Many are unaware that Missouri has a lot of trout fishing opportunities. Besides the four trout parks, there are some 120 miles of cold spring fed streams managed and stocked by the state. Additionally, Lake Taneycomo offers year-round fishing for big brown and rainbow trout. Seldom touted too is winter fishing for trout in areas around Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia, Sedalia, Kirksville, St. Joseph, Jefferson City and Mexico. The state stocks nearly 2 million trout annually.
All of the state’s trout streams are fed by numerous springs and the trout parks are built around very large springs. For instance, Lake Taneycomo receives the cold water from the outlet from Table Rock Lake. The winter trout areas depend on winter temperatures for the fish to survive in ponds.
Missouri has two species of trout. Rainbows, the most popular, are found in all trout fishing waters and are stocked in the trout parks, trout management areas as well as in winter trout areas. The rainbows reproduce naturally in at least 14 counties. Brown trout are stocked in Red Ribbon areas as well as other trout areas. In the state, browns can grow to large sizes.
The state offers information regarding each area stocked for trout on a graded system designated by different colored ribbons. There are nine White Ribbon areas where some have a lot of pressure and others don’t. White Ribbon areas include Capps Creek, part of the Current River, Eleven Point River, the newest addition Hickory Creek, Little Piney Creek, Niangua River, parts of Roubidoux Creek, Stone Mill Spring and part of Lake Taneycomo. At Taneycomo, from some 760 feet below Table Rock Dam to the mouth of Fall Creek, special regulations apply. In most other streams there is no length limit on rainbow trout. Anglers need to check the regulations for the streams they plan on fishing, because they are not the same for every stream.
Red Ribbon trout areas include the Meramec River, North Fork of the White River and parts of Roubidoux Creek; the length limit is at least 15 inches. The Blue Ribbon areas, which include Barren Fork Creek, Blue Springs Creek, Crane Creek, part of Current River, part of Eleven Point River, Little Piney Creek, Mill Creek, part of North Fork of the White River and Spring Creek, are where only one fish over 18 inches may be taken.