No bait restrictions. Daily limit is 4 trout with a 15 inch length restriction on brown trout.
This is an old-school panorama pic, before digital cameras did it for you!
The Niangua River is another one of our fine Ozarks floating rivers that doubles as a fine trout stream. The trout management area starts at the river's confluence with Bennett Spring and progresses all the way down to the Prosperine Access, but the trout fishing regulations apply throughout the entire river, including all of it's tributaries.
There are a few access points via dirt roads here and there, and you can find some decent fishing spots by exploring in this fashion. Bennett Spring Access just downstream from the park offers some fine riffles -- long and wide enough for several fishermen to fish together without bothering each other. The picture below is the view from the canoe launch to give you an idea of just how much quality water there is here. There is no notable structure to speak of, but that's no big deal. These riffles are usually packed with fish, so on every cast you can be sure that a fish has had the opportunity to look at your bait. Fly fishermen are generally successful casting little nymphs, scuds, sowbugs, san juan worms, and glo-bugs in this area, while bait fishermen do just as well drifting dough bait, little worms and salmon eggs. Lure fishing here is difficult due to the current. However, downstream from these riffles, where the river becomes too deep to wade, lure fishermen typically begin having good luck.
As you float downstream (or attempt to navigate the dirt roads in search of bank access), you'll find some nice riffles here and there that are generally productive. However, much of this river is more than a wading fisherman can handle. In the deeper sections, you'll find the fish attracted to the occasional boulders, rock overhangs, downed trees, and bluff channels, but otherwise they can be quite spread out. This type of fishing is generally more suited to the spin fisherman casting mini-crankbaits, marabou jigs and rooster tails. Soft plastics are also permitted and can be quite productive.
Few trout fishermen come to the area specifically to fish this river. They are here for their periodic Bennett Spring State Park weekend and, when Bennett gets too crowded or the fishing slows, some return to the cabin to rest, some go to the park restaurant for a bite, and a few head downstream to try their luck. So, if you're in the area and looking for some solitude and some fine trout fishing between March 1 and October 31 (Trout Park season), hit the river in the morning when Bennett patrons tend to crowd the banks of the spring branch. Mondays through Thursdays you'll often be alone all day, regardless of the time of year.
Finding your way here is pretty easy. Lebanon is right on I-44 between Rolla and Springfield. Bennett Spring State Park is north on Highway 64. If you drive past the park, the Highway 64 bridge will cross the Niangua just past the park's Western entrance. There is plenty of lodging and camping available.