It was a countdown to one of the most highly anticipated events in St. James.
The time: 6:30 a.m.
The date: March 1.
In frigid temperatures, with snow still on the ground, a large group of outdoorsmen awaited the opening shot, which marked the official beginning of the 2013 Missouri trout season at Maramec Spring Park.
St. James resident Gary Benson, who has been an avid fisherman and familiar face in St. James for more than 50 years, had the honor of firing the starting pistol. Benson also continues to support kids’ fishing both as a volunteer and with donations of fishing supplies for their use. The St. James Chamber of Commerce and the James Foundation in their usual tradition will welcome fishermen to Maramec Spring Park at 6:30 a.m. with coffee and donuts to celebrate the beginning of the season.
St. James Mayor Dennis Wilson says improvements to the park include "water-quality monitoring and security of the pools," courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation.
"In preparation for the opening of the 2013 trout fishing season, the Department has also done considerable removal of natural aquatic debris through off-season dredging of portions of the Spring branch," the mayor wrote in his recent column.
Jim Low of the MDC says an estimated 8,000 fishermen are expected to participate in the statewide opening day event, with "more than 25,000 trout" awaiting them.
"The long-range weather forecast for March 1 points to chilly but not unseasonably cold weather...," Low wrote in a recent press release. "That sort of weather is unlikely to discourage anglers who think nothing of standing up to their bellybuttons in chill water for hours, trying to fill a limit of four hatchery-reared trout."
For more information about trout-park fishing at Maramec Spring Park, call 573-265-7801.