Why Do Anglers Go Wild for Missouri Trout?
Southern Missouri’s unspoiled waterways, which include nine blue ribbon trout streams, entice anglers from all across the nation. Why? They are spectacular habitats for prized brown and rainbow trout, combining beautiful scenery and serenity with world-class angling. The local conservation department even offers awards for anglers catching trout in those blue ribbon streams. It’s an exciting opportunity to win the accolades of the Missouri Blue Ribbon Trout Slam. Spend a little time in these fishing spots, though, and you’ll probably conclude that no extra rewards are necessary!
What Is the Missouri Blue Ribbon Trout Slam?
The Missouri Blue Ribbon Trout Slam was created by the Missouri Department of Conservation and sponsored by Trout Unlimited. As of January 2020, any angler who lands a trout in at least five of Missouri’s nine blue ribbon trout streams gets an award along with recognition on the department’s website. Here are the award levels and prizes:
- Gold Award: Catch a trout in all nine rivers and receive a certificate, gold pin and medallion.
- Silver Award: Catch a trout in seven of the nine rivers and receive a certificate and silver pin.
- Bronze Award: Catch a trout in five of the nine rivers and receive a certificate and bronze pin.
Trout of all sizes, both rainbow and brown, count toward the prize; however, you must release any fish under 18 inches. To enter, complete the Blue Ribbon Trout Slam Entry Form online. You will need to enter your name, email address, conservation ID (found on your permit), date of catch and the trout area where you caught your fish.
Optionally, you can also post a photo of your trout to the “brag board” on the conservation department’s website and social media. Upload a photo of your fish to Instagram or Twitter and use the hashtag #MoTroutSlam. Your name will also be added to the roster of bronze, silver or gold award winners on the website. As of August 2022, more than 200 anglers have been recognized as trout slam award winners.
Where Are the Blue Ribbon Streams?
Missouri’s blue ribbon trout streams are waterways recognized as the most outstanding habitats for trout. They support the natural reproduction of trout and pose a considerable challenge to anglers, making every catch extra special. Benefiting anglers as well as fish, these unspoiled natural habitats are beautiful places to spend some time on the water.
Conditions including water levels, scenery, variety of fish and best fishing techniques vary widely across the nine blue ribbon streams. You can also expect variation from season to season, making these angling spots different every time you visit.
The nine places recognized as blue ribbon trout streams in Missouri are:
- Barron Fork Creek
- Blue Springs Creek
- Crane Creek
- Current River
- 11 Point River
- Little Piney Creek
- Mill Creek
- North Fork of the White River
- Spring Creek
It’s important to read up on these streams before heading out on your fishing trip. They are remote, span private lands in places and can be tricky to find. The Department of Conservation website offers an overview of all the trout areas, parks and lakes in the state. It's the best resource for planning your trip. Figure out the appropriate access points, note local restrictions (which are different for every stream) and make sure you don’t accidentally trespass on private lands. Talking to experienced local anglers is also ideal if you're able to do so.
About Trout Fishing in Missouri
Both a fishing permit and trout permit are required for trout fishing in public waters in Missouri, although the details vary by location and season. Read the requirements carefully and also review the Wildlife Code of Missouri. You can purchase permits online or over the phone. Browse the options carefully, as frequent anglers might be able to save money with an annual or lifetime option. Note that prices may be higher for out-of-state anglers. Once you have acquired your permits, be sure to have them available for inspection, along with your picture I.D., while you’re fishing.
The trout fishing season in Missouri’s trout areas is all year. In trout parks, it’s typically March through October, and mid-November to mid-February for catch and release. Check online for up-to-date season information.
Get the Right Gear
An experienced angler probably has most of the necessary outdoor gear for trout fishing in Missouri. However, it's a good idea to take tips from the conservation department regarding the best equipment, bait and techniques.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Wear polarized sunglasses to spot trout in slow-moving water.
- Use a hand net to land trout, which easily break fishing lines when pulled out of the water.
- Wear waders or waterproof boots. Pike Trail Waterproof Breathable Socks are an excellent addition as well. They aid as an "insurance policy" in case you spring an unexpected leak. Most of us have experienced this and know that cold wet feet is the quickest way to ruin your day on the river.
- Use an ultra-light rod and spinning reel, recommended to be 6 to 6 ½ feet long.
- Always check the regulations for allowed baits and lures by area and season.
- Choose a heavier line in murkier waters.
Rain and damp ground are common at Missouri’s trout fishing spots, so check the weather forecast before heading out, and wear appropriate clothing to help you stay dry. A lightweight rain jacket, hat and gloves should be part of your rain gear. Another great addition is the Pike Trail Pocket Blanket. It folds down really small and is waterproof, so you can use it as a dry spot to sit, as a work mat to fix a broken reel or to warm up after fishing on a cold day.
Whether you’re going fishing, hunting, hiking or camping, Pike Trail has the best gear for your outdoor adventure. All Pike Trail products are top-quality, road-tested and — best of all — affordable. Check out their full line at PikeTrail.com.