MDC holding Discover Nature Fishing classes 1 and 2 Aug. 18 at Caldwell Wildlife Area

News from the region
Saint Louis
Published Date

WASHINGTON, Mo.—A lifelong passion for the outdoors and conservation might just begin with that first dip of a bobber. 

That’s one of the reasons the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) wants to help families and kids learn how to fish through its Discover Nature Fishing (DNF) program.  DNF consists of four progressive lessons that move newcomers through all the basics of the sport and gives them the knowledge and confidence to go fishing on their own. 

MDC will offer the first two lessons of the DNF sequence back-to-back on Friday, Aug. 18 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Caldwell Memorial Wildlife Area, south of Washington in Franklin County. To register, visit

Lesson 1 covers equipment, casting, and proper fish handling.  Participants will learn how to cast a spincast reel and rod properly and safely, the key parts of a fishing rod, how to fasten basic fishing tackle and how to properly handle and release a fish.

Lesson 2 builds on the first, teaching participants to tie an improved clinch knot and how to properly secure bait on hooks.

All DNF lessons combine instruction with hands-on fishing practice to teach young anglers and families basic fishing techniques and skills.  The main focus of the program is kids 7-15 years of age, but it also emphasizes family involvement and encourages parents, guardians, and youths, 16 and over, to participate as well.  All children must be accompanied by an adult.  Adults new to fishing have the opportunity to learn the basics right alongside their children.  However, DNF is not intended as an adult-only program. 

The classes are free, and all fishing equipment is provided.  Participants 16 to 64 years of age do need a fishing permit to fish during this program.

MDC’s DNF classes 3-4 will be offered at various times.  Those lesson topics include:

  • Five Common Missouri Fish - Their Anatomy, Habitat, and Life Cycle
  • Fishing with Lures and Fishing Regulations

Each person who completes all four classes in the same DNF season will receive a free rod and reel combo, tackle box, landing net, or tackle box kit.

To reach Caldwell Memorial Wildlife Area from Washington, take Highway 47 south 1.5 miles, then Bieker Road south 2 miles.

To find out more about the program and links to register for DNF classes online, visit