Trout Opener

spectr17

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Trout parks preparing for spring opener
Crowds are expected to be moderate, since opening day falls on Thursday.

JEFFERSON CITY -- There will be plenty of fish and a good amount of elbow room for casting on the opening day of catch-and-keep season at Missouri's four trout parks.

The season begins March 1. Because the opener will occur on a Thursday, park officials say they expect less-than-record crowds for the event. Fishing opportunities will be excellent, however.

The Conservation Department expects 2,200 to 2,500 anglers to gather at Bennett Spring State Park west of Lebanon. Hatchery managers at Montauk State Park southeast of Licking and Roaring River State Park near Cassville expect opening day attendance of 2,100 to 2,300 anglers respectively. The anticipated attendance for Maramec Spring Park, southeast of St. James, is 1,600 to 1,700.

That puts total anticipated attendance at the four parks at about 8,600. The opening day attendance record at trout parks was set in 1992, when March 1 fell on a Sunday and 14,947 anglers bought tags.

Altogether, the Conservation Department will stock more than 20,000 fish for opening day at the trout parks this year. The stocking rate is about three fish for every anticipated angler. About 300 of the trout stocked for opening day will be "lunkers," fish weighing three to five pounds.

All anglers must buy daily trout tags to fish in the parks. The tags, sold only in the parks, cost $3 for adults and $2 for children under age 16. Missouri anglers aged 16 to 65 and nonresidents also need valid fishing permits to cast lines in the trout parks. Since current fishing permits expire Feb. 28, anglers are advised to purchase permits early to avoid waiting in long lines for new permits at the trout parks on March 1.

Fishing permits are available at Conservation Department service centers and nature centers and from private vendors throughout the state. Anglers may pursue trout with a Daily Fishing Permit ($5), a Resident Fishing Permit ($11) or a $19 Resident Hunting and Fishing permit. Annual Nonresident Fishing Permits cost $35. Trout anglers fishing outside the four trout parks also need a $7 Trout Permit if they plan to keep any trout.

The daily limit at the trout parks is five trout. Anglers should be familiar with regulations before heading to the parks. Statewide regulation information is included in the "Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations," which is available free of charge at permit vending locations.

Anglers who plan to visit Bennett Spring State Park are reminded of the 18-inch minimum length limit on brown trout caught in the park or in the Niangua River. Only one brown trout may be kept daily, and it must be included in the five-fish daily limit.

Each trout park has unique regulations regarding lure restrictions and zones that are not included in the regulation summary. Details of these regulations are provided in leaflets at each park. Anglers should pick up one of these leaflets and familiarize themselves with fishing zones and bait restrictions before fishing.

- Arleasha Mays -
 
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