Editor’s Choice: Another Report from the October Trip:
Tom Schlueter jumped off the side of the bridge and next to the stream it covered. Reaching one hand into the water, he emerged with a thick mat of brown vegetation that, when the eye settles upon it, is crawling with bugs.
“The idea is that this kind of stuff is always available for the fish,” Schlueter said.
He is talking about the Rainbow Trout that live in the streams at Westover Farms, near Steelville, Mo. The 500-acre farm is surrounded by Mark Twain National Forest and offers recreational fly-fishing, shooting and lodging.
The trout grown at the Westover fishery are free of antibiotics and live in a spring-fed stream. They primarily feed on insects and water bugs but are also trained to eat dry fish-feed. Without this, the 100,000 growing fish would not be able to get enough nutrients, said Marty McMillen, who manages the fishery.
The fish are first put in a hatch house and then work their way through 11 different channeled streams, called raceways, including one that is covered by a cage to keep out the area’s predatory birds.
“The thing about it is that if it’s done right, you can have a market-size fish in 11 or 12 months, when it would usually take a trout two or three years,” McMillen said.