Conservation Department offers free fishing weekend

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 | 8:26 p.m. CDT; updated 6:03 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — This weekend, anglers from all across the state can fish in most waterways, including conservation areas and state parks, without purchasing a fishing permit.

“Wherever a Missouri hunting or fishing permit would be required, you would not need to have that this weekend,” said Rich Wehnes, fisheries programs supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The daily tag permit fee required at many trout parks across the state will also be waived this weekend.

The Conservation Department sponsors the annual weekend in hopes that people will get out and take more advantage of Missouri’s resources and get more people involved with fishing.

“We want to get people out just to try fishing. If they like it, hopefully they will want to do it some more,” conservation agent Phillip Pitts said.

There are several fishing spots easily accessible from Columbia. Conservation areas like Little Dixie Lake, just east of town, are within short driving distances.

“There are a number of lakes around the Columbia area like Cosmo-Bethel Park Pond and the University of Missouri manages a couple, but if you go to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Web site, there is an atlas of lakes around the area,” Wehnes said.

For first-timers, Wehnes suggests bringing the proper fishing gear. A good fishing pole with a functioning reel is the first step. Bring plenty of fishing tackle, including hooks, weights, bobbers, lures and live bait if you prefer. Always remember to dress for the weather and bring plenty of sunscreen.

Special restrictions and regulations still do apply in a few city, county or private fishing areas, so checking with conservation agents is a good idea.

The Conservation Department also sponsors several workshops in cities across the state to let people experience fishing and other outdoor activities.

The third annual “Reel” Time Fishing With Kids event takes place Saturday at the Bass Pro Shops Sportsman’s Center in Columbia off U.S. 63 just north of town. The workshop, which aims to give children of all ages a chance to try out fishing gear and get tips from fishing experts, runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is sponsored by Bass Pro Shops, the Conservation Department, the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and the Parks and Recreation Department.

“Fishing is a great activity for family and friends to get together and relate to one another, and it gets people outside as well,” Wehnes said.

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