Missouri offers many opportunities to the trout fisherman. While we don't have the thousands of miles of trout water that the some states in the mountain west do, the trout water our state does have is high quality. The Missouri Department of Conservation manages our limited resource in a very intelligent manner, allowing all types of trout fisherman to enjoy their craft on Missouri's streams.

In Missouri, normal streams with no spring flow are too warm to support trout. That means, that of the thousands of stream miles in our state, only about 200 of those miles provides trout fishing. All trout water in Missouri (with the exception of Lake Taneycomo) is heavily spring-fed. Spring water in Missouri is 57 degrees year-round, which is right in the trout's comfort range. These spring-fed reaches of streams are highly fertile, and can produce some very large trout.

There are four types of trout management in Missouri: Blue Ribbon, White Ribbon, Red Ribbon, and Trout Park. Trout parks are the most popular. They are located on spring-branches with constant year-round temperatures. They are stocked daily March 1 through October 31, and are open to Weekends only Catch and release fishing most of the rest of the year. Trout parks are good places for beginners to learn the basics of trout fishing, because they are always well stocked with fish. Also, the freshly stocked trout are forgiving of many of the mistakes that would kill your chances on other trout waters. Regulations vary by zone in the parks, with areas for Catch and Release Fly Fishing, Catch and Keep fly fishing, and all baits catch and keep.

White Ribbon areas are stocked every several weeks from March through November. The daily limit is four fish, with no minimum length limit for rainbows and a 15" minimum for browns. The fishing in these areas is usually very good around stocking times, when the fresh hatchery trout are easy to catch. After the first week of crazy action after a stocking, there are still trout to be caught, but you will have to be on your game. Bait fishing will work best soon after the stocking, with fly fishing becoming the preferred technique for the resident fish.

Red Ribbon areas are stocked once or twice a year with brown trout, and usually have a migrant population of rainbows from other areas of the stream. There is a 15" minimum length limit, and a daily limit of two. Bait generally isn't allowed. Red Ribbon areas are brown trout water primarily, and as such, the fishing can be difficult. Red Ribbon streams can be challenging, and rarely will the fish just jump into your net like they seem to do on more heavily stocked streams. But the flip side is that you'll get to fish for larger than average resident trout on a relatively uncrowded stream. Red Ribbon areas work best for fly fisherman, although clever spin fisherman can also do well.

Blue Ribbon areas encompass the best trout habitat in our state. They are the streams that are capable of sustaining a wild trout population. The smaller streams rely on natural reproduction, while the larger rivers get a yearly stocking. These are the places for fly fisherman to challenge their skills on wild and resident trout. The fish won't be easy to catch and are afraid of people, but if you are up to the challenge, you will be rewarded with beautiful trout that are true residents of their stream. Difficulty level on Blue Ribbon streams ranges from the upper Current (where any fairly competent fly fisherman can expect to at least catch trout on any decent day), to Crane Creek, a notoriously tricky, brush lined spring creek with a population of ultra-selective rainbows. Only experts, (or very lucky people) will score here. And don't underestimate the element of luck. Being in the right place at the right time may be the most important thing on these fickle streams.

That's just a quick summary of the trout fishing opportunities in our state. Get out and check some of Missouri's trout water out. You may be pleasantly surprised.