What began as an experiment to promote fishing opportunities for urban anglers in the 1960s has evolved into one of the premiere outlets for urban fishing in the United States.
The push began in 1969 when the U.S. Bureau of Sportfish Fisheries and Wildlife (Bureau), Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and City of St. Louis came together to improve fishing opportunities in six major metropolitan areas. After the Bureau ended its involvement in 1972, MDC expanded to St. Louis County, and the cities of Ballwin and Ferguson.
In the early 1990s, a series of lake renovations improved fish habitats and angler access.
Anglers now enjoy access to 17 urban lakes across St. Louis, all stocked with channel catfish. Bluegill, crappie, sunfish and largemouth bass are found in more than half of all urban lakes in the area, and trout are stocked in selected lakes during the winter.
The Urban Fishing Program extended to Kansas City in 1978 and features 11 fishable lakes across Clay, Cass, and Jackson county. All Kansas City urban lakes are stocked in-season with channel catfish and over half of all urban lakes with winter trout. Since urban fishing began, MDC has stocked millions of fish statewide.