By William Force
Missouri Free Fishing Days are the Saturday and Sunday following the first Monday in June, which this year falls on June 8 and 9.
On this one weekend per year, you may fish without a permit on Missouri waters, although creel limits and length limits still apply. Be sure to pick up a free copy of “Missouri Fishing Regulations” and check the iSportsman website at https://ftleonardwood.isportsman.net for the Fort Leonard Wood Hunting and Fishing Regulation 210-21, which references creel limits/protected slot (the number of fish anglers are allowed to keep) and length limits.
Regulatory information of interest for fishing on Fort Leonard Wood is as follows:
— In order to possess rock bass on the Big Piney River, rock bass (goggle eye) must be 8 inches in length. The creel limit is 15.
— Black bass must be a minimum of 15 inches in length; the daily limit is six and may include only one smallmouth bass. Black bass must be released unharmed immediately when taken on un-impounded waters until opening day, which this year falls on May 25.
Fort Leonard Wood has one lake and 12 ponds open for fishing 24 hours per day, seven days per week. These include Bloodland Lake and Babb, Bloodland, Breeden Spring, Decker Ridge, Gravel Pit, Indian Avenue, Knights, Penn’s, Range 25 and Range 27A ponds
On Fort Leonard Wood impoundments, a person may use no more than three poles at any time, and they must be attended at all times.
The daily fishing limit for black bass is four. Black bass include smallmouth, largemouth, spotted bass and all hybrids. Black bass more than 12 inches, but less than fifteen inches total length, must be returned to the water immediately after being caught.
Outside of the Free Fishing Day Weekend in June, state permits are required to fish on the Big Piney River.
On Fort Leonard Wood, the Sportsman Permit is required in addition to the state permit to fish Impoundments (lakes and ponds) and the Roubidoux Creek.
The Sportsman Permit is $15, and can be purchased online after registering and account on the iSportsman website. Children 15 years and younger may fish without permit (except that trout permit or daily tags in areas where prescribed).
At Stone Mill Spring, a person may fish with a state fishing permit, although they must possess a Trout Permit in order to keep/possess trout; otherwise trout must be release unharmed immediately after being caught.
Most questions can be answered by reviewing the Missouri Fishing Regulations and Fort Leonard Wood Hunting and Fishing Regulation 210-21, although you may also call Fort Leonard Wood Conservation Law Enforcement at 573.596.5002 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Editor’s note: Force is the supervisory police officer with Conservation Law Enforcement on Fort Leonard Wood.)