The four Missouri Trout Parks see more fishermen by far than all the other trout waters combined, so,
obviously, there must something good going on. Like most types of trout waters, the trout parks
have their pro's and con's.
At the trout parks, you'll find amenities that will please the whole family. These include manicured
lawns, plenty of lodging and/or improved camping sites, retail stores, restaurants, playgrounds,
museums, swimming pools, etc. Three of the four parks also provide great floating rivers just
downstream with numerous outfitters ready to rent you a canoe. And, of course, there are tons of
fish with easy bank access, even to those fishermen with physical challenges. The Missouri Department
of Conservation stocks the parks every night between March 1 and October 31, stocking roughly two
fish for every fisherman they expect to show up the next day.
Of course, there is a downside. You're typically fishing in crowded conditions. You must purchase a
daily fishing tag and actually attach it to your person so conservation agents can verify you've paid
without having to survey the fishermen one by one. You must follow strict regulations regarding what
type of bait may be used in which area. A siren sounds to alert you to when you may begin fishing and
when you must stop. Overall, the fact that they have you jump through so many hoops is actually kind
of comical. And, with so many other trout fishing opportunities available, there are many fishermen
who avoid the trout parks like the plague. In fact, a primary reason that trout parks seems to rub some
trout fisherman the wrong way is that the rivers are of such high quality, a true naturally reproducing
trout fishery could be developed on any of those sites. To those fishermen, a commercial trout park
of this nature seems like a waste of natural resources. Supporters, however, feel that the trout parks
do a wonderful job at making natural resources accessible to those who would otherwise be left out, and
this is a great point. The trout parks serve another of the MDC's primary purposes, as well. They are
the best recruiters of new trout fishermen in this state.
During the winter, you'll find more solitude and peace, if you can handle colder temperatures. The
normal trout park fishing season runs from March 1 through October 31 every year. However, starting
on the second Friday in November and stretching through the second Friday in February, the 3 state parks
are open to catch-and-release fly fishing Friday through Monday, while Maramec Spring Park offers the
same opportunity 7 days per week. Trout fishermen that wouldn't be caught dead in the
parks during the main season often fish the parks, and nowhere else, during the winter. By the time the
winter season starts, the fish have become unaccustomed to humans and are already feeding naturally on
insects, scud and small fish. And with a beautiful river set in an immaculate setting still stocked to
overflowing with fish who are now acting wild, what's not to love?
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