Mill Creek flows north through the Mark Twain National Forest and the Bohigian Conservation Area South of Interstate 44
between Fort Leonard Wood and Rolla. It's a lovely little creek with a very nice
population of wild rainbow trout. Of course, most of the fish you'll catch will be in
the 7-10" size category with a fair dosage of 4-inchers thrown in as well. But the stream regularly serves up 14" fish with the occasional whopper being reported here and there. The Mill Creek giant fish reports are usually met with some skepticism, however, not only because the stream seems so small, but also because most trout fishermen tend to forget to take their camera on those trips when those giant fish bite! Coincidence? Of course! Trout fishermen would NEVER stretch the truth, would they? In all seriousness, though, all of Missouri's wild trout creeks have experienced a surprising recovery after the drought of the mid-2000's, and you'll be surprised at the quantity and quality of fish at each of them, Mill Creek included.
The only real trick to catching fish on this creek is dealing with the fact that it's such a small body of water. In other words, put on your ninja costume and learn how to cast around corners. If you can move quietly and make long delicate casts in tight quarters, you'll usually find a good number of opportunistically feeding fished. Dry fly fishermen usually have a great time throwing highly visible patterns like Wulffs, Irresistables, or Humpies. And throwing big dries can be quite entertaining at times. Often smaller fish will hit these larger flies so aggressively that they'll pop straight up in the air. For a lot of
reasons, the fishing here can be a wonderful experience. Butů
This isn't Bennett Spring, folks. The back-casting room in the fish-holding sections
is usually tight, and the fish can be quite spooky at times. But, if you can read the
water, make a stealthy approach and a decent cast in fairly tight quarters, you should catch some catch fish. You'll need a long leader and a short rod (which by itself can be maddening), a general collection of decent flies, and perhaps your nerve pills.
To find Mill Creek, you first have get onto Interstate 44 near Rolla -- about halfway
between St. Louis and Springfield. Just a few miles West of Rolla, you'll take the
Doolittle/Newburg exit and head South. You'll head through Doolittle and downhill into
Newburg on Highway T. Follow T through town and across Little Piney Creek. Turn right
on Highway P and follow it for a few miles. Watch closely for the US Forest Service
sign telling you to turn left to the Mill Creek Recreation Area -- that's County Road
7550. This road will take you to an area that used to be a campground but is now only
a picnic area with no camping permitted (vandals and keg parties caused this change
in regulation). There is decent fishing in this area, with the trout population
increasing in numbers as you move away from the easily accessible water.
If you would rather head straight to the springs, DO NOT turn left on CR 7550. Stay
on P, turning left on Highway AA instead. However, you can also reach AA from the
picnic area by simply continuing straight on past the picnic area on CR 7550 until
you see the stop sign. Then turn left on AA. Just before heading up a hill, turn left
at the Pitts Pond sign. Cross the slab bridge and turn left to park. You'll see a
large pond, of course, which is fed by Wilkins Spring. Yelton Spring is upstream
of you. The Bohigian CA has access points on both AA and the Forest Service road mentioned above
The fishing begins at Yelton Spring and extends all the way down to Little Piney Creek,
but the best water is below Wilkins Spring, which dumps around 3 million gallons of
water per day into the creek. Fishing upstream of the bridge is occasionally impossible, as Yelton Spring has been known to dry to a trickle in dryer times.