Downtown to midtown to the outlining counties surrounding St Louis, The Missouri Department of Conversation (MDC) has a great suggestion on how to spend your day. Go fishing. Make that urban fishing, a program established by MDC in 1969 providing close to home fishing opportunities at 17 St. Louis city and county area parks. Some locations, such as Lafayette Park, Benton Park and Forest Park, are just minutes from the Gateway Arch, making it a convenient activity for visitors who love to fish.
“Fishing in your own backyard is pretty cool,” said Kevin Meneau, MDC Fisheries Management Biologist “On a per acre basis, St. Louis area urban lakes received 15 percent more fishing pressure than higher profile lakes such as Lake of the Ozarks. The program has become so popular that it has grown into a year-round program.”
According to Meneau fishing is more popular than ever, especially in St. Louis, Jefferson and St. Charles counties. The reason: Inter-city park ponds, local lakes and streams are easily accessible and fishing makes an excellent outdoor pastime for visitors of which all ages can enjoy.
Fisherman can expect to hook bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and trout. To insure there are plenty of fish to catch, the MDC regularly stocks St. Louis’s lakes with 30,000 catfish and trout throughout the year. The Fish Stocking Hotline (636-300-9651) can provide stocking information about all lakes in the urban lake program.
Besides park lakes, rivers and streams also offer anglers unique fishing experiences. The Upper Mississippi alone offers 102 miles of shoreline bordering Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties. The Meramec River is a favorite river with anglers. It features several boat access points at several parks, such as those in Arnold at Flamm City Park and at St. Louis County’s George Winter Park in Fenton. All you need to fish is a pole, bait and a $7 Missouri fishing license.
There are two ways to fish: catch to keep and catch and release. Fish that are kept for supper should be properly cleaned. MDC offers how-to information to help anglers master the cleaning process. While fish can be cleaned in the field, cleaning is easier if done at fishing parks that provide fish cleaning stations, with water for rinsing fish.
Here are a few of St. Louis’ most popular urban lakes where the fish are biting.
Jefferson Lake in Forest Park: Fourteen acre Jefferson Lake is located on the east end of Forest Park, by Kingshighway and the skating rink. Prime catch: Largemouth bass, crappie, and channel catfish.
Benton Park Lake: The acre-sized lake located at South Jefferson and Arsenal Street, is situated in one of St. Louis’ oldest parks dating to 1866. Prime catch: Bullhead and channel catfish.
Boathouse Lake and Horseshoe Lake at Carondelet Park: Ranked as St. Louis’ third largest park, renown for dockside fishing from its historic pergolas on Boathouse Lake. Prime Catch: channel catfish, largemouth bass and rainbow trout.
Susan Park Lake: Located in south St. Louis County, Susan offers 98-acres of fishing lakes along with picnic areas and an animal farm for kids to enjoy. Prime catch: Channel catfish, largemouth bass and rainbow trout.
Lafayette Park Lake: St. Louis’ oldest park. Lafayette Park’s Main Lake was once used by Victorians for boating. The park is located at Lafayette Square (Lafayette and Missouri Ave.) just 10 minutes form the Gateway Arch. Prime catch: channel catfish.
Tilles Park Lake: Located in St. Louis County in Tilles Park at McKnight Road south of Interstate 64 provides a two-acre lake that features dock fishing. Prime catch: channel catfish, rainbow trout, largemouth bass and sunfish.
Written by Suzanne Corbett contributing guest blogger for the St. Louis CVC. Orignally featured on the ExploreSTL blog.