From the Missouri Conservationist Magazine
March 2021 Issue

In Brief

Get Hooked on Missouri Trout Fishing

March 1 marks the opening of catch-and-keep fishing at Missouri’s four trout parks

Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Licking, Roaring River State Park near Cassville, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James usher in the opening of catch-and-keep trout season on March 1, which runs through Oct. 31.

MDC operates trout hatcheries at all four parks and stocks rainbow trout daily throughout the season.

Hatchery staff will again use data on trout tags sold in past years to anticipate the number of anglers expected on opening day. Staff will then stock about 20,000 trout across the four trout parks for anglers on opening day.

Trout anglers need a fishing permit and a daily trout tag to fish in Missouri’s trout parks. Learn more at

MDC encourages trout anglers to buy their fishing permits ahead of time from numerous vendors around the state, online at, or through the MDC free mobile app — MO Fishing  — available for download through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices.

Daily trout tags can only be purchased at each of the four trout parks. MDC encourages trout anglers to have the correct amount of cash for daily tags, if possible.

The cost of a daily trout tag to fish at three of Missouri’s four trout parks — Bennett Spring State Park, Montauk State Park, and Roaring River State Park — is $4 for adults and $3 for those 15 years of age and younger. The daily limit is four trout.

MDC is continuing a pilot program at Maramec Spring Park where the daily limit has been raised from four to five trout and the cost of a daily trout tag for adults is $5 and $3 for anglers 15 years of age and younger.

Montauk State Park store hours for daily tags will be Feb. 27 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Feb. 28 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. The store will open at 4:30 a.m. on March 1.

Bennett Spring State Park and Roaring River State Park store hours for daily tags will be Feb. 27 from 1 to 9 p.m. and Feb. 28 starting at 9 a.m. through March 1.

Maramec Spring Park store hours for daily tags will be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning Feb. 19 to Feb. 26. Normal hours of 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. will begin on Feb. 27.

MDC reminds anglers and others visiting the trout parks to abide by all posted signs regarding wearing masks and social distancing requirements.

MDC notes that extensive hatchery renovations at Roaring River have recently been completed. The modernization of the facility will provide increased trout production, healthier fish, and the reopening of the raceways where trout are raised before release. Due to Roaring River Hatchery being out of production, current trout inventory levels will require adjustments to normal stocking rates, but there will be plenty of fish for anglers to have another great season in 2021. Learn more at

MDC also notes that Roaring River has changed some fishing zones and advises trout anglers to check at the park for new information. Changes include changing the lower end of Zone 3 and moving Zone 3 about 545 feet up into Zone Two.

Paddlefish Season Begins March 15

Imagine catching a giant, prehistoric fish whose ancestors swam during the time of dinosaurs. That is a reality for thousands of paddlefish snaggers during Missouri’s annual spring paddlefish snagging season. Paddlefish, named for their large, paddle-shaped snouts, are an ancient species that can grow to 7 feet and weigh more than 100 pounds.

According to MDC, the state’s major paddlefish snagging waters include Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, and Table Rock Lake. The paddlefish snagging season for these and most other waters in the state runs March 15 through April 30. The season for the Mississippi River is March 15 through May 15 with a fall season of Sept. 15 through Dec. 15.

MDC reminds snaggers to immediately release sublegal fish for future harvests and offers these tips:

  • Use landing nets, not gaffs, which can kill young fish.
  • Wet hands before handling fish and avoid excessive handling.
  • Never put fingers in the gills or eyes.
  • Remove hooks carefully and get undersized fish back into the water as quickly as possible.

Learn more about paddlefish snagging regulations, snagging reports, and more at

MDC Reports Final Deer Harvest Numbers

Missouri’s 2020–2021 deer-hunting season ended Jan. 15 with MDC reporting a preliminary total harvest of 296,516. Of the deer harvested, 140,468 were antlered bucks, 28,587 were button bucks, and 127,461 were does.

Top harvest counties were Franklin with 5,786 deer harvested, Howell with 5,367, and Callaway with 4,989.

Hunters harvested 285,873 deer during the 2019–2020 deer hunting season, with 134,092 being antlered bucks, 27,970 being button bucks, and 123,811 being does.

Deer hunting ended with the close of the archery season. Preliminary data from MDC showed that hunters checked 67,180 deer during the 2020–2021 archery deer season. Top counties for the archery deer season were Jefferson with 1,630, Saint Louis with 1,384, and Franklin with 1,315. Hunters checked 61,407 deer during the 2019–2020 archery deer season.

Fall archery turkey hunting also ended Jan. 15. Preliminary data from MDC showed 2,905 turkeys harvested. Top counties for the fall archery turkey season were Greene with 84, Franklin with 78, and Texas with 61. Hunters harvested 2,406 turkeys during the 2019–2020 fall archery turkey season.

MDC reported four firearms-related hunting incidents during the 2020–2021 fall deer and turkey hunting seasons. The incidents were all self-inflicted and non-fatal.

MDC Advises Treating Ash Trees to Combat EAB

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an exotic Asian beetle that was introduced into North America before 2002 and is now found throughout much of Missouri. EAB larvae feed on and kill ash trees. Ash trees can be protected from EAB by using specific insecticides.

MDC recommends that property owners and communities begin insecticide treatment for their healthy ash trees this spring if they want to resist EAB attack.

MDC Forest Entomologist Robbie Doerhoff said that smaller trees (20 inches or less in diameter) can be treated by the homeowner using a soil-drench insecticide. Trees larger than 20 inches in diameter should be injected with insecticide by a professional.

