The trout cam on the mostateparks.com website offers a live video feed from the stream for those who can only wish they were there or for family members who can look for their favorite anglers from the comfort of home.
The state Department of Conservation expects more than 8,000 anglers to try their luck at Bennett near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Salem, Roaring River State Park near Cassville, or Maramec Spring Park near St. James.
The conservation department hatcheries will provide more than 21,000 rainbow trout about 12 inches long in all four locations. Each location will also get a number of lunkers that weigh from three to 10 pounds from the hatcheries.
“With opening day falling on a Friday this year, we expect many avid trout anglers to make a three-day weekend to get the most of their time trying to catch a lunker,” said Ben Ellis, division director of Missouri State Parks.
Last year with opening day on a Thursday, the three state parks sold about 1,500 daily trout tags at each location. Each state park location is expecting 2,300 tags sold, and Maramec Spring, which is operated by the James Foundation, anticipates a crowd of about 1,600.
In addition to the daily trout tags, Missouri anglers ages 16 through 64 and non-residents 16 and older are required to have a 2019 state fishing license. The trout tags are purchased on-site at each location. Fishing licenses are available at permit vendors around the state and online or through mobile device apps. Permits from 2018 expire on Feb. 28.
The catch-and-keep trout fishing season runs from March 1 through Oct. 31. The daily limit is four fish of all species combined. Most of the fish will be rainbow trout, but some brown trout may be present.
Anglers may use only one pole and line at a time. Gigging, snaring, snagging and taking of live bait are prohibited. Some areas in each park may be restricted for use of specific baits or lures. Bennett Spring and Montauk have ADA-accessible fishing jetties for anglers with limited mobility.
In addition to fishing, all four parks offer a variety of other amenities including hiking trails, picnic areas, historic sites, campgrounds, cabins, dining lodges and camp stores. All of the four parks feature large springs that feed the streams with cold water the trout need to survive.
Maramec Spring and Bennett Spring each produce more than 100 million gallons of water daily. The spring at Montauk adds about 40 million gallons a day to the Current River, and the spring that feeds Roaring River produces about 20 million gallons of water each day for that tributary of the White River in far southwest Missouri.
In another connection to technology, opening day photos and trout tag sales information from all three state trout parks will also be available on the trout season opening day website. Anglers can share their photos from opening day through social media by tagging MoStateParks on Facebook and Twitter as well as using the hashtag #MOTrout.
For more information on trout season opening, visit mostateparks.com or call RoaringRiverState Park at 417-847-2539, BennettSpringState Park at 417-532-4338, or MontaukState Park at 573-548-2201.
John J. Winkelman is community relations manager at Mercy Hospital Jefferson. If you have news for the Leader’s Outdoor News page, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow John on Twitter at @johnjwink99.