Weekend Angler: St. Louis
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.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication