Since the major hunting seasons except squirrel have ended and the big Memorial Day weekend is behind us, outdoor-minded people are gearing up for some serious fishing. This is perfect timing, too, as the free fishing days in Missouri are set for next weekend, June 6-7.
Last year Jim Harper took his sister fishing for her first time and now she is a reel angler. Carol Harper caught her limit of crappie during the free fishing days and is now the one who is ready to go fishing.
“I didn't know how much fun it would be,” Carol said. “I have been fishing many times since that first trip last year and this year I plan on taking two girls that have never been before."
All 50 states will participate in free fishing days at some point during this month. In Missouri, during the free fishing days, the public may fish without a permit, trout permit or trout park daily tag. Free fishing days is an annual Missouri Department of Conservation event taking place statewide during the Saturday and Sunday following the first Monday in June. Aside from not needing permits, other fishing regulations remain in effect during the free fishing weekend including limits on size and number of fish an angler may keep.
The American Sportfishing Association came up with some interesting fishing facts recently including; 35% of anglers fish for bass, 18% for trout, 11% for catfish, 6% for crappie and perch. The main motivator for anglers to fish shows that relaxation is the main reason at 83%, 73% to be close to nature, 57% to be with friends and family and 41% for the sport. Multiple responses were allowed. More than 82% of Americans fished as a child, while 17% never fished. When asked what they enjoyed doing with their dads as a child, 1,000 Americans rated fishing and outdoor activities 37% of the time while playing sports or games was 11% in the survey.
Fishing has changed a lot in the past few years. Just look into your tackle box to see the changes and improvements in the sport. Rods of today are improved in sensitivity and cast ability and are made for every type of fishing imaginable. Lines of today do not compare to the cotton, silk rayon and nylon lines of yesteryear. Monofilaments are more flexible, have fine diameters and are colored to reduce visibility.
Reels too have changed and are more user friendly. Boats and motors have added to the enjoyment of fishing, as well.
Remember in those early years, the motors ran for an hour and then you had to fix them for two hours? When I fished a tournament, I had a 50-horse motor and I was king of the hill. We had no live wells so you put your catch on a stringer and sometimes a turtle would grab a free meal. Today, there are all kinds of electronics to guide you and show you where the fish are. We have come a long way from the days we used a cane pole and a bobber but the relaxation and the excitement of the sport are the same.
White, a Stockton resident, has a versatile background in sports as a participant and journalist. His column appears weekly.