Daytrippin’: Harbinger of spring for trout enthusiasts

Trout Opener in Neosho

Staff Reports

For many, the opening of trout season is the first harbinger of spring. The anticipation of putting on waders and watching the sunrise is the cause for celebration. For those in southwest Missouri longing for a day on the streams, your destination could be as close as Neosho.

Hickory Creek flows 2.7 miles through Morse Park from the headwaters to the confluence with Shoal Creek just north of Neosho. As it passes through Neosho, the stream is considered a White Ribbon Trout Stream, meaning that it is periodically stocked with rainbow trout by the Missouri Department of Conservation. The local fish hatchery, the oldest in the country, is operated by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior. Both agencies work closely together to make certain that there is enough trout available in the trout fisheries throughout the state of Missouri.

Fishing in Hickory Creek at present is catch and release.

“March 1 this year comes on a Monday. The folks up at the Conservation Office assure me that the stream will be full of hungry rainbow trout,” according to Neosho Parks Director Clint Dalbom.”The Parks Crew has the stream ready, brush cut and removed. The restrooms will be open for the occasion, possibly doughnuts for the early birds. Friends Of The Park plan to have hamburgers, hot dogs, and drinks available. The Neosho Fire Department will be on-site to sound the 6:30 siren to kick off the 2021 Trout Season.”

The stream will be full of fish for the March 1 opener. A signal will be given to start the season from a location in the park so that all fishermen can hear.

A valid Missouri Fishing License and a Missouri Trout Stamp are required to trout fish in Hickory Creek. Both can be purchased online from the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website.

Fishing in Hickory Creek, except during the official trout season, is catch and release. Any trout caught must be released immediately unharmed into the stream. Rainbow trout are not good at surviving handling, so they must be released unharmed into the stream for their survival. If they are injured, they probably will not survive, but the law is the law, and they must be released back into the stream.

On March 1 that all changes — trout that are caught from Hickory Creek can be kept. People can keep a total of four trout on any given day. An angler must have a current Missouri Fishing License and a Missouri Trout Stamp in their name to keep trout caught in Hickory Creek. These permits can be purchased online at the Missouri Department of Conservation website, Dalbom said.

There is a RV Campground available in Morse Park for those who choose to say for more than a day. Call 417-451-8050 for more information.

The Missouri Department of Conservation will periodically stock Hickory Creek throughout the season so that anyone fishing should have ample opportunity to catch fish.

“Last year, the opener was on a Sunday, which saw an estimated 500 anglers visit Morse Park throughout the day. It was a lot of fun. This year the opener will be on a Monday, so we are expecting a lesser turnout of people, but at least as many fish. Just the way I like it,” Dalbom said. “If you have a chance, get out and enjoy the trout opener in Morse Park; it should be a lot of fun. You might even create a ‘fish story’ of your own.”

Last year, the opener was on a Sunday, which saw an estimated 500 anglers visit Morse Park throughout the day.