Free Bootheel fishing event attracts hundreds

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KENNETT, MO – More than 350 free fishing poles were given out at Saturday’s Bootheel Consortium Fishing Clinic at Little River Conservation Area near Kennett.

The education and assistance provided by Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) agents and biologists at the event helped make it a convenient first fishing trip for several families that day.

Hayti resident Markeeta Guyton’s three-year-old twins, Marshayn and Marshaun, took home two of those free fishing poles after a day that Guyton said made it easy to take her twins fishing for the first time.

“This is the first time we’ve fished here and we’ll be sure to come back,” Guyton said.

Before any of the anglers took to the lake with their new fishing poles, they learned about fish identification, fishing regulations and aquatic wildlife. They were also shown the proper way to handle a fishing pole.

“We want to help children in the community by introducing some resources to them and their parents and let them know the lake is here. This is a great place to bring the family out and do some fishing,” said Conservation Agent Eric Heuring.

He added that while spending quality time together, families can catch several fish to take home and put on the dinner table.

The education about the fish and other wildlife that use the waterways was fun to learn and useful, according to Kennett resident Stephen Dollins. He attended the fishing clinic with his brother-in-law and his three year old nephew, Cade. He said the education portion of the event was a good chance for Cade to learn about fish like bluegill and bass and he enjoyed seeing what muskrats and nutria look like up close. He said he’s glad to see children in Missouri’s Bootheel area have a chance to learn about a sport like fishing.

“It’s good to teach the kids about nature and let them have fun and be kids instead of getting into trouble,” Dollins said.

Children and adults attended the three training sessions and then continued to enjoy their day at the lake fishing and playing. MDC staff stayed at the area to assist in baiting hooks, casting skills, and to answer questions.

Heuring said now that the families are equipped and experienced anglers, they can go out and fish on their own.

“They’ve got fishing poles, they know how to bait a hook and they have this beautiful lake right here near Kennett to take advantage of,” he said.

This is the eighth year for the event, sponsored by the Missouri Bootheel Regional Consortium, Missouri Bootheel Healthy Start, the Fathers First Program and MDC.

The MBRC served free food and drinks, and provided fishing tackle. Items were donated by various community businesses and organizations.

For more information about Little River Conservation Area or to find outdoor activities in your area go online to