A brown woolie-worm with a gold spinner. That combination has produced more trout for me than any other lure or bait.
As a boy, I spent an average of 30 to 40 days a year trout fishing with my family. We camped every weekend and it was almost always at one of Missouri’s trout parks.
The brown woolie-worm I mentioned has caught literally thousands of brown and rainbow trout for me in these parks over the decades.
Recently, Nancy and I had the chance for one of those few “getaway” weekends alone. We decided to camp and fish at one of the trout spots from my youth.
We chose Maramec Spring Park because we visited there last year and it really caught our eye. It is truly one of the most beautiful places in North America.
There is both good camping and good fishing at Maramec. The campsites are clean and well kept.
Even though there are electric hookups at 10 of the sites, Nancy and I picked a nice spot in the larger campground to pitch our tent and build our fire.
With the full-service shower-house less than 100 yards away, this was a very relaxing and very convenient spot to camp.
The fishing was good, too. We both fished the first afternoon, and I fished the next morning. The water was cold and clear, as usual.
It is always a good thing to be able to bring a bag of fresh trout fillets home after a weekend trip. Maramec is known for the quality and quantity of its trout.
But the things this place is most known for are its incredible beauty and historic value. This park is not a state park.
Instead it is owned and operated privately by The James Foundation. This property has been in the James family since 1826 when Thomas James sent his son, William, from Ohio to build and establish the Maramec Iron Works at this location.
Accessible iron ore, waterpower from the huge springs and a hardwood forest for charcoal made this a great site for an iron furnace and refinery forges.
By the middle of the 1850’s, the development of blast furnaces, coke fuel and improved methods of ore delivery were all having negative impacts on the Maramec Company.
Some modernization and the demands for iron the Civil War produced, helped keep the ironworks in business until 1876.
Following the death of William James, his granddaughter, Lucy Wortham James, took over ownership of the Maramec spring and all of the adjoining properties.
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To this day, The Foundation is pledged to follow Lucy Wortham James’ wish that, “It may ever be in private, considerate control, and ever open to the enjoyment of the people.”
To that end, The James Foundation has created and maintains an outdoor recreation facility that has few equals in the Midwest.
The ironwork’s towers and furnaces are still there, preserved for all who come to see. There are two awesome museums showing the rich heritage and cultural history of this area.
The Agriculture Museum has a great display of antique farm machinery and a blacksmith shop along with Granny’s Kitchen.
The spring itself is worth seeing. Producing more than 100,000,000 gallons of fresh, clear water a day, it was designated as the first registered natural landmark in Missouri by the National Park Service.
There are some big events that take place at Maramec Spring Park each year. March 1st is opening day of the trout season. This draws thousands of fishermen and is a huge social event, as well.
On the first Saturday following Mother’s Day, hundreds of kids enjoy a free day of fishing at Maramec. Not only is the fishing free, but also many prizes are given away throughout the day.