MDC says shake off cabin fever with winter fishing

News from the region
Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – Fishing is commonly considered a warm weather sport, a time when fish are most active and the weather often pleasant. But anglers need not be confined indoors by winter’s cold. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) stocks rainbow trout during winter in some urban lakes to give anglers a unique fishing opportunity close to home. Plus, anglers who dress warm and adjust their fishing techniques catch fish such as crappie throughout the winter months.

Rainbow trout require cold water and good dissolved oxygen levels. Those conditions exist in winter, so MDC stocks trout in selected waters. Those stockings are often in partnership with local communities that have park lakes. Six sites in the Kansas City metro area are currently stocked with trout, including two lakes and a youth-only fishing pond at MDC’s James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area in Lee’s Summit. More trout will be stocked in January and February. For the latest information on urban trout stocking and locations, call the KC metro trout hotline at 816-525-0300, press 2 at the recorded prompt. Anglers with the proper permits can catch and keep trout.

Native fish can be caught in winter, too. Some anglers at the Reed Area lakes catch crappie and largemouth bass during cold weather, said Jake Colehour, MDC district supervisor. Crappie are especially a good winter fish to pursue. Anglers at the Reed Area usually catch crappie by fishing baits vertically, with minnows or jigs under a bobber near brush piles, or with straight lines down off a dock. Lures and baits usually are presented very slowly to entice a bite.

Prolonged subfreezing weather could create opportunities for ice fishing. Western Missouri’s rapid changes in weather can make that a possibility rather than a certainty. Anglers should never venture onto unsafe or uncertain ice. If ice fishing conditions do happen, veteran anglers prefer small baits worked slowly to catch fish.

For more information about urban trout fishing in winter, including details about locations and seasons, visit To locate public fishing waters near you, visit