Officials at nearby Montauk State Park say as many as 3,200 anglers may participate in opening day Sunday. The heavy turnout is predicted because March 1 falls on a Sunday.
“Historically, Sunday openers have been our biggest days,” said hatchery systems manager James Civiello with the Missouri Department of Conservation. “We have opening-day attendance records going back 50 years, and turnouts always are bigger when opening day falls on a weekend.”
Weekend or not, weather also plays an important role in determining crowd size on opening day. The trout park attendance record in the state occurred in 1992, when 14,947 anglers descended on the parks for a Sunday opener with beautiful weather.
“With good weather, I would expect to see upwards of 11,000 anglers at the four parks on opening day,” said Civiello. “On the other hand, if it turns cold and rainy, that could hold down attendance.”
Three of Missouri’s trout parks (Bennett Spring, near Lebanon; Montauk, near Licking; and Roaring River, near Cassville) are state parks, owned by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
The fourth – Maramec Spring Park, near St. James – is owned by the James Foundation. The conservation department operates trout hatcheries at all four.
Montauk Hatchery Manager Tom Whelan is preparing for opening-day attendance of 3,200 anglers. Montauk anglers will find some improvements in the Mill Dam and Sycamore holes, where excess gravel has been removed to improve fish habitat. For more about fishing at Montauk, call 573-548-2585.