Southeast Missouri trout anglers sometimes lament the fact that they are so far from trout fishing waters such as the Eleven Point River, Montauk State Park, or the Meramec River. But guess what? Trout fishing can be had in Rotary Lake located in Jackson beginning November 1. This marks the opening of Missouri's winter trout season in lakes around the state.
Approximately 1,000 lbs of trout will be stocked prior to the opener. About 20% of those stocked will be 'lunkers' -- fish large enough to make your fishing reel's drag scream!
Rainbow trout are purchased by the City of Jackson and Missouri Department of Conservation and stocked in Rotary Lake each fall. Anglers are then able to fish for this popular cold-water fish through the fall and winter months on a catch-and-release basis. Come February 1, 2010, anglers can harvest trout. Rainbow trout are cold-water fish which live in water temperatures less than 70 degrees. They do well in waters such as Rotary Lake during the colder months.
From November 1 through January 31, all trout must be released unharmed immediately. During this time, anglers may only fish with flies, artificial lures, and unscented plastic baits. In addition, they may only use one fishing rod at a time. Chum is not permitted. Beginning on February 1, any bait may be used and 4 trout may be kept regardless of size. All anglers between the ages of 16 and 64 must have a valid Missouri fishing permit. Any angler harvesting trout must possess a trout permit as well.
Trout can be caught on a wide variety of lures. Flies which imitate aquatic insects are popular with fly fishers. In addition, spinners, small spoons, and various small lures are also effective. Light line and tackle will typically produce more fish than heavier equipment. Successful anglers typically use 2-6 lb test line when fishing with lures and add little or no additional weight to the line. Set the drag light as a trout often hits hard and makes strong runs which can break weak or frayed line.
The recent cold October weather has allowed Rotary Lake to clear nicely which should make for good fishing. For more information, contact the Missouri Department of Conservation in Cape Girardeau at (573) 290-5730.