ST. LOUIS, Mo. — 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Urban Fishing Program (UFP). MDC plans to spend the year celebrating and invites metro area anglers to join in.
The UFP was originally initiated in 1969 by the federal government during a time when civil unrest was causing tensions in many cities across the country. Their goal was to bring close-to-home fishing to people and infuse a positive influence into urban communities. The program launched in six cities, including St. Louis with the cooperation of MDC and the St. Louis Parks and Recreation Department. It was a resounding success in the Gateway City. MDC took over the UFP in 1972 and eventually expanded it into St. Louis County and Kansas City.
What started out mainly as a warm weather fishing program got a cold weather boost in the early 1990’s when winter trout stocking and fishing were added. The UFP also eventually lead to funds for lake and habitat improvements being made available in the form of cost share arrangements with city and county partners. These Community Assistance Program agreements created both better accessibility for anglers and habitat for fish, in many cases developing self-sustaining populations of sportfish such as bass, bluegill and crappie.
The program currently includes 17 lakes within St. Louis City and County. It remains the oldest and one of the largest urban fishing programs in the nation.
To celebrate this 50th anniversary, MDC will stock approximately twice the number of lunker rainbow trout during the winter trout seasons with some fish weighing up to 10 pounds
A new urban fishing website with tools to help metro area anglers catch more fish has been created at https://bit.ly/2Fru9p6.
Competition among metro area high school angling teams will continue in the Fish St. Louis Cup (#FISHSTLCup), as the series of fishing challenges culminates in tournament finals this spring.
Urban anglers are invited to share photos of their catches throughout the year on the “brag board” by posting to their favorite social media account and tagging with #MoUrbanFishing.
Look for other special updates and announcements during 2019 as the 50th anniversary of the UFP carries on. For a complete list and details on St. Louis’ urban fishing lakes, go to https://bit.ly/2FzGlnc.