Gateway to Missouri Fishing

Really something different, stocking. I didn’t figure they’d stock until the
middle of the month. Of course, you never know. It’s close. I keep a couple rods in the car. Go fishing whenever I feel like it. Whenever I get the time. Got an hour to kill, go do some fishing. Yeah, very close to home. Sometimes on the way home from work. So that’s always a bonus. Get off early, stop by the lake and see if
the fish are biting. Here’s one. Got one. Whew!I’m on my lunch break. And not a lot of people actually know that
there’s bass out here. Trout fishing means to me something to do
in the winter time. And you can eat your fish, it’s pretty good. It’s a real good, clean fish. My favorite is I like to smoke it. Put it in a brine and smoke it. Put some cherry and applewood. MUSICTranquility base here. The eagle has landed…Has left the game scoreless in the second
period when St. Louis opened the score…The urban fishing program’s history is kind
of unique. There was a lot of unrest back in the sixties. And one of the things the U. S. Bureau of Sports
Fisheries and Wildlife thought was if theycould provide better outdoor opportunities
that may help ease some of the tensions. So, they decided to create the urban fishing
program in six major, metro areas, St. Louiswas one of them. One of the original park lakes, is Jefferson
Lake, the lake that’s behind us today inForest Park. And since 1969, we’ve been stocking it with
fish to provide that close-to-home fishingopportunity. And we began with St. Louis city with five
lakes. We’ve since expanded to St. Louis county,
Ballwin and Ferguson. And now have 16 lakes in the St. Louis metro
area. And as an offshoot of the St. Louis program,
Kansas City started up an urban fishing programfor them. So, the program has gone statewide since then
and is just really popular. Another very important part of the urban fishing
program is the partnership that’s been developedover the years. Without the partnership and the help of St.
Louis city, St. Louis county, Ballwin andFerguson there is no urban fishing program. They provide the parks, they provide the water
bodies for us to put the fish in. We just manage the fisheries. So together, they take care of the park maintenance,
we take care of the lake maintenance, andit’s a great partnership. I think the program puts everybody on an even
playing field. And it’s open to all ages, all socio, economical,
race. It kind of evens the playing field. It’s open to everybody. It’s free. They stock it on a regular basis, so it keeps
the anglers coming back. You have grandparents bringing children, grandchildren,
so it’s multi-generational. We did have a guy tell us just the other day
that said he pulled out a seven-and-a-half-poundbass out of here. Knowing that we’ve always got good varieties
of fish in there that gives people the opportunityto come out and fish that wouldn’t otherwise
get the opportunity is a tremendous assetto the community. The urban fishing program has really benefitted
the Ferguson Parks and Rec department by givingopportunities to families, children, and other
people throughout the community that wouldn’thave the opportunity to experience fishing
on a day to day basis in their normal lives. The St. Louis urban fishing program offers
kind of a wide variety of fish species forpeople to chase. Some are stocked. Some reproduce naturally in lakes. The stocked species in winter are generally
trout. Rainbow trout we use, sometimes we’ll get
some brown trout. And then as spring wears on, we’ll start
to stock with channel catfish, and augmentthat with hybrid sunfish throughout the summer. And generally, we wrap that up in September,
and then we’ll wrap that up in Septemberand then begin again in November with trout. It’s an enjoyment for us to deliver to the
people that maybe don’t have the resourcesthat we would have down in the Ozarks. They are glad to see us. Most time they are appreciative and will give
you a good thank you. And we have even had some to write Thank-You
cards and send in to the hatchery there. The trout stocking, early on in the process
anyway, was so popular. The first stocking of the year really created
a Black Friday type situation. People all wanted to catch that first trout
of the year. Kind of like one of our trout parks on March
1st. Very, very, very popular. But a little too popular for us to access
the park with our stocking trucks. We needed to then kind of change up how we
decided to stock those fish and not announcethe dates ahead of time. So now we just report to the fish stocking
hotline instead. The regular anglers know when the lakes are
going to be stocked. They know what they’re stocked with; they
know the time frames. You’ll see them out there just waiting,
ready to be the first, to get the biggest,and anybody can do it. To have this in our backyard, it’s phenomenal!The fish that reproduce in most of our lakes
include largemouth bass, and bluegill, andwhite, and black crappie. And those fish species have only kind of been
a recent addition to the St. Louis urban fishingprogram since we were able to renovate some
of these lakes and provide better habitatfor them. Most of the lakes in these parks were just
aesthetic amenities to the park. They weren’t really built with fishing in
mind. They weren’t very deep. Fish couldn’t survive the winter generally. So, through the Community Assistance Program,
we provided over two million dollars’ worthof renovations to deepen the lakes, put in
fish habitat, and aeration systems so nowthe fish can survive throughout the year. And they can also reproduce in these lakes. So, we have some pretty good bass fishing,
and crappie fishing, and bluegill fishingin these lakes now too because of those agreements
and renovations. Many of the lakes, it was a little difficult
for folks to get down and fish the shoreline. So, through these agreements, we put in parking
facilities for disabled folks. And then trails and fishing docks or fishing
platforms for people to utilize. And they’re very popular additions to the
program. In addition to the city water that helps to
maintain the good habitat in our city parklakes, we also improve habitat in the lakes
through planting native aquatic plants andthen also recycling Christmas trees every
year by sinking those Christmas trees in thelake for fish cover. And all those things combined, provide the
type of habitat that bass and crappie needto spawn and get big for anglers. When we asked anglers fishing these lakes,
how important fishing in urban fishing programlakes was to them, outside of family and their
job, over 60 percent of those people saidthis was the most important activity in their
lives. The anglers that show up at their parks every
day, it is a community because they are comingevery day or a couple of times a week. And they have their spots, it’s kind of
an unwritten rule, “this is kind of my area”. But they’re all there together. It’s a sense of community around each lake. Come out here any day of the year, you’re
going to see anywhere from 10 to 30 fishermenfishing on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, how warm
it is, they’re always out here on a daily basis. There are a lot of different people that utilize
the St. Louis urban fishing program. But, when I come out and work the lakes or
stock the lakes, I see a lot of familiar faces. Our regulars I call them. And it’s an important part of their life
is fishing in these lakes. And they have their favorite place, their
favorite lake. And that’s where I see them. Generally, every time I come out. So, it’s pretty gratifying to be able to
know that you’re an important part of somebody’slife and that you’re providing a service
they really like and really enjoy. I just like having a place to fish honestly. It’s really good. MUSIC

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