Missouri Trout Hunter

Blog for sharing thoughts, beliefs and opinions on issues affecting the world of trout fishing in the Ozarks.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Can We Fix the Trout Park Crowding Problem?

I'm hoping for some serious discussion on this topic, because crowding issues at the trout parks appears to be getting worse. Not only does this make the parks more difficult to fish, but crowded park fishermen then spill out onto the trout waters downstream, making the Meramec River, the Current River, the Niangua River, and Roaring River more crowded as well. I am hoping that your posts will be solutions-based rather than simple griping. We all already know the horror stories of how people misbehave in crowded situations, and fishermen are no different. But what can we do to fix the problem?

Should the Missouri Department of Conservation change the daily limit (again), set a minimum length limit, change the tag prices, change the season, set a cap on how many daily tags can be sold, set up more catch & release areas, or do you have another idea that has merit? There are likely pro's and con's to every option, so let's get a conversation going.


Anonymous Andrew Schrader said...

I whole heartedly agree that something has to be done, with stuff like this (http://www.conservationcafe.com/ultimatebb.php/topic/9/544.html) going on. One of the biggest problems is those people who pour out of the parks downstream in the current, meramec... as you mentioned. Many treat it like a trout park, not obeying the regulations. They're mindset is "If I can't fish in the trout parks with my powerbait, then I'll just go downstream and use it". I would support a higher tag price, and more catch and release areas. And as much as it pains me to say it, make the out of state tags cost a lot more, because thats whos clogging the parks a lot. I gotta go now, I'll be interesed in other people's replies.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Mark Frederick said...

As I sit in English Class, and waste time I just got done reading some of the cafe talk. The trout parks are where I first experienced the joys of trout fishing in Missouri, and I visit them at least once a year. I have yet to experience these problems, but I can see how they can happen. Because of College, I usualy go to the parks in the summer. Maybe trafic is slower then? Anyway, I have been at the parks durring some heavy crowd days, and I have found that a majority of the fisherman at the parks are bait fisherman. Maybe expanding the bait zones would spread the crowds out. On the other hand, I like to fish the "Fly Only" areas because there are fewer people and more room for error(I have yet to master the fly rod), but if the bait zone is expanded the fly area would have to shrink. The problem with controlling tag sales by number is the fact that it is a state park. The land is the people of the states property. They have to be available and accessible to all visiters. Limiting tag saled by number would open the park to discrimination claims and public access limitations. Tax money that goes to the operrations of these parks gives people the right to access these places. To address the spillover comment, I believe the MDC should put more agents down stream of these parks to enforce the rules they established to maintain healthy fish populations. I also agree out-of-state tags should be more expensive. Missouri Residents pay taxes that maintain "our" low tag fee, so lets get some more money from those out of staters. The extra money could be used to 1)Build a new park), 2)improve fish production to handle new load, and 3)Pay MDC agents to enforce the down stream regulations in the Trophy Waters. Well, I quess I should get back into class. Hopefully this helps, and its not just my bored ramblings.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Leroy Johnson said...

Mark is correct that 3 of the trout parks are the state's land (and maramec spring is the James Foundation's land), the perfect solution, i think, is to limit the out of state tag sales. I'd say that maramec spring and mountauk would benefit from the reduction in people mainly from illinois, Roaring river and bennett spring would benefit from reduced arkansas. if you ever go there during the heat of the summer (or opening day) you'll see a lot (ive even seen a majority, a couple of times) of out of state license plates. The land is that of the people of the state, not the people of the state next to us.

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if there is a long term solution to overcrowding. Short term, the most obvious solution seems to be a popular one by those of us that live in Missouri. Raise the fees for those from out of state. I would however amend this. I would treat Arkansas residents as in-state. As long as they would reciprocate the gesture.

