Crane Creek, located in extreme southwest Lawrence and Stone counties, offers the opportunity to pursue wild rainbow trout. The rainbow trout in Crane Creek were originally stocked from the McCloud River in California in the late 1800's and the population has sustained itself through natural reproduction since that time. Public access to the creek is available on Wire Road Conservation Area (WRCA) as well as in the city park at Crane. An updated map of Wire Road Conservation Area can be found at: https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/downloads/conservation-areas/8307map.pdf. Crane Creek is currently managed as a Blue Ribbon trout fishery in the upper eight miles to maximize and sustain the fishery. While harvest is assumed minimal, one fish per day at least 18 inches long is allowed. Only flies and artificial lures are permitted in this Blue Ribbon management zone.
Approximately 400-650 rainbow trout were observed per mile of creek in visual surveys conducted in the fall of 2018. The majority of these fish were less than 8”, indicating very good recruitment in previous years. The number of intermediate-sized fish from 8”-12” ranged from 75 to 98 rainbow trout per mile, while the number of larger-sized fish in the 12”-18” range ranged from 40 to 95 rainbow trout per pile. The highest concentrations of larger rainbow trout were observed within the newest tract of WRCA downstream of the city of Crane. The number of legal-sized rainbow trout > 18” ranged from seven rainbow trout per mile on the upper WRCA to 23 rainbow trout per mile on the lower WRCA. Most of the larger rainbow trout were observed in the deeper pools as well as beneath the numerous undercut banks and root wads within the creek.