OUTDOORS with Bill Wehrle: Trout season opens Monday

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Bill Wehrle column

By BILL WEHRLE , C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Despite some really crummy winter weather, the month of February has gone by pretty quickly and already it’s time to think about fishing and hopefully nicer weather.

Missouri’s annual trout park season opens this coming Monday, March 1, at the four trout parks and will be open to catch and keep fishing through Oct. 31.

The Missouri Department of Conservation operates trout hatcheries and provides excellent trout fishing at four south Missouri locations – Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Licking, Roaring River State Park near Cassville, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James. Rainbow trout are stocked daily at these locations during the March 1-Oct. 31 season.

Trout anglers will need a Missouri fishing permit and a daily trout tag, available at the park. The cost of a daily trout tag at three of the four trout parks is $4 for adults and $3 for anglers age 15 and younger. The MDC is continuing a pilot program at the fourth park – Maramec Spring, where the cost of a daily trout tag is $5 for adults and $3 for age 15 and younger anglers.

The daily limit at Maramec Spring has been raised to five trout; at the other three it remains at four.  

The MDC reminds anglers and others visiting the trout parks to abide by all posted signs regarding wearing face masks and social distancing.

Roaring River, which recently underwent extensive hatchery renovations, has changed some fishing zones, so anglers should check at the park for this new information.

Missouri also offers excellent trout fishing throughout south Missouri on rivers and streams that are cold enough for trout to live and reproduce. Many of these streams have special regulations, so be sure to check these before fishing there.

The conservation department also stresses the requirement for trout anglers to help prevent the spread of invasive algae called didymo or “rock snot” by not wearing shoes, boots or waders with porous soles of felt, matted or woven fibrous material. This footwear is prohibited at all trout parks, trout streams, Lake Taneycomo, and buffer areas.

With trout season open, it surely can’t be all that long until even north Missouri waters warm and wake up sleeping fish. Then spring can’t be all that far away and we can start thinking about morels, turkeys, and all the other good things that come with it.

MDC offices at Chillicothe and St. Joseph were temporarily closed for a while, due to COVID-19, but they department determined it was safe to reopen them on Feb. 16, so they’re now open for business.

COVID-19 precautions and protocols still must be observed, including the wearing of face masks and physical distancing. You can also contact these offices by telephone, St. Joseph at 816-271-3100, and Chillicothe at 660-646-6122.

You only have through tomorrow (Feb. 28) to apply online for a MDC spring managed turkey hunt. Details and application procedures are on its website at mdc.mo.gov/springturkeyhunts.

Drawing results will be posted starting March 15. Due to COVID restrictions, the agency has suspended hunter education requirements for youngsters applying for spring managed turkey hunts, but these youth will have to hunt in the presence of a hunter certified in hunter education.

(Bill Wehrle’s outdoors sports column appears in the Constitution-Tribune each Saturday.)