Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to Crane Creek Missouri
This little stream is a tributary of the James River. It flows through the little town of Crane
Missouri in the middle of dairy farming country. You want find any fly shops down the street
and you may not find many local anglers willing to reveal their secrets about fishing this
stream. In fact, many of them would just as soon you went on down the road to one of the
tailwaters in Branson or across the state line in Arkansas.
The trout are the pure strain McCloud rainbow trout but that isn't what makes much
difference in so far as being able to catch them. A wild rainbow trout is a wild rainbow trout. It
is the stream itself that take a lot of getting used to. It is a fragile little spring fed stream that
like all other spring creeks, is difficult to catch trout from or at least on a consistent basis.
That is a good thing it has going for it because if it were not for that, it would probably be
highly pressured. Its "flies only" and "catch and release" regulations help, for sure.
Naturally, stealth is very important, but theres a lot more to it than that. You must get close
enough to a trout to present your fly without being seen. That isn't easy to do in Crane
Creek. There is nothing to hide behind except trees and bushes and that is where you fly will
end up most of the time trying to do just that. Making a cast in Crane Creek is difficult, much
less doing it in a manner that a trout a few feet from you isn't going to see you. Another
problem is that these little rainbows have a lot of places they can hide. They will go to the
bottom of a pool or they will get behind a clump of tree limbs that have fell into the water.
Wherever you find one, it seems like it is impossible to get a fly to it without hanging up or
spooking the trout.
Some of this stream flows underground and is a problem many are worried about. It is also a
fact that even though it has excellent shade in most places from the tree limbs enclosing it, it
can still get rather warm. Some of the trees have been planted along the stream, indicating a
lot of effort has been put forth to sustain the fishery. The spring water comes out of the
ground at about 55 degrees year-round, but it doesn't have to flow far on a hot summer day
to get warm and in some places, too warm for the trout.
The fishing is far more difficult when the water is low and clear. It is easier to catch trout
when it is high and slightly off color. That is one tip that may be worth more than all the
others we come give you. If you can get by with it, don't wade. Cast from the banks. In many
places this is impossible but it will keep from spooking the trout as much when you can cast
from the banks. As a final tip, I will say that this is a very good place to use a bow and arrow
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Crane Creek Missouri