Dry weather isn't affecting the number of fish stocked at Missouri's four trout parks, and cold weather is unlikely to dampen anglers' enthusiasm for the annual pilgrimage.
March 1 marks the opening of Missouri's eight-month catch-and-keep fishing season at Montauk, Bennett Spring, Roaring River and Maramec state parks.
The Conservation Department tailors the number of fish stocked for opening day to the size of anticipated crowds. Decades of trout tag sales statistics give hatchery managers a good idea how many anglers to expect if the season opener falls on a weekend or a weekday.
With average weather, this year's attendance at all four trout parks is likely to approach 10,000.
"Drought is cutting into our trout-rearing capacity again this year," Missouri hatcheries official George Kromrey said. "The flow from springs that we depend on for trout production is a little better than it was last year, but the springs supplying Montauk, Roaring River and Bennett Spring hatcheries all have substantially reduced flow. That means we have to spread out available fish."
While trout park fishing regulations have not changed extensively since last year, anglers should be aware that the Wildlife Code of Missouri contains amendments to the definitions of flies, lures, and baits effective March 1.
The new definition of a fly allows fly tiers and anglers to use a wide variety of natural and synthetic materials and eliminates the list of approved materials.