Good fishing opportunities are available in our area. Catfish swim in the Missouri River and the Platte River. Farm ponds are a good place to catch largemouth bass and bluegill. Crappie are a popular sport fish at Smithville, Longview and Blue Springs lakes. All those fish can be caught at fishing lakes at the James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area in Lee’s Summit.

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s free Discover Nature – Fishing program introduces basic fishing skills during four class sessions. Loaner fishing tackle is provided for class sessions. And after classroom sessions, participants get to go fishing in a pond or lake.

The lesson outline includes:

Lesson 1: Equipment, casting, and proper fish handling

Lesson 2: How to tie a knot and bait a hook

Lesson 3: Five common Missouri fish, their anatomy, habitat and life cycle

Lesson 4: Fishing with lures and fishing regulations

Participants must take Lesson 1 and 2 to be eligible for Lesson 3 and 4. They can take the lessons at varied locations as they are offered.

Currently scheduled, Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 will be offered from 9 a.m. to 12 noon June 17, at the James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area, Lee’s Summit. That session is also considered a “Take Dad Fishing” event. Lesson 3 will be offered from 6 to 8 p.m. June 21, at Johnston Lake, Raymore. Lessons will be scheduled at other times and locations in the future.

Some libraries or community centers around Missouri offer free checkout of loaner fishing gear. Volunteers are also needed to help teach classes and to maintain loaner fishing gear. MDC staff or volunteers will be on hand to answer questions or help with casting or handling fish that are caught.

Class schedules and locations, and sites with loaner fishing gear, are available at For more information or to register for a class, call MDC’s Kansas City Regional Office at 816-622-0900.