Whether you’re a resident, just passing through or you’ve specifically planned a trip to the bountiful lakes and rivers of Missouri, there’s plenty of fly fishing for everyone.
You’ll find both wild rainbow trout and brown trout in abundance. There are some trophy-sized fish to be on the lookout for too!
Thanks to careful conservation efforts, monitored fishing restrictions, stocking programs, trout parks, and hatcheries, you’ll be impressed by the ready supply of trout in Missouri, all year round.
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Top Spots for Trout Fishing in Missouri
We will go over all boring essentials like permits, rules, and regulations later, now it’s to the fun part: where to go fly fishing!
You’ll be spoilt for choice as there are so many excellent spots to go fly fishing for trout in Missouri. If you’ve been thinking, “That sounds great, but where are the places to fish near me?”, we’ve got your answers.
Here are a few of the amazing lakes and rivers in Missouri where you’ll be bound to snag a trout or two.
North Fork of the White River
If you’re wondering, “Where are the best places to fish near me to snag a brown trout?”, consider heading to one of the famous trout rivers in the United States, the North Fork of the White River in the Wild Trout Management Area,
Also called the North Fork River, it is home to the southernmost population of wild rainbow trout and stocked trout too, brown mostly and the larger trout tent to them.
When I want to fish a Red Ribbon Trout Area near me, the North Fork River is where I go. Very few spots compare to the large population of wild trout at North Fork of the White River Missouri – every fly angler is aiming for large brown trout on this river.
You’ll find some excellent fishing around Rainbow Springs as Rainbow Springs is where blue turns to a red ribbon as the river runs just a few miles.
Where To Fish On The North Fork River
In the Red Ribbon area, you can only fish with flies and artificial lures. The ideal spot to aim for is between Patrick Bridge and Althea Spring.
The Blue Ribbon Trout Area stretches from Rainbow Springs 7 miles downstream to Patrick Bridge. You can find great rainbow trout fishing opportunities in the Blue Ribbon Trout Area.
Recommended Flies For The North Fork River
- Dark caddis
- Pheasant tails
- Rubber legs
- Big Screamers
Little Piney Creek
We’re letting you in on a little-known tip here: Little Piney Creek is a great small trout stream for fly fishing if you fancy snatching yourself a wild rainbow trout on a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream.
Set amongst the Mark Twain National Forest, this is a stunning place to go fly fishing for wild trout in Missouri. You’re not going to find trophy-sized trout but you will catch fish even if you’re still honing in your angling skills with a fly rod.
You can catch and harvest trout here all year round with no bait restrictions in the White Ribbon Trout Area. Rainbow trout are also stocked year-round, though the summer fishing can be slow when the water temperatures reach up to 70 degrees.
Do take note of the Blue Ribbon area between Milldam Hollow and Phelps County, and again between County Road A-D and the area of Sinking Creek.
Where To Fish On Little Piney
The easiest way to get to Little Piney Creek is on Highway 63 south of Rolla. Head to the blue section below.
Recommended Flies For Little Piney
- Big hoppers
- Large terrestrials
Montauk State Park
Montauk State Park is often overlooked out of the Missouri parks in favour of the more popular Bennett State Park.
But sitting just next to the Mark Twain National Forest, with over 20 miles of streams for fly fishing and few visitors, even during the height of the busiest season, fishing in this State Park can be very enjoyable and you’ll have a greater chance of catching that trophy-size trout too!
Located in southeast Missouri, the fishing is good all year round, though it’s catch-and-release between November to February.
To fish at Montauk State Park, you’ll need a general fishing permit – for non-residents, you can purchase Missouri out-of-state fishing license – plus a daily trout tag. You can get these at the park’s store, and fishing regulations are displayed too.
Where To Fish In Montauk
There are a few streams to choose from in Montauk, a great place to start fly fishing is on the map below.
Recommended Flies For Montauk
- Small dry flies
- Small nymphs
- Wooly bugger
If you’re wondering, “Where can I find red ribbon near me?”, Roubidoux Creek may be just what you’re after.
Flowing through central Missouri near Waynesville, both large wild rainbows and brown trout can be found here and in the lower reaches you’ll find both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass to throw your fly line to.
