest, which provides a beautiful backdrop for a day of fly fishing.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Spring Creek, Missouri:
20. Stone Mill Spring
The Stone Mill Spring Branch is a United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS) property that is collaboratively managed by the USFS, Missouri Department of Conservation, and the Fort Leonard Wood Natural Resources Branch.
The beautiful Stone Mill Spring may be visited after a short walk down a trail that is approximately .25 miles long. This is a day-use recreation area along the Big Piney River, which is run as a trout fishery and offers picnic tables, seats, and grills. A 1-mile walking route provides views of the Big Piney River as well as additional facilities.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Stone Mill Spring, Missouri:
What Gear do I need to Fly Fish in Missouri?
Waders are not always necessary in Missouri waters, but they can be helpful in keeping you dry and comfortable while fishing. Wading boots with felt soles are not permitted in Missouri streams, so choose rubber-soled boots instead.
In order to fly fish in Missouri, you will need a few essential items of gear. Firstly, you will need a rod and reel. A 9-foot, 5-weight rod is a good all-around choice for Missouri's streams. You will also need a selection of flies, including nymphs, streamers, and dry flies. Leaders, tippet, and a fly box are also essential.
A Missouri fishing license is also required for anyone 16 years of age or older. You can purchase a license online or from a local bait and tackle shop.
Additional Facts about Fly Fishing in Missouri
Is there fly fishing in Missouri?
Missouri is a great state for fly fishing, with many streams and rivers containing good populations of trout. The state also has four designated trout parks, three of which are privately owned and one of which is operated by the state.
What rivers have trout in Missouri?
Trout fishing is abundant in Missouri, with red, white, and blue ribbon areas supporting naturally reproducing trout. Missouri's trout rivers include the Big Piney, Gasconade, Jacks Fork, Little Niangua, Meramec, North Fork of the White, and the Osage Fork.
What is the best time of year to fly fish in Missouri?
The best time of year to fly fish in Missouri depends on which species of fish you are targeting. For trout, the best time to fish is in the spring and fall, when the water temperatures are cooler, but Missouri has a particular trout season, so only catch-and-release fishing is allowed year-round.
Is there a trout season in Missouri?
The trout season opens on March 1 and runs through October 31. Year-round fishing is allowed in between, thanks to most Missouri parks' catch-and-release program.
Fly fishing in Missouri is a great way to enjoy the state's many streams and rivers. There are many good spots for trout fishing, and the state also has four designated trout parks. Some basic gear and a Missouri fishing license are all that is required to get started. The best time of year to fly fish in Missouri depends on which species of fish you are targeting, but catch-and-release fishing is allowed year-round.