Fishing & Hunting Regulation Changes Take Effect March 1

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Hunters will have 16 extra days to chase turkeys this fall. Anglers will be allowed to use green frogs and bullfrogs as fishing bait. Target shooters will find new hours at ranges on some conservation areas. Those are a few of the Missouri hunting and fishing regulation changes that will go into effect March 1.

Missouri's hunting and fishing year begins March 1. That's when hunting and fishing permits expire and when new regulation changes go into effect.

FISHING REGULATION CHANGES

Most of this year's fishing regulation changes involve trout. Missouri trout streams now are divided into three categories:

--Blue Ribbon Trout Areas -- Harvest is limited to maintain the density of adult trout, create excellent catch-and-release fishing and provide the occasional chance to harvest a trophy

--Red Ribbon Trout Areas -- High-quality trout habitat stocked primarily with brown trout to provide good catch-and-release fishing and a chance to harvest quality-sized trout.

--White-Ribbon Trout Areas -- Coldwater streams capable of supporting trout year-round, stocked with rainbow and, in some cases, brown trout to provide great opportunities for catching and harvesting trout and the occasional chance to harvest a large trout.

Creel limits on trout in Missouri's four trout parks and most other waters decrease from five to four daily and from 10 to eight in possession. The reduction is aimed at helping less successful anglers get a bigger share of the fishing action.

Exceptions to the four-trout daily limit include:

--Barren Fork Creek in Shannon County from Country Road AD to its confluence with Sinking Creek--one trout. (Blue-Ribbon Area)

--Blue Springs Creek in Crawford County from Blue Springs to its junction with the Meramec River--one trout. (Blue-Ribbon Area)

--Crane Creek in Stone and Lawrence counties upstream from Quail Spur Crossing on Stone County Road 13-195--one trout. (Blue-Ribbon Area)

--Current River and its tributaries from Montauk State Park to Cedar Grove--one trout. (Blue-Ribbon Area)

--Eleven Point River in Oregon County from Greer Spring Branch junction to Turner Mill Access--one trout. (Blue-Ribbon Area)

--Little Piney Creek in Phelps County from the Phelps County line in Sections 9 and 16 of T35N, R8W, including Piney Spring Branch and Lane Spring Branch to Milldam Hollow Access-one trout. (Blue-Ribbon Area)

--Mill Creek in Phelps County from Yelton Spring to its junction with Little Piney Creek including Wilkins Spring and spring branch-one trout. (Blue-Ribbon Area)

--Meramec River and its tributaries except the Maramec Spring Branch, in Crawford and Phelps counties from Highway 8 Bridge to Scott's Ford--two trout. (Red-Ribbon Area)

--North Fork of the White River in Ozark County from the upper outlet of Rainbow Spring to Patrick Bridge-one trout. (Blue-Ribbon Area)

--The unimpounded part of the North Fork of the White River and its tributaries in Ozark County from Patrick Bridge to Norfork Lake--two trout. (Red-Ribbon Area)

--Roubidoux Creek in Pulaski County from the elevated utility crossing approximately .5 mile below the Business I-44 Bridge in Waynesville to its confluence with the Gasconade River--two trout. (Red-Ribbon Area)

--Spring Creek in Phelps County from Relfe Spring to the Big Piney River-one trout. (Blue-Ribbon Area)

All brown trout less than 15 inches long must be released immediately at Missouri's four trout parks and on the unimpounded portion of any steam unless otherwise restricted.

All brown and rainbow trout less than 18 inches long must be released immediately on:

--Barren Fork Creek in Shannon County from Country Road AD to its confluence with Sinking Creek--one trout.

--Blue Springs Creek in Crawford County from Blue Springs to its junction with the Meramec River--one trout.

--Crane Creek in Stone and Lawrence counties upstream from Quail Spur Crossing on Stone County Road 13-195--one trout.

--Current River and its tributaries from Montauk State Park to Cedar Grove--one trout.

--Eleven Point River in Oregon County from Greer Spring Branch junction to Turner Mill Access-one trout.

--Little Piney Creek in Phelps County from the Phelps County line in Sections 9 and 16 of T35N, R8W, including Piney Spring Branch and Lane Spring Branch to Milldam Hollow Access-one trout.

--Mill Creek in Phelps County from Yelton Spring to its junction with Little Piney Creek including Wilkins Spring and spring branch-one trout.

--North Fork of the White River in Ozark County from the upper outlet of Rainbow Spring to Patrick Bridge-one trout.

--Spring Creek in Phelps County from Relfe Spring to the Big Piney River-one trout.

A trout permit is required in addition to the prescribed fishing permit for fishing at:

--Maramec Spring Trout Park, Bennett Spring State Park (SP), Montauk SP and Roaring River SP during the winter no-creel season.

--Stone Mill Spring Branch in Pulaski County from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28.

