I am, without any doubt whatsoever, partial to the trout fishing waters at Montauk State Park. That’s where I caught my first trout 50 years ago.
That’s where our family camped when our kids were little and the place holds many fond memories.
I hope I’m not sounding boastful when I say there’s not a spot on that stream that’s in the boundary of the park that I haven’t cast my line.
However, Missouri offers a host of other trout fishing streams of which the fly fisherman should take advantage.
Along with the trout parks at Montauk, Roaring River, Bennett Springs and Maramec Springs, there are several other interesting spots that shouldn’t be overlooked.
My wife and I veered from our normal trout routine at Montauk State Park and decided to try something different and headed for Blue Springs Creek in Crawford County.
I had fished this creek once before about 30 years ago and my memory of that experience was very vague, so this was like fishing an entirely new place for me.
According to everything that I read online about this creek, it is very unique in that it boasts a self-sustaining trout population. Rainbow trout were stocked here once and since then they have been reproducing on their own.
So you are dealing with “wild” trout here as opposed to the hatchery bred fish that one encounters at the trout parks.
The Missouri Department of Conservation labels all trout fishing areas in the state with designations of Blue Ribbon, Red Ribbon or White Ribbon. Each color dictates the daily limit of fish caught in these areas along with length limits.
Blue Springs Creek has a Blue Ribbon designation which allows for only one fish to be kept, and it must be at least 18 inches in length.
The stream itself flows through the Blue Springs Creek Conservation Area which encompasses 859 acres in Crawford County. It is all fishable except at its origin, which is located on private property at Camp Mihaska, a facility I understand that is sponsored by the Salvation Army.
I understand that there are four springs on the private property. Four miles of the stream flow on public property, though, before it empties into the Meramec River.
The conservation department says that the springs provide a flow of about 4-7 million gallons of water a day, which seems to me to be a lot of water but the stream itself is quite small.
With all that water, you would think the end result would be a very big stream. Still, it is a beautiful stream; what spring fed stream isn’t.
There’s a lot of riffles and a lot of sound of running water. I’m a big fan of that sound.
We enjoyed the day tremendously even though there were only a few very small (in the 4-5 inch category) fish caught. Hardly anything that required a tape measure or a photo or a search in the phonebook for the taxidermist’s number.
Of course, we didn’t fish the whole four miles of the stream that was available to us and maybe we weren’t at the right spots but I don’t think we were too far off.
Information online had warned us that “wild” trout can be extremely wary so perhaps our fish stalking skills need some honing.
I tried to keep a low profile and be as sneaky as I was able to, but still could not come up with any decent fish.
On one of the conservation department’s websites about this creek I had read that the stream had been adversely affected by the floods of 2015 and 2017.
They said the spawning success had been diminished and that trout of less than 12 inches will make up the biggest part of any fish caught, but were hopeful that trout of greater than 15 inches could be caught in 2018.
Of course, this was written before the floods of this year. I spoke to one local resident, who admitted to not being a fisherman, who said the entire area was flooded earlier this spring and believed that probably had an effect on the fishing.
His theory was that the trout were all washed away downstream into the Meramec. That’s possible, I suppose.
There’s a lot of tree limbs on both sides of the stream, so you unquestionably have to watch your back casting.
Take my word for it, there’s a lot of places to get hung up. Bring plenty of flies and a good supply of tippet material because it will be needed.
We found the area easy to find. Just a few miles off of Interstate 44 at Bourbon, Mo. Exit there on Highway N and go south. You will note Camp Mihaska on the right first, just a couple of miles south of town and then shortly after on the left you will see a small parking area with all the signs furnishing important information for the fly fisherman.
Porous-soled wading boots aren’t allowed. Fishing is legal at this area all year. There is no night fishing allowed and the area is closed from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.
No camping or open fires allowed. Only artificial flies and lures can be used. No live bait or plastics.
A little further down Highway N, there’s a turnoff to the left that crosses over the creek and goes all the way to the Meramec River. We found a parking spot along that road, also.
There is no road sign for this road but I’m pretty sure it’s Blue Springs Road. Further down Highway N you will find a larger parking spot, also on the left.
When fishing conservation areas like this, you will be reminded of just how handy the trout parks are, in that they offer convenient access to restrooms, nearby restaurants, campgrounds with all kinds of modern conveniences, stores where shelves are stocked with all kinds of gear for both the fisherman and the camper and oh, did I mention RESTROOMS?
The only amenity you will find at Blue Springs Creek are the parking areas…no restrooms, but a lot of trees.
The best part of the day was the warm temperature. The weatherman was correct in his prediction of a warm, sunny day. The thermometer in the car read 85 degrees.
We had taken sweatshirts as a precaution but were not needed. It’s always better to have too many clothes than not enough.
Like I said, the stream is beautiful. I reached down and touched the water as soon as we arrived and found it to be icy cold.
We did see some dogwood blooming but not in full swing yet. Didn’t see any red bud. I found a patch of some small pinkish flowers that were really showing off.
I noticed a lot of bird sounds but I’m not an expert on matching the kind of bird with its song.
The sky maintained its brilliant blue all day with not a cloud so we were able to soak up some wonderful sunshine which is always nice after a long winter.
All in all, it was a nice day. An advantage of being retired — sorry I don’t mean to rub that in if you’re still working — is that my wife and I are able to cherry-pick nice days during the entire week for our fishing trips.
Almost all of our trips are made during the week. Crowds are avoided and we experience no difficulty in finding lodging.
When you retire you will find that every week consists of six Saturdays and one Sunday. Again, I don’t mean to rub that in.
A trip to this place, even if you’re not a fisherman, wouldn’t be considered wasted time because this is such a beautiful area.
Be sure to bring your camera because you will see some marvelous Missouri scenery.
(Bill Oder can be reached at email@example.com.)