Mike Hanauer of Ashland has loved fishing his entire life, but he took up trout fishing just last year after he retired from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in Jefferson City.
Instead of traveling to the trout streams of southern Missouri, Hanauer only had to drive to Cosmo-Bethel Park in south Columbia.
“I had a lot of free time, so I came out here a lot,” he said.
On Monday morning, it only took minutes for the first batch of 2,400 trout to slide down a wide pipe from four large tanks on the back of a flatbed into their new home at Cosmo-Bethel Lake.
By 2 p.m., Hanauer had caught about 15 of the newly stocked fish.
Columbia’s Winter Trout Fishing Program, sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department and the Mid-Missouri Chapter of Trout Unlimited, will let anglers fish into the winter months for the second consecutive year.
“It was really successful and well-received last year,” said Craig Gemming, fisheries management biologist in the conservation department.
Sponsors shared the $4,000 cost of stocking the lake with 2,060 pounds of trout.
All of the trout come from Westover Fisheries near Steelville. About 80 percent of them range from 10 to 13 inches. The other 20 percent can be as long as 19 inches and weigh as much as 6 pounds.
The majority of winter anglers at Cosmo-Bethel Lake come from the mid-Missouri area. However, some come from as far as St. Louis and Kansas City.
Hanauer said he fished at least two times a week at Bethel last fall but plans on splitting his time this fall between the Columbia lake and McKay Park Lake in Jefferson City, which is being stocked this fall for the first time.
Kent Campbell, a guide at trout-rich Lake Taneycomo near Branson, was among those trying their luck Monday morning. By 1 p.m., Campbell had caught 90 fish.
“My wrist is shot,” he said.