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How Fishing Starts

No one has ever proved that fishing contributes to a good upbringing, but then how many kids have you heard of that have been corrupted by fishing?

My Dad took me fishing a couple of times a week, even though we lived in the city and had to travel 10 miles to the water. We'd rent a boat at a livery and row around the lake, dragging nightcrawlers behind flashy spinner blades. We hoped for walleye but settled happily for panfish.

There's no memory of what we talked about, but talk we must have, for that's what two people alone in the boat for hours on end do, no matter what their ages or differences. Today, psychologists might say we were sharing quality time or bonding, but, really, we were just doing what we liked to do.

I don't think my dad had a clue that he was winding a spring in me that would keep me fishing forever.

I'm grateful for every time we went fishing. I might have learned patience and self-reliance other ways, but the lessons would not have been as much fun. Yes, we shivered in the cold and were frustrated with snarled lines and snagged hooks, and we didn't always catch fish, but I come away from all that supposed tribulation with a sense of being given a gift, a legacy that I am determined to pass on to others.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a parent, grandparent or friend offer them the same gift. If no one introduced you to fishing, you're not likely to have the interest, the expertise or the equipment necessary to instill a love of the sport in your children or friends, and no chain or tradition of fishing ever gets started.

But just as we can break chains that are negative, we can start to form positive chains. We hope this special fishing issue will help you become the first link in a chain that will span generations. We know that once you're out fishing and catching fish, once fishing has you hooked, so to speak, your enthusiasm and love for the sport will naturally be transmitted to everyone you know.

You can start fishing now, even if you've never touched a live fish before. The Introduction to Fishing section in the center of this issue shows you how to outfit yourself cheaply, how to rig up, how to bring fish in, how to store them and how to make best advantage of your good fortune in the kitchen.

If you are already an angler, our articles about catfishing and smallmouth bass fishing, pond fishing and night fishing will broaden your knowledge, expand your possibilities or challenge your expertise

The Conservation Department has many more ways to help you, from publications, to videos to our employees in the field, who will be happy to answer any fishing questions they can.

We want you to enjoy your time fishing, so the Conservation Department stocks fish where they are needed, manages the fish in other waters for maximum production and builds accesses and boat ramps to help you get to good fishing. If you are a pond owner with not enough fish to fry, we can help you, too.

Missouri is a watery state, carved by big rivers and spattered with ponds and reservoirs. No one in the state is out of reach of good fishing. Go fishing now. That's how fishing starts.

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