Four of a Kind

People who like to catch trout can find plenty of places to go in Missouri. Thanks to cool-water springs, about 350 miles of Missouri streams can support trout. The Conservation Department manages about 150 miles of these streams for public trout fishing.

The most popular trout waters in Missouri are the state's four trout parks. These are fun places that offer great fishing and easy access. The scenery at the trout parks is wonderful and, no matter how many people you have around you, the flowing water has the ability to wash away worldly cares.

Missouri's four-of-a-kind are Bennett Spring, Montauk and Roaring River trout parks and Maramec Spring Park. The first three are on state parks, administered by the Department of Natural Resources, bearing the same names. Maramec Spring Park is on property managed by the James Foundation. The three state park trout parks have been operating since the 1920s and 1930s. Maramec Spring Park became a trout park in the 1950s.

The Department of Conservation manages the fisheries in all of the trout parks. The trout grow in hatcheries operated by the Conservation Department, and fisheries workers release new fish daily, based upon the number of anglers expected to fish. The stocked fish average between 11 and 12 inches long. The workers also occasionally release some lunkers, fish large enough to make the bragging board.

Taking the bite out of fishing

Trout parks don't make fishing easy, but they make it easier. When first released, trout park fish are somewhat naive, which is almost the same as easy-to-catch. The day before, the trout you are fishing for may have been racing one another to eat food pellets you dropped into the hatchery raceways.

Once in the river, however, the fish seem to wise up fast. Even an inexperienced angler has a good chance of catching fish early, but catching them later in the day usually requires a little savvy. Trout parks cater to all levels of fishing. They are a good place to start fishing and, when your talents improve with practice, you can challenge yourself by fishing the flies-only portions of some of the trout parks, or by targeting those lunkers. If you you're looking for fun, group fish one of the "road holes" or easily accessible pools with friends or family. The most popular and best-producing fishing spots usually have a parking area nearby. Maramec Spring Park has sidewalks along much of the