Being from southern Indiana one must take their trout fishing opportunities where and when they can get them and just such an opportunity presented itself over the weekend of March 25th and 26th…as I had to return to Rolla Missouri to pick up my 1997 Suburban which had blown a transmission on the way home the prior weekend; it was our last weekend of my spring break as a teacher. Knowing that I was to be within a few miles of the fourth of Missouri’s trout parks and the only one I had not ever fished….well we used some time on Friday and Saturday to give it a try.
I was not sure what to expect as the other three trout parks all have their own personalities and in some ways they are all very different; from the rate and volume of water to the clientele of fisherman…so as we eased into our parking area and strung our rods I didn’t know if Meramec would be like the others or completely different. What I found was a very nice stream that flowed at about the same rate as Bennet Spring in Lebanon, Missouri. I was fishing a type 3 sinking line and started with the ever faithful black wooly bugger. I moved quite a ways downstream, being both cautious and meticulous about my steps, not knowing the ins and outs of the stream and fishing in water that was still quite murky. When I fished through the first right hand bend I felt my first ‘tug’ and set the hook…no fish. Another cast and the same…the third cast was the charm and I landed a plain looking rainbow of about 12 inches…but it was a fish. I turned the corner and could see that the stream was narrowing and looked more like the typical trout stream and sure enough things started to happen and while it wasn’t hot fishing it was OK and I managed to land 7 more trout….a couple were really nice takes from the far side.
Meramec has a $5 dollar per car entrance fee and then the usual $3 dollar per day trout tag which allows you to harvest 4 trout. Be sure you understand that when you stringer your fourth fish you are officially done and must exit the stream. You can’t even fish for any of their good smallmouth bass…when you are done, you are done. I like the fact that there was a difference in structure and the stream allowed for bait fisherman and fly-fisherman to use the same water. On the other hand I didn’t like the fact that there weren’t zones like at Bennet and Montauk that kept fly-fisherman separate from bait fisherman. It is a little frustrating to be stripping a bugger and have the marshmallow folks nearby and hauling them in…the other parks are more homogeneous in their set up.
When I go back I may try to fly fish the river a little more as the spring flows into the river of the same name and the river looked good and I know that there must be a number of fish that move off of the springs and into the river. The mouth of the river….where it met the spring was deep, in fact too deep for me to wade across with the current water clarity and therefore I left the river and the possible dunking alone.
If you are looking for a nice place to land a trout and not have to drop a big dime…then Meramec may just be the place for you. You can go to www.mostateparks.com for all the info.
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