Weekend Angler: St. Louis

Mill Creek
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Mill Creek Practicalities

Species: Mill Creek is known for intensely colored and chunky rainbow trout.

Gear: 7- to 8 ½ foot, 3- to 5- weight fly rods, or ultralight spin gear. You'll only need hip waders with felt soled boots.

Flies and lures: Wild trout are more aggressive than hatchery fish and will take most any well-presented offering. Blue Winged Olive (#16-#20), Goddard Caddis (#14-#18), White Wulff (#10-#12), Elk Hair Caddis (#12-#18), CDC Caddis (#14-#18), Adams (#12-#18), Parachute Adams (#12-#18), Light Cahills (#12-#16), Red Quills (#14-#16), Stimulators in various colors, like black, gold and orange (#8-#14), Partridge and Orange (#12-#16), Partridge and Green (#12-#16), Zug Bugs (#12-#16), Scuds (#12-#16), Woolly Buggers (#8-#12), Muddler Minnows (#4-#10), Zonkers (#4-#10), Matukas (#4-#10), Crayfish (#4-#10), Pheasant Tail (#14-#18), Prince Nymph (#14-#18), Hare's Ear (#14-#18).

St. Louis guides, fly and tackle shops: Paul's Bait and Tackle (314) 773-6221; Feathercraft Flyfishing, (800) 659-1707; T. Hargrove Fly Fishing, (314) 968-4223; Alpine Shop, (314) 962-7715.

Getting there: To reach this brushy little creek, travel west on Interstate 44. At Newburg, travel south on Highway T, go across Little Piney Creek, turn right on Highway P. Follow the signs to Mill Creek Recreation Area.

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Mill Creek is a rarity for the state of Missouri, a cold spring-fed stream teeming with wild rainbows — yes, wild trout in the Show Me State.

The rainbows were first stocked more than 100 years ago by the San Francisco Railroad, but the last stockings took place 50 years ago. Several miles of public water are available, most of which lies in the Mark Twain National Forest.

This little jewel is only 5 to 20 feet wide and canopied with thick brush and trees. Back casting can be tricky, so you'll need to be ready to roll cast. In stretches featuring faster water, anglers can work up the middle making short little casts to the edges, underneath branches and along the undercut banks.

Most of the wild rainbows are in the 6- to 10-inch range, with some smaller and a few bigger. On a couple of rare occasions, 20-inchers have been landed. These little wild trout are aggressive feeders when not spooked, eager to take a well-presented dry fly.

In 1994, a one-mile stretch of Mill Creek was acquired from a private owner and transferred to the Mark Twain National Forest. Members of the River Network, Trout Unlimited, Federation of Fly Fishers clubs of Missouri, and a host of private donors helped fund the purchase. Thanks to them, the springs feeding Mill Creek are now protected from grazing and development, helping to maintain this beautiful little wild rainbow trout fishery.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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