White Ribbon Area
March 1 to October 31
No bait restrictions. Daily limit is 4 trout with a 15 inch length restriction on brown trout.
November 1 to February 28
Catch-and-release only, flies and artificial lures only, soft plastics specifically prohibited.
Hickory Creek is the newest of Missouri's managed trout areas, and it is a lovely family-friendly area to visit. The vast majority of the trout holding section of the creek runs through Neosho's notably large and impressive Morse Park, with nice landscaping, playgrounds, picnic tables, barbecues, and RV hookups. There are a number of river crossings, including at least one very nice foot bridge, and fish are easily visible to observers from above, if they are patient enough to spend a few moments.
The creek enters the town from the South and progresses North to join Shoal Creek just outside of the city limits. The management area technically begins at the Highway 86 bridge. At that point, the stream is rather slight, but the flow from Neosho's "Big Spring" enters a bit further downstream, adding enough volume to elevate it from babbling brook to legitimate creek.
Hickory Creek has plenty of character, with a variety of fair sized riffles, nice deep pools, and plenty of obstructions like downed trees and strategically placed boulders. And while the creek will likely receive a good amount of fishing pressure, there is plenty of room, so no one should feel crowded. It appears that the majority of Hickory Creek fishermen are using spinning rods with in-line spinners, and I also met a few bait fishermen reporting that minnows are the preferred method. These fishermen appear to be right on the money. A quick bug sample found very little. After checking a dozen locations along the length of the creek, I found a grand total of 10 scud, 2 small stoneflies, 1 sowbug, 1 small mayfly and 1 caddis. There is the potential for a decent midge population, however, since they are often small enough to be missed by bug seining nets. There is certainly a thriving minnow population, which is the likely primary food source. Fly fishermen have reported that attractor patterns like glo-bugs and Y2K's tend to be more productive than traditional flies, which seems to confirm that the fish are not dedicated bug-eaters. Streamers will likely work well when the water conditions are right, and ants and hoppers will probably work well in the summertime, as well.
Finding the creek is easy. It flows right through Neosho, which is south of Joplin and Carthage. Find the town, and you'll find the creek.