The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its Urban Fishing Program (UFP) this year. Since 1969, the UFP has grown from a limited experiment to an expanded and robust program providing close-to-home fishing for St. Louis area citizens. These opportunities include pursuing rainbow trout during the winter in select UFP lakes.
In that same theme of making things bigger, MDC will stock an increased number of extra-large lunker rainbow trout this season at its UFP lakes in honor of the 50th anniversary. Some of these giants could tip the scales at 10lbs.
“St. Louis-area trout anglers might need to buy some heavier tackle,” said Fisheries Management Biologist Kevin Meneau.
In addition to the normal eight stockings this season, including the lunker rainbow trout, MDC will also add an additional ninth stocking of brown trout in St. Louis UFP lakes, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. This will give trout anglers yet another unique fishing opportunity.
Winter trout stocking for MDC’s St. Louis Urban Fishing Program starts the week of November fourth this year. That’s good news for trout chasers who now need travel only minutes to pursue their passion rather than hours.
“The whole goal of the program is to bring fish to the people, so they don’t have to drive to an Ozark trout stream or trout park,” said Meneau.
MDC will stock the following St. Louis UFP lakes with special lunker rainbows and brown trout this season:
• Carondelet Park Boathouse Lake in St. Louis
• January-Wabash Lake in Ferguson
• Jefferson Lake in Forest Park
• O’Fallon Park Lake in St. Louis
• Suson Park lakes 1, 2, and 3 in St. Louis County
• Tilles Park Lake in St. Louis County
• Vlasis Park Lake in Ballwin
Additional St. Louis Area lakes that will continue to receive normal rainbow stockings this year include:
• Koeneman Park Lake in Jennings
• Walker Lake in Kirkwood
• Wild Acres Park Lake in Overland
• August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area lakes 3, 21, 22, 23 and 28
From November through February, MDC stocks rainbow trout in 12 St. Louis City and County lakes, as well as in five lakes at the MDC August A. Busch Conservation Area on Route D in St. Charles.
The rainbows bound for the St. Louis area are spawned and raised at MDC’s Montauk Hatchery, southeast of Licking. “We’ll stock nearly 40,000 fish this year,” Meneau said.
This season especially, anglers had better bring some larger nets. While the average size of the fish is about 11 inches, Meneau said that this year MDC will also be stocking some extra-large whoppers as well. “Some fish will weigh up to 10lbs,” said Meneau. “There’ll be some real tackle testers.”
Between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31, some lakes are catch-and-release only, and some are catch-and-keep. After Feb. 1, trout may be harvested from all lakes. Anglers should consult the St. Louis Area Winter Trout Program brochure for details, possession limits and bait restrictions, which is available at MDC offices or at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Zd5, or check regulations posted at the lakes. All trout anglers between age 16 and 64 must have a valid Missouri fishing permit to participate. Anglers wishing to catch and keep trout must also possess a trout permit.
MDC provides a chance for anglers to keep on top of trout stocking efforts in the St. Louis area.
“The fish stocking hotline has become very popular,” Meneau said, “and we update it right after we finish stocking for the day. It’s toll free from anywhere in the St. Louis area. There’s a recorded message that tells when we stocked, where we stocked, and what fish we stocked.”
Anglers should call the hotline at 636-300-9651 to get the latest information.
“These close-to-home opportunities make it easy for a quick trout fishing excursion after work, or during an activity-packed weekend. It also makes trout fishing much friendlier on the fuel budget,” said Meneau. Plus, this season, those lurking lunkers provide even more incentive.
For information about fishing, go online at https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/fishing.