Driftwood Outdoors: Interesting reading

New book compiles Missouri fish tales

Missourians love to fish. It’s a fact. Statistically speaking, residents of our state fish significantly more than the national average. Given our multitude of gorgeous lakes, rivers and reservoirs this is likely no surprise to you.


Courtesy of Brandon Butler

Mackenzie Rogers poses with her first largemouth bass, which was caught in a Missouri farm pond. Rogers is part of a new generation that has seen a drop in the number of people likely to take up fishing.

What you may find interesting, though, is why so many Missourians go fishing.

“Hook, Line & Sinker” by Mark Morgan is a new book aimed at exploring why people enjoy fishing. Comprised of a collection of fish stories told by Missouri anglers, this regional work explores the emotional aspects of fishing. It wasn’t written to teach you how to catch more fish, but instead to explain why you might enjoy going fishing.

Morgan is an associate professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism at the University of Missouri. He teaches classes in and conducts research on the human dimensions of natural resource management, especially as it relates to education and outreach.

He also has a strong interest in recreational fishing, and is an avid angler himself.

“Hook, Line & Sinker” was born out of his curiosities as to what motivates others to go fishing.

I sat down with Dr. Morgan and asked him a few questions about his new book:

Q. Why did you want to publish this book?

A. Fishing is an important part of Missouri’s cultural heritage. The value of angling is far greater than its economic impact, number of annual license purchases or days fished. It only takes a few generations for fishing to become a “lost” art, so a number of strategies are needed to maintain its viability. I want to promote fishing in Missouri through storytelling. As you know, anglers tell plenty of fishing stories. Some of them are actually true, but not many take the time to write them down. Fishing folklore is an important part of the state’s cultural heritage and its worthy of preservation. Oral history, if not documented, becomes lost history — forever.

Q. What do you hope this book accomplishes?

A. Well, I hope it encourages more people to go outside and enjoy and hopefully they’ll carry a fishing pole with them. Although fishing is Missouri’s most popular outdoor activity, there’s a decade-long decline of licensed anglers in the state. This trend needs to be reversed. Of course, some people cannot get outdoors for various reasons. The book will offer a vicarious fishing experience for these individuals.

Q. How do you feel fishing affects the lives of those who fish?

A. Fishing provides many benefits, aside from catching fish. In fact, the typical story is more about fishing than catching. Some of the intangible rewards include camaraderie, social bonding, being outside, competition, skill, trophy-catch, and nostalgia. It seems that most anglers share a common set of values, but each experience is meaningful in its own way.

Q. What makes Missouri a special fishing state?

A. Opportunity, water quality, landscape variation, and proper management make Missouri an ideal fishing state for residents and tourists alike. We have a variety of fishing locations in urban and rural settings. We also have a diversity of fish species and techniques, so there’s something for everyone.

Q. How do people purchase this book?

A. If you are near one of the four campus locations (Missouri, Missouri-St. Louis, Missouri-Kansas City or Missouri S&T) then you can just stop by the student bookstore and pick up a copy. If not, you can always visit www.themizzoustore.com for ordering information. The book sells for $10.95 and makes a great Christmas gift for the angler in your family. All proceeds of this book will be donated to the University of Missouri.

Q. Anything else you’d like to include?

A. Take a kid fishing. It’s a memory that lasts a lifetime.

See you down the trail …


Brandon Butler is an outdoors columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at outdoors@newstribune.com.


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