_Trout season doesn’t open in Missouri’s stocked trout streams until March 1, but that hasn’t kept Tim Homesley of Tim’s Fly Shop enjoying some great catch-and-release action. “I was fishing this morning,” he said, “and I’ll be back out there this afternoon.” Homesley has been fishing the lower sections of the Roaring River where the fish are off limits and reserved for anglers throwing artificial lures and flies. “The River is fishing differently this year,” he said, “the water is flowing with more force over the baffles.” Tom suggests angler use three to four splitshots or a small eggsinker to get their fly to the fish. The best fly for early spring trout is a #8 mohair leech or Hildebrandt spinner in size #2. He added that the dry fly fishing has been excellent. “We get huge clouds of midges and cadis everyday,” he said.
The upper reaches of the Roaring River—and other streams in the program—will open March 1 for anglers to target these farm-raised trout. “It will be butt-cheek to butt-cheek,” Homesley says, explaining that hundreds of anglers will line the banks to catch thousands of stocked trout. Most of these fish will be caught on small jigs and plastic worms. When they’re not fishing, anglers will huddle around campfires and drink hot coffee provided by the local Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a fun time,” says Roaring River Hatchery manger Jerry Dean, “people fish the same area each year, they see old friends and have a great time.”
But, for anglers who want to get away from the madness, there are still many miles of river that are relatively un-fished. “The rest of the river doesn’t see as many people and it’s real pretty,” says Dean.
“Typically striper fishing is great this time of year,” reports John New at Hook Up Outfitters, “but this year has been slow.” New blames a cold winter and cold water for the slow striper bite on Lake Pleasant, Arizona. “We’ve got several days of 80 degree weather forecast for the week,” he said. “Once the water temperature hits 59 degrees, the fishing will take off.”
As the water warms, shad will school up on the surface and the striped bass will follow. New will target the fish with topwater plugs and poppers. Until then, he looks for schools of bait and fish with his fishfinder then drops a ½ ounce to 2-ounce metal spoon to the fish. John says that anglers will find the biggest bass away from the schools of smaller fish. He also recommends using fresh anchovies on a # 4 circle hook and a ½- to ¾-ounce drop shot rig. “A reel with a line counter is a great way to fish for suspended striper. Once the water hits 60 degrees, striper fishing will be spectacular with fly rods and poppers.”