Ralph Leggett

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are all great suggestions. Of particular interest to me are the ideas behind decreasing the out-of-state traffic. I certainly don't want to piss off any of our non-resident neighbors by implying we want them to stay home. They're visits to our state parks brings a lot of revenue to the surrounding towns. It would seem to make sense that non-residents should pay more, though, since their property and income taxes are going to another state. So, if we're talking about offering a non-resident daily tag at the parks, what price should be set?
Or should we consider some sort of daily tag lottery system for non-residents to cap the total number of non-resident daily tags available? What if we changed the fishing season? If we can come up with some concrete ideas that are fair to all concerned, won't hurt us financially, and yet still make the parks are nicer place to visit, MDC just may listen.

I also agree that most trout park visitors are likely bait fishermen, but I'd like to take a step out on a limb. Would you say that most trout park visitors are meat hunters rather than fishing for the sport of it? If so, would decreasing the daily limit in the parks or increasing catch & release zones discourage the crowds?

Lastly, if Missouri were to look into developing a 5th trout park, what would be some potential locations? Occasionally I hear Greer Spring mentioned (11-Point River), but that area is wild trout water. Any ideas?

4:57 PM  
Blogger Mark Frederick said...

I believe I will join you on your limb and say that a majority of the fisherman at the parks are meat hunters. Not that that is a bad thing, I enjoy a fish meal now and then, but I believe a mojority of people are there for the meat. Most of the time when I fish the parks, I wait till latter in the day so I can avoid these people. By the time I head up to the stream, a couple of hours after the buzzer, they are on their way home with a stringer full. On ocassion, I will keep a couple trout at the parks, but at most it's enough for that night, I can't ever remeber bringing home a stringer full. I usually just catch dinner, but never when we go to trophy waters. All catch and release.

Do I think lowering the limit would discourage these people? No, I can't prove this, but I'm pretty sure I have seen guys who are leaving when I'm comming out and I see them later that day working on stringer full number two. However, I do believe there may be a group that thinks 3 trout for $4 is too much and they may stay away. On the other hand, if you ever look at trout at the grocery store, 3 trout for $4.00 is still a darn good deal.

I don't believe a larger catch and release zone would discurage the crowds. Enlarging the Catch-and-release zones would be nice for me, but it would take land from the bait fisherman. This means more crowding in their smaller zone.

For an out of state tag, I would charge at least $5.00 and a child would be $3.00, but I bet they could sell them for $7.00. The lotery would be interesting as a resident to watch, but I dont know if it would go over well.

As far as a season change, I dont think it would matter. Nothing will stop people from turning out at the parks. Look at past opening days when their was sub-zero digits and still hundreds of people.

In closing, I know another way to beat the crowds. Winter Catch and Release. Im going to Meremec Springs next week to get my trout park fix. They are open everyday, unlike the other parks.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an out-of-state fisherman I already pay $42 for a license and trout stamp and think that is fair. $42 is what Missourians pay when the want to fish in Illinois, the fees are reciprical. Yes, if the new fees are high enough they will keep me and my $'s at hoome. However, I don't think the businesses along HWY-44 would appreciate the reduction in tourist dollars that would result.

I have not brought a fish home from Missouri in many years, but that is not really the problem is it? The problem is the volume of people on the streams.

I am 51-years young and have been traveling to Missouri and Arkansas to trout fish since I was 12-years old. I disagree with your assessment of the situation, I think the trout parks are no more crowded than they were 30-years ago. I'm sure the state keeps statistics on tags purchased, I would like to see what these numbers say. However, I do think some of the trophy waters are under considerable pressure.

I was unaware that Maramec Springs was open every day during the Winter catch-and-release season. Can anyone tell me,is this true?

Well I better get off this computer and head down to fish the Winter catch-and-release season while I still can afford a Missouri license, Mike Quirin

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike makes a great point. Are the trout parks truly more crowded now than in years past, or are we as trout fishermen just becoming more grumpy or perhaps getting jealously protective over the state's resources? Fly fishing has become quite trendy over the last 20 years, which naturally increases the numbers of fishermen in general, but is it the crowding issue that is really getting to people, or is it something else?

