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Catching More Than Fish

The 2005 trout season begins March 1 and I am excited! No doubt many other Missourians are excited, too. Trout are the third most popular fish among state anglers. Only bass and crappie rank higher.

I enjoy wading in clear streams and working a fly rod for trout. This solitary experience is great, but I also value time spent in Missouri’s trout parks. It’s a great opportunity to meet and observe interesting and extremely sociable people.

One morning last summer, I rose early and went to Montauk State Park. After purchasing my daily tag, I walked to a favorite spot on the stream and spent a few quiet minutes enjoying the way the Current River seemed to slide through the quiet forest.

Before the opening whistle, a teenage girl with her father and grandfather joined me. It was her first fishing trip, so she listened intently as her Dad explained the rules and gave her a quick lesson on how to catch trout. Her grandfather quietly headed downstream.

A father with a much younger daughter arrived after the whistle blew. She cast awkwardly with a short rod and seemed to tangle her lure in every bush along the stream bank. Dad good-naturedly freed his daughter’s lure as they worked to a position across the stream.

A few minutes later, she hooked a nice trout on her little rod. Because the fish was large and her line was light, she and the fish battled for several minutes. I could see her getting frustrated. Finally she exclaimed,“Daddy, I can’t do it any more. The fish is hurting me it pulls so hard!”

She persevered though, and the assembled crowd laughed in appreciation when the proud father netted the trout and presented it to his daughter. She caught three more trout that morning, and with each one her dad demonstrated patience and love. His actions seemed to guarantee his child a lifetime of self-esteem and happiness.

I then heard the grandfather from the first family shouting excitedly. He’d hooked a big fish, and everyone nearby stopped to watch as he played it. We cheered his success when the 3-pound trout was safely in his net. It was a great day for both young and old anglers, as well as for amused observers like me.

Through its trout management program, the Conservation Department, in cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources’ State Parks, helps countless Missourians create memories and forge strong relationships that last a lifetime. In this issue (page 10), you’ll find the highlights of our new Trout Plan. It promises to further improve what already is some of the best trout fishing in this area of the country.

The new Trout Plan is part of our overall commitment to help Missourians use, enjoy and learn about fish, forest and wildlife resources in diverse and attractive settings.

Watching others fish that day helped me appreciate the true value of fishing to the people of our state. It brought to mind the special fishing, hunting, wildlife watching and hiking experiences I’ve shared with my children, friends, parents and grandparents. My first grandchild, Samuel Tyler Hoskins, was born in November, and I look forward to enjoying many outdoor adventures with him.

Outdoor experiences create strong bonds among family and friends. Your Department of Conservation invites you to step outside and make some new memories with those special to you.

John D. Hoskins, Director

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