Im going to be heading down to Crane this friday, and some answers to your questions...
Its deffinitely not to late in the season to be fishing the crane...it can be fished year round. There has been a lot of rain there recently, and the water might have a little cloud in it...which would actually help you considering how spooky the trout are. The access is generally good, as you can access the creek right at the city park.
When fishing there, you should be very stealthy, you dont want to see the trout, because if you see them, they see you. Nymphs are probably your best shot at fish...id recomend generic 14-16 nymphs that are heavy under a yarn strike indicator.
Good luck, ill try to post bck friday night on the conditions.
I did not go to Crane today. One main reason: RAIN. There was simply to much rain on wednesday and thursday, and the stream would not have been fishable today: HOWEVER:
I dont know if you know who Charlie Reading is or not, but he said by late Saturday, you might experience some great fishing. MIGHT was the key word. If the runoff from the previous rain had already gotten through and the water level was dropping, the fishing would be spectacular. I do not know what the current Water level is.
But, knowing Charlie, that information was what he believes. Charlie probably knows more about Ozark fly fishing than anyone, and if he had his way, no one would catch a trout if they werent fly fishing.
SO, I would give it a shot on Saturday afternoon, the water will be off color a little, but it should be fishable, and it should fish well. All this depends on the runoff though, if there was a fly shop in the area you could call and verify the water level with, that would make me feel a lot better about the trip.
If it turns out to be a failiure, what have you lost? your an hour away from Roaring River, and your trying something new.
I have been looking at GOOGLEMaps and it looks like either around the city park or old wire road should be access points.
Because of the rain we didn't leave tonight like planned. So, we are going to head out 5:00 am and go through CRANE tomorrow and will get an idea of what the color is. We will be at roaring river till Wed. So I hope we can head back to Crane Monday or Tuesday.
I have had a few conversations with Charlie... I believe he has forgot more than I can ever know. What a walking, talking fly fisher. You can ask him the differences between a G and G2 Scott rod and he will also thow in how different lines work in both rods.. I actually hope to purchase a GREYS rod this winter from him. Or trade the used once Helios for a GREYS 10' rod.
Anyway thanks again for the input... I will update next Thursday when I get back as to how well the fishing was.. From what I read and what you said.. I need to get my STEALTH ON.
Charlie was 100% correct. We got a late start and decided to drive through Crane on our way to Roaring River. We got there around 2:45 and the water was almost GIN Clear.
Unfortunately we didn't fish, we just walked up stream from the City Park a ways and then drove North to Old Wire Road.
I assume if you are doing the hike and fish, you have a car parked at old wire and hike up from the City Park.
I didn't see any local fly shops just antique shops.
And then it rained from late Saturday till Late Tuesday and we had to head back Wed. So Crane was out of the question.
Glad to hear from somebody else that fishes that area. I will drop you a note. Maybe a good winter fishing weekend I will drop a PM.
Roaring River was really nice in the rain in zone 2 below the bait fishers. And it wasn't crouded. As it stands I talked to a couple of locals that said nymphing and streamer fishing in Zone 3 down stream is good. I didn't try that because of all the rain but plan on it next time.
There's a lot more to Crane Creek than the public accesses near town via Wire Road Conservation Area. Most of the private landowners (not all, but most) will let you fish if you're polite, respectful, and courteous enough to introduce yourself and ask permission first. Always helps to chat with country folks before you ask a favor. And a lot of the best fishing on Crane Creek is on that private land.
I'll give you two specific clues. The farmer right across the road from the Lower Wire Road CA parking area (by the bridge downstream of town) is very particular about who he grants permission to. He gets hammered...and trespassed all the time. So that's a low probability option, but not impossible. And he owns the whole stretch of private ground from the city park to the bridge. And it's good. But fishing is even better upstream of the park when water is flowing well and downstream of the bridge I've been mentioning @ the Lower Wire Road CA parking area once you leave the conservation area...for several miles!
There are also McCloud Rainbows in Spring Creek, which runs through Hurley. Spring Creek empties into Crane Creek. Seems to me that if a fella could get himself permission to fish where Crane and Spring Creeks meet, that might be a good spot, huh?
Several miles downstream from the conservation area, Crane Creek begins to warm up enough for bass...especially in the summer. And the creek gets a lot bigger. The last couple of miles of creek before it meets the James River is pretty good size and runs through one farm. I've caught trout and bass in that stretch of river depending on the time of year.
What has been published and the conventional wisdom about Crane Creek is just the tip of the iceberg. It is full of wonders and mysteries. It is a fragile fishery that is home to one of 2 of the world's last remaining sources of genetically pure McCloud Rainbow trout. The other is a small mountain stream in remote Costa Rica. Respect it for what it is: a very fragile global treasure. It is a wonder of the modern world that it is even open to anglers to fish. But it is an Ozarks spring creek. And it has all of the bio-diversity and history and land use issues that all the rest of them do. Wild rainbow trout aren't the only fish living in Crane Creek.
Winter is a good time to fish there. The vegetation is low and rainfall usually drops off in a typical year. So the water clears and the other remarkable biological phenomenon of Crane Creek isn't nearly as much of an impediment to fishing fun. Portions of the Crane Creek bottoms have the highest scientifically documented concentration of Cottonmouth snakes in the world.