Missouri’s catch-and-keep trout fishing season begins this weekend.
Sunday is opening day at the Show-Me State’s four trout parks, including Montauk State Park near Licking. 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 expects 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.
Bennett Spring, Montauk and Roaring River parks are owned by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and Maramec Spring is owned by the James Foundation.
Anglers need a daily trout tag that can only be purchased at one of the four 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.
The MDC annually stocks more than 800,000 trout at Missouri’s four trout parks and approximately 1.5 million statewide. Trout anglers spend more than $100 million each year in the state, which generates more than $180 million in business activity, supports more than 2,300 jobs and creates more than $70 million 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.