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From Missouri Conservationist: Feb 2008

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Does the Conservation Department specifically manage any conservation areas to promote rabbit hunting? If so, where?

A: Rabbit management is an important component of quail and grassland bird management on many conservation areas. Tree removal and replacement with grass, wildflowers, brush piles and shrubs is designed to improve habitat for rabbits, quail, shrubland songbirds and prairie chickens. Most conservation areas with a good mix of open areas and forest cover with brushy fields provide excellent rabbit habitat, though rabbit numbers might vary depending on the hunting pressure and habitat conditions.

Be aware that special species-specific regulations might be in place on public land. Two areas, James A. Reed and August A. Busch, have a shortened rabbit hunting season because of the number of managed deer hunts on the areas that overlap the first two months of the statewide rabbit season.

Regional Department offices are a good source of information for hunters interested in specific species information (visit  MissouriConservation.org/16686). Also, if you have access to the Internet, you can use the Atlas link on the Department home page (MissouriConservation.org) to find wildlife information, identify the best conservation areas for your chosen activity, print area maps, and locate facilities and special features. This is a great resource not only for hunters, but for all outdoor enthusiasts. Anglers, birdwatchers, hikers and others will find pertinent information on this site.

Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov.

Time Capsule

February 1968

The Nature of a Trout Stream was written by David W. Bridges about the factors that determine suitability of a stream for trout habitat. Missouri has many streams, but only a few have all the requirements to support enough trout for good fishing. One important requirement for trout is temperature range. The best temperature for adult trout is below 70 degrees, and for eggs around 50 degrees. Other important requirements are oxygen and food. Trout require more oxygen then most of Missouri’s fishes and they seek out well-oxygenated areas of streams such as riffles. Riffles agitate the water, enriching oxygen content, and they provide good habitat for oxygen-producing algae. Conveniently, they also provide habitat for the insect larva and minnows on which trout prefer to feed.

—Contributed by the Circulation staff

Behind the Code

Trout park opener dates back more than 80 years.
by Tom Cwynar

Trout fishing in Missouri is open year-round in streams, but Missouri’s trout parks are open for harvesting trout only from March 1 through October 31. Opening day at the trout parks dates back to 1926, when trout anglers began this tradition at Bennett Spring State Park.

Records are incomplete, but the season dates likely were set that first year and have remain unchanged. March 1 coincides generally with the first hints of spring and the peak of fishing zeal. The season ends about the time when hunting coats start to replace fishing vests.

Opening day at the trout parks has become an annual pilgrimage for many Missouri families. Chris Vitello, fisheries field operations chief for the Conservation Department, said he started fishing opening days at Meramec Spring Trout Park in 1959, the year after the tradition started there. Both Montauk and Roaring River state parks held their first opening days in 1938.

Anglers can now fish the four trout parks almost year-round. A catch-and-release fly fishing season runs from the second Friday in November through the second Monday in February. At the three state trout parks, anglers can fish from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Mondays. Maramec Spring Park is open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

At all four trout parks, however, the best day of the year is always March 1, when as many as 10,000 anglers may linger streamside as they wait for a siren to sound the beginning of fishing—and of spring.

This Issue's Staff

Editor in Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Arleasha Mays
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Ruby
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler