Catch and release season in full gear at Giessing Lake

Calvin Bryan, and his brother Pete, spend the afternoon at Giessing Lake in Engler Park where the Missouri Department of Conservation stocked the lake with more than 1,200 rainbow trout as part of its winter trout fishing program.

Craig Vaughn, Daily Journal

If you miss the sound of a ball coming off a bat, the roar of a Friday night crowd when your team scores a touchdown, or the smell of fresh grass and grilled steaks, don’t fret. There are number of things for you to do this time of year.

But if you enjoy the outdoors and fishing, you may want to try winter trout fishing at Giessing Lake in Farmington's Engler Park.

On Nov. 1 the Missouri Department of Conservation stocked Giessing Lake with more than 1,200 rainbow trout including several "lunkers" as part of its annual urban winter trout program.

“It’s part of a cooperative agreement the city of Farmington has with the Missouri Department of Conservation,” said Bud Norman, director of facility maintenance and parks for the city of Farmington. “We essentially purchase the trout for Giessing Lake to give people the opportunity to do some fishing and utilize our parks in the winter.”

According to the MDC, stocked rainbow trout do well in impoundments such as Giessing Lake during the colder months. But without a constant infusion of cold spring-fed water, such ponds and lakes cannot support a self-sustaining population. 

During the first months of the program, from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31, fishing enthusiasts may catch as many trout as they want but are not allowed to keep the fish. This keeps the population in the impoundment for others to enjoy through the colder months.

However, as of Feb. 1, anglers may begin harvesting their catch with a limit of four per day - if the angler holds a valid trout license, or "trout stamp" available through the MDC.

The first weekend in November found several people on the shoreline at Giessing Lake trying various techniques, practicing their casting and gearing up for the big day when they can keep what they catch.

“I’ve caught 84 fish just today, and two of them were lunkers,” said Tyler Filippi, who was fishing from the lake’s jetty. “Come Feb. 1, I guarantee I’ll catch my four lunkers.”

Like Filippi, Calvin and Pete Bryan were also enjoying a day of fishing from the jetty - except they were not having the luck that Filippi was having. According to Calvin, the only thing his brother caught was his own hook and a bee sting, but the two were happy just to be on the lake fishing.

“We come every year,” Calvin said. “I haven’t caught much so far, but it sure is nice to be able to fish in shorts and flip flops. Last year it was really cold that first weekend.”

Filippi and the Bryan siblings weren’t the only ones enjoying the beautiful weather to hone their fishing skills.

Just around the shoreline from the jetty, a lone fisherman was doing his best to reel in a trout that seemed to be putting up a good fight. Ken Sheets, who is retired, said he enjoys the fishing at Engler Park.

"This is really a good thing they do here,” Sheets said as he pulled in his 25th fish of the day. “I’m a retired guy, it’s close to home and it’s fun. This is a good program they have here. I think a lot of people get good use of it.”

For those who would like to try their hand at fishing but do not own a rod or a tackle box, the Farmington Public Library can help. For those with a library card, fishing rods and tackle boxes are available for check-out - much the same way as if checking out a book.

For more information about fishing at a city lake, contact the Farmington Civic Center at 573-756-0900. For more about the MDC's winter urban stocking program visit https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/fishing.

Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3629 or at cvaughn@farmingtonpressonline.com.

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