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Gone Wild

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Published on: Aug. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 27, 2010

from behind (downstream), and keep your casts to a minimum. Learn to read the water so you'll know where the trout are without actually seeing them.

Some stream sections that have reproducing wild trout are designated Wild Trout Management Areas. The fishing regulations in these areas are specifically designed to protect and enhance the wild trout populations. The regulations include length limits, creel (bag) limits, no harvest regulations and gear restrictions that reduce harvest and decrease mortality.

As a result, several trout streams now provide excellent wild trout fishing through natural reproduction and no stocking is needed. Streams and the trout they support can also be conserved by putting them into public ownership. The Conservation Department cooperates with conservation groups to purchase land along trout streams, and we plan to acquire more from willing sellers.

A Wild Trout Adventure

Heavy spring rains and the easy fishing they brought were a distant memory by October. Through the summer, I'd watched streams steadily shrink to a mere ribbon of transparent water. So, on a sunny fall day, my expectations were modest. "I'll be happy with a few little ones today," I thought.

But even my most careful casts over those still pools sent spooky wild rainbows racing for cover. They had seen their share of clumsy anglers through the low, clear water of a long, hot summer. My expectations sank even further.

I cast to the top of the pool, letting the riffle float the big dry fly under the overhanging bushes. "Now that's a tempting morsel for some trout," but before I could finish the thought, the fly disappeared in a swirl. I tightened, and the rainbow leapt into the branches, threading my line through them. I waded in, freed the line and still felt the pull of a good trout. The hook held through two more jumps before I eventually eased the fat 16-incher into shallow water. After a quick photo I released the fish, none the worse for our brief encounter.

It was my way of ensuring that we would continue to have wild trout in Missouri.

Wild Trout Management Areas

The Conservation Department manages the Wild Trout Management areas listed here. Except where noted, all trout less than 18 inches must be released unharmed immediately after being caught. Fishing is restricted to artificial lures and flies only. Synthetic eggs and soft plastic lures are specifically prohibited. The daily

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