Fishing is not only fun, but therapeutic. One of my favorite sayings is, "Each day spent fishing adds another day to your life." According to the latest national survey, the three most popular reasons people fish are to relax, for the fun of catching fish, and for the opportunity to be outdoors. When selecting places to fish, people prefer to go to uncrowded, litter-free areas where the water is clean and the fish are healthy.
The Conservation Department's sport fisheries management philosophy focuses on providing a variety of fishing opportunities for novice and experienced anglers alike, with an emphasis on close-to-home opportunities.
The way you fish and the species you prefer to catch is purely up to you, as is the amount and quality of gear and supplies you bring. Fortunately, a very large and responsive recreational boating and fishing industry exists to meet all possible needs for fishing tackle and equipment.
The Conservation Department wants to improve our waters and the surrounding lands for all anglers, regardless of whether they prefer sitting in a folding chair on a pond bank, or in a soft boat seat on a large reservoir. The fish don't play favorites, and neither do we.
Whenever possible, we manage sport fish populations to sustain themselves with natural reproduction. Most fish you catch in Missouri hatch in the wild. If natural reproduction of sport fish isn't enough to keep up with angling pressure, we increase populations by adding fish produced at our hatcheries.
With the 2004 fishing season about to get into high gear, I encourage you to pull out the calendar, call the family around the kitchen table and plan your first trip of the year. For an added treat, invite someone who has never experienced the joys of fishing.
Planning a fishing trip may seem like a lot of work, but it doesn't compare to what the Conservation Department does in order to make Missouri lakes and streams inviting and enjoyable.
If I could show you some video footage from a timelapse camera set up at a public lake or stream access, here's what you might see:
- The maintenance crew leader mowing the grass.
- A heavy equipment operator grading the parking lot.
- Local volunteers picking up litter.
- A fisheries biologist sampling the fish population by electrofishing.
- A resource technician eradicating nuisance weeds along the shoreline.
- The conservation agent responding to a call from someone needing assistance.
- The area manager checking to see if the proper information signs are posted.
- A construction crew building a new boat ramp.
Not all fisheries related work is conducted near the water. More camera work would show Conservation Department employees miles away, working to enhance the quality of your fishing adventures. You might see:
- The Regulations Committee passing a rule that ensures more consistent catches.
- An administrative assistant preparing the weekly fishing tips report.
- A technician printing regulations signs.
- A designer putting the finishing touches on the area map.
- A hatchery crew feeding catfish destined for your favorite small public lake.
From fisheries biologists, to area managers to the commissioners who authorize management regulations, Conservation Department employees are doing everything they can to improve the fishing in Missouri waters and, hopefully, add a few days to your life.
Steve Eder, Fisheries Division Administrator