Fishing Programs for Children in St. Louis, MO.

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The Mo Depatment of Conservation has a program called Go Fish. It was created to teach children about fishing and conservation. I enrolled my two grandchildren Jacob and Alex. The program is free and consits of 7 classes each 2 hours long. The first 30 minutes of each class is a training/teaching time and the last hour and a half is fishing time.

Jacob and I went to Basic Fishing I at Suson Park across from The Kennedy Rec Center on Wells Road. The teaching part was on safety, fish handling and casting. Jacob hit the target first throw, (Granpa's chest was sticking out). Down to the lake the children went. The coaches were amazing, removing the fish, baiting the hooks, untangling lines. It was a joy to really see people who were having as much fun as the children. They were very busy, Jacob actually caught 20 Hy-breds, a fish who's mommy was a sunfish and who's daddy was a blue gill, (Grandpa's can learn too.) The coaches attempted to convince the children to remove the fish and bait their hooks, but Jacob would do neither. At the end of session one, each child was given a free tackle box.

Jacob, Grandma Laurie, Aunt Mandy and myself attended Basic Fishing II. Lesson time was on safety (always hold your pole up while walking), fish handling, ( by wetting your hands before handling the fish it protects the fish from bacteria) and how to tie two different types of knots. It was amazing to see how many parents and grandparents took hooks and lines and practiced tying also. Off to the lake the children went. It was raining but it didn't hamper the attitudes of the children or coaches. Class was called off when it started lightning. Jacob managed to catch 6 fish. Altough Jacob touched a few of the fish today, he still would not take them off, but he did finally start baiting his hook. The attendees recieved hooks and bobbers today

Jacob and myself went to Basic Fishing III. Todays lesson was again on safety, fish handling and a very interesting class on fish idenification. The group grew to about 10 or 11 and extra coaches were there too. It was a beautiful day and Jacob actually did all his own baiting and some fish removal, although he did catch a few that had swallowed the hook and had to have the line cut in order to release them unharmed. It has been amazing to see how quickly he has taken to fishing. We have gone fishing a number of times but between untangling, baiting, retying hooks and keeping them from falling into the water I have to admit I wasn't the best of coaches. Today the children received needle nose pliers and weights.

Class IV was lure fishing. Class was a little longer today but very informative. Not only did the coaches have books with pictures of different lures they had examples the children could handle. They also demonstrated how to bait plstic lures and demonstrated how various lures work as they are pulled thru the water. Alex finally made his first class. As a pre-teen his excitment level is much lower than his brothers. As today's lesson went much longer than most I could see it in his eye's 'I go to school 5 days a week", but he hung in there and got to fish with a pink plastic worm catching one fish. Jacob caught 5 plus the first snake for the class. Today the children receieved plastic lures.

We only have 3 classes left but I can't wait til Alex, Jacob and I go fishing. BTW, Alex plans on going to the final 3 classes and we will sign him up for the upcoming Basic I, II and III which starts again on September 14.

To learn more on the Go Fish program visit Mo. Department of Conservation

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