Mushroom hunting and turkey bow hunting are spring hits with Missourians, but neither saw the spike in fishing last year.
Fishing license sales rose 14% in 2020, and Missouri wasn’t an outlier, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.
The Missouri Department of Conservation’s waiver of the fishing permit requirement for part of the past year has allowed many to enjoy outdoor recreation with little or no obstacle. At leisure stores like J & B Outdoors on 2207 N. Belt Highway, numerous customers came to prepare for their way outside.
“Having so much free time over the past year has been a good fishing season for people in terms of business. It’s been great for us too, ”said Jeff Leonard, owner of J&B Outdoors. “A lot of people definitely have to go outside, which usually doesn’t fit their schedule.”
Given the current sub-ideal temperatures for fishing in many parts of Missouri, the question is whether the permits will be reissued to the same extent as last year. However, J&B Outdoors will be prepared to hire another employee in the near future.
For those thinking of hitting certain waters for fishing nearby, like Pony Express Lake, Belcher Branch Lake, Happy Hollar, and the Missouri River, Leonard said that the trail for beginners makes things easy to keep.
“The only nice thing about fishing is that it doesn’t take much to get started. You can have a simple spin-cast rod and reel that are easy to use, ”said Leonard. “Go out there and grab some night crawlers and some hooks and weights and bobbers and you never know what you’re going to catch.”
Local fisherman Otto Sonnenmoser doesn’t see the unusually cold temperatures keeping him from fishing considering he has been enjoying the activity for many years. He usually spends a lot of time ice fishing and sometimes takes a full month each year in Canada, where temperatures are well below freezing.
“I’m used to cold weather. I go to Canada in the coldest part of winter in January and February. The ice is four or five feet thick. I didn’t go there last year because they closed the border, ”said Sonnenmoser.
Sonnenmoser, who generally didn’t have many fishing opportunities during the pandemic when he worked as a shift guard in the cemetery, said he was taking his imported hooks and luring out every chance he gets.