While there is a White Ribbon section of the river for about 1 mile from Roubidoux Spring, the next 2.2 miles are Red Ribbon with special regulations.
This area has real character and some great fishing spots and it’s also a great place for some secluded fly fishing as it’s not very well known.
Where To Fish On The Roubidoux
Head to the red section detailed below for the best fly fishing on this river.
Recommended Flies For The Roubidoux
- Big Streamers
- Wooly Bugger
- Small nymphs
Taneycomo is one of the most well-known fly fishing lakes in Missouri, but ut actually fishes more like a big river as the best spots to cast a line are the deep holes in the tailwaters.
It’s worth getting your head around the special regulations though, as Taneycomo has an impressive healthy population of trout year-round thanks to the stable water temperature and the ample food supply of scuds and sowbugs.
No fishing is permitted for 760 from Table Rock Dam, and you’ll need a trout permit to fish upstream of Highway 65 Bridge or to possess trout at the lake.
If you head just beyond the Table Rock restriction area, you’ll find rainbow trout in abundance and at a decent size for the dinner table. You have to fish with flies and artificial lures only.
Where To Fish On Taneycomo
You best of hitting the tailwaters on the map below as this has easy access and the trout are larger.
Recommended Flies For Taneycomo
- Elk hair caddis
The Current River is a prime trout fishing spot in Missouri, with healthy rainbow and brown trout populations.
The river is divided into a White Ribbon trout area and a Blue Ribbon area. You’ll be almost guaranteed to catch something, with daily rainbow trout stockings and the annual brown trout stocking in the Blue Ribbon section.
Although many anglers have a favorite spot to fish, there are no secrets here – you’ll have great opportunities wherever you base yourself along the Current River.
However, only certain areas of the river are wadable, such as Cedars Grove, Akers Ferry, and Welch Springs. You’ll be able to access more of the Current River in a raft or canoe.
Where To Fish On The Current
The best place to access the Current is in the forest on the map below. This is out in the sticks so the trout should be less finicky.
Recommended Flies For The
- Small nymphs
- Wooly Bugger
Bennett Spring State Park
One of the most popular spots for trout fishing, Bennett State Park sees large numbers of visitors, including out-of-state visitors and residents.
There’s good fishing to be had, especially first thing in the morning, but if you prefer to have a stretch of the river all to yourself Bennett Spring State Park definitely isn’t for you.
You’ll have to contend with the crowds here. There are three different zones with their own specific regulations, so check exactly where you’re headed first.
With clear, shallow waters, this is a great location for beginner fly fishers to get the hang of trout fishing. With rainbow trout stocked daily from March to October and regular stockings even throughout the winter, your chance of a good catch is high.
Roaring River – State Park
This trout park offers a fair chance of catching both brown and rainbow trout. It’s a great place to visit if you’re fly fishing with kids or if you’re a beginner yourself.
Head to the visitor center if you need any advice or hints on the best fishing spots, or to the trout hatchery – one of the earliest hatcheries founded in Missouri – to see the 40 raceways.
See also our Teaching Kids To Fish post here for an in-depth guide on how to teach your kids to fish.
Otherwise, if you’re aiming for a lunker, get yourself to the White Ribbon area on the edge of the park where larger fish are often found.
You’ll need daily trout tags as well as a general fishing permit at the Roaring River Park, and it’s catch-and-release throughout the winter season.
Maramec Spring Park
The only trout park of the Missouri parks that isn’t also a state park, Maramec Spring Park is definitely worth a visit.
Here you’ll find an area of approximately 0.7km for trout fishing, and with rainbow trout stocked every day between March and October, your chances of catching a fish or two are pretty high, even if you’re new at this.
You can expect to have a great trout fishing experience all year round, although you’ll have to catch and release between November and February.
Make sure you’ve got your daily trout tag too. If you can time your visit for the fall spawn, you might catch one of the larger rainbow and brown trouts that make the migration up from the Meramec River every year.
Good Fly Shops In Missouri
You are always going to need some local flies and advice when fishing in a new area and there is nowhere better than a local fly shop.
Recommended Guides In Missouri
There is no better way to kick start a fishing trip than going out with a guide on your first day to get all the advice you need for the next few days of fishing.
Missouri Fishing Licenses
Before you head out to fly fish Missouri, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got your Missouri fishing license and all the necessary paperwork.
