MDC offers free fishing skills classes in northwest Missouri

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St. Joseph, – Good fishing is found throughout northwest Missouri, whether it’s catching catfish from murky prairie streams, largemouth bass from a farm pond or crappie from Mozingo Lake. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) offers free classes to anyone interested in learning how to fish. MDC’s Discover Nature — Fishing Program provides hands-on instruction and actual fishing experience.

MDC staff and volunteers teach participants about rods, reels, lures, bait, fish ecology, and how to prepare the fish you catch for cooking. Discover Nature — Fishing is offered in four class sessions, and after each classroom session there will be time for actual fishing in a pond or lake. MDC also provides loaner fishing gear.

“We provide a very easy way for people to come and get hands-on instruction and ask questions that are pertinent to them,” said Pam Lanigan, MDC fisheries regional supervisor.

   The lesson outline includes:

  • Lesson One: Equipment, Casting, and Proper Fish Handling
  • Lesson Two: How to Tie a Knot and Bait a Hook
  • Lesson Three: Five Common Missouri Fish - Their Anatomy, Habitat, and Life Cycle
  • Lesson Four: Fishing with Lures and Fishing Regulations

“We’re teaching people how to fish from the basics and then go on to become an experienced angler,” Lanigan said.

Participants must take Lesson One and Lesson Two to be eligible for Lesson Three and Lesson Four. They can take the lessons at varied locations as they are offered.

For example, Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 will be offered 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 17, at Krug Park Lagoon in St. Joseph. Lesson 3 will be offered 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Monday, June 19, at MDC’s Northwest Regional Office in St. Joseph. Other lessons will also be offered at various times and locations throughout the summer, including some classes being held at the Hartell Conservation Area northeast of Plattsburg. Special events such as a Kid’s Fishing Derby and a lesson on techniques to catch catfish will also be offered later in the summer.

These classes are a great way for children, teenagers and adults to gain the confidence and knowledge to successfully catch fish. Some libraries or community centers around Missouri offer free checkout of loaner fishing gear. Volunteers are also needed to help teach classes and to maintain loaner fishing gear.

For more information, call the MDC Northwest Regional Office at 816-271-3100. Discover Nature — Fishing class schedules and locations, and sites with loaner fishing gear, are available at