Freestone Trout Fishing in the Ozarks of missouri and arkansas
There are seven free-flowing trout rivers in the Ozarks. The majority are in Missouri, but one (the Spring River), is in Arkansas. All freestone trout streams are fed heavily by springs, and therefore keep a relatively constant temperature throughout the year. These rivers generally are pretty gentle compared to trout streams in the Appalachians or Rockies, but there is plenty of fast water. All of these spring-fed streams are beautiful. There is no exception to that rule.
In stark contrast to the tailwaters in our region, most of the fishing pressure on these streams will be from local fisherman. For some reason, none of the spring-fed rivers around here have achieved true international fame. That's a shame for those who live outside of the Ozarks, because they are really missing out. It works out very well, however for the local anglers. These fish aren't nearly as pressured as the tailwater fish, and are often much easier to catch. Also, these unimpounded streams are much simpler to fish than the tailraces. You don't have to worry about the rapid, unpredictable dam releases that are so common below hydroelectric dams.
There are some minor disadvantages however. Most importantly, the trout just don't grow as large as they will in dam controlled rivers. These rivers are not as large or deep, and they do not have as reliable of food supplies. Also, these rivers can be over-run by recreational floaters during the summer. Most of them don't fish, but it still can make casting difficult, and definitely takes away from the solitude most anglers are looking for. Surprisingly, it doesn't seem to affect the trouts' feeding habits very much, presumably because they quickly get used to canoes and other watercraft. Finally, compared to the White River which possesses about 100 continuous miles of trout water, suitable trout habitat is generally present over relatively short lengths of river. On freestone trout streams here, you'll find between 10 and 15 miles of truly high quality trout water.
Trout are not stocked at nearly the same rates in these streams as they are in the tailraces. Generally, the state will stock these streams between one and five times each year, with several thousand trout. While this may sound like a lot of fish, it pales in comparison to the millions of trout stocked in the White River. Don't misunderstand this statement though. All of these streams hold plenty of trout to provide good fishing throughout the year. They just aren't stocked to overflowing. It will take a little more work to find the fish, but still almost every good looking pool or riffle will hold quite a few trout. Most freestone rivers in the Ozarks hold between 250 and 1500 trout per mile.
The beauty and the productivity of the fishing in these streams is truly beyond measure. They are some of the most beautiful streams to be found in the country, and they are relatively undiscovered. To top it off, all hold great populations of trout.