Key factors in determining how many anglers will show up opening day depend on two things: the weather, and if the opening day falls on a weekend. This year March 1 falls on a Saturday, so if the weather is favorable, attendance at all four parks could set new records. It is from these attendance estimates that hatchery managers determine how many trout to release. Throughout most of the season, MDC releases 2.25 fish per expected angler. However, on opening day, they put 3 fish in the water for each person expected. The fish are released after having reached a determined length—usually twelve inches. In addition to these releases, MDC will stock what they call “lunkers,” surplus hatchery brood fish that will weigh upwards to 3 pounds each, with a few topping the scales at more than 10 pounds.
The economic input for the state of Missouri during trout season will reach $100 million. Collectively, all four trout parks will sell approximately 400,000 tags, while stocking over 900,000 fish. This industry supports thousands of individuals and businesses and helps to sustain local economies.
If you can’t make opening day, there will be plenty of other opportunities to enjoy Missouri’s trout parks and the beautiful outdoors. Throughout the trout season, there will be special activities that include free or low cost permits for the youth, additional trout releases to provide day-long fishing, and volunteers to help young anglers and beginning fishermen. There will also be some special occasions when participants can receive prizes. Some special dates that all four trout parks will recognize are May 17 – Spring Kids Fishing Day; June 7 – 8 Free Fishing Weekend; August 16 Back-to-School Kids Fishing Day; October 12-14 W.O.W. (Wonders of Wildlife) Day. On a similar note, mark your calendars, veterans. On March 8th the Neosho National Fish Hatchery will host the third annual Rainbows for Veterans. This event seeks to honor our local veterans with a day of fishing at one of our nation’s best hatcheries.
Roaring River, our closest trout park, is among Missouri’s oldest hatcheries and produces and stocks more than 250,000 rainbow trout annually, most of which are released into the 1.6 mile stream that lies within the park’s boundaries. Every year more than 100,000 people visit the park to fish and to enjoy the unique beauty of the area.
For those who don’t fish and who come as support for their angler or perhaps even have their own plans, there are other activities to do and places to go to make their visit an enjoyable one. Most of our state’s trout parks also offer additional activities, ranging from hiking or horseback riding trails, cabins, camping sites, and the on-site gift stores. Your whole family and/or group will have something to do.
After the cold and snowy winter we’ve just gone through, it will be nice to once again be out-of-doors taking in Missouri’s natural springtime beauty. A visit to one of our state’s trout parks may be just the thing needed to throw off the last of the winter doldrums.