MDC will raise trout permits and tags starting in 2020, start pilot

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will raise the prices of its annual trout permits and daily trout tags starting in 2020. According to MDC, the price increases are needed to better cover its costs of running hatcheries and providing more than 1.7 million trout each year for public fishing. The prices have not been raised since 1999.

Starting in 2020, the cost of an annual trout permit will go from $7 to $10 for anglers 16 years of age and older and from $3.50 to $5 for anglers ages 15 and younger.

Also starting in 2020, 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 -- will go from $3 to $4 for adults and from $2 to $3 for those 15 years of age and younger.

Starting in 2020, MDC will begin a pilot program at Maramec Spring Park where the daily limit will be raised from four to five trout and the cost of a daily trout tag for adults will go from $3 to $5 and from $2 to $3 for anglers 15 years of age and younger. MDC has received public comments requesting the daily-limit return to five trout. Prior to 2004, the daily limit at the four parks was five fish measuring an average of about 10.5 inches. Today, the limit is four fish averaging about 12.5 inches. As a part of the Maramec Spring Pilot, the Department will maintain the current stocking size and daily stocking allotment. The daily limit will be five fish and the possession limit will be increased to 10.

“The five fish for $5 pilot at Maramec Spring will allow us to survey anglers to determine their level of satisfaction,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “Gathering input from our anglers and area users is critical as we look at ways to recruit new anglers.”

The price increases were given initial approval by the Missouri Conservation Commission at its May 23 meeting. As part of the rulemaking process, MDC asked for public comments on the changes during July. The Commission considered input received and approved the price increases and instructed MDC to initiate the pilot “five fish for $5” at Maramec Spring Park during its Aug. 23 meeting. The effective date for all trout changes will be Feb. 29, 2020.

A trout permit is required to possess trout, except in trout parks where a daily trout fishing tag is required during the catch-and-keep season. In addition, a trout permit is required for winter fishing in trout parks during the catch-and-release season and for fishing year-round in Lake Taneycomo upstream from the U.S. Highway 65 bridge. To fish for trout, anglers must also have a fishing permit or qualify for an exemption.

MDC raises trout at five fish hatcheries and releases about 1.7 million trout around the state for public fishing each year. According to MDC, the annual cost of fish food and staff labor to raise a trout in 2003 was about $1 per fish. The annual cost in 2017 had jumped to nearly twice that amount.

Those five fish hatcheries -- Bennett Spring, Montauk, Shepherd of the Hills, Roaring River, and Maramec Spring Park – also require regular maintenance, and several have been damaged numerous times in recent years by spring flooding. MDC has spent more than $11 million over the past decade on repairs and improvements to the hatcheries. MDC also reports that utility costs for the five hatcheries have increased by more than 25% since 2008.