Weekend Angler: St. Louis

Meramec River
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Meramec River Practicalities

Species: Finicky brown and rainbow trout

Gear:8- to 9-foot, 4- to 6-weight fly rods, or ultralight spin gear. If you want to wade, breathable chest waders with felt soles are the ticket.

Flies and lures: Wild trout are more aggressive than hatchery trout in spring creeks and will take most any well-presented offering. Blue Winged Olive (#16-#20), Goddard Caddis (#14-#18), White Wulff (#10-#12), Elk Hair Caddis (#12-#18), CDC Caddis (#14-#18), Adams (#12-#18), Parachute Adams (#12-#18), Light Cahills (#12-#16), Red Quills (#14-#16), Stimulators in various colors, like black, gold and orange (#8-#14), Partridge and Orange (#12-#16), Partridge and Green (#12-#16), Zug Bugs (#12-#16), Scuds (#12-#16), Woolly Buggers (#8-#12), Muddler Minnows (#4-#10), Zonkers (#4-#10), Matukas (#4-#10), Crayfish (#4-#10), Pheasant Tail (#14-#18), Prince Nymph (#14-#18), Hare's Ear (#14-#18).

St. Louis guides, fly and tackle shops: Paul's Bait and Tackle (314) 773-6221; Feathercraft Flyfishing, (800) 659-1707; T. Hargrove Fly Fishing, (314) 968-4223; Alpine Shop, (314) 962-7715, Fagan's Canoe Rental, (573) 775-5744.

Getting there: Take Interstate 44 west out of St. Louis traveling west/southwest. Turn south on Highway 8 at St. James and travel east for seven miles.

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The Meramec River boasts nearly 10 miles of good trout water with plenty of fish in the 15-inch range, not to mention the occasional lunker.

The upper stretch, approximately one mile, begins at the boat access point at the Highway 8 bridge east of the trout park. But the best trout water begins below the mouth of Maramec Spring Park downstream for seven miles to Scott's Ford.

Anglers have public access at the Highway 8 boat launch, Maramec Spring Park, Scott's Ford, and Cardiac Hill/Suicide Hill trails in the Woodson K. Woods Wildlife Area.

The river ranges between 50 and 100 feet wide with forested banks of oaks and sycamores. Wading is an option with chest waders but there are some deep pools; to cover more water, bring or rent a canoe.

The Missouri Department of Conservation manages this stretch as trophy trout water, with artificial-lures as the only legal means to fool the river's many wily browns and spunky rainbows.

Big Fish Possible

The daily creel limit is three trout over 15 inches. Most of the browns and 'bows landed are in the 10- to 16-inch range, but it's not uncommon to hook into a couple of 20-inchers on a good day. Trout in the eight-pound range have been caught in the river but don't expect to find one on the end of your line. These big boys are the exception to the rule.

Timing is a big key to success on this picturesque river. The Meramec is popular with canoeists and other floaters on Missouri's many hot, humid summer days. During this time, fish early mornings till about 10 a.m., take a long lunch near an AC, and returnto the waters around 3 p.m.

Springtime provides lots of fun shortly after the stocking trucks leave. Fall is the best time to fish this mighty stream, with autumn colors in the trees, browns performing their spawning rituals, air temperatures in the upper 70s or low 80s, and lots of bugs on the water, including mayflies and caddis flies.

The big #12 White Drakes (locally known as white flies) usually hatch during the evenings in September and October. Don't bother waiting for one of the big boys to rise, though, because the Meramec enjoys a healthy population of baitfish.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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