The Lure of Missouri Trout

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Published on: May. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 2, 2010

open season.

To further ensure survival of the trout, all fishing is restricted to flies and single-hook artificial lures. Soft plastic, natural and scented baits are prohibited because they tend to hook trout deeply, causing serious injuries. While cold air may keep many anglers away, the spring-fed waters stay relatively warm and the trout are active even on the coldest days. Winter can be the perfect time to visit a trout park.

But even in the winter, trout parks may be too popular for anglers who want plenty of elbow room when they fish. If that includes you, don't despair. There are many other trout fishing opportunities in Missouri.

A number of spring-fed streams are stocked less frequently than the trout parks and offer much less crowded fishing and a more natural trout fishing experience. These Trout Management Areas are scattered throughout the Ozarks, and some are near trout parks, making them the perfect escape from crowding. Many of these streams are stocked with rainbow trout from February through October. Some of them also contain brown trout, as well as wild, naturally-reproducing rainbow trout. Trout management areas include Capps Creek, Current River, Eleven Point River, Little Piney Creek, Roubidoux Creek and Stone Mill Spring.

Special Trout Management Areas provide an even more natural fishing experience. The Conservation Department stocks brown trout annually in these streams, and protective fishing regulations allow many of them to grow older, larger and wiser.

The fishing in these areas is challenging and revolves around the cycles of nature. Here, on a balmy spring day, stream-wise trout will rise to hatching mayflies or caddisflies. Summer finds them sipping ants or snatching grasshoppers off the surface. In the fall, spawning brown trout take on the colors of the autumn woods, and a well-placed streamer or lure may provoke an aggressive strike from the biggest trout in the river.

In the cold days of winter, fish slow and deep with sculpin or minnow imitations or hope for a brief mid-day hatch of tiny midges to draw a few trout to the surface. True to their name, these are Special Trout Management Areas. They include portions of the Current, Meramec, North Fork and Niangua rivers and Roubidoux Creek.

Even more special, at least to some anglers, are the Wild Trout Management Areas. These are streams that are not stocked at all but contain wild, naturally-reproducing rainbow trout. To protect these trout, and ensure that they remain

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