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Phil Lilley
Phil Lilley

Crane Creek

Crane Creek is one of the most unique streams in the Midwest. In the late 1800's, railcar brought a strain of rainbow trout called the McCloud from the west coast to be raised and stocked in  spring fed creeks and rivers in Arkansas and Missouri, including Crane Creek. In 1967, the Missouri Department of Conservation stocked rainbows in Crane, and trout have not been stocked there since.  The rainbows found in Crane Creek today could be a kin to the famous McCloud strain but it is not a pure strain.  But the trout are wild, born and raised in Crane.


Crane Creek is one of seven streams the Conservation Department has designated as wild trout management areas which also  include Barren Fork, Blue Springs Creek, Mill Creek, Spring Creek and portions of the North Fork and Eleven Point rivers. The wild trout are treasured in a state that does not have naturally producing trout,  serving as a genetic pool backup in case hatchery fish become diseased.

Crane Creek rainbows have a reputation for being shy, one reason for their endurance. They tend to seek shelter with any strange movement, making them a challenge to sneek up on. Some say they aren't too picky about what fly they  take, but getting close enough to cast to them is the trick.


Crane Creek is located in and around the town of Crane, Missouri, southwest of Springfield and southeast of Joplin. There is plenty of public fishing in town as well as in areas owned and managed by the MDC.  The Department has placed special regulations on fishing some areas of the creek, such as catch-and-release only or flies and lures only. See our Crane Creek map for more details.

If you get the privledge to fish this little gem, please be careful with our wild rainbows. Try not to handle them. Use barbless hooks or bend the barbs down on the hooks you have. And return those caught to the water as quickly as possible.



Click on Map for a PDF Formated Map download you can print and use.

Fishing Regulations

Crane Creek only has a Blue Ribbon Trout Area

  • 8.0 miles
  • Stone and Lawrence Counties
  • Upstream from Quail Spur Road crossing on Stone County Rd 13-195
  • At least 18-inches
  • Daily Limit - 1
  • Artificial lures and flies only


Trout Lure Definitions

Fly is an artificial lure constructed on a single point hook, using any material except soft plastic bait and natural and scented baits as defined below, that is tied, glued or otherwise permanently attached.

Artificial Lure is a lure constructed of any material excluding soft plastic bait and natural and scented bait as defined below.

Soft Plastic Bait - synthetic eggs, synthetic worms, synthetic grubs and soft plastic lures.

Natural and Scented Baits - a natural fish food such as bait fish, crayfish, frogs permitted as bait, grubs, insects, larvae, worms, salmon eggs, cheese, corn and other food substances not containing any ingredient to stupefy, injure or kill fish. This does not include flies or artificial lures. It does include dough bait, putty or paste-type bait, any substance designed to attract fish by taste or smell and any fly, lure or bait containing or used with such substances.


Fishing Licenses -

Residents - those fishing of the ages of 16 and older and 65 are required to have on their person a valid Missouri fishing license. Those 65 and older do not need a fishing license.

Proof of residency - Valid Missouri Drivers License.

Non-residents - those fishing of the ages of 16 and older are required to have on their person a valid Missouri fishing license.

For Missouri & Arkansas residents only - a special border permit can be purchased to allow fishing in both Missouri and Arkansas without purchasing an out-of-state license.

A Missouri TROUT STAMP is required for ANYONE who fishes the trophy or Blue Ribbon area on the Current River, regardless if the angler is keeping or releasing their catch. (New March 1, 2005)

Costs -
Resident - $12 annual
Non-resident - $42
Daily - $7
Trout Stamp - $7

Buy Missouri Fishing Licenses Online!

Missouri Wildlife Code

Report Violations - Poachers

In cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation, Operation Game Theft works to stop the illegal taking of fish and wildlife that includes trophy animals and rare and endangered species.

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