There’s relatively little trout water in Missouri, and very few streams (6 apparently) managed as Wild Trout Streams. The Missouri DNR rates 298 stream-miles within the state as “Cold Water Fishery” (1.2% of the state’s total streams), all of which are found in the southern part of the state, largely on the Ozarks plateau. This designation is defined as:
Waters in which naturally occurring water quality and habitat conditions allow the maintenance of a naturally reproducing or stocked trout fishery…”
Unfortunately, as such, the designation does not distinguish (and does not separately protect) waters which support natural trout reproduction.
Most natural trout reprodution within the state is by rainbow trout, which are more naturally heat-tolerant among the “big 3” trout species (rainbows, browns, brookies). Rainbows are, of course, exotic to MO, having originally been stocked from California. There are no brook trout fisheries in the state, though brown trout are regularly stocked in some streams, and may reproduce in others alongside rainbows.
In the image above, designated coldwater streams are shown as cyan lines. The other colored lines show Trout Areas managed by the Missouri Department of Convervation (“MDC”), virtually all of which area also designated cold water fisheries. These show Trout Parks (Magenta lines) and Blue Ribbon, Red Ribbon, and White Ribbon streams.
The MDC designates nine “Blue Ribbon” Trout Areas which are principally managed for wild trout, though three of the larger streams, the North Fork of the White, Eleven Point and Current rivers, are also stocked periodically. Fishing is restricted to flies and hard lures, with no soft plastic, scented lures, or live bait allowed. Anglers are allowed to keep one fish of 18″ or larger.
|Blue Ribbon Area||Management|
|Barren Fork Creek||Wild|
|Current River||Partially Stocked|
|Eleven Point River (aka Hurricane Creek)||Partially Stocked|
|Little Piney Creek||Wild|
|North Fork of the White River||Partially Stocked|
|Blue Springs Creek||Wild|
Many of the other Cold Water streams are managed as “Trout Parks” (intensively stocked) or Red Ribbon or White Ribbon streams (which are less intensively stocked). In some cases these other areas adjoin the wild trout waters, which suggests that some stocked fish will regularly migrate into the wild trout areas.