Up to 8,000 anglers expected at MO trout park opener

Missouri’s trout parks will be well-stocked on opening

You can’t see it now, but a trout-fishing tide is rising.
Missourians are rummaging around in basements and garages, patching
waders, tying flies and checking fishing reels and lines. The wave
will continue to swell throughout the remainder of February. When
it breaks on March 1, Missouri’s four trout parks will be awash in
anglers, and the anglers will be up to their bellybuttons in
rainbow trout.

For more than 70 years, Missourians have made the late-winter
pilgrimage to trout parks, where the Missouri Department of
Conservation (MDC) stocks rainbow trout. Today, MDC stocks spring
branches at Bennett Spring State Park (SP) near Lebanon, Montauk SP
near Licking, Roaring River SP near Cassville and Maramec Spring
Park near St. James.

The number of anglers present on opening day depends partly on
weather, but it takes a major winter storm to make much of a dent
in the throng at any of these destinations. The most important
factor is what day of the week March 1 falls on in a particular
year. Total attendance at all four parks has topped 14,000 in years
past when the weather was good and the season opener fell on
Saturday or Sunday.

MDC hatchery managers have 50 years of data on which to base
predictions of angler turnout on any day throughout the
catch-and-keep season March 1 through Oct. 31. This year, with a
Tuesday opener, hatchery managers expect throngs of approximately
2,200 anglers at Bennett Spring, 2,000 at Montauk, 1,800 at Roaring
River and 1,600 at Maramec Spring. If the March 1 weather forecast
is unusually good, total attendance could top 8,400.

Hatchery managers use these estimates to determine how many trout
to stock each day. Throughout most of the season, they stock 2.25
fish per expected angler. On opening day, however, they put three
fish in the water for every angler they expect to attend. These
fish average around 12 inches long. However, MDC also stocks dozens
of “lunkers,” hatchery brood fish weighing upwards of 3 pounds. A
few tip the scales at more than 10 pounds.

Three of Missouri’s trout parks-Bennett Spring, Montauk, and
Roaring River-are owned by the Missouri Department of Natural
Resources. Maramec Spring Park is owned by the James Foundation.
The Conservation Department operates trout hatcheries at all four.
For more information about trout-park fishing, call:

· Bennett Spring – 417-532-4418.

· Maramec – 573-265-7801.

· Montauk – 573-548-2585.

· Roaring River – 417-847-2430.

Anglers need a daily trout tag to fish in Missouri’s trout parks.
Missouri residents 16 through 64 need a fishing permit in addition
to the daily tag. Nonresidents 16 and older also need a fishing

One new feature at all four parks this year is the availability of
wader-wash stations. These are baths with a 5-percent salt solution
for boots and fishing gear. They are designed to kill the aquatic
invasive species, Didymosphenia geminata. commonly known as Didymo.
It’s less appetizing nickname, “rock snot,” captures its slimy
experience and general undesirability.

Didymo is an invasive alga that forms dense mats on stream bottoms.
It can become so thick that it disrupts natural food chains, making
fishing impossible. Its arrival in trout streams around the globe
probably is the result of its ability to cling to the porous
surface of felt-soled fishing waders. Didymo is known to infest
streams in 19 states. The infested stream nearest to Missouri is in
northern Arkansas.

“We strongly encourage anglers to make use of the wader-wash
stations to clean not only waders, but any fishing equipment that
has been used in other states,” said MDC Hatchery Systems Manager
James Civiello. “Anglers can unknowingly spread the microscopic
alga on fishing gear, waders, and especially in any porous
materials on wader soles.”

Civiello said anglers can help prevent the spread of rock snot by
cleaning fishing gear and waders and drying them in the sun for 48
hours when moving between waters. They also can help by replacing
felt-soled waders with rubber-soled ones.

Trout parks are only one option for Show-Me State anglers. For more
about the state’s extensive system of trout streams and winter
trout fishing, visit www.mdc.mo.gov/7248.

MDC also maintains rainbow and brown trout populations in 120 miles
of 17 streams designated as blue-, red- or white-ribbon trout
waters. Lake Taneycomo has world-class trophy trout fishing, and
MDC stocks trout in selected lakes and ponds in several communities
around the state during the winter months. You can find details
about all these trout-fishing opportunities in the Summary of
Missouri Fishing Regulations, which is available wherever fishing
permits are sold or at http://bit.ly/g8carJ. Information about
winter trout fishing in urban areas is available at

A Trout Permit ($7 for adults, $3.50 for anglers under age 16) is
required to possess trout on waters outside trout parks. A fishing
permit also is required, unless the angler is exempt.

A survey conducted in 2001 showed that trout anglers spent more per
day on their sport than anglers pursuing any other species. Trout
anglers’ expenditures that year totaled $115,561,474.

These expenditures generated more than $240 million of business
activity, supporting 2,078 jobs and creating nearly $52 million
dollars in wages. This produced more than $5.5 million in state
sales taxes, $2 million in state income taxes and more than $8
million in federal income taxes.

Thirty percent of Missouri’s trout anglers come from other states,
so a substantial portion of trout fishing expenditures is “new
money” for the state’s economy.

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