Case in point: I took my family to California a few years ago. During our trip, we went to both Disneyland and Universal Studios. Disneyland was by far more crowded, but the crowds were pleasant and well-behaved. The Universal crowds were pushy and rude to the extreme. So, even though it was far less crowded, we really hated our trip to Universal and probably will never go back. Is the same thing happening at the trout parks? Are they truly more crowded, or are people just forgetting how to act in crowds? If that's the core issue, then it seems decreasing the overall traffic wouldn't solve the real problem. The rude pushy people would still be there. All we would have done is culled good people like Mike from the crowd.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Mark Frederick said...

From Mikes Prospective, If there was a lottery for an out of state tag and I drove all the may from IL, to fish and did not get a tag I would not be a happy camper. From a buisness perspective, I believe the money brought into the state along HWY 44 would be greatly missed when people like Mike are stoped from making the trip.

In responce to the "angry crowd" theory. It seams that when people get in groups ignorance becomes contagious, and good hearted sharing is not. Its the old One Bad Apple Spoils the Bunch Theory. It seams that poeple like to stake a claim on their fishing spot instead of sharing. I also believe that some of the anger is becuase of frustration of not catching fish. You can always see the fish, but they may not like what you have to offer. Also, you always see people with a full stringer and then there's a person with 1 ot 2 with a look of frustration on thier face. I guess people just need to relax and realize that fishing isn't just catching fish it's about who you are with and the natural beauty that surounds you when your doing it. Maybe it will take more people like ourselfs to set a better example to others. We should be pioneers of good ediquate and good sportmanship. It will take more than 4 or 5 BLOGer's to do this, but if one of us can change one persons attitude everytime we go out, we will eventually prevail.

Like I mentiond in a earlier message, The trout parks are where I discovered trout fishing. Being the only fisherman in my family, I was able to talk my parents into making the journey. Now that I'm old and can drive myself to trout water, I spend less time at the parks and more time on other trout water, but my heart still lives in the parks. I will probibly never be there on opening day, to witness the real crowd, but my usuall mid-summer visit may encounter a crowded stream, and I will bring my sportsmanship and patience with me. How about you?

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Leroy Johnson said...

Its no secret that a lot of trout park fishermen are grade A ass holes. They're going to get their full stringer of 10" trout, and no one is going to stop them. It seems that the further away they come from and the less they get to park fish, the more aggravated they get if they don't get their stringer of stocker slicks. Maybe the state should offer a maturity class with each daily tag?

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I considered removing the last post, because it sounds really angry and beligerent -- not what we're looking for here. Let's stay focused on solutions rather than complaints. Thus far, we've had some good conversation, and I personally feel more enlightened about the trout park issues. Any new ideas out there about how the trout parks can better meet the needs of the public?

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Addendum: I should have made this more clear on that last post. The reason I considered removing Leroy's comment, is because I first thought it read "It's no secret that trout park fishermen are grade A a**holes". That is NOT what he said. He said "...a lot of trout park fishermen", which is very different. That's a statement we each may or may not agree with, and that's fine, but I initially thought he was just trying to pick a fight.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Leroy Johnson said...

Thank you trout hunter for realizing your comprehension error, I do regret using the 'A' word though. Anyway, One solution to the overflow poaching problem (park fishers going downstream and using methods illegal there), is to have a more effective method for reporting them. Like someone else pointed out on your website before, unless an agent is on hand, the poacher will most likley get off scott free. As far as in the parks go, I try to stay out of them anyway, thats my contribution against the problem.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Craig Brazelton said...

Why does it seem that many of the proposed solutions lead to raising fees to non residents? Because of my job and family I'm stuck living in Illinois and we have no beautiful trout streams to fish where I live. I pay $42/yr for license and tag which is plenty expensive. I think by raising fees all we're doing is making fishing available to only the wealthier people who can afford it. I like to flyfish for trout so I spend more time fishing at Montauk during the winter catch and release season to avoid the crowds. Maybe one way to control the crowding is to expand the C&R season at the parks say from Oct. 1 to Mar.31(flyfishing only) Then open the whole park with no zones for the other 6 mos to the meat fishermen. That way during the warmer months people who want to avoid the crowds can pursue other (warmwater fish species outside the parks.

