No place in northeastern Missouri tops Deer Ridge CA north of Lewistown for variety of recreational opportunities. You can wander its 6,996 acres hunting for everything from mushrooms to deer, turkey, doves, quail, squirrels and rabbits. Dozens of fishless ponds attract migrating waterfowl in the spring and fall. Anglers can choose between the 48-acre Deer Ridge Community Lake and the North and Middle Fabius rivers, where bass, crappie, catfish and sunfish thrive. More than a dozen trail loops and spurs provide ample access for birders, nature photographers and folks just looking to stretch their legs. There are designated camping areas, picnic shelters with electricity and an unstaffed archery, rifle, pistol and shotgun range. This area is part of the Department’s Riparian Ecosystem Assessment and Management Project, a study of how forest-management practices affect bottomland forest vegetation and wildlife.
These two Jefferson County gems really shine in June, when Missouri evening primrose and other dazzling wildflowers festoon the rocky landscape. Each area has more than two miles of hiking trails through moderately difficult terrain. Watch for glade wildlife, including scorpions, tarantula spiders and copperheads. Don’t lift rocks in search of these animals, as this destroys their habitat. Glade management includes removal of cedar trees and periodic burning to maintain the rare glade ecosystems. For more information, search for these areas in our online atlas or call (636) 405-0157.
Ten years ago, the Department of Conservation made big changes to fishing rules at Lake Taneycomo. Those changes are paying dividends in big fish. In a special management area from just below Table Rock Dam to the mouth of Fall Creek, all rainbow trout between 12 and 20 inches must be released immediately. Only flies and artificial lures are legal there. Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery and the Neosho National Fish Hatchery stock approximately 700,000 rainbow trout and 10,000 brown trout measuring 10 to 11 inches at Lake Taneycomo each year. Eliminating natural bait in the special management area reduces fish injuries from swallowed hooks, so fish live longer. The new “slot” length limit allows medium-sized fish to grow, promising a return to the days when big trout drew anglers to Taneycomo from across the nation. The good old days are still ahead for this famous lake.
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