Deer season is over is here in Missouri. Waterfowl hunting continues, as does small game hunting. However, if you still have a fishing itch, break out your gear. Missouri offers some spectacular winter time trout fishing.
|During catch-and-release season, never remove a trout form the water unless absolutely necessary.|
Trout fishing addicts abound in Missouri, but their ranks have thinned noticeably by fall. The crowds of March 1, the official trout park opener, have vanished. Plans for hunting trips and fall excursions take the forefront, but some fishing aficionados squeeze a couple more tips into the family agenda. Fishing is a known means of relieving stress from work, everyday life, computers and other electronics. Too, it is a means of passing on the family outdoor traditions.
"Fall is a great time to trout fish the rivers," said Mike Jones, of Hufstedtlers's Canoe Rental on the Eleven Point River. "The air is cool, the bugs are gone, and so are the summer time floaters. You can often float and fish the Eleven Point in fall and winter without seeing another person."
The same scenario is essentially available in Missouri's four trout parks. The regular trout fishing season ends October 31. The streams are stocked daily from March 1 through the end of October. In October alone there are approximately 30,000 fish stocked at Bennett Spring and Montauk, and 10,000 are released at Maramec Spring. When the season ends lots of trout are still in the streams.
The good news for trout fishermen is that after the trout parks close the regular season on October 31, all four areas re-open for the winter catch-and-release season, which runs from November 8 through February 10.
The three state parks (Bennett Spring, Roaring River and Montauk) are open for fishing on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Maramec Spring Park, near St. James, is open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
During the winter season at the trout parks, you do not need to buy a daily trout tag. You will need a trout permit and if you are 16 though 64, a Missouri fishing permit.
Fishing at the trout parks during the winter catch-and-release season is limited to flies only. They are limited to a single hook and constructed of any material (except soft plastic, natural or scented bait) that is tied, glued or otherwise permanently attached. Flies may be fished with or without a spinner.
All trout must be released immediately, unharmed. Practicing proper release methods are paramount for the survival of these fish. Never remove a trout form the water unless absolutely necessary. If necessary, wet you hand before grasping the fish. Do not squeeze the fish. Never touch a trout's eyes or gills. Use pliers or forceps to back a hook out and if the fish is hooked in the throat or gullet, simply clip the line.
Missouri's four trout parks are a treasure and a visit to one of these areas in the winter is a memorable experience, especially if there is snow. Additionally, bug hatches often take place even on a cold, winter day. That is something to behold!
Other trout fishing opportunities exist in Missouri during the winter. For more information check www.missouriconservation.org.