Trout season opens Tuesday at Jackson's Rotary Lake

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Tuesday provides a unique opportunity for anglers in Southeast Missouri. That's the date when they can catch and keep trout from Rotary Lake in Jackson's City Park.

If you haven't fished for trout in the past, you may not fully appreciate just how special this opportunity really is. Maybe a brief history lesson is in order.

Trout are a cold water species that cannot survive in water temperatures of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In the past, this meant a person wanting to catch trout had to travel three or more hours for the opportunity. If you wanted to keep fish, you had to wait until March 1, the traditional season-opening date at Missouri's Trout Parks.

All of that changed for area anglers last year, when Jackson joined the cities of St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia by participating in a special Urban Trout Fishery. The program is co-sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, Trout Unlimited and the various city governments.

One thousand pounds of trout were stocked in Rotary Lake on Oct. 1. Approximately 80 percent of the fish measured 10 to 13 inches in length. The remaining 20 percent ranged from 14 to 24 inches. That works out to roughly 1,200 fish.

The MDC, Trout Unlimited and a donation from the local Wal-Mart store cover the costs.

Since trout don't survive in warm-water conditions, fishing regulations are set to maximize opportunities. From Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, all trout must be released unharmed immediately (catch and release). During that period, all anglers are limited to artificial lures and flies only. Starting Tuesday, anglers may use any bait or lure (including natural baits).

All anglers ages 16 to 64 must possess a valid fishing permit. All anglers must have a trout permit to keep trout. If you plan to practice catch and release, no trout permit is needed.

With regard to limits: from Tuesday through Feb. 28, the daily limit is five trout. Beginning March 1, the daily limit will change to four trout. This change is due to statewide regulations.

You can wait until March 1 and join in the crowds for the traditional trout park opener, or you can head to Jackson's Rotary Lake and join in on the fun.

Gene Myers is an agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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