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Phil Lilley
Phil Lilley

Current River

It's not often you can actually point to the origin of a major river, but you can on the Current River.  You can point at bubbling, flowing water coming from Montauk Spring in Montauk State Park in Southeast Missouri.  The flow from the spring and Pigeon Creek moves through the park, and leaving the park, it enters the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

The Current River is approximately 184 miles long.  It dumps into the Black River near Pocahontas, Arkansas.  Of those 184 miles, 105 miles are in the federally protected Riverways.  It runs through Mark Twain State Forest until it reaches Highway 160 near Doniphan, Missouri.

There are natural springs that dot the Ozarks countryside along the river including Welch Spring, the largest.  The river is nearly doubled in size just 14 miles down from Montauk Park.  Other notable springs are Round, Pulltite and Cave Spring.

Montauk state hatchery raises about 300,000 to 400,000 rainbows and stocks about 200,000 trout in the park annually.  But the rainbows don't necessarily stay in the park,  migrating down river to make up a majority of the game fish in the first 20 miles of the river.  Trout are also stocked at Welch Spring.
-- Intro by Al Agnew

River Levels


Current River Level at Montauk


Current River Level above Akers, MO


Current River Level at Van Buren, MO


Current River Level at Doniphan, MO

Fishing Regulations

Trout:  Blue Ribbon Trout Area:

  • From the lower boundary at Montauk State Park to Cedargrove Bridge
  • 9.0 miles
  • Daily Trout Limit - ONE - At least 18 inches in length
  • Artificial lures and flies only

No Red Ribbon Area on the Current River

White Ribbon Trout Area:

  • From the Cedargrove Bridge downstream
  • 7.7 miles
  • Daily Trout Limit - FOUR - rainbows and/or brown trout but browns have to be 15-inches or longer to keep.
  • No bait restrictions

See Montauk State Park for fishing regulations in the park.

Warmwater Fish - **Bass, black (largemouth), smallmouth and spotted bass (kentuckies)- 12-inches length limit, 6 daily, 12 possession.

**Statewide season on bass in rivers and streams is open from the 4th Saturday of May till the last day in February annually.

White bass, striper, hybrid bass- 15 total daily (only 4- 18 inches or longer can be kept in a daily limit), 30 possession.

Rock bass (goggleye) - no length limit, 15 daily, 30 possession.

Crappie, white or black - no length limit, 30 daily, 60 possession.

Bluegill - no limit

Catfish - no length limit, 10 daily (only 5 can be flatheads in a daily limit), 20 possession.

Walleye - 18 inch minimum length, 4 daily, 8 possession.

From Cedar Grove to Arkansas state line - daily limit on hogsuckers is 5.

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. 
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!

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.

Missouri Wildlife Code

Horsepower Limits

Two Rivers upstream to Round Springs (Lower Access - 40 hp
Above Round Spring Lower Access (Except above Akers from May 1 - September 15 10 HP Maximum) - 25 hp
Two Rivers upstream to Alley Spring Campground Access  - 40 hp
Above Alley Spring Campground Access (Except above Bay Creek from March 1 to Saturday before Memorial Day - 10 HP) - 25 hp
Two Rivers downstream to Big Spring John boat landing - 40 hp
Big Spring Johnboat Landing downstream to park boundary - no limit

Top Five Flies


Sam Potter shares his experience and knowledge of fly fishing on the Current River in this article on OzarkAnglers.  From streamers to dries, the Current is an excellent place to fly fish for trout as well as warmwater species such as smallmouth bass and goggleye.

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