Fishing the Current River of Missouri’s Ozarks

There is no doubt that the Current River is the most diverse stream in Missouri. It begins as a spring creek style trout river, and slowly transforms into one of the best smallmouth bass streams in the nation. Besides these species, there are also populations of Rock Bass, Walleye, and of course Bluegill.

The first twenty miles of the river make up the classic trout water. The river begins where Montauk Spring rises in the streambed of Pigeon Creek. For three miles below this point, the stream is stocked once a day with rainbow trout from March 1 through October 31. The upper part of this stretch which flows through Montauk State Park is managed for flies only. Artificial lures such as marabou jigs and single hooked rooster tail spinners fished on a spinning rod are perfectly legal, along with traditional fly gear. The rest of the river in the park allows all lures and baits. Montauk Spring Branch also flows through the park. The first quarter mile is catch and release only with flies only .Below there, all baits are allowed until it reaches the Current River, and fish may be kept. This area is also stocked daily.

Below Montauk State Park for nine miles, the river is managed for trophy rainbow and brown trout. The trout population varies from year, but you can count on there being between 250 and 700 trout per mile, which is a respectable number. Most are browns, but there are quite a few rainbows as well, including a number of wild trout.  This is a great area to float, but there is wading access at the lower end of Montauk State Park, Tan Vat, Baptist Camp, Parker Hollow, and Cedar Grove. This is a year-round fishery, with the best fishing in the seven miles between Montauk State Park and the Parker Hollow Access. Between Parker Hollow and Cedar Grove there are certainly trout, but wading can be tough, and the fish numbers are not terribly high. Artificial lures and flies only are allowed, and there is a restrictive length limit in place.

The eight miles between Cedar Grove and Akers Ferry is managed as a put and take trout fishery. It is heavily stocked with rainbow trout between March and September. In the four miles between Cedar Grove and Welch Spring the best trout fishing will be in the spring and fall, as that is the only time trout are stocked. Below Welch Spring until Akers Ferry, the water is significantly cooler, and trout are stocked all summer long. The best fishing is generally near the mouth of Welch Spring, where trout are stocked extensively. Below Akers Ferry, there are pockets of trout all the way to Pulltite Spring seven miles further downstream, but numbers drop significantly the further below Akers Ferry you get.

Between Akers Ferry and Round Spring, the fishing is spotty for both smallmouth bass and trout. There are decent rainbow trout numbers in the upper half, and decent smallmouth bass numbers in the lower half, but the fishing will be marginal. Smallmouth bass fishing picks up in earnest at the mouth of Round Spring. Between this point and Doniphan, Missouri lies some of the finest smallmouth water in the state. Fish in the one to three pound range abound, and larger fish are not uncommon at all. Rock Bass and Bluegill can also be found in great numbers. Around Van Buren, walleye enter the scene. This is one of the best stream walleye fisheries in the nation, and big Ozark strain walleyes abound. The next world record could come from the Current River. Jigging, trolling, and live bait fishing are all popular to catch these big walleye.

Every fisherman in Missouri should try fishing the beautiful Current River. Its crystal clear waters are home to some of the best fishing to be found in the United States. Whether you like smallmouth bass, trout, walleye, or just a big stringer of bluegill or suckers, this is a great place to go.

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