Like clockwork on the 1st of March each year, hundreds of anglers gather along banks overlooking streams, ready to kick off the start of Missouri’s trout season. One of the most popular destinations in Missouri, the show me state is Montauk State Park. Montauk State Park is 15 miles southwest of Salem, Missouri.
On the first day of trout season, the crowds tend to be heavy enough that anglers are standing elbow to elbow surrounded by one another in hopes of catching a trophy trout. Throughout the years, I have come to enjoy this beautiful fishery so much; it’s one of my top go-to fishing destinations. It is a great place to take one’s family and friends to bask in the great outdoors, as well as a place to enjoy trout fishing for newcomers and experienced fishers alike.
Where is Montauk State Park?
Montauk is a state park that hosts nearly 3,000 acres and located at the head of the Current River. The park is known to many locals as an exceptional river for fishing. This Missouri state park contains a fish hatchery and recognized for its rainbow and brown trout angling opportunities. The Montauk Park springs combine with tiny Pigeon Creek to supply more than 40 million gallons of water to the river daily. Within the park area, there are several picnic areas, lodging from cabins and a motel, as well as a beautiful dining lodge that serves home-cooked style breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Montauk State Park is near the town of Salem, Missouri.
To get directions specifically from your starting point, visit www.mostateparks.com.
When Can You Fish at Montauk State Park?
Trout season is from March 1st and runs through October 31st. All that is required to fish for rainbow or brown trout at Montauk are three things; a Missouri fishing license, a trout tag/stamp ($2 - $3 depending upon your age), and a daily park fishing permit ($3.50 - $7 also depending upon your age). Here’s a link to the Missouri Department of Conservation for more information. There are three different areas for trout fishing. These areas include a “catch and release only” zone. In that zone, all trout must be returned immediately after catching to the water unharmed.
Another area located inside of the park is a fly fishing only area. Here the fishing fly lures shall be constructed on a single point hook of feathers, tinsel, chenille, yarn, fur, silk, rayon, nylon thread, or floss, with or without a spinner. In the “fly fishing” area, your daily limit of trout is four fish. That same limit of four fish carries over to the other fishing locations in the park. In this location, you can use fishing lures, natural bait as well as the using flies. Each day, the park will announce the beginning of legal fishing hours with the sound of a horn.
Fishing for Trout at Montauk State Park
Whether one prefers fly fishing or fishing with artificial bait, there is a designated area that is suitable for one’s favorite style of fishing. On a recent trip to Montauk, my wife and I enjoyed the use of a spinning reel and rod while using artificial bait to catch rainbow trout. My personal choice was a Lew’s American Hero Spinning Rod and Reel fishing combo, with Berkley Trilene 4lb fishing line in a low-vis green color, with multiple types of dough style baits such as Berkley Trout Power Bait Glitter Chroma Glow Dough.
The spinning reel is excellent for making a shorter cast and has plenty of strength to reel the trout in quickly once hooked. I prefer using 4lb, low-vis green Berkley fishing line because it is invisible in the water. I have used heavier line and have scene trout swimming close to my bait, only to swim away because they could see the line in the clear spring water. As for bait, I prefer using colors such as orange, green, and rainbow in the Berkley Trout Power Bait.
I use these types of baits on a size 18 treble fish hook like the Eagle Claw 374T Bronze 2X Treble hook with a small sinker approximately 6 to 8
inches up from the hook. This type of hook is small enough for a trout to bite even though they have smaller mouths. The treble style hook can hold a pea-size amount of bait long enough for the trout to smell, see and bite. Once the bait is in place, make a simple 10 to 15-foot cast, after the cast, let the bait sit in place until the trout find it. If you don’t get a bite in 2-3 minutes, reel in and cast again.
Preparing Trout to Eat
When you catch the daily limit of trout, the trout can either be taken home with the angler or taken to a designated fish cleaning station in the Montauk State Park. My favorite method of preparing trout includes that of peeling the outer skin off the fish. Followed by fileting each side, which removes the meat from any small bones. Next, I cut the fish into long narrow pieces, and score the filet every ¼ inch.
The scoring makes crispier fish and will cook up any tiny bones that are hard to see. After rinsing with water, I put the trout into my Bass Pro Shops Uncle Buck's Batter Box, that is ½ full of cornmeal and is mixed with salt and pepper or with a pre-mixed fish batter, such as Uncle Bucks light and crispy fish batter mix. I deep fry the battered fish in vegetable oil until the mixture is golden brown. My favorite way to serve trout is alongside sliced potatoes that have been cooked in the same oil and with a serving of fresh homemade slaw.
For more information about trout fishing at Missouri’s Montauk State Park, visit www.mostateparks.com.