St. LOUIS, Mo.—You don’t often see a rainbow in the middle of winter . . . unless of course it’s at the end of your fishing line.
During winter months, the metro St. Louis area is a great place to fish for rainbow trout, thanks to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) winter trout program.
Winter trout season for MDC’s St. Louis Urban Fishing Program starts in November. That’s good news for trout chasers who now to need drive only minutes to pursue their passions rather than hours to a Missouri trout park.
During cold-weather months, MDC normally stocks almost 40,000 rainbow trout each year in 12 St. Louis City and County lakes, as well as in five lakes at the MDC August A. Busch Conservation Area on Route D in St. Charles.
“We stock rainbow trout in winter from November through February,” said MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Kevin Meneau. “These trout are spawned and raised in Conservation Department hatcheries.”
Meneau said that this year however, MDC needed to reduce their typical stocking numbers by 20% as extensive summer flooding at some of the cold-water hatcheries slowed down trout production.
Trout anglers will be pleased to learn though that MDC will continue to add several brood stock lunker trout—some as large as 10 lbs.—into the mix at its urban winter trout lakes, including the ones at the Busch Conservation Area. This proved especially popular with anglers during last year’s 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Urban Fishing Program, so MDC has carried over the practice into 2020.
The rainbows bound for the St. Louis area come from MDC’s Montauk Hatchery, southeast of Licking.
Area lakes stocked with winter trout include:
Between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31, some lakes are catch-and-release only, and some are catch-and-keep. After Feb. 1, trout may be harvested from all lakes. Anglers should consult the St. Louis Area Winter Trout Program brochure for details, possession limits and bait restrictions, which is available at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Zd5, or check regulations posted at the lakes. All trout anglers between age 16 and 64 must have a valid Missouri fishing permit to participate. Anglers wishing to catch and keep trout must also possess a trout permit.
MDC provides a chance for anglers to keep on top of trout stocking efforts in the St. Louis area.
“The fish stocking hotline has become very popular,” Meneau said, “and we report to it right after we finish stocking for the day. It’s toll free from anywhere in the St. Louis area. There’s a recorded message that tells when we stocked, where we stocked and what fish we stocked.”
Anglers should call the hotline at 636-300-9651 to get the latest information.
“As wonderful as fishing at one of Missouri’s four trout parks or many Ozark streams can be,” said Meneau, “these close-to-home opportunities make it easy for a quick trout fishing excursion after work, or during an activity-packed weekend. It also makes trout fishing much friendlier on the fuel budget.”
For information about fishing, go online at https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/fishing.