By Kyle Pokorny
Anglers creating a list of states to fly fish for wild rainbow trout on pristine streams will not likely consider Missouri as a worthy candidate.
However, you would be remiss to leave Missouri off the list entirely. The state of Missouri has within its borders nine Blue Ribbon streams that are home to wild rainbow trout. To promote and celebrate these streams, we are proud to present the Missouri Blue Ribbon Trout Slam.
The Mokan Chapter and Ozark Council of Trout Unlimited have teamed up with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to sponsor this Missouri Blue Ribbon Trout Slam. The slam features three levels of achievement: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Catching a trout from five Blue Ribbon Streams will earn an angler bronze; seven earns silver; and catching a trout from all nine Blue Ribbon streams earns gold. All medaling anglers will receive a certificate and lapel pin that corresponds to their level achieved. Gold level winners will also receive a medallion, adding to the trout slam collection of medallions achievable from other states such as Utah and Wyoming.
In Missouri, a Blue Ribbon stream is one that is not stocked, but depends on self-sustaining populations of rainbow trout. These streams are protected with specific regulations for tackle, along with creel limits to help promote survival of the trout. While some of the streams do contain portions of Red and White Ribbon waters, the anglers must catch the trout within the Blue Ribbon areas for their catch to count in the Trout Slam.
The local chapters of Trout Unlimited are excited to sponsor this event. It is a great opportunity to incentivize anglers to go out and fish new waters that they may not have otherwise fished. With the streams spread across the lower half of the state of Missouri, the slam will be challenging for all. In addition to that, a few of the streams are home to exceptionally wary trout that will fool even the most experienced anglers.
Despite these challenges, the launch of the Trout Slam has been met with early success. The slam was launched February 4, 2020, and less a month later 110 entries have already been submitted from 50 different anglers. Five participants have earned the bronze status and one the silver.
The Missouri Blue Ribbon Trout Slam will highlight these smaller, less-trafficked waters that are often passed over for bigger waters. We will closely monitor the success of the anglers and plan to send out surveys that will allow us to better understand how our local chapters of Trout Unlimited can help to provide a better experience for all anglers on the Blue Ribbon waters. Whether you have experienced these Missouri Trout waters previously or not, now is a great time to get out and test your skills in the Missouri Blue Ribbon Trout Slam.
If you would like more information on the Missouri Blue Ribbon Trout Slam, please reach out to us at one of these options.
Via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook Group: Missouri Blue Ribbon Trout Slam
Kyle Pokorny is vice president of the Mokan Chapter of Trout Unlimited and lives in Overland Park, Kansas. He helped create the slam to bring awareness to the coldwater fisheries of Missouri that are capable of sustaining healthy wild trout populations.