10:31 PM  
Blogger zimrx17 said...

I like this website, I just found it tonight. I too like alot of you was raised on the Missouri Trout Parks. I would like to think that they were less crowded when I was younger, but I feel that we as a society are just not as friendly as we once were. When I was young (early 80's) I would remember walking with my grandfather and brother at Bennett and stopping every so often and chatting with anglers walking down the road. People would smile, ask what was working, lend a fly or lure to those who didn't have what was "hot". Now you see alot of people walking with their heads down, not making eye contact, not really talking, and even worse behavior on the stream. I think it comes down to a philosophical dilema, why are you there? If you are one of the meat hunters as has been said earlier, your only reason for being there is to catch fish and the sooner the better. I feel these people would be happy just dipping a net into the breeding pools to get their limit. Then others are there because they love fishing, just being outdoors, don't care if they get skunked or not. Others are "big-wigs" with their fancy gear wanting to show off how they can catch fish with the most modern gear. I am a fly-fisher, used to be a spin-caster, and for me the feeling of "tricking" nature by tying a fly, and catching a fish, the feel of the line tightening, and the fight is why I go. I also love standing next to my dad, brother or grandfather, talking, casting, living. So at risk of sounding like a stuck-up fly-fisher, I would propose that at Bennett, zone 1 becomes fly-rods only, catch and release, zone 2 remains the same, and zone 3 remains the same. I would also have strict pentatlties for rule breakers, something like loss of priviledges of fishing the park for a week or something along that line. But I want to express my desire for everyone to be able to fish, I don't want to run the "power baiters" out, or set up some "class situation" where there is more anger and hostility between "classes". I do sense a difference, but as my ramble has pointed out how can we fix it without alienating others is a difficult proposition. I will enjoy reading others responses.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous dj ferrell said...

I am a 17 year old who has trout fished every summer in Colorado since I was 8 yrs. old ,but I just recently began fly fishing at Bennet Springs. When fishing in Colorado I can buy a daily fishing license for 5.25 and an annual for 40.25. I do not think we should raise prices for out of staters as than other states would do the same and for most families an out of state trip is a huge expense. I would not be happy to drive out there and then be told that I could not fish because too many licenses had been sold that day. While I do agree that the park is very crowded, I think a lot of the problem is all of the out of staters who come to canoe/camp on the Niangua River. I was fishing right below where the spring empties into the river and there was hardly room to fish with all the canoes going by. I counted over 200 canoes in a 3 hr period.Colorado has a quota on the number of rafts can float over certain parts of rivers on any given day.This greatly cuts down on the crowds. Maybe Missouri should do the same on our trout streams. Often while fishing in the park I'll see "meat hunters" carry a stringer to their car and then come back and carry a second or even third to their car. I often see people using flies and roostertails in zone 3 and bait in zone 1 and 2 and no agents in sight. I believe that more license/stringer/proper equipment checks by park angents would discourage a lot of the bad apples from showing up. Just a few ideas from a kid who loves to fish.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like several of the other posters I learned to fly fish at the trout parks - Bennett Springs and Roaring River. And I still fish Bennett Springs fairly often throughout the year. I live less than an hour from Bennett.My opinion is that there is not much difference fishing the parks now as opposed to 30 years ago when I started. Maybe the people are not quite as friendly but many are very nice. I'm pretty sure I saw a recent article somewhere stating that the # of tags had been slowly declining over the last 10 years at Bennett. I'm not sure about the other parks. I always catch and release but I don't have too much of a problem with those that don't. That being said I would love to see catch and release sections at Bennett and expanded areas at Roaring River and Montauk. Or a slot limit like at Taneycomo. I fish Taney quite often and that is where I see some of the most boorish and unsportmanlike conduct - yelling at other anglers, the san juan shuffle, fising the outlets exclusively, etc. But I'll continue to fish there. You can't beat it for BIG MO trout. Just my humble opinions.
Greg Mitchell

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Michael Black said...

