COLUMBIA — Cosmo-Bethel Park's lake welcomed 2,400 new trout to its waters Monday as the Winter Trout Fishing Program began.
The program, which is in its eighth year, aims to increase fishing opportunities and species diversity in urban lakes.
The trout came from Missouri Department of Conservation hatcheries in Bennett Spring State Park. Most of the rainbow trout weigh between three-fourths of a pound and a pound, but there are about two dozen larger trout that are three to seven pounds.
The program returned last year after being cut for funding reasons in 2009.
“When we had to cut it from the budget, we received a lot of complaints,” said Mike Griggs, park services manager for the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department. “Fishermen who wanted the program stepped up to the plate. Since then it’s been in our budget.”
From Nov. 1 to Jan. 31, fishers can only use artificial bait, and all trout must be released unharmed. Beginning Feb. 1, however, people are allowed to harvest fish, according to state regulations. A valid Missouri fishing permit is required.
The total cost of the program is split between the Missouri Department of Conservation and Missouri Parks and Recreation. Cost ranges from $5,000 to $6,000, depending on the number and size of trout stocked.