Fishing Creates Lasting Family Memories

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The old joke goes, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.” There’s definitely some truth to that statement. It’s pretty tough to find a person having a bad day fishing, even if the fish aren’t biting. This is especially true if they are spending the day with good company.

Fishing is one of the greatest ways I know of to spend time together as a family. For as long as I can remember, fishing has been an important aspect of my life. I’ve always loved catching fish, but now when I reflect on why fishing was so important to me as a youth, I realize it wasn’t the fish. It was the people I was spending time fishing with.

Big sister, Bailee Butler, holds a rainbow trout caught on a fly rod out of Dry Run Creek by Annabel Butler.


These days, I am doing my best to pass a love of fishing on to my own two daughters. We’re fortunate to live on a small lake that’s full of fish. We often catch bass, bluegill and crappie in our own backyard. It’s wonderful to be able to walk out the backdoor and fish, but there is nothing more magical for building lasting memories than a fishing trip.

My daughters and I recently took off on a three-day fishing trip to northern Arkansas. Mommy stayed home, so this was a true daddy and daughter experience. We stayed at Gaston’s Resort in a wonderful cabin, and fished the White River and Dry Run Creek.

I hired a guide from Gaston’s for two days on the White River. Doing so allowed me to be able to relax and focus on my children. Without a guide, I would have been occupied with locating fish, driving the boat, anchoring, tying knots and fixing tangles. Even though I still helped with some of this, the guide handled most of it, so I was able to focus on helping my girls cast, netting their fish and taking pictures.

Spending three-days on the road with my 9-year old and 8-year old girls created memories that will last the rest of my life. I hope they too will always remember the adventure. I believe they will, because I vividly remember similar trips from my youth.

I was fortunate to have family members who took me fishing when I was a kid, but maybe you weren’t. And maybe you have thought before that fishing sounds like fun and you think you’d enjoy it, but you just don’t know where to begin. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) offers free classes that will teach you everything you need to know to start fishing and to take children with you.

The MDC is hosting Discover Nature Fishing classes in May, June, and July at Bass Pro Shops in Columbia. The classes are divided into four sessions and each class is two hours long. The classes are free and all needed fishing gear is provided. Participants must take Lesson 1 before registering for any one of the other three lessons.

The four lessons include:

  • 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

“The Discover Nature Fishing program is based on studies that show a single exposure to an activity is rarely enough to make a lasting impression. It requires multiple contacts with that activity to get someone to stick with it,” said MDC Angler Education Assistant Don Rahm. “Instead of being a one-time, get in/get out experience, this program provides participants with opportunities to get out and catch fish, learn different aspects of fishing, and ultimately acquire a lifestyle.”

Discover Nature Fishing classes are primarily designed for teaching children 7-15 years of age the basics of fishing. However, the classes also emphasize family involvement and encourage parents and guardians to participate as well. With this training, you and your children will learn everything you need to know to begin building lasting memories of your own through the joys of fishing.

For dates and times, and to register for classes, contact Don Rahm at or call 573-815-7900.

See you down the trail…

Brandon Butler


Tips for a great fishing excursion with kids.


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