A I was reading the posts I find I have a lot in common with just about every fisherman on here. The first time I ever fished for trout was at Roaring River with my father and grandfather. Several years later I taught myself how to fly-fish and make my own flies. Now it borders the edge of an addiction.

I thought about this problem for a while and thought about how the conservation department uses the lottery system for several of its managed waterfowl hunting areas. Obviously the proximity of hunters is more important than fisherman but it still accomplishes its goal, to reduce the number of hunters. But then there is the issue of non-lottery winners showing up to hunt, as someone mentioned. A solution to this could be an area that allows those non-lottery winners a place to fish/hunt. This area might not be as accessible or have less fish stocked. This way an out of state fisherman still has the oppurtunity to fish. Perhaps this should be done on in-state fisherman as well? I don't know. I'm just throwing something out there. I'm not so sure that out of state fisherman are really causing the problem.

I avoid the crowds by using a little common sense. I Fish in the afternoons or wait a couple months to fish the parks. I find myself searching other waters besides state parks that I know I can get away from people.
Finding solitude for me, is just as rewarding at catching a ton of fish.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great conversation we've had, here. It sounds as if we've come to the following. The worsening crowding problems at the trout parks may simply be a myth, as pointed out by some long-time trout park visitors. However, most seem to agree that inappropriate fisherman behaviors are on the increase. Therefore, raising prices, using tag lotteries, etc. would probably not affect the primary problem, which seems to be poor social skills. So, how to improve park social behaviors? Certainly, MDC agents are willing to intervene when fist fights break out, but we can't expect them to be hall monitors. Perhaps banning trouble-makers somehow? It sounds like we're wrapping up this topic, so if anyone has any last comments, I'd love to hear them. I'll try to summarize the ideas which seem to have a consensus and forward them on to the MDC for consideration.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I could say that I have been fishing in all of the parks in Missouri, but unfortunately Montauk State Park is the only one that I ever go to. I grew up going to Montauk with my father and grandfather, but I know live in Nashville and I am only able to make it a few times a year (opening day always being one of them). The only places that I go now are in Alaska, and a few streams just outside of Nashville. I found a few of the comments above interesting...

I am now considered out of state and I am also one who is happy to pay the $42. I prefer to fly fish over bait fish, but I do both in the park not the fly area.

One thing that I have noticed at MSP is that it is more of a business than ever before. The fish continue to shrink, the tag prices continue to go up, and the number that you can keep continues to go down. You see, I am what keeps getting called a "meat hunter" rather than fishing for the sport. Has it ever occured to anyone that there are those fishermen who love to fish, but also love the taste of trout? I will catch three nice fish, then catch and release all day long until the second buzzer and for some reason this is considered to be a bad thing?

In regards to people catching too many/keeping too many/using illegal bait. Rules are only truly rules if they are enforced. Whether or not you use bait outside the park is strictly an ethics call because it is not enforced.

But the real topic here is overcrowding. You are in a "State Park" deal with it. Montauk is a great place to visit, and as more people discover it, the more crowded it will be, also with recent highway improvements it is becoming more easily accessible. I don't think that you can drive true fisherman away with raising $$ for them.

I recently had a business afilliate come to town from Iceland. He had to cancel a trout fishing trip to come on the business trip. We finished work early and got to trout fish in Tennessee for a day. He couldn't believe how cheap (about $60) it was for him to trout fish for a single day. He told me that in Iceland they rent their water space for $200 + per day. Bottom line is that you are not going to run a true fisherman off with increasing $$. You will only penalize him. If you want to run people off and fix the overpopulation issue then take the word "State" out of Montuak State Park and make it your own private "Sportsmans Club".

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you've said. I think the consensus opinion we've come to here is that the parks are probably not much more crowded than they were many years ago. The primary problem appears to be manners and stream ethics. Fifteen good-natured people fishing the same hole together can actually be fun. If one of them lacks social skills, it can become a brawl.

