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Trout Anglers Only Slightly Deterred by Snowy Weather on Opening Day of Season

Trout season officially begins today around the state. Photo credit: Missouri Department of Conservation Staff

The overcast, snowy weather didn’t stop hundreds of anglers from descending upon the banks of the Current River within Montauk State Park near Salem today. It's the first day of trout season. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has details.  

The manager of the Montauk State Park fish hatchery is Tom Whelan.

“If it was a sunny 50, 60 degree opener, we’d have more people than we do, but we still have a pretty good turnout.”

Normally, Whelan says the park sees anywhere from 2,000-2,500 anglers come out for an opening day that lands on a weekend. This year, the snow and cold weather have decreased participation, but only slightly.

Whelan says he expects there to be close to 2,000 people fishing by the end of the day.

“There’s people from all over the state and from surrounding states. I actually was down at the lodge last night, and there was a gentleman from Wisconsin that was fishing here for opening day. They come from all over.”

Governor Jay Nixon started things off with a bang by firing off the ceremonial gun shot at 6:30 a.m. for the outdoor enthusiasts.

“We go down to the main bridge that crosses the Current River; it’s right below one of the main fishing spots, which is what we call the Wide Oak Cove, which is a real popular fishing spot. We stand up there on the bridge and count it down, the siren goes off at 6:30 a.m., so we count it down just prior to when the siren goes off, and he fires a starter’s pistol to start fishing.

Whelan says after the governor shot off the pistol, he caught about three fish himself, then let them go before traveling to Bennett State Park for more fishing activities.   

The regular trout season is from March 1 – October 31. Every night during the season, the waterways in the park are stocked full of trout from the hatchery.

“During those eight months, we’ll have on average somewhere between 90,000 to 95,000 fishermen, and we’ll stock somewhere roughly around 210,000 to 220,000 fish during those eight months.”

Whelan says some of the anglers who came out for the opening day have been celebrating trout season for over fifty years. He says it’s not uncommon to see four or five generations of families come to the park and celebrate the season.

Whelan encourages those who didn’t make it out to fish today to come this weekend. He says the river has just been stocked, and the fish are biting. 

FOR KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.  


And if you had been out on the water today in the southern half of the state, there’s a chance you could have cast a line with the state’s chief executive.

“Nobody sweated out there today fishing, I’ll tell you that,” said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who officially opened trout season this morning on the Current River in Montauk State Park.  He then visited Bennett Springs State Park, and joined KSMU by cell phone moments after stepping off the river.

“We started where Mantauk, with a very large crowd. And I was lucky enough to land three trout down there.  And now I’m over here now at Bennett Springs State Park, which led the state last year with almost 725,000 visitors. Trout fishing is not only fun—it’s a significant part of the outdoor economy in the Show-Me State.”

And for those anglers out there hoping to catch that elusive “big one,” you can find some tips for success on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website by clicking here.