Debbie Hampton

The free fishing event for women at Maramec Spring Trout Park is open to beginners and accomplished anglers like Debbie Hampton of Festus.

One of fishing’s most redeeming qualities is its diversity of opportunity. The state Department of Conservation is planning a special event to encourage more anglers to try their luck at the hook-and-line activity.

Women of all ages are invited to a free trout-fishing event at Maramec Spring Park near St. James on Saturday, Sept. 14. Maramec is the closest to Jefferson County of four trout parks managed and maintained by the conservation department.

The free fishing day will begin at 7:30 a.m. and continues until 7:15 p.m. Female anglers are not required to have a fishing license or daily trout tag during the event, and the park entrance fee will be waived for women. A special area of the spring branch will be restricted for use by females only.

In addition to free access to the special fishing area, the state will stock 100 fish with tags that can be redeemed for prizes like rods and reels, fishing vests, tackle boxes and dip nets.

Female anglers with experience will be given free rein to catch their limit, and the conservation department will have staff on hand to help neophytes. Instruction will include trout fishing tactics and casting practice. Staff will also provide information on cleaning and cooking the catch.

The basic instructions will include information on using spin-casting and spinning reels, but the iconic look for trout fishing is illustrated with fly rods. For anyone interested in learning more about that component of the craft, there will be fly tying and casting demonstrations.

The park will be open for men to fish in the spring branch areas downstream from the women’s fishing area, but males will be required to purchase a daily tag, and those ages 16 through 64 must have a fishing license.

The Maramec Spring hatchery is operated by the conservation department in cooperation with park owners, the James Foundation. The park is about six miles east of I-44 at St. James.

For information, call 573-265-7801 or email assistant hatchery manager Rachelle Kirkwood at

The three other trout parks in Missouri are at Montauk State Park southwest of Salem, Bennett Springs near Lebanon, and Roaring River south of Cassville.

One more well-known trout fishing area in the state was in the news earlier this month again. A state-record brown trout was landed at Lake Taneycomo near Branson. On Sept. 4, Bill Babler of Blue Eye caught a 40-pound, 6-ounce fish that has been confirmed by the conservation department as the new state standard.

Arnold resident Scott Sandusky had held the record for brown trout until earlier this year with a 28-pound, 12-ounce lunker caught at Lake Taneycomo in 2009. In February, Paul Crews of Neosho surpassed that with a 34-pound, 10-ounce brown trout, also caught at Taneycomo.

John J. Winkelman is community engagement manager at Mercy Hospital Jefferson. If you have news for the Leader’s Outdoor News page, e-mail and you can follow John on Twitter at @johnjwink99.