Fishing on a Different Path

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Published on: May. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 21, 2010

the pool at slightly less than the speed of light. A green heron sits on a nearby tree, cynical about my fishing ability.

It's mid-afternoon and I have a long hike back to the car. I haven't caught any big fish, but I've seen enough to know they're there. I have been able to enter the Big Saline Creek world and become part of it for most of the day.

I've caught fish, but I think I've taken back more in the way of sights, sounds and memories. I haven't missed the sounds of outboard motors or paddles bumping the side of the canoe and I certainly haven't missed lifting a canoe off the top of a car. I enjoyed a different world by a different path.

Wade Fishing on MDC Lands

Over 25 areas have sizeable lengths of stream contained within or alongside Conservation Department owned lands. Some are suitable for wading only and are generally too shallow for a canoe; others are wadeable only during low water periods.

Lamine River Conservation Area

Lamine River Conservation Area, located in Cooper and Morgan counties east of Sedalia, is a study in contrasts. At the upstream end of the area, Flat Creek and Richland Creek come together. Flat Creek is more characteristic of prairie streams; it is slow and turbid with a silt/clay bottom. Richland Creek, however, is more Ozark in character with clear water and a gravel bottom.

Direct access is by a boat ramp near Otterville and a streamside parking lot off Highway 50. Walking in to remote reaches can also be fruitful. Anglers may catch bluegill, green sunfish, channel catfish and flathead catfish. As wading streams go, Lamine River can be deep and wide in spots. A canoe can be an asset, especially in the area's downstream reaches.

Locust Creek Conservation Area

Locust Creek Conservation Area, located in Sullivan County west of Milan, is a diamond in a sea of sand. In the 1980s, a Nationwide Rivers Inventory highlighted a 35-mile reach of Locust Creek as a premiere example of prairie streams that have been relatively unmodified. The Locust Creek Conservation Area sits in the middle of that reach.

A true prairie stream, Locust Creek is home to green sunfish and channel catfish. The area is also the site of a stream management experiment, and anchored rootwads, riffle structures and tree revetments enhance fish habitat. An upper and a lower access site (no boat ramps) provide direct access to Locust Creek; other reaches will require walking in. Avoid canoes in dry months unless you like to drag.

Apple Creek Conservation Area

Apple Creek is north of Cape Girardeau. The stream drains an area of steep hills, narrow valleys and sandstone geology. The creek has a sand bottom but is otherwise Ozark in character; the combination of clear water and a sandy stream bottom is unique.

Apple Creek Conservation Area lies in the downstream reaches of Apple Creek, a half mile from the Mississippi River. A total of 2.5 miles of Apple Creek make up the northern border of the area. Apple Creek has largemouth and smallmouth bass, and longear sunfish. Mississippi River fishes such as carp and channel catfish also inhabit these waters. Access is limited to one boat ramp and parking lot.

Huzzah Conservation Area

Huzzah Conservation Area, located in Crawford County southeast of Leasburg, includes portions of the Meramec River, Courtois Creek and Huzzah Creek. This tract is ruggedly Ozark in character and the streams are clear with gravel bottoms.

An access on the Meramec River downstream from its confluence with Huzzah Creek provides a landing for canoes, and two campgrounds adjacent to Courtois Creek provide direct access to streams. Walk-in access to other reaches of the three streams is theoretically possible, but the rugged terrain and the distance from passable roads make walk-in fishing somewhat of a challenge. Smallmouth bass, goggle-eye and longear sunfish dominate the catch in these streams.

Rebels Cove Conservation Area

Rebels Cove Conservation Area, located in Schuyler and Putnam counties north of Livonia, is a unique area in north Missouri. Nearly five miles of the remaining unchannelized portion of the Chariton River runs through the area. In the middle of the area, 2.5 miles of the Chariton River doubles back on itself to a point where the river is within a few hundred feet of itself. This portion is known as "The Narrows."

Deep holes, bends and drift piles of the unchannelized portions of the river provide good habitat for channel and flathead catfish, green sunfish, bluegill and an occasional carp. A river access with a boat ramp is available in the middle of the area; other reaches of the Chariton River are within walking distance. Wade fishing is possible in low water stages, but using a canoe or small boat is a more popular method of fishing.

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