Go Fish St Louis

Thursday July 10, 2014

By Explore St. Louis Guest

Downtown to midtown to the outlining counties surrounding St Louis, The Missouri Department of Conversation (MDC) has a great suggestion on how to spend your summer. Go fishing. Make that urban fishing, a program established by the Missouri Department of Conversation in 1969 providing close to home fishing opportunities at 17 St Louis city and county area parks. Some locations such as Lafayette Park, Benton Park and Forest Park are just minutes from the Gateway Arch, making it a convenient activity for visitors who love to fish.

“Fishing in your own backyard is pretty cool,” said Kevin Meneau, MDC Fisheries Management Biologist, noting how urban fishing surpasses numbers at Missouri’s higher profile destinations as Lake of the Ozarks. “On a per acre basis, St. Louis area urban lakes received 15 percent more fishing pressure than higher profile lakes such as Lake of the Ozarks. The program has become so popular that it has grown into a year round program.”

According to Meneau fishing is more popular than ever, especially in the St Louis, Jefferson and St. Charles counties. The reason: Inter-city park ponds, local lakes and streams are easily accessible and fishing makes an excellent outdoor pastime for visitors of which all ages can enjoy.

Fisherman can expect to hook bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and trout. To insure there’s plenty of fish to catch the Missouri Department of Conversation regularly stocks
St Louis’s lakes with 30,000 catfish and trout throughout the year. The Fish Stocking Hotline (636-300-9651) can provide stocking information about all lakes in the urban lake program.

Besides park lakes, rivers and streams also offer anglers unique fishing experiences. The Upper Mississippi alone offers 102 miles of shoreline that borders Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties. The Meramec River is a favorite river with anglers that feature several boat accesses at several parks, such as those in Arnold at Flamm City Park and at St. Louis County's George Winter Park in Fenton. All you need to fish is a pole, bait and Missouri fishing license,  www.mdc.mo.gov/permits for just seven dollars.

Basically there are two ways to fish, catch to keep or catch and release. Catches that aren’t released and are kept for supper are encouraged to take the time to properly clean your fish. The Missouri Department of Conservation offers how-to information to help anglers master the process. While fish can be cleaned in the field, cleaning is easier if done at fishing parks that provide fish cleaning stations with water for rinsing fish.

Summertime is prime catfish season. Here are a few of St. Louis’ most popular urban lakes where the fish are biting.

Jefferson Lake in Forest Park: Fourteen acre Jefferson Lake is located on the east end of Forest Park, by Kingshighway and the skating rink. Prime catch: Largemouth bass, crappie, and channel catfish.

Benton Park Lake: The acre-sized lake located at South Jefferson and Arsenal Street, is situated in one of St. Louis’ oldest parks dating to 1866. Prime catch: Bullhead and channel catfish.

Boathouse Lake and Horseshoe Lake at Carondelet Park: Ranked as St. Louis’ third largest park, renown for dockside fishing from its historic pergolas on Boathouse Lake. Prime Catch: Channel catfish, largemouth bass and rainbow trout.

Susan Park Lake: Located in south St. Louis County, Susan offers 98-acres of fishing lakes along with picnic areas and an animal farm for kids to enjoy. Prime catch: Channel catfish, largemouth bass and rainbow trout.

Lafayette Park Lake: St. Louis’ oldest park. Lafayette Park’s Main Lake was once used by Victorians for boating. The park is located at Lafayette Square (Lafayette and Missouri Ave) just 10 minutes form the Gateway Arch. Prime catch: Channel catfish.

Tilles Park Lake: Located in St Louis County in Tilles Park at McKnight Road south of Interstate 64-40 provides a two-acre lake that features dock fishing. Prime catch: Channel catfish, rainbow trout, largemouth bass and sunfish.

Guest Blogger Suzanne Corbett contributed to this blog.