Hickory Creek, Neosho, Missouri

by Alan Luecke
(Kansas City, MO)

First Hickory Creek Rainbow

First Hickory Creek Rainbow

Along with two friends, Chris and Kevin from the the local flyfishing club (Heart of America Flyfishers), I made a day trip to Hickory Creek in Neosho, Mo. It is a White Ribbon stream which means it has no bait restrictions and a daily limit of four trout. In the winter it is catch and release. The creek is spring fed and has active trout year round.

Because of the springs, Neosho happens to be the sight of the oldest and still active Neosho National Fish Hatchery, founded in 1888. Hickory Creek is managed by the Missouri Dept. of Conservation. The managed stream is 1.7 miles long. and runs down the eastern edge of the city of Neosho. A city park and bike trail run along most of the creek.

We were fishing the last week of catch and release and found trout all along the creek. There is a variety of rocks, rootballs, riffles and pools. Some trout were grouped up, recent stockers, but many had found a home, often with challenging cover. We all caught some trout, mostly on nymphs and buggers. Chris got a very nice fish on a dry at the end of the day, but there was little rising activity.

Because of the easy access, Hickory Creek has the reputation of being highly pressured and over fished. I'm sure there are summer weekends when this is true. Go in the winter. We saw one other fisherman all day. There are a lot of spots to fish. A little walking and wading will get you to a quiet place.

Now for the part I'm excited about. There are a lot of fish in Hickory Creek's clear water besides those pesky trout. This is a true Ozark spring creek and species rich. I caught five species and spotted a total of 10 or 12, and the sunfish aren't out yet! It has clear water, easy access and is very wadable. It's an easy two and a half hour drive down I-49 from Kansas City. It's a half hour from Capps Creek which is a half hour from Crane Creek and Roaring River, a good neighborhood. I'm hoping to mount a multi-species/ micro expedition when the stream wakes up a little more.

We had a very nice day in a very nice new place.

Now I feel like I need to defend Hickory Creek and rant a bit. In 2009 two Missouri fly fishing friends began what they call the Missouri Trout Odyssey. They see how many trout streams they can fish in 3 or 4 days. It's fun, crazy stuff and they usually make over twenty spots. On their first trip Neosho was the end of a long drive during the long third day and they got skunked. There was bitter talk in the truck and Hickory Creek was referred to as "the expletive deletedhole". Since then they have been back and said nice things but words never die on the internet. On several occasions I've heard people say, "Oh, Hickory Creek is awful, the locals fish it out, it's really bad". This is from people who have never been there, but happened to read a post by some grumpy guys after a long day. Don't believe everything you read and mostly be nice.

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