Missouri is a fishing state. Around one fourth of the total population, encompassing all ages, go fishing. We spend millions of dollars on fishing tackle, and much more on goods and services yearly. This is good for the state's economy as well as the need for recreation.

Should you ask these Missourians why they go fishing, the preponderant answer would be either to catch fish, to have fun or both. Yet, the average shows that of ten fishermen, one will catch most of the fish. Why should this be? Some call it luck — and at times it is — but day after day, know-how is the answer. The more you know where to find fish, their habits and what they feed on is some of the know-how needed to catch your share of fish from bluegill to catfish. This way you will not only catch a limit of fish, you also will catch a limit of memories.

There are days even the pros do not catch fish and days when your tactics fail to work. When this happens, just wrap up your tackle and call it “just one of those days.”

Smile, cuss a little if it helps, and remember even the experts get skunked. The good Lord meant anglers to fish and for the fish should bite, but not always at the same time. 

By knowing more about the fish you are after and how to find and catch them, you should catch fish more times than you go home fishless — which means you will know how it feels to have a good day now and then and go home nine feet tall. We are blessed and privileged to be fishermen and fisher-gals in a free country, but it did not just happen that way nor will it continue unless we accept the responsibility of stewardship.

Fish need clean water to survive and multiply in sufficient quantity to satisfy the needs of the Missouri anglers. We need to be a watchdog as we get around the outdoors and see environmental abuses taking place. Together we can band together to ascertain local, county, state and national attention is focused on the maintenance of water quality. That it be kept free of harmful chemicals and pesticides which tear down the environment of fish.

One thing is certain: When water quality is allowed to degrade to the point where fish cannot exist and be fit to eat, then we, ourselves, are endangered. Together we can preserve it for our youngsters and tomorrows’ Missourians. Let's all preserve it, enjoy it, and cherish it. It belongs to some of the world's finest folks — fishermen and women.

White, a Stockton resident, has a versatile background in sports as a participant and journalist. His column appears weekly. 

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