MDC’s Discover Nature—Fishing program expands, adds new St. Louis area lake

News from the region
Saint Louis
Published Date

ST. LOUIS, Mo.—“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.”  Such was the wisdom of cartoonist Doug Larson. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) wants to help families and kids concentrate on the “important things in life” by helping them to get out fishing.  It has plenty of fishing poles, too.

One of the biggest obstacles to trying a new activity, however, is lack of knowledge.  MDC’s Discover Nature—Fishing program aims to help families and youths overcome that obstacle by empowering them with all the knowledge they need to discover a lifelong activity.

Discover Nature—Fishing classes are held at Forest Park in St. Louis, August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles, Suson Park in South County, and, new for this year, at Bellefontaine Conservation Area at Highway 367 and I-270 in North County.

The program is based on studies that show a single exposure to an activity is rarely enough to make a lasting impression.  It requires multiple contacts with that activity to get someone to stick with it. Discover Nature—Fishing consists of four progressive lessons that move newcomers through all the basics of the sport, and onto a path of fishing independence.

Instead of being a one-time, get in/get out experience, this program is set up with four different opportunities for a family to actually catch fish, learn different aspects of fishing, and ultimately make fishing part of their lifestyle.

The main focus of Discover Nature—Fishing 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 youths must be accompanied by an adult.  Adults new to fishing have the opportunity to learn the basics right alongside their children.  However, Discover Nature—Fishing is not intended as an adult-only program.

The classes are free and all fishing equipment is provided.  Each class runs two hours.  After a lesson is taught lake-side by trained Discover Nature-Fishing volunteers, participants then spend an hour or more fishing, putting what they’ve learned into practice.

The four classes include:

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

To find a list of program dates and times, visit the Discover Nature-Fishing website at   Those interested in registering for a Discover Nature-Fishing program should call 636-441-4554. To find out more information about Discover Nature-Fishing or to become a Discover Nature-Fishing volunteer, contact Lia Bartnicki at , or call 636-300-1953 ext. 4140.