Winter Fishing Still Possible After Floods at Trout Parks
Guest post by: Bob Randall
The Missouri Trout Fishermen’s Association
Sometimes weather happens! For the time being, many of our favorite trout fishing spots are flooded out, unsafe, and maybe even damaged. They will come back. After summer flooding at Roaring River State Park Hatchery manager Paul Spurgeon said, “Trout tend to hunker on the bottom when they can and many will stay in the stream, though they do get moved around a bit by the swift water. A lot of the fish that were already in the stream got washed out into the surrounding areas and got stuck there. Our crews collected fish from these flooded areas and released them back into the stream.”
Great news! The Roaring River Hatchery did not flood. Catch and release fishing will be available again this Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The hatchery manager said that the upper fishing area was in pretty good shape but with murky water and high flows. He added that the fly fishing section was hit pretty hard and the banks in that section were damaged.
Maramec Spring was flooded on Monday. They had covers on the raceway pools and no fish were lost. Fish are in their respective pools in contrast to the Bennett Spring situation. The main part of the stream is high and muddy and the lower section is still flooded (as of 12/30/15). The hatchery manager reported that the only bad news is that about 1/3 of the spring dam “blew out.” The spring pool will have to be lowered. Fishing is a go and remember, at Maramec Spring, catch and release is a seven day a week thing, instead of F-S-S-M.
Montauk Fish Hatchery had substantial flooding but did not lose any fish. They expect to be open for catch and release fishing this weekend. The water is murky and above normal levels. The hatchery manager said it looks like a “war zone” in some places with sand deposited where it hadn’t been before and tree limb debris.
Although there was a massive fish die-off at the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery this fall due to high nitrogen/low oxygen content in the Table Rock Lake’s deeper waters, the surviving fish were moved to other hatcheries before the recent rains. That problem should be relieved by the fall turnover after cold weather cools the lake and the current “flushing” by the water over the dam. The hatchery runs were not overwhelmed by this flood. The lower parking lot is currently flooded and will probably not be open until at least mid-January but that will depend on weather and the Corps of Engineers. Once the dam spillways are closed, fishing may resume although it may require a boat instead of waders. The hatchery will then bring fish back and begin releases. My recommendation for fishing at Lake Taneycomo is still valid but should be delayed until the water recedes and the hatchery is back to normal.
In an interview Bennett Spring Hatchery Manager Ben Havens said that the raceway pools were flooded which resulted in the fish that are normally separated by size being mixed together. Commenting that “a lot of time the fish will hunker down within the raceways.” he said he was “encouraged this far that it doesn’t look like we’ve lost that many fish, if any, at all. We didn’t have any catastrophic mortality. We didn’t have any dead fish necessarily, we just have our fished mixed up and all over the place.” He mentioned they will clean out the raceways and then sort the fish to get it back in order. When asked if everything will be OK for the opening season, he seemed optimistic and that they would know that answer within a couple of weeks.
Urban trout parks may still be a good bet for winter trout fishing although the St. Louis area lakes may be problematic right now because of the rain. Call specific locations for more information on that area.