Mention trout fishing to a lot of people in Missouri, and the only thing they will know about is the Spring through Fall trout fishing in Missouri’s trout parks. Without a doubt this does represent the majority of the fishing for trout in Missouri, but there are other opportunities. If you like more solitude and are not in it for a cooler full of trout, the Winter trout fishery in Missouri may be just what you are looking for.
There may be as few who say that this article will have the effect of reducing the very quality that it describes. In other words, that it will encourage more folks to get out when right now those of us who do partake of Missouri’s Winter trout fishing have it essentially to ourselves. Sure, there might be a bit of truth to this. On the other hand, how many hardy souls are willing to stand in ice cold water when it is highly unlikely that you will catch a fish that would even be legal to keep (depending on where you fish). There is a self-limiting factor. Having said this, I believe that as the number of folks who get out in the outdoors goes down, and it steadily is doing this, the number of people willing to stand up for her preservation also goes down. Therefore, I have a vested interest in getting folks fired up for the outdoors!
Let’s get down to the details. First, Missouri Trout Parks are not closed during the Winter. They are closed to catch-and-keep fishing. They remain open to catch-and-release fishing during all other times save a couple of weeks right before the Spring season starts and a couple of weeks right after the season ends at the end of October. If you visit during the catch-and-release season, you will have some company, but very limited. There is not stocking during the Winter and the fish get more educated on how not to get caught, but they can be caught all Winter long. This time of the year, no bait can be used. Make certain to familiarize yourself with the regs before you go.
There are perhaps hundreds of additional miles of water with trout outside of the trout parks in Missouri. The stretch below Montauk State Park on the Current River is one area. There are several good access points downstream from the park just a few miles. Additional trout waters are awaiting you on the North Fork of the White River near West Plains, Missouri. Another often over-looked Missouri trout river is The Eleven Point River. This beautiful stream runs through the Irish Wilderness and is truly a gem.
There are many smaller streams, rivers, and of course Lake Taneycomo. All of these are great options. On the rivers and streams, the waters are split into blue ribbon, red ribbon, and white ribbon sections. These designations dictate the means by which you can fish (bait, flies, etc.) as well as what you can keep. We really suggest visiting MDC.MO.gov to get the details because they change often enough we would not want to give them here and then have them change on you.