Discover Nature - Fishing

Free Hands-on Instruction

Fishing is a great way for everyone to have fun outdoors, learn about conservation, and make happy memories together. Our Discover Nature — Fishing Program helps Missourians gain the skills and confidence to go fishing on their own.

  • Classes are free.
  • No special equipment needed — we’ll provide all the gear.

More advanced classes can be found on the list below and on the Fishing Events page.

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Fishing Classes

Enter part of the location name (e.g., "Runge")

Register by July 7

Date: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 4:30pm to Saturday, July 18, 2020 - 12:00pm

Location: Mississippi River Alexandria

MDC staff and volunteers will instruct participants on the basics of setline fishing on Missouri’s rivers and lakes. Participants will attend a seminar on fisheries management, with information on the recent catfish survey led by an MDC Fisheries Management biologist. The program will then become a hands-on tutorial of how to safely set trot-lines and bank poles, properly label equipment, and boat operation. These tactics can be used in streams and some lakes of Missouri. Saturday morning participants will be given the opportunity to go back out on the river to check lines. Once off the river a fish cleaning demonstration will be held. Following the river outing, a Conservation Agent will present fishing regulations, and staff will give a how-to presentation on using gear and equipment. Sign up is limited to anglers that are new to setline fishing (You will be contacted about your experience to ensure new anglers are given priority). Fishing equipment will be provided. All participants should bring face masks. Please have each person in your party sign up separate. For Questions contact Rob at (660)785-2420 or rob.garver@mdc.mo.gov


Register by July 17

Date: Saturday, July 18, 2020 - 9:30am to 12:00pm

Location: Prairie Hollow Lake, James A. Reed MWA

Lesson 1: Equipment, Casting and Proper Fish Handling combines instruction with hands-on fishing to teach anglers basic fishing techniques and skills. Participants will learn how to properly and safely cast a spincast fishing rod, parts of a fishing rod, how to fasten basic fishing tackle and how to properly handle and release a fish. Lesson.

Fishing equipment, instructors/coaches and bait/lures will be provided. Program is limited to ages 5 and above. All children ages 5 -15 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Fishing permits are NOT required to fish during this program.

Participants will be asked to maintain safe social distance from staff and other participants who are not their family members during this program.


Register by July 16

Date: Saturday, July 18, 2020 - 10:00am to 11:30am

Location: Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center

THIS IS A VIRTUAL PROGRAM. IT WILL TAKE PLACE ON CISCO WEBEX VIRTUAL MEETINGS. This program can be attended from your home using your computer or mobile device.
Tune in to learn about what to consider before your first fishing outing. We'll be discussing gear, regulations, permits and more. A virtual meeting invitation will be sent to the email address you provide during registration.


Register by July 20

Date: Monday, July 20, 2020 - 6:00pm to 6:45pm

Location: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center

This virtual program will provide an opportunity to learn and ask questions about Urban Fishing in the St. Louis area. During the 45-minute program we will discuss the following topics: What lakes are part of the urban fishing program, where, when, and how many fish were stocked, where to borrow fishing equipment, and who needs a fishing permit. An e-mail will be sent out to all registered participants the morning of the program with the link to join in virtually


Register by July 20

Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Location: MDC Headquarters

Lesson 1:
This lesson must be taken before any of the other Discover Nature Fishing lessons 2-4.
This first class includes instruction as well as hands-on fishing to teach young anglers and families basic fishing techniques and skills. Participants will learn parts of a fishing pole, how to properly and safely cast a spin-cast fishing pole, how to fasten basic fishing tackle, and how to properly handle and release a fish.
Lesson 2:
Participants will learn intermediate fishing techniques and skills as well as hands-on fishing. Participants will be taught how to tie an improved clinch knot and how to properly secure a variety of baits to various types of hooks. All fishing gear will be provided by the instructors. Please wear clothing and close-toed shoes suitable for outdoor and water activities. It is recommended that participants bring sunglasses, a water bottle, and sunscreen.
This class is for children ages 4 years old and up. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
After participants have completed and participated in all four sessions, they will receive a bass pro gift card (children and parents that participated).
We will start out in the basement of the Credit Union at MDC Headquarters for the "classroom portion".