Regarding "meat hunting", there are certainly fishermen out there who are 100% catch & release and are a bit snobby about it. When it comes right down to it, a good many catch & release trout fishermen have no problem keeping crappie or catfish -- they like how they taste. So, they're not really the strict conservation-minded sportsmen that they seem to be. In my mind, "meat hunter" refers to the people who go trout fishing for no other reason than to fill the freezer. It's these people who chum, snag fish, steal unattended stringers, etc. There's no real sportmanship unless you fish for the thrill of the chase, the take, the set, the fight... If you also put fish on the stringer, it doesn't change the fact that you're a sportsman. The fishing regulations are designed to allow the harvest of fish, after all.

Since MDC is truly overwhelmed with trying to enforce Missouri's conservation laws, it will likely fall to us to make sure people are following the rules. That's the reason for our Handling Poachers page.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Howard said...

I just stumbled accross this site tonight, and have read through every post. I'm really not sure what my position is, as to the "over crowding" problem. Honestly I don't have a problem with it, since I have met a lot of very nice people at Bennett Spring, which is where I spend my time fishing. Yes, you do run into the occasional "ASS" every once in a while, but it certainly doesn't ruin my trip. I am 37 years old, and have fished Bennet Spring since I could hold a fishing pole. I lost my long time fishing buddy (my dad) three years ago, and I put his ashes in the stream, so he is always with me when I find the time to make the trip. I guess that my only input on this subject would be that we definately need more officers patroling the public waterways. I can remember as a child, my dad had accidentaly left his styrofoam coffee cup on the bank, and walked away without picking it up, and he was ticketed, i think somewhere around $50 for that cup. Now when I walk the stream, I see trash everywhere, and it just makes me sick, I pick up whatever I can hold, every time I make a trip to the water. I just wish people would respect what we have, in our trout parks, it is truly a paradise, and we have to all work together and keep it that way. I wish I could give some input on the overcrowding problem, but I don't have an answer, and really, I don't even have a suggestion. I'm just glad that I get to experience it, it is a blessing to spend a weekend with your family at such a beautiful place. Please do your part to keep it that way. Thanks

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well said, Howard.

11:42 AM  
Blogger drnomad said...

I may have a different perspective about the park situation. We as sportsmen are dependent upon a positive public opinion to gain the support for those things we hold dear (fishing, hunting, etc.).

From my perspective, the trout parks provide the opportunity for "part time" sportsmen to get into nature. They provide a generally safe a supervised way for people to experience the many joys of fishing. They are put and take fisheries, and they are there to satisfy the need for some people to bring home fish. Having these resources available to anyone who wishes to use them at an affordable cost creates the opportunity for many more people to associate themselves with sportsmen. When votes come forward that require this support, we are glad to have the masses. Dispite the sometimes negative aspects of having large numbers of anglers in parks, there fees support their activities and ours.
I see sportsmen drawing we/they lines with terms like "meat hunters" and "power baiters". I would suggest that most anglers have at some time in their life been interested in the take rather than the pursuit. I don't remember where I read it, but I once read that there is a migration of sportsmen (hunters?) that goes something like this:
1)You start off just wanting to kill something.
2)You next get to the point where you want to get as many as you can.
3)You migrate to the point where the pursuit and related knowledge is the thrill.
4)The true sportsmen (camp cook?) gets to the point where just being out and involved with the whole process is the most important thing. They may go fishing/hunting without ever even picking up a rod/gun.

I am a Journey person myself, I get my enjoyment not from what I catch or what I bring home, but from being out and doing those things that make me a sportsman. I love fishing and I will fish for anything, anywhere, anytime as long as it is legal and ethical. Sometimes I take, sometimes I release depending on circumstances. But I am (almost) as content to watch a friend or child catch a fish as I am to catch it myself.
I went to Montauk this year for opening day. One of the people I was with had purchased his first fishing license to attend, but now he is hooked on the idea of fishing. We had a great time dispite less than great results fishing. The fishing parks and their crowds allowed this to happen. The parks create a place for crowds to go, and while they are there, they are not on the other parts of our water. If we don't like the crowds, then there are plenty of opportunities for us to fish when we are not crowded. If we want to drive off the crowds, then we should be careful about what we are wishing for because we may be part of the crowd that gets driven off.

