Fishing in KC
Though sometimes seen as an old man’s pastime, fishing can be a fun family affair. Some of my favorite childhood memories come from fishing with my family. There are lots of fishing opportunities around the metro area for families to enjoy. Both Kansas and Missouri have several large lakes in the area, as well as many smaller lakes, streams and rivers with public access and good fishing. A local fishing enthusiast, John Krzysztow, has a passion for teaching kids to fish for a lifetime and is developing a website that encourages kids to do just that (www.TeachKidsToFishForLife.com). His suggestions for kid-friendly area lakes and ponds include:
- Kill Creek Park (Olathe, KS)
- Shawnee Mission Park (Lenexa, KS)
- Antioch Park (Olathe, KS)
- Heritage Park (Olathe, KS)
- Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead (Overland Park, KS)
- Englewood Lake (Kansas City North, MO)
- Lake of the Woods in Swope Park (Kansas City, MO)
- Blue Springs Lake (Lee's Summit, MO)
- Lake Jacomo (Blue Springs, MO)
- Longview Lake (Kansas City, MO)
Before you head out, check with state wildlife departments for important rules and regulations. Both states require anyone 16-64 years old to have a fishing permit in public areas for the state where they are fishing. Area rules will usually be posted near popular fishing places like docks, dams and marinas. In the case of streams, rivers or ponds that might be on private property, always ask permission before fishing.
State wildlife and local parks and recreation departments are also the best sources for free fishing education and fishing opportunities. The Missouri Department of Conservation (mdc.mo.gov/fishing) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (www.kdwp.state.ks.us/index.php/news/Fishing) post public fishing areas and upcoming fishing programs on their websites. Our local Bass Pro Shops in Independence and Olathe offer fishing workshops as well. Visit their site, www.BassPro.com, and use their store locator guide to go to the page of the store nearest you to see what workshops they offer.
Some of the most commonly caught local fish include bluegill, green sunfish, largemouth bass and catfish (bullhead and channel). All of these can be caught on live bait, like fishing worms, crickets and minnows. Artificial bait like plastic worms and grubs have to be “worked,” cast and recast often, which is better left to older, more skilled children and adults. When fishing with younger kids, keep it simple. A pole with 8-10 lb. fishing line, small hooks, sinkers and bobbers are inexpensive and easy to replace when the line is caught in a tree or an underwater snag. A pair of needle-nosed piers is irreplaceable for removing hooks.
Fishing teaches valuable life lessons like patience, good sportsmanship, respect and an appreciation of nature that can only be learned by experience. Plus, your child’s first fish, no matter how big or small it is, will be a memory neither of you will forget.
Heather Shields grew up in Kansas City with a love for nature and Conservation. She now teaches Science at Ruskin High where she shares her passion with students.