KW Morrow, White River

March 7th, 2005

Missouri's New Trout Management Plan
By KW Morrow

Did you know there are Blue Ribbon streams in Missouri? Well, as of March 1, 2005, there are. There are also Red Ribbon streams and White Ribbon streams to boot. But just what does all this patriotic designation system really mean?

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) came up with this designation system and a uniform set of fishing regulations as part of its new trout management plan (TMP).

    The ultimate goals of the plan are simple:

  • Create new opportunities for public trout fishing.

  • Increase the average size of fish in Blue and Red Ribbon designated fisheries.

  • Create a designation system and attendant regulations that make it easier for anglers to know the rules wherever they are fishing and better protects the fisheries resource for the future.

  • Increase funding for trout management programs.

  • Increase hatchery production.

  • Recruit new anglers to the sport of trout fishing.

To accomplish these goals, MDC will rely on a number of new and/or re-ordered management principles. According to the new TMP, MDC will prioritize new land acquisitions that create public access to Missouri's coldwater fisheries. This is a long-term goal, but the plan is solid. MDC has also launched a renovation program for the state's aging trout hatcheries, updating technology, expanding capacity, and mitigating some threats. The plan also calls for the expansion of urban stocking programs to allow Winter trout fishing opportunities in city parks, and for the expansion of Youth Fishing Day programs at state-owned/operated trout facilities. Yet another vital element of the new TMP is a statewide 15" minimum length limit on Brown trout, enforceable in all MO trout waters except Lake Taneycomo, where the limit is already 20", and in Blue Ribbon fisheries, where the minimum length limit is 18".

Blue Ribbon waters include larger coldwater rivers with ample trout habitat where wild populations of trout are self-sustaining or are reproducing naturally and smaller coldwater streams where self-sustaining wild trout populations exist. Fisheries that have been designated Blue Ribbon include: portions of the Current River, Eleven Point River, and the North Fork of the White River; as well as portions of Crane Creek, Barren Fork Creek, Blue Springs Creek, Little Piney Creek, Mill Creek, and Spring Creek. As previously stated, there will be a one fish per day limit with a minimum length limit of 18". Fishing will be by artificial lure or fly only and no gigging will be allowed.

Red Ribbon fisheries will have a 15" minimum and a daily limit of two trout. Gigging of non-game species will be allowed in season. Red Ribbon waters are defined as those with good, but limited, trout habitat where stocking of primarily Brown trout currently takes place. However, Rainbow trout will exist either due to natural reproduction or nearby stocking operations. Included in this category are: portions of the Meramec River, North Fork of the White River, and Roubidoux Creek. Fishing will be restricted to flies and artificial lures only on the Meramec and Roubidoux Creek, while natural and artificial bait will also be allowed on the North Fork of the White due to heavy displacement of bait anglers that would occur there if the rules were not mitigated.

White Ribbon trout fisheries include: the remaining coldwater fisheries of Missouri including the trout parks with the exception of Lake Taneycomo. Here, year-round trout habitat exists and these waters are heavily stocked with trout. There will be no size limit and the daily limit will be four trout. Non-game fish gigging will be allowed as well as fishing with bait.

On Lake Taneycomo, nothing will change with regard to fishing regulations except for the reduction in daily limit from five trout to four trout and a state trout stamp will now be required for anyone fishing upstream of the Highway 65 bridge. There will still be a slot limit in place for the first three miles of Lake Taneycomo and a lake-wide minimum 20" and one fish limit on Brown trout.

If you're planning a trip to Missouri to fish for trout be sure to check the new regulations, even if you've been fishing a trout stream in Missouri for years. These are widespread and sweeping rules changes and new designations. Be sure you know the rules on your favorite fishing hole. Hopefully these changes will produce positive results just like the 1996 introduction of the slot limit on Lake Taneycomo's Trophy Management Zone has and we will all catch more and bigger trout in the near future.

For a detailed overview of the new Trout Management Plan for Missouri, log onto:

Trout Management Plan for Missouri

...or read the summary justification brief at:

Summary justification brief. ~ Ken (Silver Mallard)

About Ken:

Ken graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1988, and spent the next several years serving in the United States Navy as an intelligence analyst and Russian Language translator. He is a veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Leaving the nation's service in 1993.

Ken is also a published outdoor writer and historian, having penned articles and stories that have appeared in several national hunting publications like North American Hunter magazine, on GunMuse.com, in regional and local newspapers, and historical and literary journals. He has also provided hunting and dog training seminars for Bass Pro Shops and other sporting goods retailers nationwide. He volunteers his time to Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited, as well as several local charitable organizations. He is also a REALTOR with Coldwell Banker in Branson, Missouri; where he lives with his wife, Wilma, and their Weimaraner, Smoky Joe.


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