Fish and let fish.
Tight Lines, KT.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your statements, but lets also not kid ourselves. There are drastic differences in the various groups of people that enjoy trout fishing. At one end of the spectrum is the true "meat hunter", who only considers it a pleasurable trip when he returns home with a cooler of fish. At the other end of the spectrum is the "purist", who will only use traditional western flies with the barb pinched down and would never ever consider removing a fish to take home. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

Personally, I prefer to flyfish and I release most of the fish I catch -- mainly because I don't like the taste of trout. But I also spin fish and even bait fish on occasion. I am also a taxidermist, so I have no problem removing a trophy fish to mount and hang on my wall. Removing a dominant fish, after all, actually helps the health of the fishery.

Case in point, I've guided clients on various waters who have refused to use certain flies I've presented to them (i.e. a glo-bug) and then gripe when they don't catch more fish on that pheasant tail. I have to laugh at them. I also have fished with unbelievably snobby purist types who have no problem fishing tandem rigs -- meaning fishing with two flies on your line at the same time. I don't like doing that, because it feels like I'm cheating.

And, as trout are somewhat of an elitest fish, the fishermen pursuing them are usually more than willing to look down their noses at each other. Jig fishermen judge salmon egg fishermen. Bait fishermen judge fly fishermen. Fly fishermen judge crankbait fishermen. And so on. It's truly silly.

As I read through these 20+ comments, it seems to me that this issue is really dead. The parks are all beautiful and have great trout habitat. Therefore, we all want to fish there. If the state ran the parks like a business, they'd charge $35 a day. It would cut the crowds by 90% and would require fewer fish. But the state isn't running the parks like a business. They're trying to get as many people as possible into the parks to get as many people as possible hooked on trout fishing. That leads to more fishing licenses, more state revenues, and the ability to buy additional cold water river access to add trout areas in the future. I suppose that's as it should be.

This incredible conversation started because I personally wanted to be able to fish the parks without the crowds. I've since change my perspective. I think the parks are doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Kansas and Have been to bennett spring three times this year and plan to go at least two more times. I pay 40 dollars a year to fish in your state plus the trout permit. I spend at least 90 dollars a night for lodging while fishing, I buy gas and fishing supplies in your state. I would pay a little more for a trout permit, but what you need to remember is the out of staters spend a whole lot more money fishing in your state than most residents. Agreed you all pay taxes but just off hand I have spent at least 1000 dollars in your state since may and am planning a four day trip next month.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Can't really tell from what you said in your post, but it sounds like you didn't read the entire list of comments -- granted it's a long list. The theory behind raising prices for non-residents is valid (and this is coming from someone who had to buy those non-resident Missouri permits for 10 years of my adult life). Every state does this. And when a resource is severely limited, most states implement lottery systems as well -- i.e. putting your name in to draw a non-resident elk tag for Montana. It's simply a method of setting aside the lion's share of the resource for the residents who pay those taxes you mentioned. I really REALLY want to go on a big game hunt in the Rockies -- elk, bighorn, bear, whatever. I simply can't afford it yet, and I have no idea if I ever will. To finally make it happen, I may have to move there! Of course, it's understandable that the idea of having non-resident fees increased would upset non-residents.

At any rate, this conversation actually seemed to resolve itself pretty well. Your comment is actually the first action on this topic in 18 months. The Missouri Department of Conservation WANTS the trout parks to be packed to overflowing with new trout fishermen. They are trying to get as many people as possible hooked on the sport. Therefore, those of us who prefer solitude will simply have to look elsewhere. Or we can simply fish the parks during the winter catch & release season when the crowds of fishermen are inside by a warm fire, where any sane person would be!

5:17 PM  

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