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Trout Fishing in Missouri: Where and When to Take Advantage of This State's Great Fisheries

Trout Fishing In Missouri

When you're ready to go trout fishing in Missouri, this will give you an edge.

As the 24th state in the union, the Show Me State was a part of the original Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Even though the famed Table Rock Lake resides within its boundaries and the channel catfish is the state fish, it's trout fishing in Missouri that reigns supreme.

The thing is, there are so many great outdoor activities available in Missouri that it is hard to choose where to begin. If you investigate trout fishing closely, you'll see there's a lot to love. So much so, that trout stocking and fishery improvements have been a priority for generations.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, "Missouri's trout program began in 1878 when the first salmonids were released. A variety of species were stocked in many different waters until 1937 when the Missouri Department of Conservation was established."

While trout are not native to Missouri, it is a shining example of what stocking and conservation efforts can do for a fishery. Let's look at some of the best areas to try fishing for trout in the state.

Missouri Trout Fishing

Brown Trout

BROWN TROUT - These fish are fun to catch and can grow to more than 20 pounds. They're not originally from Missouri, but they've found a home here thanks to some helping hands.

Posted by Missouri Dept. of Conservation on Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Meramec River

Just above Maramec Spring Park, the Maramec River appears out of the Maramec Spring, one of the many spring-fed waters that grace this beautiful state. While it starts off with a slower, smaller current, the Maramec quickens over the first seven or eight miles making it a prime water for trout to not only survive, but thrive.

Many anglers will tell you of the great smallmouth bass fishing that happens until you reach the spring-fed area and the water temperature drops. Of course, that's a telling sign that you are in the trout zone.

Crane Creek

This esteemed waterway is where trout stocking likely began, and since the late 1800s they have lived so well that this fishery is now a catch and release only area, largely thanks to the wild rainbow trout that now live and roam in the area.

This wild waterway is defined by its crystal clear visibility and the wariest of trout. You'll need to consider the lightest lines on ultralight gear, but it still won't be easy since these waters are guarded by a lot of trees and bushy vegetation.

Here's where you will learn how good your stealthy trout stalking skills are.

Lake Taneycomo

Many veteran anglers still consider this impoundment Missouri's best for big browns and rainbows. As good as it is, it is quite close to the famed town of Branson and the esteemed Table Rock Lake, so it's fair to say there is little in the way of wilderness here.

This impoundment of the White River is still technically a large stream that runs just below the Table Rock Dam where it is said that the greatest concentrations of fish (and anglers) are. This is one of those venerable locations where, if you can find a way to elbow in, you can have terrific success doing so in a great public fishing area.

In fact, Taneycamo is where the 40-pound, 6-ounce Missouri record brown trout was caught in 2019.

Eleven Point River

The Eleven Point National Scenic River is a very popular recreation area in the Mark Twain National Forest. It offers a variety of both warm and cold water species to target. According to the USDA, "Five and one-half (5-1/2) miles of river between the Greer Spring Branch and Turner Mill South Access is a Blue Ribbon Trout Area." This means only flies and artificial lures may be used, but that's a good sign: regulations like those mean it's a prime fishing spot.

You'll have to do some homework as the Eleven Point River is a federally-protected Wild and Scenic River administered by the US Forest Service, and in some areas fishing is not allowed.

Bennett Spring State Park

March 1 marked the opening day of Missouri Catch-and-Keep Trout Season. We couldn't have asked for better weather or a...

Posted by Missouri State Parks on Friday, March 20, 2020

Bennett Spring State Park is a public recreation area located in Bennett Springs, Missouri and is centered on another of the wild springs that flows into the Niangua River. The waters within the park are stocked with brown and rainbow trout, as are the waters below the park, and many line-stretching fish are caught here.

Roaring River State Park

According to Missouri State Parks, "Roaring River is known for its premier trout fishing. The river is stocked regularly by the park's hatchery, which is managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Fishing licenses and tags are available in the park store." (many areas require trout fishermen to purchase a daily tag)

The park offers a cleaning station for anglers who want to try a delicious meal of fresh fish, and even provides information on season dates, regulations, and an updated fishing report service.

Montauk State Park

According to the MDC, "Anglers should experience good trout fishing at Montauk State Park during the 2021 March 1st through October 31st season due to the daily stocking of rainbow trout."

The park is divided into three different zones: The catch-and-release area of Montauk Lake, the flies-only area at the stream from Montauk Springs, and the natural and artificial bait area which includes all the spring branch below the CCC Spillway.

Missouri Trout Season

The dates of trout season is typically repeated year after year in Missouri, but always check with the MDC to inform yourself on the latest.

WINTER TROUT FISHING: Father and son Chris and Colton Jordan of Marble Hill had some luck on opening day of...

Posted by Missouri Dept. of Conservation on Monday, February 1, 2021

As these trout parks go in Missouri, the seasons for Maramec Spring Park, Bennett Spring State Park, Montauk State Park and Roaring River State Park run from March 1, 2021 to October 31, 2021 with a daily limit of four fish (10 in possession) and a 15-inch minimum for brown trout. There is no limit for rainbows.

The catch and release season for trout typically runs from November to February in the four parks listed (check regulations for specifics). During this time no trout may be harvested and caught fish must be immediately released back into the water.

Missouri residents may obtain the state's fishing license for $12, or a combined small game hunting and fishing permit for a cost of $19. To go after trout, anglers must also have a $10 trout permit. Non-resident anglers will pay $49 for the fishing permit and the same $10 for a trout permit.

The Beauty of Missouri Trout Fishing

Whether you are fly fishing or using traditional fishing methods, Missouri holds some great trout fishing for you and under one of the prettiest backdrops that you can imagine. Even though the Ozarks aren't the natural home to trout, rainbows and brown trout have long since found a home here as anglers from across the nation have found out.

In fact, most trout streams in the region hold at least a decent population of rainbows, and when it comes to trout populations, they're the predominant species in most Ozark streams. Angling for trout comes in the form of red ribbon, white ribbon, and blue ribbon trout fishing and are listed as such on the MDC website to make your fishing destination decision an easy one.

There are great areas for veteran fly fishermen to try their luck with dry flies and nymphs or where traditional fishing enthusiasts can cast stickbaits or live bait into some of the best trout waters in the United States.

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Trout Fishing in Missouri: Where and When to Take Advantage of This State's Great Fisheries