March 1st is just around the corner so I considered participating in the Opening Day of Trout Season in Missouri. The last time I attempted to fish was in 1983 on a friend’s ranch in Colorado. I remember the poles and the worms but the rest is a blur. Our daughter was five years old so much of the day was spent untangling lines, pulling hooks out of clothing, and setting the “poor wittle worms” free. The next 35 years were consumed with raising eight children and ten grandchildren. During that time, my husband took the kids fishing many times, and he has the battle wounds to show for it. But I was usually at home, minding the babies and lining up antibacterial ointment, bandages, and pain relievers in anticipation of their arrival home.
Follow the Rules
Being warned that there are rules regarding fishing in Missouri, my first stop was the Missouri Department of Conservation website. I learned that I may use a pole and a line but I am unable to use dynamite, poison, electrical equipment, or explosive propelled spearguns. I am not sure what shocked me more, the idea that anyone would use those techniques to get fish or the fact that so MANY people were using them that they had to write down rules about it. I also learned that I cannot use more than 33 hooks at any one time, except on the Mississippi River where I am allowed 50 hooks. Really? Why would I want 50 hooks on my pole?
There are rules about where I can fish, what and how many hours in the day I can fish, the size of the fish, how the fish are stored and transported, measuring the fish, what type of shoes or boots I can wear, and what kind of bait I can use.
And of course there are rules about noodling, which I learned is a common term for hand-fishing. Apparently, there are around 13,000 people in Missouri alone who are willing to stick their hands into murky water, near a fallen log or rock, and wait for a 40-pound catfish to bite them. Of course they run the risk of a snake or snapping turtle biting first, but it is a chance they are willing to take.
A Fish By Any Other Name
Statistics show that there are over 200 kinds of fish in Missouri and there are specific rules about each of them. For instance, in the bass family alone there are Northern Rock, Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted/Kentucky, Striped, White, and Yellow, just to name a few. And as a fisher-person, I am expected to know the difference between each of them. If I fish on the Big Piney River, my daily limit is six black bass including one smallmouth bass. But if I fish the Big River, I can take 12 black bass, and no more than six largemouth bass and smallmouth bass combined. I looked up pictures of just the bass and quickly determined that, to me, they all look alike! My research has shown me that fishermen and women have to be some of the smartest people in the world and worthy of respect.
What’s the Bottom Line?
After investigating the rules and license requirements and public and private land use, I decided to check out fishing equipment in my area. After totaling up the cost of the pole, tacklebox, bait, hooks, bobber, license, clothing, approved boots, knife, chair, first aid kit, extra line, bucket, long-nosed pliers, and flashlight, I figured that I would need to catch 1,375 fish to break even (considerably more if I purchase a small boat and a truck and trailer to haul it).
After taking everything into consideration, I have decided that I will go out on opening season of trout fishing in Missouri this year. You will find me in the frozen seafood section of my local grocery store.