MDC’s Discover Nature—Fishing program offers free fishing classes

News from the region
Saint Louis
Published Date

One of the biggest obstacles to trying a new activity is lack of knowledge. The Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) new 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.

"This program is designed to get people outdoors and trying something new—fishing," said Malcolm Royse, Discover Nature—Fishing Coordinator for MDC's St. Louis Region.

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 get out and catch fish, learn different aspects of fishing, and ultimately acquire a lifestyle," Royse explained.

The main focus of Discover Nature—Fishing is kids 7-15 years of age, but it also emphasizes family involvement and encourages parents and guardians with 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.

The classes are free and all fishing gear needed is provided. Each class runs two hours. After a lesson 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

Discover Nature—Fishing programs are currently being held at Forest Park in St. Louis and August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles. The program is normally also held at Suson Park in South County but it is on hold for the time being at that location until further notice..

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 Malcolm Royse at, or call 636.300.1953 ext. 4140.