Missouri Trout Hunter

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

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Trout Season is Coming!!


March 1st is going to be a big day! Not only is it the day that Missouri's four trout parks open for the catch & keep season, but this year March 1st is on a Saturday! Now, this may frighten you off -- crazy-big crowds and all. But think this through for a moment.

Since the hatchery managers KNOW the turnout is going to be HUGE, they're going to stock an incredibly large number of fish -- including a great number of real whoppers. And when they stock big trout, we're talking BIG TROUT. They'll certainly stock a bunch of 3 pound fish left over from the Fall '06 hatching, but they'll also be stocking the trout that have been set aside for brood stock but have gotten too old to be productive. We're talking about fish in the catagory of 2-1/2 feet long weighing 8 pounds and up. Want to know the secret to catching these monster fish on opening morning?

Catching a lunker on March 1st requires a specific gameplan. First, you have to expect and accept that you won't be able to wander the bank right off the bat. At the morning siren, you'll be fishing with a few thousand of your closest friends. If you step out of your spot for a second, your spot will magically disappear. So, to start off with, scout your location the day before, if possible. In this case, you won't be thinking like a fish. Instead, think like a hatchery worker. Where will they put the highest concentration of the biggest fish? Probably in the deepest water with the best oxygen levels, so look for deep holes below riffles or rapids with a BUNCH of whitecaps. Also, you might think that the crowds gravitate to a spot, because there are a bunch of fish there. Yes, this is true. But, hatchery staff also stock certain spots more heavily, because they know there will be a bigger crowd there tomorrow. Just something to keep in mind. On March 1st, crowds of fishermen actually DO mean tons of fish to go around.

So, pick your spot out the night before, and get there extra early in the morning. And when the siren sounds, do NOT be the first one to cast out. Wait a few seconds. The first 10 seconds of fishing will yield dozens (if not hundreds) of crossed lines and tangles, including fish that get tangled in other's lines and break off. Let this happen without your line in the water, and you'll find you have more breathing room to fish while everyone else is quickly re-rigging and cursing under their breath. The only other tip for morning siren fishing is to get your bait deep, and give it some good action without moving it through the water too quickly. If you're lucky, you'll get your lunker right off the bat. If not, it's time to adjust your tactics.

Once the initial frenzy dies down and fishermen start heading out to get some breakfast, it's time to become a serious lunker hunter. The secret trout park tactic is sight fishing. Sight-fishing is how true trophy hunters keep coming home with lunkers. They fish less, walk more, and stare at the river until their eyes start to cross. They find a spot that should have a big fish in it, and then they stand there and study the water closely until they eyeball the fish. Once they see him, they cast directly to him. And they keep casting until he takes their bait, lure or fly. It's not hard, but it takes self-discipline. And the most popular method for catching monster trout-park fish? Spin fishing with marabou jigs. If you position yourself correctly, you can cast jigs so they'll suspend right in front of that monster fish. Keep twitching the jig around him, and he will eventually eat it.

Of course, there are many methods of catching big fish, and we see plenty of trophies come in the shop (Ozark Taxidermy) that are caught on a variety of bait, lures and flies. So here is my last bit of advice to help you get your trophy. Watch the water temperature. If the water temp warms into the 50's, the fish will be more active and will be more likely to chase down little things that run away. That means you'll have luck casting spinners, trout worms, crankbaits, and stripping in big streamers. If the water temp stays in the 40's, the fish will be more lethargic, meaning you'll have to drift your bait, lure or fly to their nose. They'll still eat, but they'll be more likely to feed on food drifting past them rather than chasing minnows and whatnot.

When you get that trophy trout, be sure to bring it in to Ozark Taxidermy. You'll be thrilled with the results. And if you prefer catch-and-release, we do darn good reproductions, too! Just take a good picture or two before you let old Bluto go. Now go get 'em!

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, no way, no how, not going to happen. Sorry Trout hunter, but the idea of being surrounded by literally thousands of my fellow fishermen and fisher-women is unimaginable. Excuse me and call me anti-social, but I will not be at one of the parks March 1st. Mike

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to second that emotion, Mike, but I don't think you're anti-social. It took me a long time realize that I'm not a PEOPLE-person. I'm a PERSON-person. I don't like parties, I don't like crowds, I don't like committee meetings, I don't like theme parks, etc., etc., etc. I DO like people when I can interact with them one at a time (person-person). Even so, when I'm fishing, it's still more about me and the fish rather than me and my fishing buddy. Most of the people I've spoken to who enjoy the March 1st ritual seem to enjoy the social aspects of it as much as the fishing. So, an additional last bit of advice to all would this. If you're a PEOPLE-person, give March 1st a try. If you're a PERSON-person like Mike and me, sleep in like we'll be doing!

Thanks Mike.

1:35 PM  
Blogger mo outdoorsman said...

As i read your article, many thoughts of past opening days came to mind. Whether the opener was a good or bad time, whether the weather was warm or cold i can honestly say that i would not have changed it for the chance to sleep in. I have made many friends while fishing these opening days, some i still run into on the banks of my favorite fishing hole only on opening day. More importantly for myself is that i am carrying on a tradition that started some twenty years ago and that is being passed onto my own children. Yes there is going to be a lot of people, and yes you will probably get tangled a few times, but more importantly you are going to miss out on a wonderful time spent with family and friends, and maybe just maybe the chance to make a new friend or two. Good luck to all on the opener, and hopefully ill see you in the water.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear you, and totally understand your point. The times I've gone, I've loved observing the atmosphere of friendship. I have to say, though, that it probably works as well as it does, because grumpy people like me tend to stay away. Even when I think of my closest friends and the family members who are closest to my heart, I have to admit that I don't love 'em enough to go to opening day with them! :-) Even so, 3/1 is a tradition that brings thousands of fun-loving and dedicated trout fishermen to Missouri for many varied reasons, including but certainly not limited to catching trout. Thanks mo.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree this is illegal, port police are not alert that is why fisherman taking advantage of this.
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sanjeeda
Addiction Recovery Missouri

Addiction Recovery Missouri

1:28 AM  

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