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Missouri's Brown Trout Fishery

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2003

Last revision: Nov. 18, 2010

Department. He said programs to establish fishing opportunities for this brown trout date back more than a century. Fry were first reared in the Neosho National Federal Fish hatchery in 1890. This program stocked southwest Missouri rivers until 1936, but was discontinued because rainbow trout offered anglers more opportunities for less expense.

Before Table Rock Dam was completed in 1958, Lake Taneycomo was managed for warm water fishing. Crappie comprised 48 percent of the catch. Table Rock Dam funnels cold water to Taneycomo through hydroelectric turbines from depths of 140 feet. This water maintains a constant temperature in the 50-degree range, which is too cold for most fish species except trout. To offset the loss of the native warm-water fishery, the Missouri Conservation Commission authorized the construction of the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in 1958 to provide trout for Taneycomo.

"The Shepherd of the Hills hatchery was built in 1958 as a 200,000-pound trout production facility," said James Civiello, Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery manager for the Conservation Department. He said the hatchery area covered 301 acres and cost the Department $201,581 to construct. This project came with a very reliable water supply, and brown trout were raised in single-pass, earthen raceways.

A need for more trout for stocking prompted a 1975 renovation of the facility. The new design, which included re-circulating concrete raceways, enabled the hatchery to produce 400,000 pounds of trout annually.

The renovation was funded through federal and state allowances. About 75 percent came from funding provided by the Dingell-Johnson Act, which is better known as the Sport Fish Restoration Act. The remainder came from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. The Sport Fish Restoration Act is funded by a 10 percent excise tax on fishing equipment. An amendment to this law, known as the Wallop-Breaux Act, extends the excise tax to marine fuel. Together, they have been instrumental in mitigating the loss of native fisheries and improving fish habitat throughout Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Conservation introduced brown trout experimentally in the Current River and North Fork of the White River in 1966. MDC fisheries biologists wanted to know if browns could reach trophy sizes in the fishing-pressured areas of Missouri's trout streams. However, most were caught and removed before reaching their growth potential, highlighting the need for special management of trophy areas.

The first trophy brown trout fisheries in Missouri's Meramec River were

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