Mark your calendar for this year’s winter trout fishing program during the first week of November.
The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) annual winter trout program will soon begin with an overall stocking of 6,860 rainbow trout in three southeast Missouri lakes -- Perryville’s Legion Lake, Jackson’s Rotary Lake and Farmington’s Giessing Lake.
The cities of Jackson, Farmington, and Perryville -- including Perry County, the Perry County Sportsmans Club and the Missouri Department of Conservation -- purchased the trout to be supplied.
MDC fisheries management biologist Salvador Mondragon said roughly 3,760 rainbow trout will be stocked during the first week of November in Legion Lake prior to the opener; almost 1,900 trout will be stocked in Rotary Lake; and about 1,200 in Giessing Lake. Mondragon said “several ‘lunkers’” also will be stocked.
The annual winter trout fishing program begins Nov. 1, marking the opening of Missouri’s winter trout season. Anglers can cast a line for this popular cold-water fish through the fall and winter months on a catch-and-release basis. Anglers also may harvest trout beginning Feb. 1, 2021.
Rainbow trout are cold-water fish that thrive in water temperatures less than 70 degrees. MDC operates trout hatcheries in order to stock them as game fish.
According to MDC, all trout must be immediately released unharmed from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, 2021. During this time, anglers may only use flies, artificial lures, and unscented plastic baits. Only one fishing rod may be used at a time, and chum is not permitted. Beginning Feb. 1, 2021, any bait may be used, and four trout may be kept regardless of size.
“Flies imitating aquatic insects are popular with fly fishers,” Mondragon said, “but spinners, small spoons, and other small lures are also good choices. Successful anglers typically use a 2 to 6- lb. test line when fishing with lures and add little or no additional weight to the line. Set the drag light as a trout often hits hard and makes strong runs which can break weak or frayed line.”
All anglers between the ages of 16 and 64 must retain a valid Missouri fishing permit and any angler harvesting trout must also possess a trout permit.
For more information, contact the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Southeast Regional Office in Cape Girardeau at (573) 290-5730 or visit www.mdc.mo.gov.