--Lake Taneycomo from the closed fishing zone 760 feet below Table Rock Dam downstream to the U.S. Highway 65 Bridge.

From March 1 through Oct. 31, no person with four trout already in possession may fish on the designated portions of Montauk SP and Roaring River SP where catch-and-release fishing only is permitted.

At Stone Mill Spring Branch, trout fishing is permitted from March 1 through Oct. 31. The daily limit is four, and no person shall continue to fish for any species after having four trout in possession. Fishing also is permitted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Nov. 1 through the last day in February as posted. Only flies and artificial lures may be used, and all fish must be released immediately.

Fishing is permitted at Stone Mill Spring Branch on designated waters during posted hours. Not more than one pole and line may be used by one person at a time. Gigging, snaring, snagging and the taking of live bait are prohibited. Flies, artificial lures, unscented soft plastic baits and natural and scented baits may be used, except in waters posted as restricted to specific baits or lures. The use of any foods to attract fish, except when placed on a hook, is prohibited.

This year, anglers may use as bait bullfrogs and green frogs taken and possessed under statewide regulations. The daily limit for southern leopard frogs, plain leopard frogs and cricket frogs is five each.

An experimental hand-fishing season for catfish will run from sunrise to sunset June 1 through July 15 in parts of the Fabius and Mississippi rivers in northeastern Missouri and part of the St. Francis River in southeastern Missouri.

Hand fishers must have a resident or nonresident annual fishing permit, a daily fishing permit or an exemption and buy a $7 Hand Fishing Permit, which will be available from the Conservation Department's Central Office in Jefferson City.

The daily limit is five blue, flathead and channel catfish in the aggregate, with a possession limit of 10. Flathead and blue catfish less than 22 inches long must be released unharmed immediately.

Hand fishing is restricted to feet and bare hands. Hooks or other devices are not allowed. Furthermore, hand fishers may take fish only from natural cavities or those created by bona fide construction, such as bridges and boat ramps. Hand fishers must report all fish they take.

The river sections included in the experimental hand-fishing season are:

--The Mississippi River from the mouth of the Fabius River upstream to the mouth of the Des Moines River

--The Fabius River system from its mouth to the Highway 61 bridges and the South Fabius in Marion County from the Highway 61 Bridge upstream to Dunn Ford Access.

--The part of the St. Francis River that forms the boundary between Arkansas and Missouri.

This year, gigging and bowfishing are prohibited on Blue Springs Creek and parts of Crane Creek, Mill Creek, the North Fork of the White River and Spring creek. Details are spelled out in the 2005 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations, available wherever fishing permits are sold.

HUNTING REGULATION CHANGES

This year's fall firearms turkey season will run from Oct. 1 through 31. In previous years, the season has been 14 days long. The bag limit will remain two birds of either sex, but hunters will be allowed to take both birds in one day. In the past, hunters could take only one turkey per day.

The November portion of firearms deer season will open Nov. 12. The closing date and dates of other portions of the season will be announced in early summer.

Only portable tree stands are allowed on conservation areas this year, and only from Sept. 1, 2005, through Jan. 31, 2006. Unattended stands must be plainly labeled with the owner's name and address on durable material. Screw-in steps or other devices that damage trees are prohibited.

Hound-running areas approved after March 1 must be at least 40 acres. Foxes and coyotes may be held in temporary confinement facilities on such areas or another location specified on the permit.

Beginning March 1, legally obtained groundhog pelts may be possessed and sold throughout the year.

This year, male pheasants may be taken from Nov. 1 through Jan. 15 north of I-70 and in that portion of St. Charles County south of I-70.

Effective this fall, waterfowl hunting will be allowed during designated seasons on designated portions of Lone Jack CA until 1 p.m. daily. Waterfowl hunting on Units 1 and 2 at Four Rivers CA have been added to the list of areas managed by daily drawing, where waterfowl may be taken only by holders of a valid area daily waterfowl hunting tag and only in designated areas. On Units 3 and 4 of Four Rivers CA, waterfowl hunters must pre-register and check out daily at designated hunter record boxes before and after the hunt, but there is no daily draw for hunting there.

For safety reasons, the Conservation Department has set shooting hours of one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset at unstaffed shooting ranges on CAs.

Another new regulation forbids the release of transgenic fish or wildlife into the wild without written authorization from the Conservation Department director. Transgenic fish or wildlife may be possessed and used only as authorized by the Wildlife Code, which defines "transgenic" as any organism or progeny thereof that contains DNA from a species that was not a parent of that organism.

These and other regulation changes are explained in the 2005 Summary of Missouri Hunting Regulations and the 2005 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations. These booklets are available wherever Missouri hunting and fishing permits are sold. Regulation changes also are discussed in detail in the February issue of Missouri Conservationist magazine.