“It’s best to call an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture to do this job,” Doerhoff said. She recommends starting with, which lists several ISA-certified arborists in Missouri.

Learn more about EAB from MDC online at

Get New MDC Hunting and Fishing Booklets

Missouri hunters, trappers, anglers, and others can get free copies of updated booklets on spring turkey hunting, trapping and hunting seasons, fishing, and the Wildlife Code of Missouri starting in early March. The handy booklets have information on related permits, seasons, species, regulations, limits, conservation areas, sunrise and sunset tables, and more.

The booklets — 2021 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information, Summary of Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations, Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations, and the Wildlife Code of Missouri — are available at MDC regional offices, MDC nature centers, and where permits are sold. Each booklet also is available online at using the search tool at the top of the homepage.


Got a Question for Ask MDC? Send it to or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.

Q: I noticed this black-necked stilt at Otter Slough Conservation Area last March. Are they common?

As transient migrants in spring or fall, black-necked stilts are considered rare or casual visitors statewide. In summer they do breed occasionally in southeast Missouri. Most observers see them during migration as they forage on mudflats, shorelines, and shallow wastewater lagoons. In summer, these stilts may be seen in the rice fields in the Bootheel’s lowlands.

Like most other shorebirds, black-necked stilts are ground nesters. Both parents participate in nest construction, egg incubation, and rearing the chicks. Choosing an area raised higher than the water level, they scrape a ground depression and line it with grass, rocks, and other objects. A clutch comprises two to five eggs, which hatch in 24–29 days. As with most other ground-nesting birds, the young are precocial — relatively well developed, covered in down, and able to walk.

Black-necked stilts usually nest in colonies, and their numbers permit them to defend their nests as a group. When an intruder appears, numbers of adults fly into the air, circling and calling. They also may mislead or distract intruders, similar to killdeer, by feigning sick or injured behavior or by plopping on the ground as if sitting on a pretend nest.

Q: A duck laid and buried six eggs in a planter on my deck and now a goose laid more and is sitting on the eggs. What will happen now?

Most ducks lay approximately an egg a day and don’t start sitting on the nest to incubate until after the entire clutch — around eight to 12 eggs — has been laid. Geese, too, lay approximately an egg daily, making it unlikely the duck eggs will be incubated properly. Geese also are known for removing foreign objects from their nests, which also raises uncertainty. But if the eggs are viable, the ducklings will likely hatch before the goslings do. MDC’s waterfowl scientists are not sure how the mother goose might respond. If she adopts them, it could still be tough for the ducklings to thrive. She’ll likely lead the brood to grassy areas, which will be less-than-ideal for the ducklings. Unfortunately, we must rate the likelihood of the ducks’ survival as low. But a small possibility of a mixed brood does exist. It could get interesting!

Q: We found this on a tree. What is it?

This is an ootheca — the egg case of a Chinese mantis. Female mantids lay these foamy egg cases on vegetation in the fall, where they harden and remain until spring. The cases hatch in late spring after several weeks of warm weather. Each ootheca can contain hundreds of eggs and typically hatch 50 to 200 tiny mantids simultaneously.

Chinese mantids are widespread throughout much of the United States but are not originally native to North America. These insects are quite large — around 4 inches in length as adults. They eat other insects, both pest and beneficial species, as well as larger prey. It has been noted they occasionally take small frogs, lizards, and even hummingbirds.

Agent Advice

Sam Whisler, Johnson County Conservation Agent

Paddlefish season opens March 15 and runs through April 30 statewide, May 15 on the Mississippi River. Anglers must be properly licensed and know the regulations governing the waters they are visiting. Once the daily limit of two paddlefish is reached on Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake (including their tributaries) and the Osage River below U.S. Highway 54, anglers must stop for the day. Be mindful of size restrictions where you are fishing. Finally, paddlefish eggs cannot be possessed while on the water or adjacent banks or transported outside the body of the fish.

For more information, including methods, limits, permits, regulations, tips, and where to fish, visit

What is it?

What is it

Spring Beauty

Spring beauties, Missouri’s most widely distributed early spring flower, are found in abundance in open woods, fields, valleys, suburban lawns, and sometimes rocky ledges. Their five-petal white flowers bloom from February through May. Picking up on the scientific name, Claytonia virginica, they also are known as Virginia spring beauty. They are also referred to as fairy spud for the edible corms, which resemble tiny potatoes.

Spring Beauty

We are Conservation

Spotlight on people and partners

by Angie Daly Morfeld

James Karslake

Earning the Boy Scouts of America’s William T. Hornaday Award is no small feat. For Eagle Scout James Karslake, 14, the journey took him through four projects and two-and-a-half years. Karslake, a member of Boy Scout Troop 344, Ladue, worked with Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, Kirkwood, to remove invasive honeysuckle and replace it with native plants. Karslake also established bat boxes at Beaumont Scout Reservation, High Ridge, to help a large bat colony displaced by renovations at a local church. He planted willow tree stakes and native bushes along Deer Creek to prevent erosion, and planted natives and set up bee boxes in Southwest Park, Webster Groves.

Award-worthy work

The William T. Hornaday Award is bestowed on scouts for distinguished service in natural resource conservation.

In his own words

“I enjoy the outdoors and hope to do more projects in the future.”

Also in this issue

Blue Ash

The Mighty Ones II

A second celebration of Missouri’s champion trees.

boy with a fishing pole

Learning to Fish

Missouri is a great place to fish if you know where to start.

Wild Edibles

Wild Edibles

Discover nature’s bounty beyond morel mushrooms.

And More...

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This Issue's Staff:

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler