The Lure of Missouri Trout

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Published on: May. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 2, 2010

What makes a great day of trout fishing? The answer depends on what you like. For some, catching a limit of fish from a freshly-stocked, easily accessible stream in the company of family and friends is a perfect day. To others, being alone on a remote stream catching and releasing wild trout is the stuff of dreams. If you see yourself in either of these settings, or somewhere in between, you will find a place to your liking in Missouri.

But first, you've got some choosing to do. Some 350 miles of spring-fed streams in the Ozarks are potential trout water. All the rest of our streams get too warm in the summer for trout. The Conservation Department now manages about 150 miles of the best streams for public trout fishing. While many states can boast of more trout streams, few can match us for the wide diversity of quality trout fishing opportunities.

For instance, if you like a stream with easy access, pleasant scenery and a variety of nearby campgrounds and visitor services, one of our four trout parks may be a perfect match for you. Large spring branches flowing through three state parks and one private park are stocked with rainbow trout daily from March 1 through October 31. For a modest daily fee, anglers have access to large numbers of good-size trout in clear, cold streams.

These are good places to try your hand at trout fishing if you are new to the sport. They also make great places for family vacations. The parks include Bennett Spring, Montauk, Roaring River and the James Foundation's Maramec Spring Park.

But they are not just for neophytes. Heavy fishing pressure sometimes gives these trout lockjaw, and considerable angling skill may be needed to catch them. As a result, each stream has a dedicated following of serious anglers who know every rock, riffle and lunker hole. Watch one of these experts and you will learn lessons that will help you catch more trout wherever they swim. But be careful, you may contract a life-long case of trout fishing fever-it happened to me!

The fishing experience in the trout parks changes with the seasons. The parks are open to catch-and-release fishing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from the second Friday in November through the second Sunday in February. Because few trout are stocked in the winter, the fishing depends mostly on holdover fish that have survived from the

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