March 1st. It’s coming. Opening day of catch-and-keep trout season. Calendars are marked. Vacation days are scheduled. The anticipation is rising exponentially. When it arrives, men, women, and children will arise long before daylight, travel to the nearest trout park, and join thousands of other early risers in the line to buy a trout tag at the bait shop. Once properly tagged, the search for the perfect spot along the river will begin. With the intensity of a lion stalking its prey, they walk the banks, peering into the crystal clear waters looking for the right combination of trout, water flow, and space between the other anglers. Once their claim is staked, they wait patiently in the dark, rod in hand, ears perked. Ready to test their skills against the nearest trout lurking in the shadows. The unmistakable sound of “the whistle” will unleash a flurry of rods whipping, lures flying, drags singing, and fish jumping. Tangles are inevitable as are missed strikes, lost fish, and the frequent changing of lures, but it’s the excitement of the morning, the challenge of outsmarting a fish that others couldn’t, the potential to fill a stringer, and the opportunity to socialize with people that share the same love of trout fishing that brings thousands of Missourians out for “the opener” every year.
All four trout parks are open and stocked daily from March 1 through Oct. 31. Anglers need a fishing permit, unless exempt, as well as a daily trout tag. The daily trout tag is $3 for adults and $2 for those 15 and younger. At Roaring River State Park, a daily tag or a trout permit may be used for fishing from the first bridge below the old dam in Zone 3 to the downstream park boundary.
The daily limit is 4, and you must stop fishing for any species after having 4 trout in possession. Ask for details about area regulations when you purchase your tag.
Catch-and-release fishing is available from Nov. 9 through Feb. 11. Parks are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday through Monday. A fishing permit, unless exempt, and a trout permit are required. Only flies may be used.
- Bennett Spring State ParkAddress: 26250 Hwy 64A, Lebanon, MO 65536-6797Website: mostateparks.com/park/bennett-
spring-state-parkPark office: 417-532-4338
- Maramec Spring ParkAddress: 21880 Maramec Spring Drive, St. James, MO 65559Website: maramecspringpark.comJames Foundation office: 573-265-7124
- Montauk State ParkAddress: 345 County Road 6670, Salem, MO 65560-9025Website: mostateparks.com/park/montauk-
state-parkPark office: 573-548-2201
- Roaring River State ParkAddress: 12716 Farm Road 2239, Cassville, MO 65625Website: mostateparks.com/park/roaring-
river-state-parkPark office: 417-847-2539