Fishing season for rainbow trout officially begins at 6:30 a.m. March 1 in Missouri’s three trout parks. Anglers can fish for trout at Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon and Montauk State Park near Salem.
For many fishermen, March 1 also means the unofficial beginning of spring as they anxiously await the beginning of trout season, which runs through Oct. 31.
Opening day falls on a Tuesday this year but the Missouri Division of State Parks, which operates state parks, is still expecting a good turnout with many fishermen and their families. It is expected more than 6,000 trout tags will be sold at the three state parks on opening day. Trout tags can be purchased at the state park concession stores.
The parks’ campgrounds, lodging units and restaurants are all expected to be busy. In the communities closest to the state parks, Cassville, Lebanon and Salem, business owners are also preparing for the fishermen. Although trout fishing occurs in the park, all of the communities around benefit from trout fishing season with busy hotels, motels, restaurants and retail stores.
Visitors for opening day can expect to see improvements at all three state parks. Members of last summer’s State Parks Youth Corps helped contribute to the fresh new look at all three state parks. At Montauk State Park, they helped establish a stream team; collected fishing line and trash for more than four miles of stream, removed aquatic weeds from the catch-and-release area; developed a hummingbird garden by the lodge; and planted wildflowers throughout the park. At Roaring River State Park, they replaced numerous roofs around the park; painted more than 20 structures; and planted flowers throughout the park. At Bennett Spring State Park, they removed exotic plants from the park streamside areas, helped with landscaping and trails and painted parts of the office.
At Roaring River State Park, the Cassville Chamber of Commerce will continue its long-standing tradition of offering coffee on the stream banks around 5 a.m. There will be a lunker weigh-in on the lower level of the CCC Lodge and the chamber will award prizes to anglers catching the largest fish in the men’s, women’s and youth’s division at noon on opening day. Jimmy Hopkins, a retired state park ranger at Roaring River, will be sounding the gun to start the season and will be given the honorary first tag.
Major construction projects at Bennett Spring State Park included remodeling of three rental units and improvements made to the restrooms and showerhouse at campground five.
Trout season in Missouri is a cooperative effort of the Division of State Parks, which manages state parks, and the Department of Conservation, which operates the hatcheries and stocks the streams with trout.
For more information on state parks and historic sites, call toll free at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunciations Device for the Deaf) or visit mostateparks.com.