Ozark Outdoors

10,000 anglers expected to try for 33,000 trout at Ozarks trout parks

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Fly fishermen line the dam at Bennett Springs. Trout Day on March 1-2 will feature 33,000 newly released trout at four locations in Missouri.

Fly fishermen line the dam at Bennett Springs. Trout Day on March 1-2 will feature 33,000 newly released trout at four locations in Missouri.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sunday, March 1, marks the opening of catch-and-keep trout fishing at the Show-Me State’s four trout parks: Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Licking, Roaring River State Park near Cassville, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James. Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) permit records show that weekend trout park openers can draw crowds of more than 10,000 anglers.

MDC operates trout hatcheries at all four parks. To help predict angler turnout on opening day, hatchery staff rely on permit records going back more than 70 years. Montauk, Bennett Spring, and Roaring River hatchery staff expect crowds of about 3,000 anglers at each location and Maramec Spring staff are planning for a crowd of about 2,000. Based on these predictions, hatchery staff will stock three trout per expected angler on opening day for a total of more than 33,000 fish averaging around a foot in length. The hatcheries will also stock several hundred “lunkers” ranging from three to 10 pounds.

Three of the trout parks – Bennett Spring, Montauk, and Roaring River– are owned by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Maramec Spring Park is owned by the James Foundation. Call the following numbers for more information about trout-park fishing.

  • Bennett Spring – 417-532-4418
  • Maramec – 573-265-7801
  • Montauk – 573-548-2585
  • Roaring River – 417-847-2430

Anglers need a daily trout tag to fish in Missouri’s trout parks. Daily trout tags can only be purchased at each of the four trout parks. Missouri residents 16 through 64 need a fishing permit in addition to the daily tag. Nonresidents 16 and older also need a fishing permit.

Trout hatcheries are just one way that conservation pays in Missouri. MDC stocks more than 800,000 trout annually at the state’s four trout parks and approximately 1.5 million annually statewide. Trout anglers’ spend more than $100 million each year in the Show-Me-State, which generates more than $180 million in business activity, supports more than 2,300 jobs and creates more than $70 million dollars in wages. About 30 percent of Missouri trout anglers come from other states, so a substantial portion of trout fishing expenditures is “new money” for the state’s economy.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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