Meramec, Bourbeuse and Big River Fishing.
MDC 2012 FISHING PROSPECTS
Courtois Creek (St. Louis Region) Information: (573) 468-3335 Smallmouth bass and rock bass fishing on the Courtois should be good this year. Smallmouth bass are were abundant in the 2011 sample, and made up the majority of all black bass sampled. Largemouth bass are rare but can reach good sizes in deep pools or backwater habitat. Anglers should have good chances of catching smallmouth bass over 12" in length, and fair chances of catching a smallmouth longer than 15". A few smallmouth over 18" can be found as well. Goggle-eye are also abundant, and the majority are around 7 inches in length. A fair number of goggle-eye will be at or near the 8" minimum length limit in Crawford County. Fishing for other sunfish, like longear sunfish and bluegill, should remain good as well. Cover, like submerged rootwads, downed trees, overhanging branches, vegetation stands, and boulders, seem to concentrate fish, and provides the best places to target.
Huzzah Creek (St. Louis Region) Information: (573) 468-3335 Black bass fishing on Huzzah Creek should be fair to good. Black bass should be relatively abundant, with smallmouth bass making up the large majority followed by largemouth bass. Spotted bass are rare in the Huzzah. Smallmouth bass sizes are fair and should provide great catch and release opportunities, with about 15 percent of fish greater-than 12" in length, and a few fish above 15" in length. Largemouth bass will provide the greatest chance for catching a large fish, with almost half of all fish being greater-than 12" in length, and about 10 percent above 15" in length. Largemouth surpassing 18" should be somewhat common as well. Largemouth bass are most common in the downstream sections of stream, while bass in the upper sections were almost exclusively smallmouth. Goggle-eye should be present in good numbers and sizes, and should provide good fishing opportunities. Almost half of all goggle-eye sampled were greater-than 7", with about 5 percent of fish sampled being over 8". As with most Ozark streams, most fish linger around structures such as rootwads, downed trees, and boulders, and can be caught with a variety of tackle.
Meramec River (upper) (St. Louis Region) Information: (573) 468-3335 Smallmouth bass fishing in the Stream Black Bass Special Management Area between Scott's Ford and Bird's Nest promises to remain good. Smallmouth bass are the most abundant black bass species present, and anglers can expect to encounter several fish in the 8" to 12" range, and good numbers of fish in the 12" to 15" range. In addition, this area provides one of the best opportunities on the Meramec to catch several fish over 15", mostly due to its good habitat. The minimum length limit for smallmouth in this section of the Meramec is 15" with a daily limit of one. The area will also provide good opportunities for largemouth bass and rock bass (goggle-eye). On average, about one in three largemouth bass will exceed the largemouth length limit of 12", and goggle-eye greater than the 8" length limit are found in fair numbers, with some even exceeding 9". On the Meramec below the Smallmouth Bass Special Management Area, goggle-eye anglers can expect to encounter a fair number of legal fish, although the majority will remain under the 8" length limit. Habitats with flow near large boulders, submerged trees, and vegetation tend to hold the biggest goggle-eye. In addition, numbers of goggle-eye above 7" in length continue to increase, indicating that the number of legal fish will increase in future years. Meramec black bass anglers can expect to see similar numbers and sizes of fish as in years past. Sampling on the Meramec in both Crawford and Franklin counties in 2011 showed that black bass numbers and sizes are similar to those from the last several years. about 15 percent of the smallmouth bass sampled exceeded the 12" length limit and a good number were greater-than 15" in length. One third of largemouth bass sampled were over the 12" length limit and a fair number were greater-than 15" in length. Several largemouth and smallmouth greater-than 18" in length were also sampled, providing opportunities to catch large fish outside of the special management area. Spotted bass numbers in Franklin County are similar to past years, with about 15 percent of fish being greater than 12". Redhorse Access, River Round Conservation Area, Choteau Claim Access, and Robertsville State Park all provide good access to the Meramec in the area where spotted bass are most prevalent. Opportunities to catch catfish are best in those areas in Franklin County as well, with several channel catfish and flathead catfish greater than 20" being sampled in 2011. Redhorse sucker species and freshwater drum are also common in the Meramec in Crawford and Franklin counties. Anglers can expect to see good numbers and sizes of these species. Gigging from September 15 to January 31 is a popular way to catch these species, but they can also be taken by hook and line all year long.
Meramec River - Red Ribbon Area (Hwy 8 to Scott's Fd) (St. Louis Region) Information: (573) 468-3335 Trout fishing in the Meramec River should be similar to recent years. Rainbow trout numbers are holding steady, but brown trout numbers are at an all-time low, resulting in lower total trout numbers than they have been historically. Anglers can expect that most fish they catch will be in the 11" to 15" range, with a small number of fish over 15". A few trout will exceed 18" in length. The decrease in brown trout numbers is attributed mainly to low stocked brown trout survival over the last several years. Years of extreme drought followed by extreme floods have reduced survival beyond what was expected. Future production estimates look hopeful that brown trout numbers will increase in coming years. Trout numbers are typically greatest in the 3 miles of stream below the Maramec Spring confluence. Anglers can also expect to encounter fair numbers of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and rock bass in this area, around the numerous rootwads, downed trees, and bluff faces.
Big River (St. Louis Region) Information: (636) 441-4554 Anglers stand a good chance of catching all three black bass during a single trip in the Jefferson/Washington counties portion of Big River. Smallmouth bass fishing will be good with over 30 percent of the population continuing to be over 12" and 15 percent being larger than 15". These are second only to 2011 when comparing results over the last 20 years! Fish up to 21" were see during 2011 sampling. Largemouth bass fishing should be fair with 19 percent of the fish being over 12". However, largemouth numbers have continued to decline with the return of normal and above normal stream flows. Spotted bass fishing should be very good, as they continue to be numerous. Although no spotted bass larger than 13" were seen in 2011; numbers of 7- to 11-inch fish remain high below Highway 21 near Washington State Park. Anglers are encouraged to harvest all the spotted bass they catch, regardless of size, up to the daily limit of 12. Rock bass (goggle-eye) should again provide good spring fishing, though size quality will be somewhat lower than recent years. Rock bass numbers have remained strong, but only 30 percent are 7" or larger and about 5 percent are larger than 8". Fish the numerous downed trees, brush piles and root wads with jigs and minnows to score on spring rock bass. Good numbers of channel catfish were again seen during 2011 surveys. The majority of fish were in the 15- to 24-inch range. Flathead catfish fishing should again be only fair, with few large fish present.
Meramec River (Crawford Co.)
Meramec River (St. Louis Co.)
Black bass MAY NOT be possessed from March 1-May 24. During those dates all black bass in those streams must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught. For details see Chapter 6 of the Wildlife Code. (Reported on: 4/15/15)