Getting gold medal in Missouri Grand Slam Trout Contest will be tough
The Missouri Department of Conservation has initiated a new contest for trout fishermen this year.
It is referred to as the “Grand Slam Trout Contest” and it began as of January 1, 2020.
The idea is to recognize those trout anglers who are able to catch trout in at least five of the nine “Blue Ribbon” trout streams in Missouri.
If you catch a trout in at least five of the streams, you qualify for a “bronze medal”; if you catch a trout in at least seven of the streams, you qualify for a “silver medal” and if you catch at least one trout in all nine of the streams, you qualify for a “gold medal.”
For reasons I will explain in a minute, I would be surprised if anyone will win a gold medal in this contest.
In order to qualify for an award, you must catch your trout in accordance with the standard regulations for the Blue Ribbon trout streams.
That means that you must use only artificial lures and flies and in that regard, soft plastic and scented lures are prohibited.
It also means that unless the trout has a length of 18 inches or more, you must promptly release the fish after catching it.
Finally, porous-soled shoes and waders are prohibited in the Blue Ribbon sections of these streams.
If you do catch a trout in one of the above Blue Ribbon steams, you are to photograph that fish prior to releasing it. Later you can post that photo on the MDC webpage dedicated to the Grand Slam contest as you inch toward an award.
And speaking of inches, thankfully, size does not matter in this contest. Some of the fish that have already been caught and posted in this contest are pretty tiny.
The nine Blue Ribbon trout steams involved in this contest are as follows: Barren Fork Creek; Blue Springs Creek; Crane Creek; Current River; Eleven Point River; Little Piney Creek; Mill Creek; North Fork of the White River; and Spring Creek.
Most trout fishermen are familiar with and have actually fished many of these streams. In fact, there are already contestants who have caught fish in Little Piney Creek, Crane Creek, Spring Creek and Mill Creek.
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The most difficult steam, in my view, is going to be Barren Fork Creek and that is why I will be somewhat surprised if anyone wins a gold medal in this contest.
Barren Fork Creek is located in Shannon County just off County Road A, between State Highway 19 and Bunker. The Blue Ribbon portion of this stream starts just downstream from Highway A and runs for 3.2 miles to its confluence with Sinking Creek.
Some portions of this stream flow within property owned by the Department of Conservation, but an equal amount flows through private property so you need to be aware of that potential access issue.
A map of the boundaries for Barren Fork Creek are available on the Department of Conservation website.
The last time I checked, there was no signage along Highway A designating that the start of the Blue Ribbon section was just off the highway.
In fact, I drove past the turnoff several times, expecting Department of Conservation signage for Barren Fork and there wasn’t any along Highway A.
Instead, look for a sign for the Chrisco Cemetery, which is just downstream from the start of the Blue Ribbon section. A spring is the main source of cold water for this portion of Barren Fork.
Frankly, there is not always a lot of water in this Blue Ribbon section.
According to John Ackerson, a fisheries expert with the Department of Conservation who has Barren Fork Creek within his area of responsibility, Barren Fork Creek has not been stocked with trout for a number of years.
So any trout located in that stream will be self-producing at this point.
Barren Creek certainly sounds like your biggest challenge if you are “angling” for a gold medal in this contest.
So there you have it. Good luck!
(Bill Hoagland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)