To fish for trout in Missouri, you’ll need a trout permit as well as a general fishing permit for the Missouri Department of Conservation too.
If you’re just visiting, you should buy the Missouri out-of-state fishing license, and there’s a permit for residents too. If you fish in trout parks, you’ll need a daily trout fishing tag.
For anling upstream from Highway 65 at Lake Taneycomo, you’ll need a trout permit all year round, and during the winter fly fishing season at trout parks.
You can find out more in-depth information and buy your permits directly from the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Missouri Fishing Regulations
As well as requiring trout permits, there are some Missouri fishing regulations to be aware of, too. The lakes, rivers, and streams of Missouri have been designated as White Ribbon Areas, Blue Ribbon Areas, and Red Ribbon Areas.
Here’s a brief overview of what that means for you, but make sure you double-check the regulations for the specific streams you plan to fish:
White Ribbon Trout Areas
You can fish with any bait in White Ribbon Trout designated areas, and you’re limited each day to four trout. This can include brown trout of 15″ or more, and rainbow trout of any size.
The White Ribbon areas are managed to provide fish of a suitable size for the dinner table, and there should be plenty to go around as they are restocked every few weeks.
Do note that at Stone Mill Spring Branch and Hickory Creek, it’s Catch-and-Release only between November to February. In most other White Ribbon rivers and lakes in Missouri, you can catch trout all year round.
Red Ribbon Trout Areas
On the Red Ribbon areas, you’re limited to two trout per day, provided they are 15″ or more. You can only use flies or lures, and no soft plastics are allowed at all.
The reason behind this is to ensure there are large trout and to encourage responsible harvesting.
Red Ribbon Areas include the Meramec River, Roubidoux, and the North Fork of the White River.
Blue Ribbon Trout Areas
The Blue Ribbon Trout Fishing Areas are your best bet if you’re on the hunt for a lunker!
Your daily limit is one trout, a minimum of 18″ long. Only flies and lures are allowed, with no soft plastics at all. These areas are carefully managed so as to produce the biggest trout specimens and encourage trout reproduction in the wild.
Blue Ribbon Trout Areas include Barren Fort Creek, Blue Springs Creek, Crane Creek, Current River, Eleven Point River and several more. Blue Springs Creek, Crane Creek & Eleven Point River are my favorites though.
Taneycomo is the main exemption from the Ribbon system, with its own rules and regulations. Fishing is completely prohibited for 760 ft from Table Rock. From that area down to Fall Creek, flies and lures only are allowed and any trout of between 12-20 inches must be released.
You also need a trout stamp to fish any of Taneycomo’s waterways, whether you intend to harvest or not. Your daily limit is four trout, including one brown trout of more than 20″.
Missouri Fishing Report
The MDC (Department of Conservation) carries out an annual Missouri Fishing Report survey of the fish populations in 138 bodies of water across the state.
On their website, you can search by fish, by region, or by body of water to find fishing spots near you, plus the best bets for what you’ll catch in each location.
Missouri Trout Flies
Every angler will have his or her own preference towards a certain type of lure or fly. A good idea is to have a few different varieties and to vary it a bit, to see what gives you the best results on any one day.
Your success may depend on variables like the lure size and color, as well as the water depth and clarity. Once the fish start biting, you know it’s working! Most experienced fly fishers like to have their fly box stocked with a few dry flies, wet flies, and a couple of nymphs too.
We recommend the elk hair caddis fly, the Stonefly nymph sizes 8 to 16, and the Soft Hackle wet flies, size 12-18. For more recommendations, we have documented the best flies for trout in this article. These will work for you throughout the state of Missouri.
The Wrap Up
So there you have it, all the info about fly fishing in Missouri just make sure you:
- Get the relevant permits you need.
- Pick the spot that appeals most to you from our list of the best trout lakes and rivers in Missouri.
- Double-check the regulations for your chosen area, so you know what to expect and how many trout you can harvest each day
- Kit yourself out with the best trout flies
- Grab your gear and head off – get stuck into some of that trout fishing action for yourself!
The trout are plentiful, there’s no limit to where to fish in Missouri, and you might just snag yourself a trophy-sized lunker! So get out there and catch yourself some of those Missouri trout!