Missouri's Top Trout Fishing Destinations: A Hidden Gem for Fly Fishing

Missouri Trout Fishing Destinations

Nestled in the heart of the United States lies a hidden gem for fly fishing enthusiasts: Missouri. While the state might not boast the fame of Montana's rivers or the grandeur of Colorado's landscapes, Missouri offers an unparalleled experience for anglers seeking tranquility, diverse fisheries, scenic views, and trophy trout. As you contemplate your next fly fishing adventure, here are compelling reasons why Missouri should be at the top of your list.

Abundant Waters: Missouri is blessed with an abundance of rivers, lakes, and streams, providing ample opportunities for fly anglers of all skill levels. From the majestic Ozark Mountains to the rolling hills of the Mark Twain National Forest, the state's waterways are as diverse as they are plentiful. Whether you're chasing rainbow or brown trout, Missouri's waters offer something for every angler's preference.

World-Class Trout Fisheries: Missouri is home to some of the finest trout fisheries in the country. From renowned destinations like Lake Taneycomo to hidden gems like Crane Creek, the state boasts a variety of waters teeming with trout. Anglers can test their skills in both wild and stocked fisheries, with the chance to reel in trophy-sized fish that will make any fly fishing enthusiast's heart race.

Here are a few of our favorite trout fishing destinations in the area, but there are many more streams, lakes, and fly shops to explore in Missouri: 

  1. Current River / Montauk State Park: In the heart of the Ozarks, Montauk State Park provides anglers with access to premier trout fishing waters, including stocked hatchery areas. Nearby, the Current River offers additional fly fishing opportunities, allowing anglers to explore the scenic beauty and diverse fisheries of the region.

    Current River Trout

  2. North Fork River: Renowned for its world-class trout fishing, the North Fork of the White River features pristine waters, scenic landscapes, and challenging fishing conditions that attract fly anglers seeking trophy-sized trout. Our favorite place to stay is located at Sunburst Ranch. Also, if you strike out on the North Fork, head on over to Rockbridge Trout and Game Ranch (within a 40-minute drive of Sunburst) to build your confidence back up. It's not uncommon to pull out a 4- to 8-pound trout from the water.

    Rockbridge monster trout

  3. Lake Taneycomo: A unique and productive fishery that my family has been going to for years, Lake Taneycomo offers year-round fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout, with opportunities to catch trophy-sized fish in the shadow of Branson's entertainment district. To get the scoop on what's happening on the water, head over to Lilly's Landing; they'll take care of you. 

    Lake Taneycomo Rainbows

  4. Westover Farms: A premier trout fishing destination, Westover Farms boasts well-managed private waters stocked with beautiful rainbow trout, providing anglers with an exclusive and exhilarating fly fishing adventure only 90 minutes from St. Louis. If you decide to fish Dry Creek, which I highly recommend, be sure to activate your stealth mode because the fishing is tight and the rainbows can be skittish. Additionally, you may be one of the first anglers to land a brown trout from this water since the Missouri Conservation and the Gateway Trout Unlimited Chapter planted 30,000+ certified disease-free brown trout eggs in the stream.

    Westover Farms Trout

  5. Niangua River Bennett Spring: Home to one of the state's oldest and most popular trout parks, Bennett Spring offers anglers a chance to fish for rainbow and brown trout in a scenic setting with well-maintained amenities and facilities. Additionally, nearby access to the Niangua River provides opportunities for fly fishing enthusiasts to explore another beautiful waterway and expand their angling experiences within the same vicinity. Just be aware that during the warm summer months, the weekends turn the Niangua River into a party, so if you are looking to float and fish during this time, get a very early start on the day, fish in the evening, or try to book your trip during a weekday. Also, if you are looking for a great place to stay on the Niangua River, check out one of our favorite places at Riverwood Resort

    Bennett Springs Rainbow

  6. Eleven Point River: With around 20 miles of trout water starting at Greer Spring Branch, the Eleven Point River offers fly anglers an exciting and challenging floating experience through the rugged wilderness of Southern Missouri. Bank access comes at a premium on this river, but you will be rewarded with opportunities to catch beautiful trout in a pristine and secluded environment.

  7. Crane Creek: Known for its pristine waters and challenging fishing conditions, Crane Creek is home to the McCloud River strain of redband rainbow trout. Truth be told, I haven't landed a trout here, but it offers a remote and rewarding fly fishing experience if you can put one in the net.

  8. Meramec River / Maramec Spring Park: With its diverse ecosystem and abundant fish populations, the Meramec River in proximity to Maramec Spring Park stands out as a prime spot for dedicated fly fishermen and river floaters. Spanning over 8 miles from the Highway 8 bridge to Scotts Ford, the trout-rich stretch of the river is a coveted destination.

    Meramec Spring Park Trout

  9. T. Hargroves Fly Shop: If you are in the St. Louis area and need to gear up before your fly fishing expeditions, stop by T. Hargroves Fly Shop on Manchester Road in Brentwood. This shop has been near and dear to me ever since Craig taught me how to cast and got me into the sport over 10 years ago. They also have the lowdown on what flies are working in all the local streams, so it's worth a stop before you head out.

Year-Round Fishing: Unlike some fly fishing destinations that are limited to specific seasons, Missouri offers year-round fishing opportunities. Thanks to the state's mild climate and diverse fisheries, anglers can enjoy fly fishing adventures throughout the year. Whether it's springtime dry fly action, summer nymphing, or winter streamer fishing, Missouri's waters provide endless opportunities to hone your skills and reel in some impressive catches.

Accessible Locations: Missouri's fly fishing destinations are easily accessible, making them ideal for both seasoned anglers and those new to the sport. Many of the state's premier fisheries are located within a short drive of major cities like St. Louis and Kansas City, allowing anglers to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life and immerse themselves in nature with ease. Additionally, the state offers a wealth of guide services, outfitters, and fly shops to help ensure a successful and enjoyable fishing trip.

Conservation Efforts: Missouri has a strong tradition of conservation and stewardship when it comes to its fisheries. The Missouri Department of Conservation works tirelessly to protect and preserve its waters, ensuring that future generations of anglers can continue to enjoy the thrill of fly fishing in Missouri. From habitat restoration projects to sustainable stocking practices, Missouri's commitment to conservation makes it a responsible and ethical choice for anglers looking to make a positive impact on the environment.

In conclusion, Missouri may not always be the first destination that comes to mind for fly fishing enthusiasts, but it certainly deserves a place on your radar. With its abundant waters, world-class trout fisheries, tranquil settings, year-round fishing opportunities, accessible locations, and commitment to conservation, Missouri offers everything a fly angler could ask for and more. So why not consider Missouri for your next fly fishing adventure? You might just discover your new favorite fishing destination.