Trout: Fishing Tips


Want to catch more Missouri trout? Change your methods as the seasons and local conditions change.

The Basics
  • A hand net to land a trout (which easily break the line when pulled out of the water)
  • A stringer labeled with your name and address
  • Hemostats to remove swallowed hooks
  • Waders or waterproof boots (Remember that some parks allow wading while others do not. Make sure you know the regulation for your park. Also, felt or porous soled waders are prohibited in Missouri trout streams.)
  • A fishing vest to carry the essentials
  • Polarized sunglasses to reduce glare and enable you to spot trout beneath the water’s surface
  • Rod and reel

A basic spin-cast rod and reel will work fine, but other combinations can be more effective. Ultra-light rods and spinning reels are more flexible and easier to feel a strike. Rods 6 to 6½ feet long prove to be better for casting and make it easier to use a float. An ultra-light spinning reel is especially made for light line such as 4 pound test.


Use a light leader, which makes the terminal end of your line less visible to fish while allowing you to use heavier line on the reel. A leader is a 2-foot section of 2-pound test (or lighter) line. Attach a snap swivel to the original line on your reel. The leader will tie to the snap swivel.

If using a hook, attach a split-shot about the size of a BB above the snap swivel on the reel’s main line. Several different styles of hooks can be used depending on the type of bait chosen. A treble hook (size 16-18) works well with most cheese and dough baits. A single hook sizes- 10-16 is the choice for salmon eggs. If using a lure or selected artificial, simply tie the lure to the leader. Do not use a split shot unless the water is high.

  1. Run the line through eye of the hook, lure or swivel at least six inches and fold to make two parallel lines. Bring the end of the line back in a circle toward hook or lure.
  2. Make six turns with tag end around the double line and through the circle. Hold double line at point where it passes through eye and pull tag end to snug up turns.
  3. Now pull standing line to slide knot up against eye.
  4. Continue pulling until knot is tight. Trim tag end flush with closest coil of knot. This is known as a Uni-knot and will not slip.



The following classes of lures are authorized for use, except where restricted. Montauk, Roaring River and Bennett Spring have divisions in their spring branch called “zones.” Zones have specific restrictions on flies, lures and baits. Each trout park will have a regulation pamphlet. Rules and zones vary between parks. Refer to the pamphlet for zones, maps and specific rules. Maramec Spring has no zone restrictions on flies, lures and baits as defined in A, B, C, and D.

Trout rely mainly on their sense of smell as well as sight to detect food sources. For this reason, there is a variety of colored scented baits available to catch trout. Common commercial brand brands include Berkeley’s Power Bait and Zeke's. They both come in an assortment of colors and utilize scent attractants. Velveeta cheese and bread are also excellent choices. Hatchery-raised trout have fed on small brown pellets for most of their lives. For this reason, locally made dough-baits can prove exceptional for catching trout. This type of bait is usually found in the park store.

Allowed baits and lures vary by fishing area and season

(A) Natural and scented baits—A natural fish food such as bait fish, crayfish, frogs permitted as bait, grubs, insects, larvae, worms, salmon eggs, cheese, corn and other food substances not containing any ingredient to stupefy, injure or kill fish. Does not include flies or artificial lures. Includes dough bait, putty or paste-type bait, any substance designed to attract fish by taste or smell and any fly, lure or bait containing or used with such substances.

(B) Soft plastic bait (unscented)—Synthetic eggs, synthetic worms, synthetic grubs and soft plastic lures.

(C) Artificial Lure—A lure constructed of any material excluding soft plastic bait and natural and scented bait defined in (A) or (B) above.

(D) Fly—An artificial lure constructed on a single-point hook, using any material except soft plastic bait and natural and scented bait as defined in (A) or (B) above, that is tied, glued or otherwise permanently attached.


This method can prove to be very effective in any condition. You can cover a large area and present your bait to a number of trout.

Start by using a split shot approximately 12 to 24 inches from your hook. Use a leader if fishing is slow.

Adjust to water conditions accordingly (larger split shot and longer leader for deeper fast moving water). Use a small treble or salmon hook.

If you use a treble hook, mold your bait (Berkley’s Power Bait, Velveeta cheese, Zeke’s cheese, bread or locally made dough bait) on the hook so that it is covered entirely. Use just enough bait to conceal hook and no more.

If you use a salmon hook simply hook the salmon egg through the middle.

Cast upstream from the fish (if visible) and keep pace with your bait by slowly reeling in the slack line as the current pushes it downstream.

Trout may bite lightly so be ready. Setting the hook requires a medium pull back on the rod. A hard hook set on trout will cause you to catch less fish.

Trout can be choosy and may like one color on a given day but not the next. Try different colors if one is not working for you.

Ask what other fisherman are using and this may save you some time. Flies and lures may also be used for this method.


This method is similar to drift fishing with the exception of using a floater (bobber). A small slender floater is recommended. Adjust your floater accordingly with the depth of the trout. Set the hook when the floater makes a sudden movement.


There are several different artificial lures out there; however, marabou jigs have proven themselves year after year.

They come in a variety of sizes (1/16-ounce to 1/256th of an ounce) and colors. Effective colors are yellow, olive, white, black, brown or a combination of colors. You can drift fish your marabou with or without a float. No split shot is required unless it can improve your presentation in swift/deep water or when using light jigs.

Heavier jigs may require trimming the tail to about half or more. Experiment with different techniques such as a slow vibration (“jigging”) retrieve.

Set the hook immediately when you feel a strike. Avoid setting the hook on sight alone and rely more on feel.

Like with bait, experiment with different colors.


Bottom fishing may be the easiest method, yet it can be very effective. Use your polarized glasses to spot trout in slow moving water and prepare for a relatively carefree fishing experience.

Rigging consists of using the desired hook with bait and crimping the appropriate split shot 12 to 24 inches above the hook. Cast your line upstream from the fish and let the bait settle to the bottom. Reel up your slack line and sit back and relax while you wait for a strike.

Watch your pole closely for the slightest movement because trout may bite lightly. After a few minutes reel your line in and check your bait. Freshly bait your hook and cast in a different spot.

Avoid using this method in high water.

Tips For Success

You can use heavier line and a heavier split shot during murky water conditions. The murky water will help conceal heavier line. A heavier split shot or lure is often required because the water level will tend to be higher and swifter when murky.


Use clear nylon sewing machine thread or two pound test line for leader line on a clear sunny day. Trout will often see larger line and shy away under clear water conditions. Use your polarized glasses to locate fish. Trout generally tend to school up in deep holes when the spring level is low. For more detailed information about your fishing trip such as stream conditions, directions, or any question, please contact the hatchery office located in each park.