A New Plan for Missouri Trout Fishing
Trout fishing has been part of Missouri’s outdoor heritage for most of our state’s history. Early settlers must have been surprised that there were no trout in the cold, clear waters of the Ozarks, because they made efforts to introduce them. Shortly after the Civil War, the Missouri Fish Commission received rainbow trout eggs from California shipped over the relatively new transcontinental rail lines.
Since 1880, Missouri anglers have enjoyed the excitement of trout leaping from cold, rushing streams. In the early years, however, fishing demand kept trout populations low. By the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps was helping to construct hatcheries to add more trout to streams. This began the modern era of trout management.
Missouri’s trout program gradually expanded and diversified, and now provides a wide range of fishing opportunities. Around some of our largest springs (Bennett, Montauk, Roaring River and Maramec) are“trout parks” where anglers enjoy daily stockings of rainbow trout in easily-accessible areas.
Outside the trout parks are areas which are less intensively stocked and fished. Also, there are streams that support brown trout, or even wild, self-sustaining populations of rainbow trout. The cold waters of Lake Taneycomo are famous for producing trophy trout. City-dwelling anglers can enjoy winter trout fishing in a number of lakes and ponds in urban areas.
Providing trout fishing is not simple. The supply of trout from Missouri’s hatcheries is limited. Natural reproduction of trout is even more limited. Less than 1 percent of our permanent streams are cold enough to sustain trout year-round. Even so, trout are popular with anglers and support up to 15 percent of all Missouri fishing.
To guide our management efforts, the Missouri Conservation Commission approved “A Plan For Missouri Trout Fishing” in October 2003. The plan declares that the goal of trout management in the state is to “provide anglers with diverse, quality trout fishing opportunities consistent with overall sound management of our state’s aquatic life.”
The plan, which contains ideas and direction from many of Missouri’s trout anglers, as well as Department staff and employees from other agencies, creates clear goals and priorities for Missouri trout management. It also outlines the tasks necessary to achieve these goals.
Important components of the new trout management plan include renovating Missouri’s trout hatcheries and increasing hatchery production by 20 percent.
Parts of the trout hatchery system that the Civilian Conservation Corps built in the 1930s are still in use. Comprehensive renovations have not been done at