Bass skills, trout cooking, and fish-themed Christmas tree wrap up Year of Fish at Cape Nature Center

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Cape Nature Center will close the theme of 2019, Year of Fish, with fishing skills programs and festive fish themed décor. In 2019, the nature center focused on fish through at least one fish themed program per month with information about fish, or an opportunity to learn how to fish.

“We’ve really enjoyed the focus on fish and fishing this year,” said Salvador Mondragon, MDC fisheries management biologist. “One of the lessons in fishing that resonates with me as we teach is that patience and persistence can be very rewarding.”

To close out the theme for the year, the nature center has a Winter Bass Skills program scheduled for Friday, Dec. 20, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and a Trout Cleaning and Cooking Demonstration scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 21, from 9 to 11 a.m.

“Winter bass fishing is great fun if you have the skills to encourage this fish to grab onto your hook,” Mondragon said.

The Winter Bass program is for new anglers or those who wish to improve their fishing skills such as drop shot, Ned rig, neko rig, shaky head and other techniques that can lead to success in catching bass. Participants will learn how to work with tackle as they discuss the appropriate time and method for each style of rigging, and they’ll leave with several lures to test on their favorite winter fishing hole.

The Trout Cleaning and Cooking Demonstration will cover the basics of cleaning trout and offer participants a chance to prepare their own trout over an open fire.

“This will be a very fun program with techniques people will want to repeat for their family and friends in the future,” Mondragon said, adding that he hopes the Year of Fish has encouraged people to learn more about Missouri’s aquatic life and equipped them to enjoy fishing with their families.

“As busy as we are, sometimes we can forget about how great it feels to be outdoors fishing and spending time with our families,” he said. “Hopefully, the programs we’ve hosted this year have given people some additional skills they will continue to use and inspired more appreciation for the amazing fish we have in our waters.”

The Year of Fish winner will also be announced Dec. 21. Nature Center Manager Sara Turner said participants from throughout the year filled out passports each time they attended a Year of Fish program. Those who attended at least six fish programs, or caught six species of fish this year, or a combination of the two requirements, must hand in their passport at the nature center front desk by 9 a.m. Dec. 21. Their names will be entered a drawing and a winner will be announced that evening. The prize includes two fishing poles and a stocked tackle box.

“It’s not too late to get out there and fish and fill up a passport with fish species you catch,” Turner said. “We hope to have lots of entries for this prize.”

The Cape Nature Center’s Christmas décor this year is fish-themed, in celebration of the year’s accomplishments through the Year of Fish. Mondragon and naturalists at the center encourage people to stop by throughout December to enjoy the décor and view the exhibits.

Both fishing programs, Winter Bass Skills and Trout Cleaning and Cooking Demonstration, require advance online registration at For more information fishing, go online to