A Western “style” Fishery

The North Fork River in south/central Missouri is renowned among fly anglers for its trout fishing opportunities, particularly upstream of Tecumseh where cold springs contribute to prime conditions. This stretch of water offers an experience reminiscent of classic western rivers, attracting enthusiasts seeking trophy trout. The upper reaches are home to wild rainbow trout, while stocker brown trout are predominant in the lower sections.

Access to the best fishing spots is primarily by floating due to limited access points, and drift boats are commonly used to navigate the riffles and holes. Although summer poses challenges with aluminum hatch, fall and winter are considered optimal times for fishing. The river supports a diverse insect population, including stoneflies, making patterns like scuds and caddis effective for fly fishing.

Guides familiar with the North Fork River assist anglers in navigating its waters, which have a reputation for yielding large trout. Overall, the North Fork River offers a rewarding trout fishing experience in the heart of the Ozarks.

Revised 3-24-2024 –

Following the recent removal of the dam (Feb 17 2017) at Dawt Mill, the North Fork River’s ecosystem has undergone significant changes, impacting its fishery. The river’s water level dropped by approximately a foot, allowing fish to migrate into Norfork Lake, while also providing access for stripers to move upstream for spawning. These alterations have had adverse effects on the once-thriving trout population.

Many anglers, including myself, have returned to the river periodically, only to be disappointed by the diminished results. Catching native rainbows and targeting browns with streamers, activities that were previously common, have become challenging endeavors. Personally, I haven’t booked a guide trip on this river since the dam’s removal due to the noticeable decline in fishing quality.

Despite these changes, the North Fork River still offers opportunities for successful fishing, particularly for those targeting stripers under favorable conditions. However, it’s evident that the river no longer maintains the same characteristics and productivity it once boasted.