Hickory Creek flows 2.7 miles through Morse Park from the headwaters to the confluence with Shoal Creek, just north of Neosho.
As it passes through Neosho the stream is considered a White Ribbon Trout Stream, meaning that it is periodically stocked with rainbow trout by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Our local fish hatchery, the oldest in the country, is operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Both agencies work closely together to make certain that we have enough trout available in the trout fisheries throughout the state of Missouri.
Fishing in Hickory Creek at present is catch-and-release. Any trout caught must be released immediately unharmed into the stream.
Rainbow trout are not good at surviving handling so for their survival they must be released unharmed into the stream.
If they are injured, they probably will not survive, but the law is the law, and they must be released back into the stream.
On March 1st that all changes, as trout that are caught from Hickory Creek can be kept. A total number of four (4) trout can be kept on any given day per fisherperson.
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An angler must have a current Missouri Fishing License and a Missouri Trout Stamp in their name to keep trout caught in Hickory Creek.
These permits can be purchased o-line at the Missouri Department of Conservation website.
The stream will be full of fish for the March 1st opener. A signal will be given at 6:30 to start the season from a location in the park so that all fishermen can hear.
The Missouri Department of Conservation will periodically stock Hickory Creek throughout the season so that anyone fishing should have ample opportunity to catch fish.
Last year the opener was on a Sunday which saw an estimated 500 anglers visit Morse Park throughout the day. It was a lot of fun and right here in town.
This year the opener will be on a Monday, so we are expecting a lesser turnout of people, but at least as many fish. Just the way I like it.
If you have a chance, get out and enjoy the trout opener in Morse Park, it should be a lot of fun. You might even create a “fish story” of your own.
(Clint Dalbom is superintendent of the City of Neosho Parks Department.)