Register by July 21

Date: Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - 9:00am to 10:30am

Location: Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center

Registration required for youngsters only (ages 3-6 accompanied by an adult)
Teaching your young child to fish will give them a lifetime of enjoyment and allow them to discover nature all around them at the same time. Join us for this fun-filled event as we learn how to tie on a hook, bait a worm, cast and care for a fishing pole. Now let’s go fishing! There will be ribbons and prizes for all! Meet at the W. Robert Aylward Educational Pond.


Register by July 21

Date: Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - 6:00pm to 8:30pm

Location: Prairie Hollow Lake, James A. Reed MWA

Lesson 2: How to Tie a Knot and Bait a Hook combines instruction with hands-on fishing to teach anglers intermediate fishing techniques and skills. Participants will learn to tie an improved clinch knot and how to properly secure bait on hooks. Fishing equipment, instructors/coaches and bait/lures will be provided. Program limited to ages 5 and above. All children ages 5-15 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Fishing permits are NOT required to fish during this program.

Participants will be asked to maintain safe social distance from staff and other participants who are not their family members during this program.


Register by July 22

Date: Thursday, July 23, 2020 - 6:00pm to 8:30pm

Location: Platte Ridge Park

Lesson 1: Equipment, Casting and Proper Fish Handling combines instruction with hands-on fishing to teach young anglers and families basic fishing techniques and skills. Participants will learn how to properly and safely cast a spincast fishing rod, parts of a fishing rod, how to fasten basic fishing tackle and how to properly handle and release a fish. Lesson 2: How to Tie a Knot and Bait a Hook combines instruction with hands-on fishing to teach young anglers and families intermediate fishing techniques and skills. Participants will learn to tie an improved clinch knot and how to properly secure bait on hooks. Fishing equipment, instructors/coaches and bait/lures will be provided.

Ages 7 and above. All children ages 7-15 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Participants do NOT need a fishing permit to fish during this program.


Register by July 20

Date: Thursday, July 23, 2020 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Location: MDC Headquarters

Lesson 3:
Lesson 1&2 must be taken before any of other Discover Nature Fishing lessons 3-4.
In this class, participants will learn basic biological concepts and functions specific to largemouth bass, bluegill, hybrid sunfish, channel catfish and rainbow trout as well as hands-on fishing. Participants will also learn the different components of fish anatomy and their functions. In addition, you will learn about various types of fish habitat and aquatic food webs.
Lesson 4:
In this final lesson you will learn how to properly select a fishing lure based on desired fish species, weather and water conditions as well as hands-on fishing. In addition, participants will learn how to identify and understand fishing regulations. All fishing gear will be provided by the instructors. Please wear clothing and close-toed shoes suitable for outdoor and water activities. It is recommended that participants bring sunglasses, a water bottle, and sunscreen.
This class is for children ages 4 years old and up. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
After participants have completed and participated in all four sessions, they will receive a bass pro gift card (children and parents that participated).
We will start out in the basement of the Credit Union at MDC Headquarters for the "classroom portion".


Register by July 21

Date: Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Location: Northeast Virtual Classroom

MDC invites participants to enjoy nature by learning the basics of bow fishing though a virtual classroom. Bow fishing offers an exciting way to pursue these fish that typically draw little interest with the traditional pole-and-line or setline methods. Topics will include types of bows, reels, lines, and arrows; as well as fish identification, places to go, and rules and regulations.
This program will be presented via a live presentation webinar, where participants will have opportunities to ask questions. Recorded videos and presentations will also be sent to registered participants for viewing before the live meetings. Links for each webinar will be emailed to participants prior to the meeting.


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